Niyama

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By Swami Harshananda

Niyama literally means ‘that which restrains’.

Niyama as per Yogasutras

In the most general sense, the word ‘niyama’ means a rule or discipline. This includes things that are ordained or prohibited, especially during the observance of vratas or religious vows. In the Yogasutras of Patañjali[1] it forms the second of the eight steps of yoga and comprises these five disciplines:[2]

  1. Śauca - cleanliness
  2. Santoṣa - contentment
  3. Svādhyāya - study of scriptures
  4. Tapas - austerity
  5. Īśvara praṇidhāna - devotion to God and dedication of the fruits of work

Niyama as per Hathayogapradīpikā

The Hathayogapradīpikā[3] gives a longer list of disciplines under niyama. They are:

  1. Tapas - austerity
  2. Santoṣa - contentment
  3. Āstikya - faith in God
  4. Dāna - giving gifts, charity
  5. Īśvarapujana - worship of God
  6. Siddhānta-vākyaśravaṇa - listening to the statements of the scriptures
  7. Hrī - modesty
  8. Mati - discerning mind
  9. Japa - repetition of mantras
  10. Huta - sacrifice, oblations in duly consecrated fire

Niyama as per Sanskrit Grammar

In Sanskrit grammar it refers to a restricting rule as prevailing over a general rule.


References

  1. He lived in 200 B. C.
  2. Yogasutras 2.32
  3. Hathayogapradīpikā 1.17
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore