Penance, Renunciation And Fasting

Questioner: Are penance (tapa), vows (vrat) and disciplined rituals (niyam) necessary, or are they unnecessary?

Dadashri: All the medicines that are available in a pharmacy are all necessary, but they are necessary for other people, and you only have to take the medicine that you need. In the same way, penance, fasting, renunciation, vows, etc, are all necessary. There is nothing false or wrong in this world. There is nothing wrong with fasting, penance or chanting. Everything is correct according to each individual’s viewpoint and expectation.

Questioner: So, is it necessary to do japa-tapa (chanting and penance)?

Dadashri: No. Is it necessary for you to take all the medicines that are in a drugstore? You take the medicine according to the illness that you have, and you will only need a couple of bottles of it. If you took all the bottles, it would kill you! If you are fond of japa-tapa, then you should do it.

Questioner: Is it possible to be fond of japa-tapa?

Dadashri: Would anyone do it without being fond of it? This fondness for japa-tapa is considered shubha (auspicious). Everything that one has to do day in and day out is considered fondness.

Questioner: Does one bind karma by doing japa-tapa?

Dadashri: Of course, you bind karma in it! You bind karma in everything. Even when you sleep at night, you bind karma. And with chanting (japa) and penance (tapa), however, there is considerable binding of karma. But that will be karma of merit (punya), which in the next life, will bring one happiness and material wealth.

This entire path of the vitarag is a path of labhalabha (gain and loss). Do not expend even five cents on religion, if you can help it. A person fasts, and then goes around bragging about how many days he fasted, but when his son comes along, he starts quarrelling with him: ‘Why were you not at the shop this morning?!’ For goodness sakes, why bring the shop into this? Why don’t you just get on with your fasting! When the son replies: ‘I could not go to the shop today’, he has a row with him. While in the other room sits the mother, who has also been fasting, and when she hears the sound of breaking glass, she yells: ‘What happened? What just broke?’ Dear old lady, it is your soul that just broke! Just one glass breaks, and her chit is out there! They are all suffering nothing but loss.


Penance That Presents Naturally

In this day and age, people do not need to go out in search of penance (tapa). People have been told to do penance that presents itself naturally. This is because, in this Kaliyug (current era of the time cycle characterised by lack of unity in mind, speech and conduct), people are already suffering, be it at home, in the bedroom or at the temple; they are already in torment. What is the point of making someone do penance (tapa), when he is already suffering (natural penance)? It is like putting a turban over your combed hair. There is no point to it.

Do penance if a glass smashes. If your son does not go to work, you do penance. When the prakruti (the relative self) starts acting up during adverse circumstances, it creates a lot of inner turmoil, and that is when you have to do penance (tapa). In this age, you need to do the penances that just present themselves to you on their own.

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