Published on August 11th, 2022 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada13
Austerity, tapasya–A Requirement for Spiritual Life
One priest in plain cloth… I was going from Los Angeles to Hawaii. One priest, he came to me in the plane. So he asked my permission, “Can I talk with you?” “Yes, why not?” So his first question was that “I see your disciples very bright-faced. How it has been done?” He’s sincere. So where is the loss? By undergoing, by denying all these things, sinful activities, we are not loser.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.12.19 — Dallas, March 3, 1975
Nitai: “By penance only can one even approach the Personality of Godhead, who is within the heart of every living entity and at the same time beyond the reach of all senses.”
tapasaiva param jyotir
anjasa vindate puman
From this verse we can understand the Absolute Truth is realized in three features: bhagavantam adhoksajam, jyoti, param jyoti, and sarva-bhuta-guhavasam. The first realization is jyoti, the next realization is sarva-bhuta-guhavasam, and the last, final, realization is bhagavantam adhoksajam. The example we have given many times, that the sun is there. The first realization is that we come in touch with the sunshine. That is very easy. Anyone can come in light of the sunshine. It is open to everyone. Then the another feature of the sunshine is the sun globe. That is not so easily available. You cannot go to the sun globe. According to the modern scientific conclusion, we can understand that the sun globe is away from us by 93,000,000’s of miles, and still, we cannot tolerate the temperature. And what will be your position if you go to the sun globe? Before reaching sun globe even by some millions of… We are already apart 93,000,000 miles, and suppose when there is three million miles apart from ninety, then the temperatures is so high that we will be finished. We cannot approach the sun globe even, and what to speak of entering into the sun globe? That requires a different body.
Of course, there are living entities in the sun globe, within the sun globe. And there is the predominating deity also, the president. You may call. There is a state. Just like you have got here, United State, there is state also. And there is also president, and the president’s name is Vivasvan. Everything is there in the sastra. We read from Bhagavad-gita, Krsna said, “I spoke to Vivasvan, the president or the predominating deity in the sun globe.” So this is all fact. It is not fiction. You are seeing the sun globe, and you are seeing that the sunshine is coming from the sun globe. So it is a globe; therefore there must be inhabitants. But their body is different. That is… Just like this earthly planet is made of earth or dirt;that is made of fire. This is within these five elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether. So the mixture of these things are there also, but the fire element is there prominent. As here, in this earth, all the mixtures are there, but here the earthly element is prominent. So this is also one of the material worlds.
So there are different varieties of planets. That is God’s creation. This is also God’s creation, that is also God’s creation, but I cannot go there. Land is God’s creation, water is God’s creation, but you cannot live in the water, and the fish cannot live on the land. Similarly, although there are millions and trillions of planets within this universe, you have to live in that particular planet where you are destined to live. That is condition. You cannot go to the sun planet or moon planet. Otherwise what is the meaning of conditioned life? Conditioned life means you are given opportunity to live on this planet, or the other living entities, they have been given opportunity to live in the sun planet. So they cannot come and live here, and we cannot go there and live there. This is called conditioned life. You must live under condition. You are not free. Otherwise they are attempting so much to go to the moon planet. But we are doubtful whether they are actually going. But no benefit has been derived by this excur… Simply you have spoiled your energy, time and money. That is…, means conditioned, that you cannot violate the conditions of the nature. That is not possible. But they are thinking they are free.
They can do whatever they like. That is called ignorance, mudha, rascal. They are living under condition, but they are falsely thinking that “We are free.” Is it not? Where is that freedom? Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah [Bg. 3.27]. This rascal civilization do not admit this. They are so fool that they are conditioned in every step, and still they are thinking they are free. This is called illusion.
Therefore, to get that freedom, you have to work for it. Freedom does not come so automatically. Just like you are diseased. You are under the control of fever or some other painful condition, under some disease. So you have to undergo some penance. Just like you are suffering from some boil on the body. It is very painful. Then, in order to cure it, you have to undergo the surgical operation if you want to be cured. Therefore tapasa. That is tapasa. Tapa means painful condition, tapa. Just like temperature. If you are put into high temperature, 110 degree, then it is very intolerable for you. It is very painful. Even for us Indians;we are born in India, tropical climate; still, when the temperature is more than hundred, it becomes intolerable. And what to speak of you? You are born in a different temperature. Similarly, we cannot tolerate lower temperature. If it is below fifty degree, it is intolerable for us. So there are different climates, different temperature. And in Canada they tolerate forty degree less than zero.
