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Tapam (Penance) and Vrata (Resolution)

The literal meaning of ‘Tapam’, also called Tapas or Tapasya, is ‘heat’. But in Vedic thought system, this word is used, figuratively, to denote spiritual suffering, austerity, self imposed sufferings, self imposed discipline etc. It implies a self-discipline or austerity willingly expended both in restraining physical urges and in actively pursuing a higher purpose in life. Through tapas, a yogi or spiritual seeker can "burn off" past karmas or prevent accumulation of negative energies, clearing a path toward spiritual evolution.

Monks and gurus in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism practice Tapasya as a means to purify and strengthen their devotion to God, practice a religious lifestyle and obtain ‘Moksha’, or spiritual liberation. If you go through Indian mythology, you will find a lot of stories, anecdotes and references, where many men and women changed their destinies, achieved material or spiritual goals, after undertaking ‘Tapam’. Although, this is the best remedial option, we do not advise ‘Tapam’, especially stringent forms, to anyone, unless he is spiritually enlightened, after undergoing Yogic processes.

 Nowadays, less stringent forms of Tapasya, called ‘Vrata’ in layman’s language, are popularly observed. The term Vrat (pronunciation: Vrata or brat) signifies a religious or social practice to carry out certain obligations with a view to achieve divine blessing for fulfillment of one or several desires. In other words, it is a resolution with a special purpose in mind. A Vrat may be in many forms; Vrata to remain Celibate (Brahmacharya), Vrat to remain silent (Maun), Vrata to not to wear footwear and remain barefoot, Vrata to undertake a journey, especially to a religious place, by foot without using any vehicle, Vrat to sleep on the floor, Vrata to not to consume any eatable, and Vrata to abstain from eating and drinking. Vrata may be for any specific duration or for the whole life. Sometimes, close relatives or family priests may be entrusted with the obligation of performing the Vrata on behalf of another person.

 Unfortunately, in modern times, Vrata has taken a form of religious ritual, restricted to food and drinks only and are practiced as fasting rites only. But it must be clearly understood that merely to observe the regulations regarding fasting is not a Vrata but proper conduct, love, non-violence, honesty, good manners, non-stealing, truth, etc., and with firmness of purpose to take a vow to practice these virtues, can only be called Vrata.

 The beauty of Tapasya  as well Vrata is that if done properly, they have no side effects and they may be done without going into finer details of an individual Horoscope. For getting any further clarification or guidance regarding Tapasya or Vrata, you may contact ‘® .

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