[Advaita-l] tapaH

Ravi Mayavaram ravi at ambaa.org
Sun Apr 24 21:04:36 CDT 2005

I promised to post the text from vyAsa bhAshya a week ago. Sorry for the

.. |tapaH dvandva sahanam.h | dvandvashha jighatsApipAse shItoShNe
sthAnAsane kAShTamaunAkaramaune cha | vratAni chaiva yathAyogaM
kR^ichChra-chAndrAyaNa-santapanAdinI | ...

vivaraNakAra of the text takes up this in a greater detail. He also
discusses why these three (tapas-svAdhyAya-IshvarapraNidhAna) are 
mentioned twice; once under the category of kriya-yogaH and now under 

The word tapas, comes from the root tap which means to heat/light. The
scorching heat or tApam is a laxaNa of saMsara and Sri lalitAsahasranAma
takes this up under the name "tApAtrayAgni santapta samAhlAdana 
chAndrikA". There it is said tApatraya is a laxaNa of samSara and 
tapasvinaH realize its ultimate unreality. Hence a true tapas is getting 
  rid of avidyA.

According to vyAsa tapas is enduring the duals/opposites which is the
very nature of samsAra. This endurance is a prerequisite for yoga.
Earlier vyAsa says that "na tapasvino yogaH siddhyati".  vivaraNakAra of
the bhAShya highlights that the underlying goal of tapas is to
understand that the Self is not the body.  Hence, seeking
creature-comforts over observance of dharma sinks us deeper into samsAra.

The books I have uniformly translate tapas as austerity. Which I think
well conveys its meaning. But in our literature, sometimes things are
taken to such a depth, meaning based on context may become very
important. Just to give an example, please refer to the
mahAnArAyaNopaniShad verse "R^itaM tapaH satyam tapaH shruta tapaH 
shAntaM tapo damastapaH shamastapo dAnaM tapo yaj~naM tapo bhUrbhuvaH 
suvarbrahmaitadupAsvaitattapaH"  Especially the last part which says 
"the supreme brahman has manifested himself as bhUH, bhuvaH, and suvaH, 
meditate upon him. This is austerity par excellence."


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