So it is a question of different condition of life. But we are conditioned: high grade temperature, less temperature, high grade cold. But we can we trained up to any kind of conditional life. That capacity we have got. There is a Bengali proverb, sarire na mahasaya ya sahabe taya saya,(?
) means “This body is,” means, “it can tolerate any condition, provided you practice it.” It is not that, that you are under certain condition, and if you are changed, it becomes so intolerable that you cannot live. No. If you practice…
Just like nowadays nobody is going. Formerly they are going to the Himalayan mountain, and there is very cold. And the tapasya… There is practice, method: in high scorching heat the saintly person or sages, they will ignite fire all round. Already there is high temperature, and still they will get fire all round and go on, meditation. This is tapasya. These are the items of tapasya. There is scorching heat and they will arrange that. There is pinching, chilly cold, less than hundred degree, and they will go under water and put the body up to this and meditate. These are the items of tapasya. Tapasya. So for God realization formerly people used to undergo such severe type of penances, and at the present moment we are so fallen, we cannot tolerate these four principles? Is it very difficult? We are imposing some tapasya, that “Don’t indulge in these things. No illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, no gambling.” These are the items of tapasya for advancing in Krsna consciousness. So is it very difficult? It is not difficult. If one can practice, go within the water up to the neck in chilly pinching cold, is it more difficult to give up illicit sex and meat-eating and intoxication? We are not advising, “No sex.” Illicit sex. So where is the difficulty? But the age is so fallen that even these primary tapasya we cannot execute. That is the difficulty.
But if you want to realize God, as it is said here, tapasaiva, only by tapasya, only by penance, one can realize. Otherwise not. Otherwise it is not possible. Therefore this word is used, tapasaiva. Tapasa eva: “only by tapasya.” There is no other means. Tapasa eva param. Param means the Supreme. If you want to realize the Supreme, the Absolute, then you must agree to certain type of tapasya. Otherwise it is not possible. The preliminary little tapasya. Just like ekadasi. That is also item of the tapasya. Actually on the ekadasi days we shall not take any food, even drink water. But in our society we are not doing so much strictly. We say, “Ekadasi, you don’t take food grains. Take little fruit, milk.” This is tapasya. So we cannot execute this tapasya? So if we are not prepared to undertake even this very, very easily executable tapasya, then how we can expect go back to home, back to Godhead? No, that is not possible. Therefore here it is said, tapasaiva, tapasa eva. Eva means certainly. You have to. Now, executing this tapasya, penances, are you loser? You are not loser. Now, anyone who will come from outside, they will see in our society, our members, boys and girls. They say, “bright-faced.” Do they not? They see distinction. One priest in plain cloth… I was going from Los Angeles to Hawaii. One priest, he came to me in the plane. So he asked my permission, “Can I talk with you?” “Yes, why not?” So his first question was that “I see your disciples very bright-faced. How it has been done?” He’s sincere. So where is the loss? By undergoing, by denying all these things, sinful activities, we are not loser. We can live very simple life. We can sit down on the floor, we can lie down on the floor. We don’t require much furniture, neither large amount of gorgeous dress. So tapasya required. If we want advancement in spiritual life, we must accept some sort of tapasya. In the Kali-yuga we cannot accept such severe type of tapasya as in the cold, we go underneath, under water, sometimes drowning or sometimes up to this, and then meditate or chant Hare Krsna. That is not possible. The minimum. So tapasya must be there.
So we should note it by this verse that some sort of tapasya must be done if we are serious about God realization. That is wanted. And then the first realization is jyoti, brahmajyoti. Generally, the Mayavadi transcendentalists, they think that this realization of brahmajyoti is all in all. The yogis, they think that realization of sarva-guhavasam, sarva-bhuta-guhavasam… Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]. God is there in everyone’s heart. This is accepted in all sastra. In the Bhagavad-gita says, here also it is said, sarva-bhuta-guhavasam. Guha means the heart, core of heart. So He is there. So one feature is brahmajyoti; another feature is sarva-bhuta-guhavasam. The Lord is everywhere, not only your heart, my heart or any animal’s heart, beast’s heart, bird’s heart, but He is also within the atom. Andantara-stha-paramanu-cayantara-stham. Paramanu means atom. Within the atom there is also. Sarva-bhuta-guha, within, avasa, He is living there. So this is one feature. This is called Paramatma feature, or Supersoul feature. As it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata: “I am also owner of this body, but I am distributed in everyone’s heart.” In another place, sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah.
