The stages or eight limbs of Yoga – Yama The first of these eight limbs or stages is Yama. These are the ethical disciplines or universal moral divine rules. It comprises of five principles. They are:
- Non-violence (Ahimsa)
The word Ahimsa is derived from the combination of “A” and“Hinsa”. “A” implies “not” and “Hinsa” is “Violence”. It has a broader meaning .Besides, Violence it focuses on eradication of hatred and nurturing of love. It not only holds good for the individual but for the society as well.
- Truth (Satya)
Satya or truth is the foundation of the rules of morality. Truth is universal and is the only uncontroversial basis for the development of self. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Truth is God and God is Truth”. As fire burns the impurities and refines gold; likewise the fire of truth cleanses the inner self. If one bases all his action, thought and speech on truth, he automatically moves one step ahead towards self-realization and union with the almighty God. Truth and love are the ultimate realities of this world and a yogi must adopt these realities in speech, thought and action. Untruthfulness, either in mind or in action, leads a yogi away from his mission.
- Non stealing (Asteya)
The word Asteya is derived from the combination of two words“A” and “Steya”. “A” implies “not” and “Steya” is stealing. To desist the desire of using other’s belongings, whether money, thought or materials, for ones’ own benefit, is Asteya. This act of non-stealing includes not only taking what is other’s without prior permission, but also using it for different purposes (than what was intended for it originally) or using it beyond the permitted time period. This also includes misappropriation, misconduct, misuse, mismanagement and breach of trust. Asteya not only gives mental peace, purifying from within, it also cuts down several social tensions and evils. One must cut-down one’s needs to the minimum (which is what a yogi does) to achieve the ability to resist great temptations.
- Continence (Brahmacharya)
Brahmacharya in its literal sense (as per dictionary) means ‘a life of celibacy’, ‘to perform religious acts and self restraint’. It is believed that loss of semen leads to death and its preservation endows long life. Hence, there is a warning that is should be preserved by practising restraint. The concept of Brahmacharya is not one of negation, imposed restrictions and prohibition. As emphasized by Patanjali, continence of the body, speech and mind is real Brahmacharya. It has little to do with a person’s marital status and is meant for all. It is not at all necessary for one’s salvation to stay unmarried, because one can perform marital duties solely for the creation of progeny but not for sexual pleasures and thus still remain a Brahmachari.
- Non-Coveting (Aparigraha)
The word Aparigraha is derived from the combination of two words “A” and “Parigraha”. “A” means “not” and “Parigraha” implies hoarding and collection. To abandon hoarding is Aparigraha. A yogi should keep his requirements to the minimum and should not hoard or collect things. Hoarding things for future needs shows lack of faith in God and in oneself. God, who is the Ultimate Creator, is the One who provides as and how a need arises. By observing the habit of Aparigraha, one makes one’s life very simple without fear or lack of trust. The life of a common man is full of miseries, disturbances, agonies and frustrations, which keep his mind always in a state of imbalance and perturbation. This is mostly because of his inability to fulfill his desires or the fear of losing something that he has hoarded for his future or for his luxury. The observance of Aparigraha enables a person to remain satisfied with whatever he has and accept whatever happens to him. He becomes peaceful and is taken beyond the realms of illusion and misery. His mind is always calm and cool, undisturbed and in a state of equilibrium.