Yamas and Niyamas |
Restraints and Observances

Yamas and Niyamas | Restraints and Observances

Religion Teaches us how to become better people, how to live as spiritual beings on this earth through living virtuously, following the natural and essential guidelines of dharma. For Hindus, these guidelines are recorded in the Yamas and Niyamas, ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behaviour. In Indian spiritual life, these Vedic restraints and observances are built into the character...

Summary of the First Restraint Practice non-injury, not harming others by thought, word or deed, even in your dreams. Live a kindly life, revering all beings as expressions of the One Divine energy. Let go of fear and insecurity, the sources of abuse. Knowing that harm caused to others unfailingly returns to oneself, live peacefully with God’s creation. Never be a source of dread, pain...

Summary of the Second Restraint Adhere to truthfulness, refraining from lying and betraying promises. Speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary. Knowing that deception creates distance, don’t keep secrets from family or loved ones. Be fair, accurate and frank in discussions, a stranger to deceit. Admit your failings. Do not engage in slander, gossip or backbiting. Do not bear false witness against...

Summary of the Third Restraint Uphold the virtue of non-stealing, neither thieving nor coveting nor failing to repay debt. Control your desires and live within your means. Do not use borrowed resources for unintended purposes or keep them past due. Do not gamble or defraud others. Do not renege on promises. Do not use others’ names, words, resources or rights without permission and acknowledgement. The...

Summary of the Fourth Restraint Practice divine conduct, controlling lust by remaining celibate when single and faithful in marriage. Before marriage, use vital energies in study, and after marriage in creating family success. Don’t waste the sacred force by promiscuity in thought, word or deed. Be restrained with the opposite sex. Seek holy company. Dress and speak modestly. Shun pornography, sexual humour and violence. The...

Summary of the Fifth Restraint Exercise patience, restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances. Be agreeable. Let others behave according to their nature, without adjusting to you. Don’t argue, dominate conversations or interrupt others. Don’t be in a hurry. Be patient with children and the elderly. Minimize stress by keeping worries at bay. Remain poised in good times and bad. The Fifth Restraint Patience...

Summary of the Sixth Restraint Foster steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, indecision and changeableness. Achieve your goals with a prayer, purpose, plan, persistence and push. be firm in your decisions. Avoid sloth and procrastination. Develop will-power, courage and industriousness. Overcome obstacles. Never carp or complain. Do not let opposition or fear of failure result in changing strategies. The Sixth Restraint Steadfastness Dhṛiti / धृति Steadfastness, dh...

Summary of the Seventh Restraint Practice compassion, conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings. See god everywhere. Be kind to people, animals, plants and the Earth itself. Forgive those who apologize and show true remorse. Foster sympathy for others’ needs and suffering. Honour and assist those who are weak, impoverished, aged or in pain. Oppose family abuse and other cruelties. The Seventh Restraint...

Summary of the Eighth Restraint Maintain honesty, renouncing deception and wrongdoing. Act honourably even in hard times. Obey the laws of your nation and locale. Pay your taxes. Be straightforward in business. Do an honest day’s work. Do not bribe or accept bribes. Do not cheat, deceive or circumvent to achieve an end. Be frank with yourself. Face and accept your faults without blaming them...

Summary of the Ninth Restraint Be moderate in appetite, neither eating too much nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. Enjoy fresh, wholesome vegetarian foods that vitalize the body. Avoid junk food. Drink in moderation. Eat at regular times, only when hungry, at a moderate pace, never between meals, in a disturbed atmosphere or when upset. Follow a simple diet, avoiding rich or fancy...