The eight limbs of Sādhanā in spiritual life —

तत्प्राप्तिसाधनान्यष्टौ तानि वक्ष्यामि तच्छृणु ।
यमो नियमसंज्ञश्च आसनं च तृतीकम् ॥
प्राणायामश्चतुर्थश्च प्रत्याहारश्च पञ्चमः ।
धारणा च तथा ध्यानं समाधिरिति सत्तम ॥
(अगस्त्य संहिता)

tat-prāpti-sādhanāny-aṣṭau tāni vakṣyāmi tac-chṛṇu ।
yamō niyama-saṃjñaśca āsanaṃ ca tṛtīkam ॥
prāṇāyāma-ścaturthaśca pratyāhāra-śca pañcamaḥ ।
dhāraṇā ca tathā dhyānaṃ samādhiriti sattama ॥
(Agastya Samhita)

“Oh best among sages ! There are eight limbs of Sadhana (spiritual practices, sadhana bhakti) to achieve Bhagavān Śrī Rāma , listen them I am telling those, they are — Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna and Samādhi.”

Aforementioned limbs of Sadhana-Bhakti are collectively called as Ashtanga Yoga in Yoga Shastras (Upanishads) and other scriptures. “Yoga (योग)” is to unite self with Brahman (or Bhagavan).

Each of these eight limbs are now being described in detail with their characteristics —

Yama (यम i.e. restraints)

अहिंसा सत्यमस्तेयं ब्रह्मचर्यं दयार्जवम् ।
क्षमा धृतिर्मिताहारः शौचः चेति यमाः दश ॥
(अगस्त्य संहिता)

ahiṃsā satyamastēyaṃ brahmacaryaṃ dayārjavam ।
kṣamā dhṛtirmitāhāraḥ śaucaḥ cēti yamāḥ daśa ॥
(Agastya Samhita)

Ahiṃsā, Satya, Astēya, Brahmcharya. Dayā, Ārjava, Kshamā, Dhriti, Mitāhāra, Shauch — These ten (10) are Yama (restraints [for the right living]).

These ten Yamas with their characteristics:—

1. Ahimsa (non violence) — Harming (causing pain to) no Jiva from the words, mind and actions is called Ahimsa (non violence) by sages.

(Ahimsa is Param dharma for all Vaishnava.)

2. Satya (Truth) — As seen or heard something, if it is told same again, then it is called Satya (Truth) by great ones.

A devotee should inculcate Truthfulness in self.

3. Asteya (non stealing) — Not stealing anything even a grass of others is called Asteya by sages.

4. Brahmacarya — Forsaking copulation with woman in actions, thoughts, and words is called Brahmcharya.

Same is for a Brahmcharini (woman with Brahmcharya), she should forsake copulation with man in actions, thoughts, and words.

For a Grihastha (householder), restrained physical-relation with one wife or husband only during proper time is also allowed within Brahmcharya.

(One should discard all secret talking with opposite sex, and become pure at heart.)

Kama (lust), Krodha (anger) and lobh (greed) — are three gates to hell (Naraka). [ - Gita ]

5. Daya (pity, compassion, mercy) — Upon seeing the Dukha (distress, grief, sadness, pain etc) of someone, feeling of this is my Dukha, and after this trying to remove them is called Dayā (pity, compassion) by wise sages.

A Vaishnava has daya like his Bhagavan, and he has a tender heart, having incapacity to withstand the suffering of others.

6. Aarjav (Straightness, rectitude, tenderness) — leaving Kutilata (crookedness, guile, deception, dishonesty) in thoughts, words and actions is called Aarjav (Straightness, rectitude, tenderness) in conducts and behaviors.

A devotee should inculcate this tenderness and straightness in self.

7. Kshama (forgiveness) — They who have done Apakara (misdeeds, offense, harm etc) to us, and still treating them in friendly manner is called Kshama (forgiveness).

A Vaishnava like his Bhagavan should forgive offenses done by others to him.

And He is the best who forgives even before someone seeks forgiveness for his misdeeds and offenses.

8. Dhriti (Fortitude i.e. mental and emotional strength, steadiness, self-command) — Dhriti is the sense of determination to do duty even under averse situation, even while body and senses are dispirited, without desiring and making efforts for the matters happened in the past.

9. Mitahara (taking moderate food) — Eating only in moderate quantity, what is sacred (Shuddha-Satvik) as well healthy for spiritual life is called Mitahara.

When Ahara (food) is Shuddha-Satvik, then Antahkarana becomes pure and one gets the firm remembrance, and firm remembrance of Bhagavan brings union with Bhagavan and liberation from this material world.

Food should not be very hot, bitter, sour, etc. Food should be sacred and healthy, should have been offered first to Bhagavan.

Food should not be very hot, bitter, sour, etc. Food should be sacred and healthy, should be offered first to Bhagavan.

10. Shauch (cleanliness, purity) — Freedom from or Removing the dirt of body by washing the body properly and the impure thoughts from one's antahkarana (mind/conscience) is called Shauch (cleanliness, purity).

These are 10 Yamas.

