The 10 Yamas & Niyamas of Hinduism
What does living virtuously mean to Hindus? It is following the natural and essential guidelines of dharma and the 10 yamas and 10 niyamas - ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behavior. These do's and don'ts are a common-sense code recorded in the Upanishads, in the final section of the 6000-to 8000-year-old Vedas.
Read about the 10 yamas, which means "reining in" or "control
", and the 10 niyamas, i.e., observances or practices as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.
The 10 Yamas - Restraints or Proper Conduct
Ahimsa or Non-injurySatya or TruthfulnessAsteya or NonstealingBrahmacharya or Sexual PurityKshama or PatienceDhriti or SteadfastnessDaya or CompassionArjava or HonestyMitahara or Moderate DietSaucha or Purity
Ahimsa or Non-injury
Satya or Truthfulness
Asteya or Nonstealing
Brahmacharya or Sexual Purity
Kshama or Patience
Dhriti or Steadfastness
Daya or Compassion
Arjava or Honesty
Mitahara or Moderate Diet
Saucha or Purity
The 10 Niyamas - Observances or Practices
Hri or ModestySantosha or ContentmentDana or CharityAstikya or FaithIshvarapujana or Worship of the LordSiddhanta Sravana or Scriptural ListeningMati or CognitionVrata or Sacred VowsJapa or IncantationTapas or Austerity
Hri or Modesty
Santosha or Contentment
Dana or Charity
Astikya or Faith
Ishvarapujana or Worship of the Lord
Siddhanta Sravana or Scriptural Listening
Mati or Cognition
Vrata or Sacred Vows
Japa or Incantation
Tapas or Austerity
These are the 20 ethical guidelines called yamas and niyamas, or restraints and observances. Sage Patanjali (c 200 BC), propounder of Raja Yoga, said, "These yamas are not limited by class, country, time, or situation. Hence they are called the universal great vows."
Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, a yogic scholar, revealed the inner science of yama and niyama. He states that they are the means to control the 'vitarkas,' i.e., the evil or negative mental thoughts. When acted upon, these thoughts result in injury to others, untruthfulness, hoarding, discontent, indolence or selfishness. He said, "For each vitarka, you can create its opposite through yama and niyama, and make your life successful."
As Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami says, "The ten restraints and their corresponding practices are necessary to maintain bliss consciousness, as well as all of the good feelings toward oneself and others attainable in any incarnation. These restraints and practices build character. Character is the foundation for spiritual unfoldment."
In Indian spiritual life, these Vedic restraints and observances are built into the character of children from a very early age to cultivate their refined, spiritual being while keeping the instinctive nature in check.
Parts of this article are reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.