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ciraṁ bhṛtena tapasā
There are two kinds of penance: one for sense gratification and the other for self-realization. There are many pseudo mystics who undergo severe penances for their own satisfaction, and there are others who undergo severe penances for the satisfaction of the senses of the Lord. For example, the penances undertaken to discover nuclear weapons will never satisfy the Lord because such a penance is never satisfactory. By nature’s own way, everyone has to meet death, and if such a process of death is accelerated by anyone’s penances, there is no satisfaction for the Lord. The Lord wants every one of His parts and parcels to attain eternal life and bliss by coming home to Godhead, and the whole material creation is meant for that objective. Brahmā underwent severe penances for that purpose, namely to regulate the process of creation so that the Lord might be satisfied. Therefore the Lord was very much pleased with him, and for this Brahmā was impregnated with Vedic knowledge. The ultimate purpose of Vedic knowledge is to know the Lord and not to misuse the knowledge for any other purposes. Those who do not utilize Vedic knowledge for that purpose are known as kūṭa-yogīs, or pseudo transcendentalists who spoil their lives with ulterior motives.