We often assume that our body is meant for gratification – by indulging in our bodily senses, we will get pleasure. Or so we are led to believe. But the same body that is the source of sensual delight is also the arena for disease, deterioration and destruction – all of which are distressful, hugely distressful. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (05.22) cautions that sensual gratification ends in tribulation. And yet the bodily senses drive us towards indulgence repeatedly and forcefully, thereby inviting misery. Recognizing that bodily urges breed suffering, some people try to extinguish such urges by subjecting the body to stimuli opposite to what it craves for. So, they may expose it to extreme heat or extreme cold or self-flagellation. By thus subjecting it to mortification, they hope to extinguish its urges. Significantly, the Gita (17.06) considers bodily mortification to be ungodly. It highlights that such abuse of the bodily elements causes distress to the Supersoul, who doesn’t want his children to suffer unnecessarily. Gita wisdom offers a balanced vision of the body as a tool for spiritual realization. By the practice of yoga, specifically active yoga, as contrasted with contemplative yoga, we can pursue purification by engaging all of our faculties – not just mental and intellectual but also physical and sensual (05.11). This same mood of utilization of the body is taken further in bhakti-yoga. Therein we see the body as belonging to our beloved Lord, Krishna, and meant for being used in his service. In fact, bhakti-yoga offers us multiple sensory pathways to the divine. These include beholding the Deities with the eyes, chanting the holy names with the tongue and hearing spiritual wisdom with the ears. Such spiritual utilization redefines the body: it doesn’t remain the cause of bondage, but becomes the means to liberation. Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17 Verse 6 karṣayantaḥ śarīra-sthaṁ bhūta-grāmam acetasaḥ māṁ caivāntaḥ śarīra-sthaṁ tān viddhy āsura-niścayān SYNONYMS karṣayantaḥ—tormenting; śarīra-stham—situated within the body; bhūtagrāmam—combination of material elements; acetasaḥ—by such a misled mentality; mām—to Me; ca—also; eva—certainly; antaḥ—within; śarīra-stham—situated in the body; tān—them; viddhi—understand; āsura—demons; niścayān—certainly. Lord Krishna Said: "Those who undergo severe austerities and penances not recommended in the scriptures, performing them out of pride, egotism, lust and attachment, who are impelled by passion and who torture their bodily organs as well as the Supersoul dwelling within are to be known as demons." There are persons who manufacture modes of austerity and penances which are not mentioned in the scriptural injunctions. For instance, fasting for some ulterior purpose, such as to promote a purely political end, is not mentioned in the scriptural directions. The scriptures recommend fasting for spiritual advancement, not for some political end or social purpose. Persons who take to such austerities are, according to Bhagavad-gītā, certainly demoniac. Their acts are against the scriptural injunction and are not beneficial for the people in general. Actually, they act out of pride, false ego, lust and attachment for material enjoyment. By such activities, not only are the combination of material elements of which the body is constructed disturbed, but also the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself living within the body. Such unauthorized fasting or austerities for some political end are certainly very disturbing to others. They are not mentioned in the Vedic literature. A demoniac person may think that he can force his enemy or other parties to comply with his desire by this method, but sometimes one dies by such fasting. These acts are not approved by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He says that those who engage in them are demons. Such demonstrations are insults to the Supreme Personality of Godhead because they are enacted in disobedience to the Vedic scriptural injunctions. The word acetasaḥ is significant in this connection-persons of normal mental condition must obey the scriptural injunctions. Those who are not in such a position neglect and disobey the scriptures and manufacture their own way of austerities and penances. Joy can only be experienced when we offer our love to Krishna. A devotee is very forgiving and tolerant of others but is very strict and determined with himself guarding against Maya. Please accept my humble obeisances All glories to Srila Gurudeva ... All glories to Srila Prabhupada ... Always think of the Lotus Feet of Lord Krishna and you will find no difficulties in executing the tasks allotted to you by Krishna. Chant these names with love and you will feel the ecstasy: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare ... हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे || हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे|| Hare Krishna ... Jay Jagannath ... ~~ Bhakta Sanjay.