Three Types of Tapas

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Knowledge Sheet 51

Contd. from knowledge sheet 50

Even in tapas, there are three types. Sattvic Tapas, Rajasic Tapas andTamasic Tapas. Tamasic Tapas is the demonic tapas wherein one tortures oneself. Certain people punish themselves.They cannot torture others so they torture themselves. They put nails all over their body and walk on fire.

There are other types of people who do practices with the desire of achieving something.They have to achieve something,which has a mixed effect.There is always a motive behind their action.Even if they are doing service, behind the service there is a motive, “I should be getting something”. This is Rajasic Tapas. The tapas one does to show off. When they are fasting, they tell the whole world, “Oh! I am fasting for some days. I am meditating, I am doing this. I am being very good. Be like me. I sing better, I sing and dance. I do great service”. The tapas done with show and done with ‘I’ness is Rajasic  Tapas. I am doing.

Sattvic Tapas is thatwhich you do not even feel that you are doing. You are just a part of the phenomenon. The world today is a phenomenon. The world 1995 is a phenomenon. We are just a part of the phenomenon. Where do we exist? In the lake, there are so many tiny waves but if each wave thinks, “I exist as a wave”, it is being foolish. So many waves rise and they all subside a little later.

In a particular time in the ocean of consciousness, there is a wave, a current. One such wave calls itself Jyothi, one wave calls itself Nisha, Bridgette and all these different names of waves. In a few days, all these waves will disappear and new waves will arise. Do you see that? Knowing this, with awareness, one goes through this fire of life. That is Sattvic Tapas.

Even in Sattvic Tapas, there are three divisions. The bodily tapas, the tapas of the speech and the tapas of the mind. What are these?

What is bodily tapas? Keeping physical hygiene,keeping lethargy out. 

Having a say over the senses. If you do not want to watch, you do not watch. If you do not want to eat, you do not eat, you just don’t eat. Keeping personal hygiene and abstinence and having control over the senses, over the body. This is called physical tapas.

Tapas of speech is speaking such words which do not insult people in the wrong sense. Speaking truth and speaking pleasant truth. Anudwegasatyam. Priyamhitamsatyam. Just notice that when you sit with people, the way you talk to them. Do they go away from you relieved, grieved or with greed, anger and frustration?

Often, when you keep your lips tight, you are a better person. You are more charming. You are a more wanted person. The moment you open your mouth, you have no control over what you say. Words simply come shooting out of your mouth. You do not even look into what the effects are, how it can be a dagger on somebody else’s mind. Your words can become a flower or a knife.Vangmaya Tapas.Words that do not ruffle the calm, quiet mind.

If you want to intentionally create a disturbance, then that is a different story. But often, you speak unintentionally from your side and that creates a disturbance in another’s mind. This is Vangmaya Tapas. There is a way to tell the truth. All those who speak very harshly, if you ask them, they say, “I am saying the truth. Why should I go round about?” There is no need to go round about. It is truth, all right, but there can be a pleasant expression of it. Do you see what I am saying?

Often in Sanskrit, there is an example given. If you want to call someone who is blind, you can call them, “Oh blind man, blind man, come here”. This is the way they are addressed. It is not untrue that you are calling them blind, but by calling someone blind, you are hurting them. They say, “Oh! Pragnachakshu, come here”. They are saying that his consciousness arehis eyes. In Sanskrit, they often set examples of how to speak. You don’t call one a blind man, for he sees through his consciousness. The blind man sees through his third eye or consciousness. The intuitive eye. This is Vangmaya Tapas.

Vangmaya Tapas is important. Why? It’s because as you grow on this path, your words become more and more powerful. If you call someone “you fool”, even if they are not a fool, they will become a fool. There are all possibilities. You call someone stupid, there is 99 percent possibility that they will become stupid. Your words have the power to bless and your words have the power to curse. Vangmaya Tapas purifies you. The power rebounds to you.


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