Spiritual Fasting

Hare KrishnaBy Yamuna Devi Dasi

With spiritual fasting, you may not make headlines, but you’ll make headway on the path back to Godhead. What do Mahatma Gandhi, Dick Gregory, Jane Fonda, Norman Mailer, Bolivian dissidents, British suffragettes, and Irish revolutionaries have in common? Well, for one thing, at one time or another and for one reason or another, they’ve all fasted. Materially their fasting was somewhat successful, whether it was undertaken to free India from British domination, turn public opinion against the Vietnam War, lose weight, win amnesty for political prisoners, get the right to vote, or what have you. But how about spiritually? It’s not that merely by starving we’re sure to make spiritual progress. A lot depends on our purpose. Fasting for some political purpose my help us reach some political goal. But the Vedic teachings direct us beyond such goals. Fasting, say the Vedic scriptures, is meant to help us control the mind and senses so we can advance in spiritual realization; it’s not for any other purpose. This may sound like a hard-nosed, shortsighted viewpoint, but before we make a hard-nosed, shortsighted judgment, let’s take a closer look.