Niyama (नियम i.e. religious observance, discipline, rule)

तपश्च तुष्टिरास्तिक्यं ईश्वराराधनं तथा ।
सिद्धान्तवेक्षणं चैव लज्जा दानं मतिस्तथा ॥
जपो व्रतं दशैतानि सुतीक्ष्ण नियमाः स्मृताः ।
(अगस्त्य संहिता)

tapa-śca tuṣṭir-āstikyaṃ īśvar-ārādhanaṃ tathā ।
siddhānta-vēkṣaṇaṃ caiva lajjā dānaṃ mati-stathā ॥
japō vrataṃ daś-aitāni sutīkṣṇa niyamāḥ smṛtāḥ ।
(Agastya Samhita)

“Oh sage Sutikshana ! Tapa, Tushti, Āstikya, Īśvar-Ārādhana, Siddhānt-Vekshaṇ (Shravaṇ & Manan), Lajjā, daan, Mati, Japa, and Vrata — these are ten (10) Niyamas.”

Description of these ten Niyamas -

1. Tapa (austerity) — With proper regulative principles in accordance of the Vaidic injunctions, effortlessly not eating the food is called Tapa (austerity).

Tapa is the word which is used in Upanishads in very broad sense. Upanishad relates the word Tapa with Brahman (Tapa is Brahman Itself), Svadhyay (self-study of scriptures), Brahm-gyan-sadhanam (practices for attaining the knowledge of Brahman), and Brahm-Upasana. Upanishad says drying the body by following the (severe) Vratas like Krichhra, Chaandraayan, Dvaadashi etc by avoiding (not eating) the food is called Tapa (austerity). Tapa enables us in doing the Brahm-Upasanas, It is in itself Brahm-Upasana.

Manu says ‘Service to and following the words of Mother, father and Guru is the highest Tapa (austerity)

Manu says ‘Service to and following the words of Mother, father and Guru is the highest Tapa (austerity).’

2. Tushti (contentment) — My life is not for Tripti (gratification or satisfaction or say worldly fulfillment), and this life is not even a waste or in vain without Tripti (gratification or satisfaction or fulfillment), living with this in mind is called Tushti (contentment).

3. Astikya (believing, theism) — having belief over the principles of the Vedas and Vedic scriptures is called Astikya (believing, theism).

4. Ishvar-aaraadhan (Propitiation, adoration, worship of Bhagavan) — Everyday in three Sandhyas (morning, afternoon and evening) or at least once in morning, doing archana (worship) of one's Ishta-deva is called Ishvar-aaraadhan* (Propitiation, adoration, worship of Bhagavan).

It needs to be described in detail in a separate page, there are various components of Ishvar-aaraadhan. One should maintain the Niyama, doing daily regular worship of Bhagavan in a constant disciplined manner.

5. Siddhant Vekshan or Shravanam and Mananam — looking into the principles of or Tattvas expounded by Vaishnava-agamas, Vedas, Ramayana, Gita etc through the attentive hearing Guru i.e. Shravanam, and then thinking it again and again to imbibe his words into heart i.e. Mananam, and in the middle and the end of the attentive hearing (Shravan), having vision or understanding of Tattvas is called Siddhant-Vekshan or Siddhant-Shravan by Tattvadarshis (seers).

Shravanam, Mananam and Nididhyasan are the path of Vedic Upasana, these are to be done again and again.

One should try to hear, ask and read (do svadhyay) more and more about the revealed as well as secret leelas of Ishta-deva Bhagavan Shri Rama to make him most dear to self, to have limitless love for Ishta-deva. This results into being absorbed (immersed) constantly in Ishtadeva i.e. Nididhyasan.

6. Lajja (shyness, modesty) — What is censured or forbidden or treated or considered as some lowly-act (or the action of abominable nature) in Vedas or in this world, refraining from doing those things from mind, speech, and action is called Lajja (shyness, modesty)

7. Daan (donation) — Giving something from earned money through right means, for the sake of Bhagavan or guru or Satpatra (some deserving person) is called donation.

Even while donating to Satpatra, only Bhagavan should be in mind, and thinking It is my duty, and in the mind while donating there should be no thought of reciprocation (the return of the favors) from whom we donate. When there is consideration of some returns or favors or gifts or fruits, or consideration of returning some favor done by someone earlier, then it is not gift or donation, it is a business.

One should donate on the auspicious days and in the morning.

8. Mati (understanding, intellect) — the knowledge of the essence after knowing Sat and asat i.e. real and unreal, good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate through discrimination is called Mati (understanding, intellect).

9. Japa (chanting) — गुरोर्लब्धस्य मन्त्रस्य शश्वदावर्तनं हि यत् The constant (again and again, incessant) repetition of mantra(s) received from Gurudeva, is called Japa (chanting).

Mantra(s) must be received from Gurudeva.

Bhagavan says in Gita, among Yajnas I am Japa Yajna.

When Mantra (take it as one fire stick) is rubbed again and again against the heart (another fire stick), then Bhagavan reveals himself from heart just like fire is revealed from rubbing two fire sticks.

Repetition of Mantra received from Gurudeva, by keeping heart in the mantra is called Japa (chanting).

Japa should not be scattered, but disciplined, constant and love-soaked, as scattered things are not so effective.

One should take a Niyama (rule) for a minimum number of regular chanting of Mantra daily, only by chanting with this Niyama, prema appears in the heart.

It is another big topic to be dealt separately.

10. Vrata (vow) — Accepting the religious observances (e.g. Upavasa) to do with proper Niyamas (rules and regulations) is called Vrata (vow).

Asana (आसन i.e. physical postures)

....Will be updated soon.


॥ श्रीसीतारामचंद्रार्पणमस्तु ॥