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Yama and Niyama — The Value System

Submitted by on November 11, 2011 – 2 Comments

In every age on our Earth, the general living is guided by the value systems that are prevalent in that period. These systems vary from one age to another. In the Dark Age, the ways of life were guided by the religions in different parts of the world. All these religions originated from Spiritual masters but over the course of centuries, various distortions arose in their principles and teachings. The purity of the origins was lost in the subsequent interpretations due to the effects of the age.

The New Light Age that we are entering into will have no religions. Life will be based on a common value system which will be followed by all individuals on Earth. Two sets of principles form the basis of this Universalism. These principles were compiled and recorded by a great master, Patanjali Maharshi.

Patanjali Maharshi spent thousands of years understanding the Mind and its influence on life and spiritual growth. He recorded his observations and understandings which have now become a part of the scriptures. In his work called the Ashtanga Yoga (a part of Raja Yoga), he notes two very important aspects required for the spiritual growth of a person – Yama and Niyama.

Adopting these values and following them in our daily life is an important part of our spiritual growth. They help us align with Light easily and achieve spiritual transformation Now.

The necessity of these principles

Yama and Niyama are a set of principles to be adopted by the individual and applied in all situations. They are a part of the higher spiritual laws that are applicable throughout the entire Creation of God.

Life, especially on our Earth where there are opportunities for both good and evil, is usually guided by perceptions. For example, a corrupt person would consider corruption as a virtue and honesty as weakness. A power hungry or greedy person might consider his negativities as supreme qualities. It is here that the principles of Yama and Niyama help in bringing clarity and understanding to such issues among others. They provide guidance and proper perspective for the ways of life—both at the individual as well as collective levels.


Yama consists of five principles which deal with the characteristics of a person’s life as a part of the society. These principles define the larger role of individuals in relation to one another, so that collective living can be healthy and harmonious.

The five principles of Yama are – Nonviolence, Truth, Non-stealing, Non-Greed and Making God a part of life.

The principle of nonviolence emphasizes that an individual should always be compassionate and kind to his fellow beings and also to Nature. He should never hurt others through his actions or words.

Non-violence should be adopted not just at the physical level but also internally at the level of thoughts and emotions. The individual should not carry aggressive or violent thoughts towards others, as these ultimately manifest in the real world. Rejecting these negativities at the subtler levels is an important part of this principle.

This principle should also be extended to one’s own self where we are compassionate, kind and reasonable towards ourselves. An important aspect of this principle is manifesting love. When we have unconditional love towards others as well as ourselves, we follow this principle naturally.

This principle refers to the most fundamental value to be manifested – Truth. It is one of the characteristics of the Supreme Intelligence—God Himself. When we follow the principle of Truth, we will be in tune with Light at all levels.

An individual should never deceive or cheat others in any way and he should always be conscious of what he speaks and expresses. This practice flows naturally through having total clarity and awareness within oneself and by keeping one’s conscience clear. Following Truth irrespective of the consequences is an important spiritual achievement which aligns us directly with the Higher Intelligence.

The essence of this principle is Honesty. An individual should not take things into his possession which do not belong to him. The higher aspect of this principle states that he should not take credit for the ideas and efforts of others. This principle goes hand in hand with the principle of Truth.

The highlight of this principle is that an individual should not possess anything in excess. He should live in balance with things that support and nurture his life.

Everyone has the right to live comfortably but when our possessions become excessive and we start hoarding, life goes out of harmony and balance. It leads to greed and attachment in course of time.

A healthy respect and regard for life and our fellow beings helps us manifest this principle effortlessly. Shifting our focus from the material to the spiritual wealth also builds in us the mindset of non-greed. A balance between these two riches brings a natural abundance into our lives.

Brahmacharya means movement (charya) towards God (Brahman), rather than the commonly misunderstood meaning of celibacy. The highlight of this principle is that all our activities should be focused on moving towards the higher experiences, towards Light. Any actions which break the laws of karmas or come in our path of spiritual growth should be avoided.

When we live in the awareness of God or Light, all our actions will be in tune with the greater whole, with Nature. It brings a harmony within ourselves and between us and the larger society. Ultimately it aligns us to the flow of the whole Universe.


Niyama consists of five principles which are the precepts of individual discipline required for daily living. These principles refine an individual at the personal level and elevate his ways of living.

The five principles of Niyama are – Purity, Contentment, Shining with Light, Introspection and Surrender.

This principles lays emphasis on being pure at all levels—body, mind and intellect. We should be pure and clean physically and also keep all things around in a neat and tidy way.  We should have pure thoughts, emotions and intentions.

Many other positive qualities flow naturally out of purity and freshness. Being pure is a basic essential of a spiritual life.

Being content with what we have is very important to lead a happy and peaceful life. While one need not be complacent and continue to make efforts to grow, this urge should not make us dissatisfied with what we already have.

In contentment, we also save our energy and efforts which can be channelled toward higher spiritual pursuits.

Tapas is a state of experiencing God and thereby shining with His Light always. In the context of individual values, it refers to the individual being disciplined in his daily life and following spiritual practices as a part of his routine so that he can be with Light all the time.

Manifesting goodness and honesty in life and being a God Loving person itself is enough for a person to start shining with Light.

There are two aspects to this principle. At the physical level, it refers to regular introspection and observation of one’s behaviour and actions, so that improvements can be made. Such introspection helps one to correct his mistakes and live in harmony with others.

And at a spiritual level, the principle refers to an individual making regular efforts to understand more about Himself, his origin and higher aspects. This introspection defines his purpose and brings clarity and direction to this entire life.

The literal meaning of Ishwara Pranidhana is to give one’s life to God. What it means is that an individual should surrender to God and dedicate all his actions and positive results to Him. This helps an individual to be humble always and remain connected to the Universe, to the larger Whole.

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These principles which are the Universal values of the New Age can be followed in any age, in any part of Creation. They align us to the highest vibrations of the divine and help us manifest Light in our lives. When we follow them with dedication they hasten our transformation and movement into the New Light Age.

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Image Courtesy – David Orias

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