Essence of Tapasya

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.18.03-04 - Essence of Tapasya (download mp3)
by Gopinath Chandra Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 11.18.3
 malani bibhryad datah
na dhaved apsu majjeta
 tri kalam sthandile-sayah

The vanaprastha should not groom the hair on his head, body or face, should not manicure his nails, should not pass stool and urine at irregular times and should not make a special endeavor for dental hygiene. He should be content to take bath in water three times daily and should sleep on the ground.

SB 11.18.4
grisme tapyeta paƱcagnin
 varsasv asara-sad jale
akantha-magnah sisira
 evam vrttas tapas caret

Thus engaged as a vanaprastha, one should execute penance during the hottest summer days by subjecting oneself to burning fires on four sides and the blazing sun overhead; during the rainy season one should remain outside, subjecting oneself to torrents of rain; and in the freezing winter one should remain submerged in water up to one’s neck.

One who engages in sense gratification must perform severe penances at the end of life to counteract his sinful, hedonistic activities. A devotee of the Lord, however, naturally develops Krsna consciousness and need not subject himself to such radical penances. As stated in the PaƱcaratra:

aradhito yadi haris tapasa tatah kim
 naradhito yadi haris tapasa tatah kim
antar bahir yadi haris tapasa tatah kim
 nantar bahir yadi haris tapasa tatah kim

“If one is worshiping the Lord properly, what is the use of severe penances? And if one is not properly worshiping the Lord, what is the use of severe penances? If Sri Krsna is realized within and without everything that exists, what is the use of severe penances? And if Sri Krsna is not seen within and without everything, then what is the use of severe penances?”

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