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Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Niyama : 1 Sauca

From this issue onwards, we give one by one all the five niyamas Sauca-Samtosa-Tapah-Svadhyaya-Isvara pranidhana and the results can be obtained by following them from the very core. Let us begin the first niyama - SAUCA.

Sauca is purity, both physical and mental. It is a necessity to create a congenial atmosphere not only for sadhana or worship but also doing any performance in the world. Can we imagine a sadhaka doing meditation amidst a heap of dirt, a devotee performing Puja without a bath, a person seeking good health eating junk food, ora philosopher harbouring unhealthy thoughts? We have to take basic level before we talk about the higher level of spirituality.

As we talk about sauca, in the early morning, what freshness do we feel washing our face and splashing our eyes with cold water (except in severe winter of course). But people who have the habit of bed-tea (bad tea !) miss this wonderful charm of first sauca in the morning, performed after attending to the call of nature that detoxicates our system. Brushing the teeth really refreshes us but the question is whether fill our mouth with all sorts of chemicals early in the morning or use age old wisdom of our ancestors? Let us learn to use herbal tooth-pastes, now commonly available in the market. Of course best would be tooth-power or a neem/babul twig if one can get used to it. A cool shower, early in the morning specially in the summer refreshes the whole body. It is better not to get used to hot water unless it is really cold. Use of artificial cosmetics specially those which involve cruelty to animals should be totally avoided.

One should clean not only one self but the surroundings as well. A neat and clean place with all the articles kept in proper order not only creates a nice atmosphere for sadhaka, but also helps us to be methodical in our day to day life. It also saves a lot of time, energy and mental peace wasted, by most of the people, in searching necessary items in the time of need.

It is nice to see ashramas, temples and institutions where people keep their things neatly and in an organized way. Harmony outside helps create the inner harmony. It is important necessary for sadhakas to maintain this harmony line perfectly.

More important is cleaning the internal organs through yogic kriyas. A lot of dirt is accumulated in the form of mucus, bile etc inside our body that causes various diseases when body is weak due to old age or due to any other reason. Cleaning this 'dirt' from time to time through Sat Kriyas keeps us healthy on all physical, mental and spiritual levels.

Most important is mental purity, that can be achieved by Japa (repetition of sacred names), chanting the mantras, studying and contemplating on truths of the scriptures etc. We have to learn to replace consciously the negative thoughts with the positive ones.

Food plays an important role in the life of a sadhaka in framing his mental stability. One should avoid such Tamsic food that excites the mind. Pure Sattvic food is always congenial for spiritual growth. Fasting (not by force) now and then also helps in sublimating our mind.

Vivekananda Kendra has given top priority to sauca. It has made a decade long effort to rebuild our nation through purity, by cleaning the surrounding of the ancient temple of Devi Kanyakumari. The idea is to project this last town of our country as the most beautiful one, an ideal model for the whole country.

We will see, next, how the observation of this niyama of Purity, sauca, helps a sadhaka, according to the great sage Patanjali.

This article appears in the Yoga Magazine, Yoga Sudha February, 1994 edition. This article has been published courtesy www.yogasudha.com

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