It includes fasting, keeping silence, celibacy, restrain in sense pleasures and various methods in training the body to withstand cold, heat and others discomforts without the usual mental agitation. If practiced with discrimination it helps the devotee to tune with higher spiritual vibrations. The profound purpose of tapas is to change in man his bad taste in preferring transient sense pleasures to everlasting bliss of the soul.
Svadhyaya (Study of one's own Self)
This involves a thorough and detailed study of sacred scriptures. Regularly feeding the mind with important teachings from the scriptures or teaching of any saint or sage. Alter reading and studying: the next step is to constantly contemplate the teachings in the mind to make the teaching a part of our nature. This constant reflection prepares the mind for reception of real knowledge from within. The brooding and reflection on the fundamental truths of life gradually and imperceptibly begins to take the form of meditation.
In bringing about this one pointed absorption Satsang, company of the holy men and the use of mantras is very helpful. These mantras purify the mind. Svadhyaya begins with intellectual study and is carried through the progressive stages of reflection, contemplation, meditation, etc. where the sadhak is able to gain all knowledge from within by his own efforts. The prefix ‘sva' means self. Svadhyaya is the study of one's self by the Self. He leaves all external aids as books, discourses, guidelines from outside and dives into his own mind for everything he needs.
A true devotee does not suffer from indigestion as does one who gorges himself on scriptural lore without understanding its meaning and without assimilating it into life. In all ages there has been conflict between theoretical knowers of the scriptures — the professional priests and the men of true spiritual insight. Priests who lack inner realization but who boasts of their erudition are often jealous of and persecute the men of God who live the truth. Redemption does not come from what one knows intellectually but from what one becomes as a result of that knowledge. Svadhyaya is intuitional learning.
Ishvarapranidhana (Surrender to the will of God)
It is usually translated as accepting the will of God. This acceptance means that the will of God is supreme in the world over which He rules and he submits to that will gladly although the experience which has evoked that assertion may not be a pleasant one. This attitude is quite similar to that of a loyal subject to the whims of his king. It is however clear that this attitude of a pious individual is superior to the common attitude of resentment towards the inevitable calamities and sufferings of life and conducive to peaceful state of mind yet it cannot take the sadhak very far along the path of spiritual unfoldment.
The practice of Isvarpranidhan begins with the mental assertion, ‘not my will but Thy will be done', but it does not end there. There should be a steady effort at a gradual decrease of the importance of ‘I and mine' and this is done by different methods according to the temperament and previous sanskaras of the sadhak. There may be an earnest desire to become a conscious instrument of the supreme will. This will finds obstruction in its expression at the human