Online Education in the tradition of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar by Sri Prashant S. Iyengar Session 4 recorded on April 19, 2020 at the RIMYI of Pune Namaskar all of you. So, we are in the fourth session on Education in Yoga, Education about Yoga, Education through Yoga. In the last session I made a concluding remark that I will be dealing with another major misconception prevalent in the field of yoga, that is, the Yamas and Niyamas are moral1 -ethical2 principles, they are moral-ethical practices suggested by Patanjali. At the outset let me make a statement that these are not moral-ethical principles. Patanjali is not suggesting moral-ethical norms to be practiced. As a matter of fact, anyone, you and me, can also stipulate moral-ethical principles to be practiced, ethics, morality to be practiced in whatever realm of life; why do we need Patanjali? So, therefore, we should know that Patanjali is not trying to suggest that moral-ethical principles are the first step in yoga. Because the fact of the matter is if we want to get to be good human beings, morality and ethicality should be practiced by each and every one. If we do not practice those, we are nothing but bi-footed animals; one of the factors which keeps human beings as human beings is that the mankind practices morality-ethicality and should be practiced, whether you do yoga or you don’t do yoga, morality-ethicality must be practiced. Then, why Patanjali mentions Yamas and Niyamas, what is called as restraints and observances? Then we know the five Yamas and the five Niyamas and these are normative principles that anyone can instruct, anyone can suggest. 1 Morality (from Latin: moralitas, lit. 'manner, character, proper behavior') is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality 2 Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that “involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior.” The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology. Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual inquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.
But why I'm making a statement that these are not moral-ethical principles is for simple reason that in the Darsanic convention, in the convention of Indian philosophical system there are set columns on which the expounder must delineate. Now, when Patanjali comes to Ashtanga Yoga, actually the whole Ashtanga Yoga it is called as Achara3 Dharma4 Neeti5 aspects, Achara Dharma Neeti Pranali6 7 . So Patanjali has to offer something as a basic principle of practices and Sadhanas and they're called Achara Neeti Dharma Pranali. In English that is rendered as ‘ethico-religious practices’. Now ethico-religious practices are not only Yamas and Niyamas; all the eight aspects are included, or they are composing the entire Dharma Achara Neeti Pranali. In English again I repeat, although it is a faulty rendition: ‘ethico-religious principles of yoga’. Not only Yamas and Niyamas but even Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. They all compose the Achara Dharma Neeti Pranali. of Patanjali’s system. So it’s not just Yamas and Niyamas but all the Ashtangas are part of Achara Dharma Neeti Pranali. Because these are all practices. Therefore Yamas and Niyamas are not moral-ethical principles and practices, because all the normative philosophers have suggested this. 05.35 Many of them have, from the top of their voice, have told us, beseeched us, or sometimes by fiat, that morality and ethicality must be practiced, but we got away. We can be told that we must practice morality-ethicality, but in the practicality of life do we really practice it? Can we really practice it? Does it become major consideration for us? And therefore all the heads of religions in the world have said about morality-ethicality that everyone should practice. But then you know what has happened?
So we don’t have to bring in Patanjali to tell us the same thing, that you must practice morality-ethicality; so even if you are not doing yoga, if you are in business of life activity, if you are in practicality of life, yet you must be practicing morality-ethicality. That will be or that should be actually a signature condition of a human being, a good human being. Otherwise we are bi-footed creatures. The point is: the ethico-religious principles of Patanjali circumscribe all the Ashtangas and not just the two Yama and Niyama. Now what is ethico-religious system? See, in our convention we have philosophy and then we have what is called Tattvajnana8 and we have Dharma which is rendered as religion.
3 Achara = conduct
4 Dharma is a wider concept. It comes from single letter root called “dhç”. Dhç means to sustain. So Dharma is that which sustaines us. That which makes us realize the realities (from this lesson).
