Yoga Sutra 32 the Niyamas

Sutra 32

Cleanliness, contentment, religious zeal, self-study, and surrender of the self to the supreme Self or God are the niyamas.

Yamas are seen as the universal social practices; niyamas are individual practice.

Cleanliness: In the Bible cleanliness has a lot of meanings, before Jesus to be unclean meant much more than to be dirty. It meant you were an outcast from your community. Even worse, you may have been left to die. But after Jesus, cleanliness comes to mean two things- clean in mind and clean in body. Here are a few passages to speak of both. Being clean of mind and clean in our actions mean much more than having clean feet and not smelling in God’s world.

  • 15 When you spread our your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,
    Isaiah 1:16
  • 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
  • Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

To be clean is to be right with God, to be humble, and ask forgiveness for our sins. This is only possible through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are so lucky to have him. Live a clean life in Christ. Confession is very important as is righteous practice.

Contentment: Yes the Bible agrees we need to be content with what we need, not what we have or what we want.

· 5 Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

· 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12

· 6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and [1] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Religious zeal: Yes, we should have zeal and be on fire for God. It is important to study God’s word, for those who do not study cannot know it. But it is equally if not even more important to follow God’s word for those who are educated in it.

17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17

I agree that religious zeal is important, being regular in study and prayer is what God wants us to do.

Self-study and then surrender of the self to God:

The Bible focuses on the importance of us to surrender to God’s commands, and his leading through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The entire book emphasizes this. Self-mastery or the mastering of our will is also illustrated throughout, the importance to follow God’s will not our won. Self-study is spoken against, however, because it leads only to self-centeredness. But to know our own sinful nature as individuals and to overcome our own desires is important. As Christians, we need to remember to ask for God’s grace and live in gratitude for without Jesus none of this would be possible. Refer back to 1 Corinthians 9 in sutra 27.

From this study, I believe God would agree that living the niyamas is right.