The question is. What is the significance of fasting in spiritual progress? One gets the mental strength by fasting and without mental strength there cannot be a spiritual progress When a person fasts, he is going against his Body and mind this is called resistance training, It increases endurance and mental strength.
When that happens, The mind becomes stronger. All the systems, processes, practices and methods of Yoga are based on the principle that we should have control over our senses If I have control over my senses, then my mind will automatically start to come under my control. All the practices in Hatha Yoga are of this type.
That, If I can sit still for thirty mins I should try to sit still for an hour. If I cannot wake up at 5 am, then I will try to wake up at 3 am. If I need meal three times a day, I will try to have it only once a day. If I need a meal once a day then I will try not to eat the whole day. I will try to fast. It is said that Mulla Nasuruddin was going to Delhi, for the first time Everyone advised him to be careful as everyone in Delhi tells double the price for everything.
He said, “Alright” As soon as he gets off the bus, It starts raining. He rushes to the nearby shop to buy an umbrella. Mullah asks the shopkeeper, “What is the price of this umbrella”. Shopkeeper says it is for Rs 100. Mullah replies that “I will pay Rs 50”. Because he remembered that everything here will be double the price.
The shopkeeper replies, “Okay, give me Rs 80.” Mullah says, “I will give Rs 40.” The shopkeeper replies, “You are so stubborn, Ok, give me Rs 60.” Mullah: “I will give Rs 30” The shopkeeper gives in “Ok, take it for free.” Mullah replies, “I will take 2.” So, fasting will benefit only if it is done properly. Meaning, if we fast for the whole life, then it becomes the opposite of fasting. If you are fasting for one day, you will be able to do so.
When you are fasting for 2 days, you will feel more hungry on the second day. When you are fasting for 3 days, The mind will think more about the food. But when fasting for 9 days during Navratri, by 4th or 5th day, you stop feeling hungry, then you don’t realize how the 9 days passes.
The last day of the fasting seems difficult. because you know you have to eat food that day, you are not able to wait. and that day, people eat much more to make up for the days of fasting. But If you have not given a fixed end date of the fasting, of anything then mind will keep on thinking about that the thing that you have abstained from.
If you have refrained yourself from something, the mind will automatically go towards it. If something is put behind a curtain, The mind will be curious to see what is behind that curtain. If fasting is done with patience and as per the scriptures then it is good, otherwise It is more harmful than it is beneficial.
aśhāstra-vihitaṁ ghoraṁ tapyante ye tapo janāḥ dambhāhankāra-sanyuktāḥ kāma-rāga-balānvitāḥ.. Bhagvad Gita 17.5 Those who undergo such austerities and penances, which are not mentioned in the scriptures, With such penances, only and only arrogance and ego arises in that person. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna. It is not like that we have to put a veil on our desires. Fasting is done to discipline ourselves and to increase our patience..