Aim of Penance
Bhasmasur was a well known devil. He started hard penance for Lord Shiva’s grace. Satisfied with his penance Lord Shiva appeared before him. Lord Shiva asked Bhasmasur what he wanted. He immediately said “O Lord! Bless me with power.” He asked further “Anything upon which I put my hand should turn into ashes.” Lord Shiva was surprised with his demand. He asked Bhasmasur again if he really wants the same but Bhasmasur was adamant. Shiva smiled for a moment and then blessed him with whatever he asked.
Bhasmasur’s happiness knew no bound. But at the very next moment, he had a doubt in his mind. He thought that even if Lord Shiva blessed him with the power, why he would believe until he actually experiment and prove that he has the power!
At once he asked Lord Shiva, "How can I believe that I have such power? Wait, Let me first test my power then only would I believe in what you say! And.....Who would be better one than you to have that test! I want to test my power upon you."
Bhasmasur at once started running after Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva already knew what was going to happen. He started to run and Bhasmasur began to follow him. The chase took Lord Shiva to his holy abode, Kailash.
Gauging the impending impasse, Lord Vishnu came to rescue and assumed the form of a beautiful lady - Mohini. Bhasmasur was not a saint. He had not mastered his senses. His anger, his lust, his animosity was as it is. A beautiful lady was enough to lure him. Moreover, Mohini was so extraordinary that Bhasmasur was attracted towards her at a first glance. Now Bhasmasur began chasing Mohini.
Mohini knew that Bhasmasur was mad after her and would do anything to get to her. She started dancing and Bhasmasur began replicating her every move blindly. Soon, Mohini performed a posture in which she put her hand on her own head. Bhasmasur was just blindly following her, so he also put his hand on his own head.
That was it. Bhasmasur turned into ashes! What else would be an end of a blind folded person running after beauty and flash?
The moral of the story is that the aim of the penance should be noble. It should be aimed at the benefit of the self or for the betterment of others. Penance is of no use if it keeps evil instincts in us. In fact, it should be performed with an intention to remove such vices from us. The aim of penance should be to purify our mind and intellect, and then only it is meaningful. Otherwise, like Bhasmasur it would lead us towards our fall.