The Fourth Niyama: Svadhyaya, self-study...

Saturday, 28 November 2020 10:45
Svadhyaya is the fourth Niyama. It means self-study. Tapas (the  Niyama  we looked at last week) means burning effort. And the last  Niyama  is Ishvara pranidhana. These 3  Niyamas  are distinctly linked, they form a unit.
BKS Iyengar in his excellent treatise on life:  Light on Life puts this in words so succinctly...
‘The first is  tapas , zealous, sustained practice that is at the heart of all yoga… it is the thread that holds together the whole of the yoga practice. It is literally heat, the heat that, in an alchemical sense, transforms. It is the practice that can never be abandoned, a continued application to human evolution.
Without the severe and penetrating insight of self-knowledge (svadhyaya), the fourth Niyama, tapas would lead to power but neither penetration nor integration. It would merely generate energy but without direction.  Tapas  gives up the energy,  svadhyaya  the light of knowledge. Self-study is clearly intended to penetrate inward, and so the transforming fire of tapas enters progressively our different sheaths of being and illuminates us with self-knowledge. Self-knowledge may begin with recognising the difficulty we have in controlling our desire for ice cream, but in deeper reams it concerns our duplicity, self-seeking, lust for power, desire for admiration, arrogance, and ultimately our wish to set ourselves up in the place of immortal God. Self-knowledge is not always comfortable. If we do not like what we find, we are, in all honesty, obliged to do something about it.’ 
(From the Chapter Living in Freedom, BKS Iyengar with John J Evans & Douglas Abrams, Light on Life, Rodale, US, 2005, p.261)
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