That which purifies the impure mind is tapas. That which regenerates
the lower animal nature and generates divine nature is tapas. That
which cleanses the mind and destroys lust, anger, greed etc., is
tapas. That which destroys tamas (dullness) and rajas (impurity) and
increases satva (purity) is tapas. That which steadies the mind and
fixes it on the eternal is tapas. That which arrests the outgoing
tendencies, destroys vasana (habits), egoism, raga-dvesa (likes and
dislikes) and generates dispassion, discrimination and meditation is

This is the third limb of niyama (discipline) in raja yoga. It is one
of the three items of kriya (dynamic) yoga. Tapas means austerity or
practice of penance. The man of tapas is brilliant like a blazing
fire. Tapas means restraint of the senses and meditation. Also tapas
leads to control of mind. Standing on one leg, raising one hand up
for a long time is also tapas, but this is tamasic (dull) tapas of an
ignorant man. Pancagni tapas is sitting in the midst of four fires in
the hot sun, having the hot sun as the fifth fire. Vairagis practise
this very often. Desire moves the senses; desire can be controlled
only if the senses are curbed. Tapas annihilates desires. Annihilate
tapas abhimana (pride of austerity). The unintelligent tapasvin
(ascetic) is always irritable, hot-tempered and proud. Practise
intelligent tapas.

Mental tapas is more powerful than physical tapas. He who bears heat
and cold does physical tapas. He increases his power of endurance,
but he may not be able to bear insult. He will be easily upset by a
harsh or unkind word. He may take revenge and do tit-for-tat. He has
no control over the mind. He has disciplined only the physical body.
To keep a balanced mind in all conditions of life, to bear insult,
injury and persecutions, to be ever serene, contented and peaceful,
to be cheerful in adverse conditions, to have fortitude in meeting
danger, to have presence of mind and forbearance, are all forms of
mental tapas.

“The men who perform severe austerities, unenjoined by the
scriptures, wedded to vanity and egoism, impelled by the force of
their desire and passion, unintelligent, tormenting the aggregated
elements forming the body and Me also, seated in the inner body, know
these to be demoniacal in their resolves”. (Gita. Chapter XVII.)


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