ByHis Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Tapasā means austerity. Suppose if you are habituated to some bad habits. Suppose you smoke, and the prescription is, “Don’t take intoxicants – Smoking is intoxication.” Now if you have to follow the rules, it will be troublesome for you – you cannot smoke.
Because you are habituated to smoke, and I say “You don’t smoke,” it will be very difficult for you. You are habituated to unrestricted sex life, and if I say that “Don’t have illicit sex life,” it will be troublesome for you. Similarly, we are habituated so many things, and if they are restricted there will be some trouble.
So voluntarily accepting some trouble is called tapasyā, or austerity. Just like a patient, if he wants to be cured, he has to follow the restriction imposed by the physician. And he follows it. The doctor says, “Oh, you cannot get up. You must lie down twenty-four hours.” He doesn’t like it, but he has to do it. This is called tapasyā, austerity – penance. Just like we say that on the ekādaśī day you should fast. So fasting is not very pleasant, but one has to do. This is called tapasyā.ALSO READ: PUNISHMENT FOR ILLICIT SEX ONE CAN NEGLECT EVEN SEX ATTRACTION IF ONE IS ATTRACTED TO KRISHNA SRILA PRABHUPADA COMMENTS ON HOMOSEXUALITY