देवद्विजगुरुप्राज्ञपूजनं शौचमार्जवम् |
ब्रह्मचर्यमहिंसा च शारीरं तप उच्यते || 14||
deva-dwija-guru-prājña- pūjanaṁ śhaucham ārjavam
brahmacharyam ahinsā cha śhārīraṁ tapa uchyate
deva—the Supreme Lord; dwija—the Brahmins; guru—the spiritual master; prājña—the elders; pūjanam—worship; śhaucham—cleanliness; ārjavam—simplicity; brahmacharyam—celibacy; ahinsā—non-violence; cha—and; śhārīram—of the body; tapaḥ—austerity; uchyate—is declared as
Worship of the gods, of the twice-born, of teachers, and of the wise; cleanliness, uprightness, continence, and non-violence— these are said to be the austerity of the body.
Verses 14, 15 and 16, which deal with the restraint and discipline of the body, speech, and mind, are of the greatest importance for all seekers. They should practise the three-fold austerity, and attain perfect purity of body, speech and mind. Such purity at once leads to self-realisation.
Tapas is intended to purify the body and mind through which the individual has to function and strive for Atmajnana. Unless the body is purified internally and externally, the highest knowledge cannot be experienced. The word Tapas is generally associated with severe self-denial and self-mortification. People think that Tapas is suffering in heat and cold, abstaining from food, standing on one leg or keeping hands uplifted, and such other feats of physical endurance. Such horror-producing practices are not at all mentioned by the Lord. No one needs to be terrified by the word tapas. The Lord’s interpretation is practical and within the easy reach of any seeker who is striving for Atmajnana. Men and women can practise it. So, it is the duty of all sincere aspirants to undertake the discipline mentioned here and attain the goal.
The austerity of the body consists of five clear practices mentioned below:
(1) Reverence towards and worship of elders, Mahatmas, and devotees. By such worship, two great rewards are reaped by the worshipper. He acquires their grace and his egoism vanishes. Spiritual development is not possible without the grace of God, Guru and Mahatmas. Maya does not easily give way for man to cross over. The obstacles cannot be cleared without their grace. So the real seeker should win their blessing by humility and reverence, by service and devotion, by worship and selfless service. Their grace is infinitely helpful for man. He becomes humble, wise, unselfish and the super-obstacle the Ego lets go its strangle-hold on the heart of man. That is why the Lord mentioned such worship as the first type of austerity for the body.
Dvijah: (The twice-born) Twice-born means that man after he acquires Atmajnana takes a new birth quite distinct from the body and mind with which he was born. It is indeed a second birth, for, having attained Atma Jnana he discards the former life of the senses and the mind as alien to his true nature. Such men are twice-born. They reflect the glory and majesty, light and perfection of Paramatma. They are Divine in human form.
Prajna: (One who has ‘prajna’ i.e. a Jnani) ‘Prajnanam Brahma’ that is the Upanishadic declaration. It is the essence of Brahmam, it is knowledge supreme, and the man who possesses it is prajna (knower of Brahmam). Worship of such jnanis is declared to be the austerity of the Body.
(2) Saucham: Mental purity, bodily purity, and purity of the surroundings are all necessary. Impurities of the body not only produce diseases but also weaknens the mind and makes it incapable of ascent into higher spiritual regions. And to the impure even the idea of a higher life does not occur. Therefore the sadhaka should clean the surroundings, purify the body by regular bathing and good food, and clean the mind by rejecting all sensual thoughts and feelings, and by associating it with the Divine.
(3) Arjavam: Everyone should cultivate harmony between thought, word and deed. This is integrity. Crookedness like the crawling reptiles is the sign of a poisonous heart filled with selfish and cruel motives. When the three functional modes of thought, word and deed are straight and harmonious, man is said to follow truth, and truth is the open gateway to Self-realisation.
(4) Brahmacharyam: The Lord says that the vow of celibacy in thought, word and deed is the highest tapas. It means perfect non-attachment with the objective world, freedom from lustful thoughts, passions and acts, and meditation on the Supreme Brahmam. Celibacy is the foundation for all other Sadhanas. Therefore its importance is several times mentioned in the Gita. It is like the main-switch for the entire illumination in the spiritual realm.
(5) Ahimsa: (Non-injury to any creature in thought word and deed) Ignorance of Truth is – injury to one’s own self. So man should acquire knowledge of what he really is, what this world is, and who the ruler and controller of this universe is. By this understanding, man frees himself from constant self-injury. It is needless to say that injuring other beings is strictly prohibited by the Sastras. Such harmful thoughts and acts are a negation of the basic truth of the Lord’s presence in all beings.
Question: What is the austerity of the body?
Answer: 1. Reverence and worship of the Devas, Gurus and Brahmanishthas, 2. purity of body and mind, 3. integrity, 4. continence, 5. non-injury – these five constitute Tapas of the body.