5 Neeti (Nithi) = ethics, ethicality.
6 Pranali = adverb: going with, flowing with, towards.
7 Achara Dharma Neeti Pranali: an ethical conduct that makes us flow towards-with the Dharma.
So in systems such as Patanjali, even the systems of Kapila, Samkhya, Kannada, Vaisheshika, Nyaya of Gautama, or Jaimini Mimamsa, or Bhadra Mimamsa, or any other philosopher, there are so many philosophies in Indian philosophical systems; each one of those have mentioned something as Achara Dharma Neeti Pranali, which again I repeat in English it is ‘religion’, which is not a proper rendition. So, bear in mind Yamas: Ahimsa’s Yama to Samadhi it is all ethicoreligious principles of yoga, it is not just Yamas. 08.48 And these are all anga, these are all limbs, they are all integral aspects. Do you want me to say that Yamas and Niyamas have to be practiced out in society, not while one is practicing Asana, Pranayama, Dharana, Dhyana? So it is not only a social face, it doesn’t have only a social face, that while you are in social situation, that you must practice morality-ethicality. When you are isolated and when you are going to do yoga, so there are Yamas and Niyamas in all the other aspects as well. Usually we bother about what is correct asana and what is correct Pranayama, what is right Asanas, what is right Pranayama. We don’t try to understand what is Yama-Niyama of Asanas, what is Yama-Niyama of Pranayama, what is YamaNiyama, how does it manifest in Asana, Pranayama, Dhyana, Japa9?. 10.04 Guruji made it a point to explain all these things. He would explain you Yamas and Niyamas in your Trikonasana. He would explain you Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Bramacharya, Aparigraha in Trikonasana, he would explain Saucha, Santosa, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvarapranidhana in your Trikonasana, Tadasana. We did not take clue that Yamas-Niyanas also come in Asanas, Pranayama and in the theory of yoga, in philosophy of yoga they come up to Samadhi. They will manifest differently.
See what is your morality when you are out in your workplace? And what is your morality when you are back home with your family? You have something called as business ethics. Now, the business ethics comes only in business, but when you are out from business framework, you are back home, do you still have the same ethics that you practice in your business place? So, the ethics will be 8 Philosofy in Sanscrit is tattvajnana i. e. tat = that, the soul or the methaphysical principle; tva = being; jnana = knowledge. The contemplation, knowledge and understanding of this metaphysical principle is philosophy. Prashant S. Iyengar Discourses on Yog vol. 1 pag. 190 Publishers: Ramamani Memorial Yog Institute, Pune and Yog Mumbai. 9 It is a proven principle of yogashastra that the evolution of the sukshma sharira is effected mainly by japa i.e. recitation of mantras and God’s name and His dhyana or meditation. Page 54 … This body is subject to hunger and thirst. Its needs are cleanliness, exercise and exercise and excretion. In the same manner, the sukshma sharira has subtle needs which cannot be appeased by material substances like food stuffs, air, water, physical rest and exercise. The fulfillment of these needs is obtained through subtle channels. In this respect, it is to be noted that japa is food, japa is air and water, japa is the tonic. Japa is the medicine, japa is rest, execise and excretion and purification. Japa is bath. Japa is everything for sukshma sharira. Page 56 - Prashant S. Iyengar Discourses on Yog vol. 1 - Publishers: Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yog Institute, Pune and Yog Mumbai.
changing with reference to your workplace, your occupation, where you are, what are you doing. So there is one kind of ethics while you are in office place, another kind of ethics when you are in your business place, another kind of ethics when you are in your family, another kind of ethics when you are with your wife and children. So therefore, again it is an open architecture. Similarly, we have to see that Yamas and Niyamas, morality-ethicality comes differently in our Asanas, Pranayama, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi or whatever practices we are putting in. They will manifest differently, they will come differently. Are we studying it? Now, as I just now said that Indian philosophical system has something called as philosophy. Now, what is this philosophy? Philosophy is that which divulges reality. A human being should be seeking realities and the philosophy is that which divulges reality. Then what is Dharma? Dharma is that which helps one realize. Philosophy will divulge, the Tattvajnana will divulge, and Dharma will make you realize the realities. So all the practices of yoga, or any plane – body,