Divine Discipline in Yoga

This is part 1 in a series of four videos about Divine Discipline in Yoga – Part 1 – Observances (Niyamas) – the ‘Limbs of Yoga’ from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – Yamas and Niyamas.

In this video Alice Christensen (Mother Alice) and Swami Lakshmanjoo discuss the five Niyamas (observances) as interpreted in Kashmir Shaivism.

Part 1 – Niyamas (observance), part 2 – Yamas (conduct), part 3 – Final goal in Kashmir Shaivism… a rare glimpse!, part 4 – Ahimsa (non-violence)

Alice: You know the discipline of yoga, it seems to be so complicated,  but in Patañjali’s book, the Yamas and Niyamas, of how to practice yoga, a lot of Americans they are trying to read that and understand that. Lets talk a little bit about what those things are.

Swamiji: These are limbs of yoga. Limbs of the body of yoga. Just imagine yoga is a body and it has limbs, which are to be developed first, before entering into yoga.

And these limbs are eight limbs:

1.    Yamas (conduct)

2.    Niyamas (observance)

3.    Āsana (seat)

4.    Prāṇayāma (breath)

5.    Pratyāhāra (withdrawal)

6.    Dharaṇa (concentration)

7.    Dhyana (meditation)

8.    Samādhi (highest state)

These are eight limbs; and these eight limbs we have to grow. These we have not to grow one by one. This is just like a baby in the womb. When a women conceives that baby, the limbs of that baby grow simultaneously. It is not like that, head will grow first, then one arm will grow, and another arm will grow, afterwards, leg will grow,;one leg will grow, foot will grow… No. They grow simultaneously. In the same way the limbs of yoga are to be developed simultaneously.

Do you understand?

Alice: Yes, I understand, yes.

Swamiji: And these limbs are Yamas, Niyamas…

Yamas are five. They are classified in five sections. There are five Yamas.

And Niyamas are also five.

Niyamas:

1.    Śauca (cleanliness – purity of mind, body and speech)

2.    Santoṣa (contentment – satisfaction with whatever you have)

3.    Tapas (patience – self control, not yielding to temptation)

4.    Svādhyāya (Self-knowing – understanding your Self)

5.    Isvara pranidhana (love and devotion to God)

These are Niyamas.

Yamas:

1.    Ahimsa (non-violence – in both speech and action)

2.    Satya (truthfulness – in speech and thought)

3.    Asteya (non-stealing – both mental and physical)

4.    Brahmacarya (maintaining mental and physical character)

5.    Aparigraha (non-hoarding)

These are five yamas.

Śauca: Śauca is purity of your body and mind. This is first limb of yoga. You have to see that your body is pure and your mind is pure. This is Śauca.

And the power of Śauca, the siddhi, you know, siddhis?

Alice: Yes, the siddhis would be powers.

Swamiji: Powers that come from developing this Śauca, this is one of the five Niyamas… Śauca is… by developing Śauca…

शौचात्स्वाङ्गजुगुप्सा परैरसंसर्गः२-४०॥

Śaucātsvāṅgajugupsā parairasaṁsargaḥ  || 2.40 ||

…this is the power that is developed by this śauca, purity in body and mind. That is svāṅga jugupsā, he feels that his body is always impure. Svāṅga jugupsā, he does not like the limbs of his body. And, paraira saṁsargaḥ, he does not want to contact another body with his body. This is the power that is achieved by this Śauca. It is said by Patañjali.

And next is Santoṣa. Santoṣa is contentment. This is also one limb of yoga. Contentment, whatever God has given us be content with that. That is Santoṣa.

सन्तोषादनुत्तमसुखलाभः॥२-४२॥

Santoṣādanuttamasukhalābhaḥ || 2-42 ||

This is the power that is attained by this Santoṣa. By that Santoṣa what does he achieve? He achieves, anuttama sukhalābhaḥ, absolute peace. He remains always peaceful if he has Santoṣa.

Alice: Even in the middle of a busy road and everything, the contentment can be there.

Swamiji: Yes.

Alice: Always peaceful.

Swamiji: Yes.

Alice: That is really needed, Swamiji, in our people.

Swamiji: This is called Santoṣa. And Śauca, Santoṣa and then is Tapas, penance.

Penance is just tolerance, all round tolerance. If somebody abuses you, tolerate. Don’t lose your temper. This is a kind of penance. You have to sentence your mind with penance, always penance.

