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The three Austerities, Physical, Vocal and Mental

Physical austerity refers to using the body to perform good actions, which includes worshipping the Lord and expressing your sense of gratitude by serving great souls. If you earn their grace, the selfish aspects of I-ness and my-ness will slowly get reduced. Once these negative qualities decline, then automatically positive qualities and actions will develop. At that point, you will naturally be attracted to the company of like-minded spiritual beings and be inspired to study the Gita and other sacred texts.

In addition to this, you will undertake charity for education, for medicine and hospitals, for poor feedings and other good causes. And just as, traditionally, the different types of charities such as giving away gold and cows and land were the means for using the body in sacred activities, so also you will now be using your body in a sacred way. Since you will not be doing any harmful or prohibited activities, you will not put yourself under the spell of the sense of doership and possessiveness. You will free yourself from bondage to these two qualities. All of this can be described as bodily penance.

Vocal penance is the use of good and noble words. Even when you speak the truth you should not be severe or sharp-tongued. You must be careful not to hurt anyone. In this context, the Gita has said that truth must be sweet and nonviolent. Use the sacred tongue which has been given to you for giving joy and delight to others and for helping them. Do not give any suffering to another's mind. Use your thoughts to help you concentrate and think of the Lord. Use your tongue to describe all the glorious attributes of the Lord. Use words which are highly helpful to others. Use your talk to show the right path to others. Explain to others all the great and good spiritual experiences that you have had. Correct people if they are going on the wrong path by using good words and a sweet tongue. Make sure that no amount of falsehood enters your heart, or enters your talk. This is the way to become an adept of truth and nonviolence.