Niyamas – Tapas

In the second book of the Yoga Sutras, sutra no. 43 it says:

“By austerity, impurities of body and senses are destroyed and occult powers gained”

The direct meaning of tapas is ‘to burn’. By the physical tapas of fasting, we burn away excess fat along with other toxins the body has accumulated. At mental tapas, we burn old impressions. By verbal tapas, to observe silence, we control speech. When we burn, we feel some warmth and pain. We go through suffering. So tapas also means accepting suffering. When a person suffers, he or she can be considered blessed as he or she cleanses himself of impurities. If we are to create a clean and stable mind, we must accept pain, suffering and poverty. We get even more utilization if we can accept pain at the same time as we bring joy to others. Even a cloth must go through tapas to be clean. First it should be washed in warm water with soap, while it spins around in the machine, then it is dried in a dryer and then it may even have to be under the iron. We do not do this against the cloth out of hatred, but from a loving place where we just want to get the cloth clean again. In this way we can see that pain can also be a result of love. In the same way, we have to go through pain to be clean, and if we can adopt the same understanding of the cloth for our own pain, we can more easily accept it. When we can think like this we are true yogis. By this we meet pain and embrace it. By fully understanding this, we will never find fault with others who abuse, scold or insult us. If beautiful words make us happy, while insults make us sad, we know that our minds are not yet strong. Insults help us see our weaknesses. It is said that the highest form of sadhana (spiritual practice) is to bear an insult or injury with a peaceful mind. Anyone can repeat a mantra a thousand times. The power of controlling the mind and senses comes from practicing tapas.

Once upon a time there was a man who wanted to make a saint angry. He began to insult him. “Do you see how many lives you destroy with your teachings ?!” The saint smiles at the man. “Do you not understand my language ?!” Asked the man. “Yes,” replied the saint. “How can you be so calm ??” The saint replied, “What if you had come and given me a gift, but I did not want it. What would you do? ” “I would take it back,” the man replied. “Yes,” replied the saint. “In the same way, I do not want the insults you have given me. So you can have them for yourself. ”

Dealing with a situation in this way requires enormous strength and courage. A person who only attacks physically can be physically strong, but mentally weak. Mental strength comes from tapas, accepting pain. The pain is no longer painful, but fun because we have realized the benefit of it.

It is important to add that even if you change your view of pain, it does not mean that you should inflict pain on yourself or others.


  1. Pingback: Yama & Niyama

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