So God is present everywhere. He is omnipotent, omnipresent. So in our temple He is already there, and still more manifest, He is present here as arca-vigraha, the form of the body by which He can accept our worship. He can accept. It is not that He is different from the original Krsna. No, He is Krsna, the same Krsna, goloka eva nivasati, who is living in Goloka Vrndavana, but akhilatma-bhutah [Bs. 5.37], He can present Himself in different forms for accepting service for realization.
So the arca-vigraha is also Krsna. Therefore, adhoksajam. Adhoksajam, adhah-krtam aksajam jnanam. Our knowledge is what we see. We can see stone. We can see metal. We can see other material elements, wood. So Krsna has appeared as we can see Him. Because we cannot see more than stone, wood, metal, therefore Krsna has appeared as stone statue. But He is not stone statue. That we have to understand. He is Krsna, but He is so kind that He has appeared before us as we can see Him. This is the philosophy, not that stone is Krsna. Stone is also Krsna in the ultimate sense because stone is the expansion of energy of Krsna, material energy. Bhumir apo ‘nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva…, bhinna me prakrtir astadha. This is called philosophy of inconceivable one and different. The same example can be given: just like the sunshine. In the sunshine there is heat and temperature. [break] …say the sunshine has come… (aside:) Why you are standing? If you stand… This side. “If the sunshine has entered my room, therefore sun has entered my room.” This is Mayavadi philosophy. No. By the entrance of sunshine within your room, the sun has entered and has not entered. This is right philosophy. Acintya-bhedabheda. Acintya, simultaneously one and different.
This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy, acintya-bhedabheda. We cannot think, adjust, that how one thing can be the other thing. That we cannot experience due to our little fund of knowledge, poor fund of knowledge. But in case of Krsna, God, that is possible, simultaneously one and different. So here, if you think… To the atheist this form is made of stone, and they are thinking that “These crazy fellow, they are worshiping a stone.” In that sense, Krsna is not there. If a crazy man breaks the statue, he does not break Krsna, but he breaks the stone. This is simultaneously one and different. For the devotee, He is Krsna. All the time He is Krsna. Because even if you take it as stone, stone is also Krsna because it is expansion of Krsna’s energy. The same example: the sunshine is also sun. And Krsna is, being omnipotent, He can accept your service any way. Provided you want to render service, Krsna is ready to accept it.
Therefore our duty is that we should never think of this Deity as something made of stone or metal. We should always think, “Here is Krsna personally present.” That is devotion. And we should worship Him like that. We should offer respect, that “Here is Krsna. We cannot do anything wrong.” And therefore there is list of offenses of worshiping, sixty-four… Or how many? It is stated in The Nectar of Devotion. Do you discuss this? So we should avoid these offenses, not that “Here is a stone statue. He is not going to see I am doing this offense.” Then that is not very good. We should always feel that “Here is Krsna, personally present.” Actually He is personally present. Then are we so fool, that we are worshiping a stone deity? No. “We” means we have installed this Deity under the direction of previous authorities, acaryas. So it is not whimsical. We have installed the Deity exactly under the direction of the previous acarya, and therefore the Deity is personally present, Krsna. As He is present everywhere, sarva-bhuta-guhavasam, similarly, He can live in many millions of temples simultaneously and live at the same time Goloka Vrndavana. That is Krsna. That is Krsna’s omnipotency. So Krsna, being very kind, He has appeared in our various temple. So we should very careful that “Here is personally present Krsna. Here is… Personally, Radharani is there. Personally, Lord Caitanya is there, Lord Jagannatha is there.” But He is keeping Himself is such a way that you can handle in any way. Even if you commit some mistake, He does not protest. But we should not commit any mistake. That is our duty. We should not create such thing as it is offensive. Therefore the direction is there in the sastra that “You do like this. Do like this; there will be no offense.” And offenseless service will make you more and more advanced in spiritual life.
So Krsna has… Bhagavantam. Here it is said, bhagavantam. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krsna, but He is adhoksajam, beyond our sense perception.
