Yama and Niyama

Principles of spiritual morality

The principles of yama and niyama are very old and have always been a part of systematized tantrik practices. The five principles of yama (control) are intro-extroversial in character as they deal with external behavior and conduct. The principles of niyama are fundamentally internal as they deal with the inner world of the individual.


The principles of yama are: proper action (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), non-stealing (asteya), modesty (aparigraha) and spiritual consciousness (brahmacarya).
Ahimsa means not causing suffering to any harmless creature through thought, word or deed.
Satya denotes action of mind or use of words with the object of helping others in the real sense. It has no relative application.
Asteya means non-stealth and this should not be confined to the physical action but to the action of mind as well. All actions have their origin in the mind and hence the correct sense of asteya is to give up the desire of acquiring what is not rightly one's own.
Aparigraha involves the non-acceptance of such amenities and comforts of life as are superfluous for the preservation of the physical existence.
The spirit of Brahmacarya is to experience His presence and authority in each and every physical and psychic objectivity. This occurs when the unit mind resonates with cosmic will.


The five rules of niyama are: purity (shaoca), contentment (santosa), endurance (tapah), understanding (svadhyaya) and spiritual practice (iishvarapranidhana).
Shaoca means purity both of physical and mental body. Mental purity is attained by benevolent deeds, charity, or other dutiful acts.
Santosa means contentment. It implies accepting ungrudgingly and without a complaint the out-turn of the services rendered by one's own physical or mental labor.
Tapah means efforts to reach the goal despite such efforts being associated with physical discomforts.
Svadhyaya means study of the scriptures or other books of learning and to assimilate their spirit.
The whole universe is guided by the Supreme Entity and nothing that one does or can do is without His specific command. Iishvarapranidhana is an auto-suggestion of the idea that each and every unit is an instrument in the hands of the Almighty and is a mere spark of that Supreme fire. Iishvarapranidhana also implies implicit faith in Him irrespective of whether one lives in momentary happiness or sorrow, in prosperity or adversity.
Only those who by their nature adhere to the above ten commands in their normal and spiritual conduct are sadvipras.

4 June 1959
Idea and Ideology 

Note: The yamas sand niyamas are ancient principles that go back to the teachings of the spiritual master Sadashiva who lived in North India some 7000 years ago. Much later these principles were incorporated by Maharsi Patainjali as part of his system of Rajayoga, the classical system of Astaunga Yoga. In this way, the moral-spiritual code of Yama and Niyama has been part of a genuine system of self-development and self-realization since old times.

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