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Performing penances in devotional service - SB 2.9.24
Hare Krsna dear devotees.
My humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
In the Bhagavatam Life lecture from HG Sutapa Prabhu, it was mentioned the point from the purport of SB 2.9.24 ( https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/2/9/24/)
In executing penance, one must be determined to return home, back to Godhead, and must decide to undergo all types of tribulations for that end. Even for material prosperity and name and fame one has to undergo severe types of penances, otherwise no one can become an important figure in this material world. Why, then, should there not be severe types of penances for the perfection of devotional service? An easygoing life and attainment of perfection in transcendental realization cannot go together. The Lord is more clever than any living entity; therefore He wants to see how painstaking the devotee is in devotional service. The order is received from the Lord, either directly or through the bona fide spiritual master, and to execute that order, however painstaking, is the severe type of penance. One who follows the principle rigidly is sure to achieve success in attaining the Lord’s mercy.
There is also a statement that practicing too many penances makes our hearts harden. So is there any clear distinction and directions on how to push ourselves to do more and more penances in devotional life for advancement and in the same time don't make our heart hard or cold?
I am now trying to push myself being more discipline in my life in the hope it will improve my Japa, reading, focus, determination, eagerness and such. At the same time, I don't want to overdo it or do unnecessary things. Do you have any comment on this?
Thank you for your time and effort.
Your small servant
Hare Krishna dear Prabhu. This question is answered in the Bhagavad-gita.
Chapter 6: Sankhya-yoga
naty-asnatas 'tu yogo 'sti
na caikantam anasnatah
jagrato naiva carjuna
There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.
The most important thing to remember is that this body is a gift from Krishna and therefore we are obliged to look after it.
Śrī Īśopaniṣad, mantra 1: Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.
Everything is owned by the Lord and we have to acknowledge this by not being excessive or indulgent with what the Lord supplies us. And also it is important to have the perspective that this body is simply a machine which is provided by the Lord for your experience in this material world and ultimately our goal is to utilize the body for the Lords service. This means we have to strive for regulation in habits that are conducive in our execution of devotional service.
B.G. 18.61: The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.
The point is that everything is the lords energy and we should not exploit the Lord’s energy for our own enjoyment. The Lord wants us to engage in his devotional service and this is a performance of sacrifice. It is best that we constantly engage in the service of the Lord and keep a balanced approach knowing that we have to take care of the precious body that the Lord has provided us with. We should not push ourselves artificially by should naturally strive to become more and more absorbed in the Lord’s loving devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada mentions how the Lord will test his devotees. Therefore we do not need to create any unnecessary trials and tribulations for ourselves.
Haribol. Your servant, Bhakta David.