Cleanliness Counts!

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Knowledge Sheet 72

Contd. from knowledge sheet 71

In ancient days, people would invite the wise ones to their homes or dwelling, and give them food. When the wise ones would accept the food, then to show them gratitude for having accepted their offering, they would make one more offering, and that is called dakshina.

The giver is thankful here. This is because they are not just taking something; they are also giving back their mind too. They are taking away certain impressions or karma of the past from them.

Non-acceptance or non-accumulation of objects or things from people is called Aparigraha.
Some people are always receiving. They think, "What will I get? What will so and so give me?" This is Parigraha, receiving.
You can try this as an experiment for some days. Do not accept anything from anybody for one month, you will feel a different way.
Of course in the world it is practically not possible. You cannot say, "I will not accept anything". There are people who practice this to the extreme. You do not have to go to that extreme, but be aware of this fact. These are the five Maha-vratas, the great vows. To whatever extent you practice, to that extent it will give you results.

Suppose your mind says, "I don't care about these things. I want to do what I want to do. If I want to be violent, I want to be violent".

Then what to do? Here he says, ' Vitarkabadhane pratipak sabhavanam' (II Sutra 33).

Before mentioning this he also mentions the niyamas (rules). What are the niyamas?

The niyamas are:

"Shoucha santoshatapaha swadhyaya eshwarapran idhanani niyamaha'' (II Sutra 32)

Shoucha = purity, cleanliness; Santosha = happiness; Tapaha = penance; Swadhyaya = self study; Eshwarapranidhana = devotion to God; Niyamaha = rules.

"Cleanliness, happiness, penance, self-study and devotion to God are the five rules or niyamas."

Shoucha is purity.

Two types of cleanliness are emphasized. The first is physical purity, keeping oneself clean. There are people who do not take bath for several days. They just put on perfumes. This is not cleanliness. Water should run through this body, both inside and outside. You have to drink enough water, and let water run through the system. Water is the greatest purifier for this physical body.
Also cleanliness in the environment. If you are used to being unclean, then you do not feel that it (you or your environment) is unclean.
You can see this in some of the countries, in the slums, the people do not feel that anything is wrong (referring to the uncleanliness). They feel it is all perfectly alright because they are so used to being unclean. There will be cow dung on one side, and garbage thrown all around here and there. It simply does not register in their consciousness because they get used to it.

In the same way, if you are used to keeping your room unclean, yourself unclean, you do not feel anything about it.

Do you know how it starts? You say, "I will wear the same clothes today. It does not matter if I don't bathe today, I will do it tomorrow".
You are so busy keeping yourself engaged that for two, three, or four days you don't take a bath, and you do not even notice how foul you are smelling. Somebody else is bothered by your being there. And the worst thing is that you use perfume and you do not even notice the smell.

So bathing and keeping personal hygiene is shoucha. It is very essential.

The second is mental purity. Keeping the mind clean. Antaha shoucha bahya bhetara shoucha. Outer cleanliness and inner cleanliness, that is, the mind being free from tensions.

To be continued next week

<<What is Aparigraha?Being unconditionally happy is a practice>>


(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)