Some thoughts on ‘Fast Breaking’
Hari Parshad Das: Sometimes, I’ve seen devotees ask other devotees or myself about the Ekādaśī fast breaking time. While I do understand that the convention is to use the phrase 'fast breaking’ and I have no problems with anyone using it, I should also in a humble way say that this phrase does not do justice to the original Sanskrit term — 'vrata-pāraṇam’.
The English term 'breakfast’ originally came from the old English term 'undernmete/morgenmete’, which means meal at 9am / meal at morning. This was because the body would be fasting from all food at night during sleep and the morning meal at around 9am would break that fast.
The term vrata however does not exactly mean 'fasting’. Vrata means 'vow’. Fasting (upoṣaṇam) is one of the activities of a vow. The day of an Ekādaśī vrata is ideally supposed to be free from all other encumbrances; a day dedicated to giving that well deserved loving one-pointed attention to the love of our life — Krishna.
The term pāraṇam means 'successful completion’. (Hindi = पार लगाना)
Thus, the term vrata-pāraṇam literally means 'successful completion of vows’. We’re not supposed to break our vows. We’re meant to complete them.
On the pāraṇa day (dvādaśī), we take permission with a heavy heart from our beloved deity to go back and be absorbed in our day to day work. The devotee completes his/her ekādaśī vows by praying:
prasīda sumukho nātha
Translation: Lord Keśava! Please bestow favor on this insignificant soul blinded by ignorance and kindly bestow the eyes of divine knowledge as a result of following this [Ekādaśī] vow.
— (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.231)