Preksha Yoga: Components of Yoga – Niyama

These are the rules (code) of conduct that apply to individual disciplines. The five niyamas discribed by Maharshi Patanjali are:

• Shauch (purity)
• Santosh (contentment)
• Tapas (austerity)
• Svadhyaya (self-study)
• Ishwara pranidhan (dedication to the God)

Shauch : For our well-being, purity of physical body is essential. At the same time cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and prides, is equally important. Also the cleansing of our intellect of impure and unhealthy thoughts is equally important. The toxins and impurities of body are removed by pranayam and asanas. They not only clean the body but also tone the entire body along with its rejuvenation.

The impurities of mind may be washed off by adopting devotion (bhakti), whereas the impurities of intellect are removed or burned off in the fire of self study (svadhyaya). Purification or cleansing of the physical body, mind and intellect brings the sate of benevolence (saumanasya), which banishes mental pain, dejection, sorrow and despair, and gives’ satisfaction with joy. In this condition the person is able to concentrate one’s mind to obtain victory over one’s own senses. Thereafter he enters the sacred temple of his own body and sees his real self in the mirror of his mind.

Food is the basic necessity of body. To keep the body and mind healthy, right kind of food is necessary. One should be very careful how his food is procured, how it is prepared and in what way it has been consumed? For a yogi, vegetarian dial is essential in order to attain concentration and spiritual evolution. Food is to be taken to promote health, to get energy and strength, and for the purpose of self-rejuvenation only. Hence the food should be simple, nourishing, juicy, soothing and with all necessary nutrients like carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, minerals and roughages. Sour, bitter, salty, pungent, burning, heavy and unclean food should necessarily be avoided. Besides food, our habitat is equally important for spiritual practices and healing purposes. It should be free from insects and noise pollution, airy, dry and clean.

Santosh: Santosh or contentment has to be developed. When a person is greedy for something or other, his mind cannot concentrate. One should feel happy in whatever condition one is living and whatever wealth one has (or does not have). He should be contented with what he has, and should be grateful to the God for his grace. Cast, creed and wealth are the fundamental factors for dissatisfaction among the people, and that leads to conscious or unconscious conflicts. In such conditions mind cannot concentrate or it cannot become single-minded (ekagra) and as a result it is robbed of its peace, which is not the way of tranquility, truth and joy, in whose absence no success, of whatever kind, can be achieved.

Tapas: Efforts and practice of character building may be termed tapas. It means to burn, shine, consume, blaze or destroy all kinds of pain with the help of inner self-control energy. It is a process of burning the desires that stands in the way of achieving the ultimate goal of life. It involves self-purification, self-discipline and austerity, and is a conscious effort to achieve the ultimate union with the divine. Tapas is of three kinds, that is it may be related to body (kayika), to speech (vachika) or to mind (mansika). Brahmaharya (continence) and ahimsa (nonviolence) are the tapas of body.

Using such words that do not offend others, reciting the glory of Almighty God, always speaking truth without thinking of its consequences are the tapas of speech. To keep tranquil and balanced in both joy and sorrow and always have self control are the tapas of mind. To work without selfish motive or hope of reward is the fundamental principle of tapas. Tapas helps in developing strong body, mind and character, which yield courage, wisdom, integrity and simplicity with straight- forwardness.

Svadhyaya: This means self-study or education. Education is a process that brings out the best; which is within ourselves. Thus the educating the self is svadhyaya. In the practice of svadhyaya the person concerned is the speaker as well as the listener. It is not a practice of class room lecture where the lecturer speaks before the audience of students who follow the instructions.

In svadhyaya people speak and listen themselves. Their mind and heart are full of love and respect, and the noble thoughts arising from this practice are taken into blood stream to make them a part of life and being. Svadhyaya changes the outlook of life. The person starts believing that all creations are divine and life is meant for adoration and not for enjoyment only. He feels that there is a part of divinity with himself and that source of energy which is engraved in him is given by God, which flows in others too.

Acharya Vinoba Bhave said that svadhyaya is the study of ourself, which is the basis or root of all other subjects, upon which the others rest, but which itself does not rest upon anything.

To lead a spiritual, healthy, peaceful and happy life, it is necessary to develop the habit of reading healthy and divine literature. It will bring to an end ignorance and misbeliefs. This habit enables the person to understand the nature of his soul and to establish the link with divine.

Ishvara pranidhana: Dedicating one’s all will, wish and actions to the God is Ishvara pranidhana. He who has faith in God, who knows that all creations belong to the God, will not face any dilemma, will not be puffed up with pride or drunk with power and will bow his head only in worship. Our senses are gratified with greed and attachment, and any hindrance in this process leads to sorrow. They may be curbed with the help of knowledge and forbearance in full conscious state only. Conscious state is directly governed by mind, and to control mind is very difficult.

This needs extra resources, which can be obtained from the God. For that one has to take the shelter of God with full honesty and dedication. It is at this stage that devotion (bhakti) begins. In bhakti the mind, intellect, will and wish are made subservient humbly to God with the pray that T am nothing and that the Almighty will take care of me. This is feeling of T and ‘mine’ and appearance of true love and devotion which leads the individual’s soul to a full growth.

When the mind is filled with the thoughts of personal gratification, there is always danger of the senses dragging the mind after the objects of desire. But when the mind is emptied of desire of personal gratification, it may easily acquire and filled with thought of God. This way of bhakti will enable the person to proceed in right direction of knowledge and conduct, because the name of God is like the sun dispelling the darkness. When our life-moon will face the sun, it will be glowing like a full moon.

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