Thanks to Sri Ram Balasubramanian for the share.
In the worldly courses of conduct, the happiness that can be obtained can only be had mixed with pain. If a person takes daily some nourishing food, the body will become fat and stored with excess energy.
Modern people will agree that to reduce such accumulation of fat, a day’s fast once in a fortnight is desirable. But they will ask, why should it be on the day of ekādaśī and why not we have it on any day we like? We might as well ask, why not on that day?
Ekādaśī is a day sacred to God Viṣṇu. When we do a good thing, is it not proper that we do it on a good day? It gives us not only a worldly benefit to our bodies, but an unseen benefit or puṇya. A day’s fast will produce some heat and bile in the body and also cause some constipation.
To remove these undesirable effects and give us perfect health, the Śāstras have prescribed certain items to be included in the meal the next day, such as leaves of the agastya plant and fruits of the āmalakā (gooseberry) tree.
Therefore, inasmuch as both the kinds of benefit ensue from a proper performance of activities prescribed in the Śāstras, it is not reasonable to treat with indifference the aspect of unseen spiritual benefit obtainable from such activities.
It is not proper to draw attention to the purification of blood and other symbols of health as the perceptible results of prostrations to the Sun and other activities, as if such perceptible results are the main aim in the prescription of the Śāstras.
The function of the Śāstras is to prescribe the means which cannot be learnt by direct experience or by inference. Their objective is only one: the unseen spiritual effect. The perceptible results are only by way of by-products.
For example, we rear mango trees only for the sake of their fruits. But the leaves, the shade and the aroma that we get from the trees are also enjoyed as by-products.
The Śāstras call such benefits secondary which will come on their own accord, even if not desired. Scorching is natural to fire whether you touch it intentionally or not. Similarly whether you intend or not, the perceptible results are bound to attend the performance of any act; but as they are only secondary effects, no independent effort is needed to produce them.
-His Holiness Śrī Candraśekhara Bhāratī Mahāsvāmī
(Published in Tattvāloka of July 2019)