(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 02 July 2013, Vrndavan, India, Bhagavad-gita 14.22 – 25)
Devotional service itself is the means to become absorbed. So, Gaudiya vaisnavas do not need to spend so much exercise in trying to control the senses. Therefore, Gaudiyas are not putting so much emphasis on austerity or renunciation. It is said that austerity and renunciation are preliminary activities. They are actually not directly part of bhakti. They are not one of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti.
One can be as renounced as one wants but it does not in any way increase our love of God. So one can fast very, very rigidly but that in itself is not bringing us love of God. Therefore our fasting is simply to create space for hearing and chanting. That’s it! If on these fasting days, we are not getting absorbed in hearing and chanting, then there is very little benefit to the austerity in terms of trying to make the mind neutral. Because if by such a technique, of austerity or renunciation, that one is trying to make the mind neutral, still the roots of the material enjoyment have not been removed.
kecit kevalaya bhaktya
agham dhunvanti kartsnyena
niharam iva bhaskarah (Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1.15)
Only by devotional service, are the roots of material enjoyment actually removed. Otherwise, as we see in the fifteenth chapter (of Bhagavad-gita), the description of the banyan tree of material existence – it says that all our material activities, all these different activities become branches and this is the network that we build-up called our life. So many things we are doing and all that creates a huge network of activities and the fruits of those activities. So, one can minimize the fruits of these activities by renunciation, by tyaga, give them up. One can minimize his involvement in endeavouring for such activities by tapasya.
“No, I will not do it. Cushion comfortable? No, I will not take it, better sit on the hard floor. It’s all right.” That kind of mood will diminish the plant. That will diminish all the branches and the fruits of our activity but it will not cut the roots at all. It will only cut the plant and the roots still stay in the garden. And again, again… with time, another plant with many branches will re-emerge. That is the nature of it…
That is why we understand that devotional service is completely different, agham dhunvanti kartsnyena niharam iva bhaskarah, it destroys that root because it gives us something so much more wonderful, so much more wonderful that one let’s go naturally; when we are appreciating Krsna then who cares about all these material things!