[Advaita-l] BGBh and yoga - yama-niyama - I

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 18 21:11:50 CDT 2005

--- Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> The eight limbs (aShTAN^ga) of yoga, traditionally counted,
> are yama, 
> niyama, Asana, prANAyAma, pratyAhAra, dhAraNA, dhyAna and
> samAdhi. I will 
> take up references to these limbs (aN^ga-s) in the bhagavad
> gItA bhAShya 
> (BGBh) and other commentaries, in sequential order. In this
> post, we will 
> see how and where SankarAchArya refers to the first two,
> yama-s and 
> niyama-s.
> The yogasUtra lists tapas (penance), svAdhyAya (self-study)
> and 
> ISvara-praNidhAna (meditation on the Lord) as the three limbs
> of kriyA-yoga 
> (sUtra 2. 1). The same three, along with Sauca (purity) and
> santoSha 
> (happiness/contentment), are listed as kinds of niyama-s
> (sUtra 2. 32). The 
> yama-s are listed (sUtra 2. 30) as ahi.msA (non-violence),
> satya (truth), 
> asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha 
> (non-acquisition). We may also note that the taittirIya
> upaniShat (TU) gives 
> great importance to tapas and svAdhyAya too (tapaS ca
> svAdhyAya-pravacane ca 
> ... tapa iti taponiShThaH pauruSiShTiH ... taddhi tapas taddhi
> tapaH - TU 
> SIxAvallI; tapo brahmeti sa tapo.atapyata - TU bhR^iguvallI).
> bhagavad gItA (BG) 4.28 (dravya-yaGYas tapo-yaGYA ...) refers
> to tapas and 
> svAdhyAya. In the bhAShya, SankarAchArya leaves tapas to be
> understood and 
> doesn't describe it in greater detail. However, he explains
> svAdhyAya as 
> "yathAvidhi R^ig-Ady-abhyAsaH" i.e. study (and practice of
> chanting) of the 
> Vedas. I refer to the Vedas in plural here, because of the
> term Adi in the 
> compound R^ig-Adi, i.e. the R^igveda and so forth.
> BG 17. 14-16 lists the kinds of physical, verbal and mental
> tapas. I will 
> take up these verses and the commentary thereon for the next
> post in this 
> series.

Is the word "tapas" ever defined (as in a formal definition) in
any of the scriptures (gItA or elsewhere), or is the meaning
taken for granted? I personally feel the usual translation of
"penance" does no justice to the word's true meaning.

Ganapati Muni, who was one of the most well-read scholars of the
last century, approached Ramana while the latter remained
immersed in silence most of the time and was largely unknown to
the public, and asked the question, "All that has to be read I
have read; even Vedanta sastra I have fully understood; I have
done japa to my heart's content; yet I have not up to this time
understood what tapas is. Therefore I have sought refuge at your
feet. Pray enlighten me as to the nature of tapas."

Ramana replied, now speaking, "If one watches whence the notion
'I' arises, the mind gets absorbed there; that is tapas. When a
mantra is repeated, if one watches whence that mantra sound
arises, the mind gets absorbed there; that is tapas."

After hearing that answer, Ganapati Muni began referring to
Ramana as "Maharshi" and "Bhagavan", and the names stuck. More
at http://www.geocities.com/advaitavedant/bhagramana.htm

> Vidyasankar


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