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Best penance

Best penance

तवेसु वा उत्तमं बंभचेरं

Chastity is the best penance

Exercise of forbearance against various hardships for the purpose of self-development and realization of self only is penance. Two types of penances have been referred in the scriptures – external and internal penances. Fasting, taking less than normal intake of food, reduction in the number of items, renunciation of taste, preparing the body to face hardships and living lonely are the six external penances; repentance, humility, service, self-study, meditation and detachment from the body and others are six types of internal penances. An aspirant goes through both types of these penances.

Hunger, thirst, cold, heat and other natural hardships also require application of endurance. Man for woman and woman for man has also been considered as affliction. Not to be sensually allured to either a woman or man is also considered as part of vow of chastity. One who follows the vow of chastity is virgin, best devotee (tapasvi) because enlightened have considered chastity as the best amongst penances.

- Sutrakritanga Sutra 1/6/23

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