Adhoksaja. Adhah-krtam aksajam jnanam. Our knowledge is limited within this sense perception. That’s all. We can see so long the light is there. If the light is not there, then our seeing power is finished. Therefore it is limited. And Krsna is beyond this limitation. Therefore His name is Adhoksaja. Adhah-krtam aksajam indriya-jnanam yena. Aksajam jnanam means “knowledge acquired by sense perception.” Aksaja. Aksa means “eyes,” and ja means “generated.” So I see this book because my eyes are seeing it is book. But as soon as the light is off, I cannot see where is the book and where is the table, where you are. Similarly, we cannot see at the present moment by the imperfect senses what is Krsna. Therefore it is Krsna’s kindness that He has appeared before you in a manner by which you can see Him. This is Krsna’s mercy. Not that the atheistic philosophy, “They are worshiping Deity, some stone, some metal,” not like that. He is adhoksaja. We cannot see Krsna with our present eyes, but we can see Him through the scripture. The “through the scripture” is that although we cannot see Him by our present imperfect senses, adhoksaja, beyond our perception, still, we can see Him. How? Through the authorities. Through the authorities. The same example, as I have given, that I do not know who is my father, but through the authority of mother, I can see him: “Here is my father.” This is called authority seeing. If mother certifies that “My dear child, here is your father,” that is the only certificate, authority, you can understand who is your father. Otherwise there is no… By experimental knowledge, by mental speculation, “He may be my father, he may be my father, he may be my father…” That you go on speculating for many millions of years. Still, you will not be able to understand who is your father. But if you take the authority of your mother, immediately you understand. That is, means, adhoksaja. You cannot speculate what is God, but if you take the authority, then you can understand God. Otherwise it is not possible.
athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno
na canya eko ‘pi ciram vicinvan
This is a verse. It is said, “My dear Lord, Your lotus feet,” padambuja-dvaya, “can be understood by a person who has received a little favor of You.” Athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi: “One who has received little favor, he can understand.” And what for others? “For others,” na ca anya eko ‘pi ciram vicinvan, “if they speculate for millions of years, still, they will not be able to understand.” Just like in your country Bhagavad-gita was being read for the last two hundred, three hundred years. So many scholars, so many Indian scholar or American, they have written Bhagavad-gita. But not a single person understood Krsna, not a single person. But now, when they are reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is, they are understanding by the mercy of God. The mercy is shown if you follow the process, authoritative process. Prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi. One who has received a little, minute quantity of the favor of Krsna, he can understand Krsna. And others, if they go on speculating for millions of years, they will not be able to. This is a fact. Therefore He is called Adhoksaja.
So our Krsna consciousness movement is the authorized process by which you can understand Krsna, the Supreme Lord. By other methods it is not possible. Krsna personally says,
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
Nobody can understand. Out of many millions and trillions of persons, one is interested how to make his life success. Otherwise they are not interested even. Like cats and dogs they are jumping here and there. That’s all. And out of those persons who are interested, some may understand what is Krsna. So Krsna is not so very easily understood, but by the grace of Krsna we can understand Him if we follow. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya: [Bg. 7.7] “My dear Dhananjaya, there is no more superior power than Me, or greater than Me.” So if we accept the statement of Krsna, then we understand Krsna immediately. Otherwise, by speculation, it is not possible. That is the fact. There are so many… Such a person, such a big, who is estimated as very, very big person, Mahatma Gandhi, he could not understand Krsna. From his writing we see. He said, “I don’t believe that there was any person Krsna living ever.” Just see. He could not understand. Similarly, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Tilak, so many big, big scholars, they have written comment on Bhagavad-gita, but they, still they have proved that they’re rascal number one. Because they did not follow the process of understanding Krsna, therefore they could not understand. And here even a child, our Syamasundara’s daughter, (s)he used to go to somebody and ask him, “Do you know what is Krsna?” He says, “No, I do not know.” “He’s the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Just see. And all these boys and children, they are learning so easily Krsna, and a person like Mahatma Gandhi, he said that, something different. You see? Just see. This is the position.
So you have to follow the authoritative principles by the parampara system. Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau [SU 6.23]. If you have got faith in God, Krsna, and similar faith in the spiritual master and follow his instruction, then you will understand Krsna in His different features: jyoti, bhagavan, and sarva-bhuta-guhavasam. He is the brahmajyoti just like the sunshine, and He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna, and He is the Supersoul, Paramatma, in everyone’s heart. The process is tapasaiva, a little tapasya. So whatever little tapasya we have prescribed, you follow. You will understand Krsna. And if you understand Krsna, then your life is successful.
Thank you very much. (end)