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Fasting is for physical fitness and not for spiritual benefits

Recently, a discussion on a spiritual website echoed a common sentiment about fasting. It talked about how fasting is becoming popular and is being practised by many spiritual paths, when actually it is just a part of diet control or physical fitness.


The following points will clarify this misconception:
A. Fasting is indeed a part of spiritual practice especially as per the Path of Deliberate Rigour (Hahayoga).

B. Fasting is a part of the vowed observances of any religion and has spiritual benefits as follows:

  • A vowed religious observance (vrat) means following specific religious restrictions for a set period of time or throughout one's life. Vowed religious observances include prayer, worship, fasting and other restrictions like maintaining silence (moun), etc. They help overcome not only physical impurity but also internal or subtle impurities of the mind and help develop a pure (sāttvik) attitude and love for God.
  • Restrictions like maintaining a fast, help increase one's discipline by bringing about sacrifice of the body and mind. Fasting helps to increase one's spiritual purity (Sattva) component by conserving the energy expended in eating. Vowed religious observances including fasting help overcome physical and psychological diseases that are a result of destiny (and sins from past births).


 

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