The same applies to all kinds of austerities. Tapasya means voluntary acceptance of bodily pains to achieve some higher end of life. Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu underwent a severe type of bodily torture to achieve the end of sense gratification. Sometimes modern politicians also undergo severe types of austerities to achieve some political end. This is not actually tapasya. One should accept voluntary bodily inconvenience for the sake of knowing Vāsudeva because that is the way of real austerities. Otherwise all forms of austerities are classified as modes of passion and ignorance. passion and ignorance cannot end the miseries of life. Only the mode of goodness can mitigate the threefold miseries of life. Vasudeva and Devakī, the so-called father and mother of Lord Kṛṣṇa, underwent penances to get Vāsudeva as their son. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the father of all living beings (BG 14.4). Therefore He is the original living being of all other living beings. He is the original eternal enjoyer amongst all other enjoyers. Therefore no one can be His begetting father, as the ignorant may think. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa agreed to become the son of Vasudeva and Devakī upon being pleased with their severe austerities. Therefore if any austerities have to be done, they must be done to achieve the end of knowledge, Vāsudeva.
Vāsudeva is the original Personality of Godhead Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. As explained before, the original Personality of Godhead expands Himself by innumerable forms. Such expansion of forms is made possible by His various energies. His energies are also multifarious, and His internal energies are superior and external energies inferior in quality. They are explained in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.4-6) as the parā and the aparā prakṛtis. So His expansions of various forms which take place via the internal energies are superior forms, whereas the expansions which take place via the external energies are inferior forms. The living entities are also His expansions. The living entities who are expanded by His internal potency are eternally liberated persons, whereas those who are expanded in terms of the material energies are eternally conditioned souls. Therefore, all culture of knowledge, austerities, sacrifice and activities should be aimed at changing the quality of the influence that is acting upon us. For the present, we are all being controlled by the external energy of the Lord, and just to change the quality of the influence, we must endeavor to cultivate spiritual energy. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that those who are mahātmās, or those whose minds have been so broadened as to be engaged in the service of Lord Kṛṣṇa, are under the influence of the internal potency, and the effect is that such broadminded living beings are constantly engaged in the service of the Lord without deviation. That should be the aim of life. And that is the verdict of all the Vedic literatures. No one should bother himself with fruitive activities or dry speculation about transcendental knowledge. Everyone should at once engage himself in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Nor should one worship different demigods who work as different hands of the Lord for creation, maintenance or destruction of the material world. There are innumerable powerful demigods who look over the external management of the material world. They are all different assisting hands of Lord Vāsudeva. Even Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā are included in the list of demigods, but Lord Viṣṇu, or Vāsudeva, is always transcendentally situated. Even though He accepts the quality of goodness of the material world, He is still transcendental to all the material modes. The following example will clear that matter more explicitly. In the prison house there are the prisoners and the managers of the prison house. Both the managers and the prisoners are bound by the laws of the king. But even though the king sometimes comes in the prison, he is not bound by the laws of the prison house. The king is therefore always transcendental to the laws of the prison house, as the Lord is always transcendental to the laws of the material world.