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Austerities propounded by Lord Krishna
Srimad Bhagavad Gita

by Hemamalini Raghunathan

Lord kridhan-2 Lord Krishna explains various types of spiritual pursuits, which can give meaning and direction to life, in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XVII. Let us delve into a few here. Austerities pertaining to the Body, Speech and Mind are explained thus:

Verse 14

Service of the Devas, holy men, teachers, parents and wise persons, as also observance of cleanliness, uprightness, continence and non-violence...these constitute austerities, pertaining to the Body. Wise men say that the above austerities (physical) are mainly to be taught to children and to be practised in childhood itself.

Verse 15

Speaking only words that are inoffensive, true, pleasant and beneficial, as also regular recitation of scriptures constitute austerity, pertaining to Speech. These Speech-related austerities are to be strictly adhered to in adulthood, along with bodily-austerities.

Verse 16

Serenity of mind, kindliness, silence, self-control and purity of heart...these are called austerity of the Mind. Control of thought is also a sort of silence; even silence in speech is preceded by control of thought (mind). These Mind-related austerities are to be followed by matured human folk, strictly.

The aforesaid austerities of Body, Speech and Mind practised by us, again fall into three classes, according to the three qualities of Nature...Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

Verse 17 (Sattvic austerity)

The three-fold austerities (of Body, Speech and Mind), performed with the highest faith by men, who are not motivated by expectations of reward and who are established in mental equipoise, are declared to be of the nature of Sattva.

Verse 18 (Rajasic austerity)

The austerity that is performed with much show and ostentation, and having in view recognition, praise and adoration as a pious man by others, is said to be of the nature of Rajas. It is unstable and it leads to no permanent good.

Verse 19 (Tamasic austerity)

The austerity performed through the practice of selftorture, under the influence of perverse theories or done for the destruction of another is Tamasic by nature.

We need to accept with conviction the Austerities propounded by Sastra, in our spiritual path to salvation.

Reference : Srimad Bhagavad Gita; Translation by Swami Tapasyananda. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.

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