Alice: Well, that’s more of a mental penance than than physical penance, isn’t it?

Swamiji: Yes. It is mental penance.

Alice: It’s a mental penance. Sometimes people think that penance means cutting the body or hurting the body.

Swamiji: That doesn’t make sense. This is mental penance.

Alice: Mental penance, I see.

Swamiji: And this is called Tapas.

Alice: And what then is the power that comes from this mental penance?

[ कायेन्द्रियसिद्धिरशुद्धिक्षयात्तपसः॥२-४३॥ ]
[ Kāyendriyasiddhiraśuddhikṣayāttapasaḥ ||2-43|| ]

Swamiji: All powers to inject. If a guru initiates his disciple, that initiation will be powerful…

Alice: …because of that.

Swamiji: … because of penance. It is power that is attained by this penance.

Alice: So that will give a person power to do what they want to do.

Swamiji: Yes. For instance, if I initiate this man, he gets its fruit in a few days.

Alice: I see.

Swamiji: If I have not penance in me and I initiate you it will take years and years and still it won’t be complete. This is the power, this is the greatness of penance that…

Alice: … that is needed in a guru.

Swamiji:  In disciple also.

Alice: And disciple also. I see.

Swamiji: And this is Tapas.

And forth one is Svādhyāya, read and write and just read and write spiritual books. You should never read and write those books which will divert you towards worldly pleasures, and these cinema books or these picture books. Avoid these picture books. You have to study only spiritual books. This is called Svādhyāya. And by that, the power of that doing you…

स्वाध्यायादिष्टदेवतासम्प्रयोगः॥२-४४॥

Svādhyāyādiṣṭadevatāsamprayogaḥ || 2-44 ||

Iṣṭadevata means that longed deity [i.e., the deity you are longing for].

Alice: Long writing?

Swamiji: No, longing for God.

Alice: Longing for God?

Swamiji: Desired God.

Alice: I see, you have a longing for only that kind of knowledge?

Swamiji: No, longed (for) God is perceive.

Alice: Perceiving God, I see.

Swamiji: … which longed (for).

Alice: I see, you see then what you are longing to see.

Swamiji: Yes.

Alice: I see.

Swamiji: That is the power that comes from this Svādhyāyā.

And the fifth Niyama is called Iśvara praṇidhāna, attachment, love for God. Love for God must be developed. Because if there is no love for God yoga won’t be effective. All activities regarding spirituality will fail. There must be attachment. There must be close love for God. This is the most necessary niyama – longing and loving – attachment for God.

[ ईश्वरप्रणिधानाद्वा॥१-२३॥ ]
[ Īśvarapraṇidhānādvā || 1-23 || ]

Alice: The attachment, the word attachment is talked about as if it’s a bad word or something, and yet now you are saying the attachment is very necessary.

Swamiji: Yes.

Alice: Because most people say, “if you have any attachment at all you won’t make it.

Swamiji: But that is attachment, worldly attachment. It is spiritual attachment. It is attachment for God, attachment for your Lord, attachment for your master. If you have attachment for your master it will come by Svādhyāyā, Svādhyāyā means just reciting the name of your master day and night, your master will appear before you. It is definite. It is sure.

Alice: Yes.

Swamiji: So it is Iṣṭadevatā samprayogaḥ is the power that comes out of this. And these are five Niyamas. This is one collective limb of five fold collective limbs. This is called Niyama. And another five fold collective limbs of yoga is yama. That is…

1.    Ahimsa (non-violence – in both speech and action)

2.    Satya (truthfulness – in speech and thought)

3.    Asteya (non-stealing – both mental and physical)

4.    Brahmacarya (maintaining mental and physical character)

5.    Aparigraha (non-hoarding)

These five yamas.

Next: part 2, Yamas (conduct)…

This is an excerpt from a video interview with Swami Lakshmanjoo by
Alice Christensen – The American Yoga Association.
Copyright © American Yoga Association

  1. February 5, 2017

    Excellent Explanation and presentation.

    Thanks.

  2. February 27, 2017

    This is such a wonderful interview with Swamij amd so inspiring. Hope to see the rest of this precious documentary. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  3. February 27, 2017

    Very nice simple explaination.

  4. April 9, 2017

    a v v nice event

  5. May 3, 2017

    It is a relief to see Swamiji referring to Tapas as Inner Tolerance rather than self mortification. And the clarification of Svadhyaya as useful over worldly media has never been more relevant. OM TA SAT

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