Tapas Theory

What is it that gives you the strength or the force to do something?


In the previous Sutra, Patanjali Maharishi mentioned Kriya Yoga. Endurance (Tapas), self-study (Swadhyaya) and devotion to the divine (Eashwara Pranidhana) constitute the Yoga in action (Kriya Yoga). What do they all do to you?


They reduce the misery in a person’s life and give rise to samadhi or equanimity. There are certain people who walk in very hot weather without wearing shoes. It may seem like some type of torture and you may wonder why the person is torturing himself or herself but if you actually talk to them you will realise that they are accustomed to that. Their bodies are strong — they can bear heat and strong weather. But for some one else it is unbearable.


So, tapas make you strong. If someone travels from California to Switzerland, they need to wear several sweaters and even a coat. But for someone from the North West province or higher, the cold weather in Switzerland is bearable. They may even walk around without a sweater. This is because their body is used to such harsh weather.


Willingly going through that which is not very easy is tapas. This strengthens you. People can stretch this to another extent. They can become masochists. They torture themselves.


Three types of Tapas


Fire sustains life. There are five types of fire.


One is Bhutagni. Bhutagni is the physical fire by which you heat your home and yourself. It sustains life. This maybe obvious but may not be so in tropical countries. They might not give much value to fire there. But in cold countries people know how important fire is. Without physical fire life gets extinguished. This physical fire is present in the body to some extent.


We do not allow fire to rise within us. The moment we’re down with fever, we take a pill and force the symptoms to subside. Not that you should not take medicine. Take it, but attempt to tackle the root cause of the problem rather than just attending to the symptoms of fire in your system. When a foreign body enters the body, your whole body turns up the heat –— that’s fever. Fever is a defense mechanism which burns all the foreign particles that have entered the body. As soon as these foreign bodies abandon the body your fever comes down. The purpose of fever is to purify your body. Naturopathy and Ayurveda deal with all these things.


Your body develops your own air conditioning. If you put on the air conditioner all the time, then you are not letting the self-modulating system of the body function. Our body brings out sweat, which is cooling. Unfortunately, many are used to air conditioners from childhood. I have nothing against the use of air conditioners, but make sure your body temperature agrees with the fresh prana environment. It will make a difference. Then you will have the ability to work in a cold place without having to wear too much. Or to be in a hot place without feeling suffocated.


There is a second type of fire known as Kamagni, the fire of desire, lust or passion. It is because of this fire of passion that life continues on this planet. This fire is present in all living beings. We do not let the fire of desire remain in us for long and burn us. The moment desire strikes, we fulfill it. The promiscuous have absolutely no kamagni. They do not allow this fire to burn them, let alone even bake them. The moment lust strikes, they fulfill their desires. In such cases kamagni does not awaken in you. Sex is one of the oldest samskaras, apart from eating. Throughout all the ages living beings have done two things for sure — eating and having sex.


When this passion arises observe it. It is present in every cell of your body. It engulfs you, burns you. If one immediately succumbs to desire, their power or shakti decreases. That is when you become more inert and less sensitive. Then there is no vigor, joy or enthusiasm in any activity one does. That is why people who are promiscuous do not have that enthusiasm. They do not have the force or will or strength to do any action.