Austerity and Krishna Consciousness

Hare Krishna

19th December


Sumeet Prabhu sent me the below blog of HH Kadamba Kanana Swami today morning.

`Choose your suffering’

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 02 October 2013, Melbourne, Australia, Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.2-7)

Through celibacy, can we get love of God? You can be celibate for a hundred lifetimes, do you think that will give you love of God? No, it is devotional service that will give us love of God!

“I am married to a devotee!” Do you think that will give you love of God? No, you yourself will have to be a devotee as well. You will have to do devotional service. It is not automatic. Even a lion has to go out and chase for breakfast. It’s not that the deer runs into the mouth of the lion… So, we have to do something in devotional service and that is what counts. Ashram issues are not so important, it’s only external. In one or the another, you are going to have to take some tapasya (austerity),

tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam
suddhyed yasmad brahma saukhyam tv anantam (SB 5.5.1)

That is life in the material world, no matter what you do, there is tapasya. You decide which tapasya you like better; that’s what it is all about – the tapasya of being married or the tapasya of being alone. You decide as both have tapasya. Material life has that element of tapasya, of some austerity. Inevitably so, no one can avoid it – it is basically the design of the material world therefore Lord Rshabdev pointed this out to his one hundred sons – this human form of life is not meant for sense gratification; it is not going to work. Therefore we shouldn’t be too particular about how we live but some things have to be a little suitable.

Krsna consciousness, bhakti, is not denying us this basic comforts. That is for the impersonalists. For them, everything in this material world is only maya. There is only maya in all directions therefore whatever they use has to be minimized… but we just use it for sustaining our Krsna consciousness, so sleep well – nice and warm and cosy, so that we can do devotional service – there is nothing wrong with that. Therefore we do not have to sleep on the hardest bed that we can find and use only a bed-sheet in the winter, no blanket!

I knew a devotee who never wore a kurta in winter, in Vrindavan. It was very cold and he was only wearing a lungi. You know, he lasted for fifteen years and then he got sick. What is the benefit of these things!? Great austerities – fasting, fasting, fasting… “I fast every ekadasi and dvadasi as well, for the last twenty-four years!”

Fine, you can do it for twenty-four lifetimes more and do you think you will make any more progress towards going back to the spiritual world with all your fasting!? Not really.

So, it is not by austerity that we will attain Krsna! Although, austerity is highlighted by Lord Rshabdev in the fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, austerity in itself is not one of the limbs of bhakti. Renunciation and austerity are not limbs of bhakti. They don’t give you devotional service.

( Please read the full article at and many other gems. )

In fact I had read this a blog just a few days back, acknowledged the point Maharaj made and then  carried on as usual.

Surprisingly I was reading the below verse today morning and was contemplating on it, remembering what I had read few days back, when I received the above mail.

nāyaṁ sukhāpo bhagavān

dehināṁ gopikā-sutaḥ

jñānināṁ cātma-bhūtānāṁ

yathā bhakti-matām iha

“‘The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, the son of mother Yaśodā, is accessible to those devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not as easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerities and penances, or to those who consider the body the same as the self.’

This verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.9.21) is spoken by Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī. It appears within a passage in which he glorifies mother Yaśodā and other devotees of Kṛṣṇa by describing how they can subjugate Him with their love.

Then as the forwarded mail came from Sumeet prabhu,  I read Maharaj’s last para with concentration, and the above verse again, praying that I get the message and, mercifully, I got it. It took a devotee to drill the message of a sanyasi in my thick and poor brain.

Guru Maharaj often says that in this kali yuga the 4 regulative principles itself are our austerity. And too many  austerities make us remain on the bodily platform. Of course, to understand it properly and then practice it in our Sadhna Bhakti at that level is not easy for us.

But the message to me was clear that it is our spontaneous love for Krishna which will make us progress in our devotional service and the austerities won’t help me much.

Thank you so much Sumeet Prabhu for helping me absorb this message by sending this timely mail from HH Kadamba Kanana Swami today morning.

All glories to the wonderful devotees in ISKCON.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

2 thoughts on “Austerity and Krishna Consciousness

    • Hare Krishna Prabhuji,

      Thank you for reading the blog of this neophyte and leaving your comment.

      My little realisation was that austerity won’t help us get closer to Krishna. In fact I read another wonderful verse in Chaitanaya Charitramrita yesterday

      CC Madhya 22.145: “The path of speculative knowledge and renunciation is not essential for devotional service. Indeed, good qualities such as nonviolence and control of the mind and senses automatically accompany a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

      Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport for the above verse that ‘Sometimes a neophyte devotee or ordinary person thinks highly of speculative knowledge, austerity, penances and renunciation, thinking them the only path for advancement in devotional service. Actually this is not a fact. ……… They have nothing to do with the eternal loving service of the Lord. If one abandons speculative knowledge and simply engages in devotional service, he has attained his perfection.’

      As for spontaneous love, none of us have it and that’s why we serve Caitanya Mahāprabhu in dasya bhava, that’s the only way we can hope to one day attain it. He is Patita pavan for us most degraded souls.

      Kindly share with us if you have better understanding on this subject.

      your insignificant servant,
      Giriraj Das

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