The four pillars of sinful life are these: illicit sex, meat-eating and intoxication and gambling. If we stop these voluntarily, this is called austerity, austerity, tapasya. Austerity means voluntarily accept some painful condition.
So those who are habituated to all these things, namely illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling, to give up these habits, it may become little painful at the… in the beginning. But if you practice and pray to Krsna that He will help, it is not difficult to give up these habits. And as soon as you give up this waiting process, the sinful life, then immediately you become fifty percent purified to approach God. Then, by chanting Hare Krsna mantra, you make further, further, more and more progress. And when you are completely free of all sinful reaction, then you understand God and you love him. In the contaminated stage you are trying to love so many things, but you are frustrated. So if you can love God, then you will never be frustrated, and your loving desires will be fulfilled. That is Krsna consciousness movement. We are teaching all our students how to love God.
From Srila Prabhupada's lecture on initiation — February 22, 1975, Caracas