Self-denial opens the door to self-fulfillment
Whenever Gita wisdom encourages us to perform any act of self-denial like fasting on certain holy days, the purpose is not self-torture, but self-fulfillment. Fulfilling our bodily requirements is necessary for survival, but not sufficient for satisfaction. Satisfaction comes only by the fulfillment of our spiritual necessity of a loving connection with the reservoir of all satisfaction, Krishna. However, as long as we are caught up in catering to bodily demands – as we normally are, we neglect our spiritual necessity and miss the lasting fulfillment available thereof.
The Gita recommends acts of self-denial to gently compel us to relish what we have been unnecessarily missing. Self-denial checks our bodily preoccupation and forces us to look at the spiritual level for fulfillment. If we look by the right process under the right guidance, then we get so much spiritual fulfillment that we don’t even miss the bodily needs that we normally consider indispensable. The Bhagavad-gita (5.21) indicates that those who detach themselves from external pleasures and concentrate on seeking inner joys relish a fulfillment that is inexhaustible. The quickest, easiest and safest way to experience self-fulfillment is by practicing devotional service centered on remembrance of Krishna. This is evident in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.1.13), wherein the emperor Parikshit, despite fasting for a prolonged period, declares that he is not missing food or water because he is relishing the nectar of remembrance of Krishna.
“Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.”