Commandments of the other kind
The following are the Commandments listed by Patanjali, Manu, Bhagvad Gita and Bhagvat urana. They are a way of life—a rich philosophical path. And the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances) are good common-sense guidelines for leading a healthier, happier life for bringing spiritual awareness into a social context as well as material well being. They are for you to think about and ponder over with a rational mind. , because Hinduism is not about mindlessly accepting externally imposed rules—it is about finding the truth for yourself—and 'connecting' with it.
The Yamas are the ethical restraints; the Niyamas are the religious practices. Because it is brief, the entire code can be easily memorized and reviewed daily by the spiritual aspirant. Here are the ten traditional yamas and ten niyamas.
The traditional Yamas are:
- 1. Ahimsa: Ahimsa or non-violence is the awareness and practice of non-violence in thought, speech and action. It advocates the practices of compassion, love, understanding, patience, self-love, and worthiness.
- Satya: truthfulness, word and thought in conformity with the facts. Patanjali describes truthfulness as: "To be in harmony with mind, word and action, to conduct speech and mind according to truth, to express through speech and to retain it in the intellect what has been seen, understood or heard."
- Asteya: non-stealing, non-coveting, non-entering into debt. It upholds forgoing the unauthorized possession of thought, speech and action. Asteya stands against covetousness and envy and un-authorised possession of material wealth. It is the cultivation of a sense of completeness and self-sufficiency in order to progress beyond base cravings.
- Brahmacharya: divine conduct, continence, celibate when single, faithful when married. It is a behavior, which brings man nearer to the Divine. This yama believes in controlling and regulating, but not suppression, of all sensual pleasures, whether mental, vocal or physical.
- Aparigraha (non-covetousness): non-accumulation of worldly wealth beyond reasonable needs, caused by covetousness and attachment. The commentator Vyasa says that this last state of yama is attained when one remains totally detached from sensual pleasures of all kinds and so effectively refrains from committing himsa or violence of any sort.
- Kshama: forgiveness, patience, releasing time, functioning in the now. forgiveness, patience, releasing time, functioning in the now. This a big virtue. This is a reactive merit. It should be complete, physical, mental and oral.
- Dhriti: steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, and indecision; seeing each task through to completion. It involves inculcation of courage and standing for principles of morality.
- Daya: compassion; conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings. While kshama is a reaction on any action, daya is not a reaction but a positive action itself. To assist someone with sympathy is daya. Like ahimsa, daya is also physical, oral and mental.
- Arjava: honesty, straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing. To behave humbly with everyone after casting aside the ego is aarjav. Casting aside of one's ego is important.
- Mitahara: moderate appetite, neither eating too much nor to little; nor consuming impure or unhealthy food.
- Shaucha: purity, avoidance of impurity in body, mind and speech. In the words of sage Manu, water purifies the body; truthfulness the mind; true knowledge the intellect and the soul is purified by knowledge and austerity. It advocates the practices of intellectual purity, purity of speech and of the body.
Some thinkers have said that No. 5 is a part of No. 3, so there are Ten Yamas.
The following are Ten Niyamas:
- Remorse, Hri : Expression of remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds. Recognize your errors, confess and make amends. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds. Resolve all contention before sleep. Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits. Welcome correction as a means to bettering yourself. Do not boast. Shun pride and pretension.
- Contentment, Santosha : Nurture contentment, seeking joy and serenity in life. Be happy, smile and uplift others. Live in constant gratitude for your health, your friends and your belongings, Don't complain about what you don't possess. Identify with the eternal You, rather than mind, body or emotions. Keep the mountaintop view that life is an opportunity for spiritual progress. Live in the eternal now.
- Giving in selfless charity, Dana : Be generous to a fault, giving liberally without thought of reward. Tithe, offering one-tenth of your gross income (dashamamsha), as God's money, to temples, ashrams and spiritual organizations. Approach the temple with offerings. Visit guru with gifts in hand. Donate religious literature. Feed and give to those in need. Bestow your time and talents without seeking praise. Treat guests as God.
- Faith, Astikya : Cultivate an unshakable faith. Believe firmly in God, Gods, guru and your path to enlightenment. Trust in the words of the masters, the scriptures and traditions. Practice devotion and sadhana to inspire experiences that build advanced faith. Be loyal to your lineage, one with your satguru. Shun those who try to break your faith by argument and accusation. Avoid doubt and despair.
- Worship, Ishvarapujana : Cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation. Set aside one room of your home as God's shrine. Offer fruit, flowers or food daily. Learn a simple puja and the chants. Meditate after each puja. Visit your shrine before and after leaving the house. Worship in heartfelt devotion, clearing the inner channels to God, Gods and guru so their grace flows toward you and loved ones.
- Scriptural Listening, Siddhanta Shravana
Eagerly hear the scriptures, study the teachings and listen to the wise of your lineage. Choose a guru, follow his path and don't waste time exploring other ways. Read, study and, above all, listen to readings and dissertations by which wisdom flows from knower to seeker. Avoid secondary texts that preach violence. Revere and study the revealed scriptures, the Vedas and Agamas.
- Cognition, Mati
Develop a spiritual will and intellect with your satguru's guidance. Strive for knowledge of God, to awaken the light within. Discover the hidden lesson in each experience to develop a profound understanding of life and yourself. Through meditation, cultivate intuition by listening to the still, small voice within, by understanding the subtle sciences, inner worlds and mystical texts.
- Sacred Vows, Vrata
Embrace religious vows, rules and observances and never waver in fulfilling them. Honor vows as spiritual contracts with your soul, your community, with God, Gods and guru. Take vows to harness the instinctive nature. Fast periodically. Pilgrimage yearly. Uphold your vows strictly, be they marriage, monasticism, nonaddiction, tithing, loyalty to a lineage, vegetarianism or nonsmoking.
- Recitation, Japa
Chant your holy mantra daily, reciting the sacred sound, word or phrase given by your guru. Bathe first, quiet the mind and concentrate fully to let japa harmonize, purify and uplift you. Heed your instructions and chant the prescribed repetitions without fail. Live free of anger so that japa strengthens your higher nature. Let japa quell emotions and quiet the rivers of thought.
- Austerity, Tapas
Practice austerity, serious disciplines, penance and sacrifice. Be ardent in worship, meditation and pilgrimage. Atone for misdeeds through penance (prayashchitta), such as 108 prostrations or fasting. Perform self-denial, giving up cherished possessions, money or time. Fulfill severe austerities at special times, under a satguru's guidance, to ignite the inner fires of self-transformation.
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Shantih all around.