The word TAPAS is formed from the root “TAP” which means “to burn”, “to radiate”, “to be consumed by fire”. Fire is the symbol for the ardent desire or for the invincible will to achieve something.
However, this desire or will must be exerted in a totally detached and patient manner, renouncing the fruits (the results) of your actions (consecrating your effort to the Supreme Cosmic Consciousness).
Therefore TAPAS implies an ardent effort directed toward a defined purpose. TAPAS is realized through discipline and austerity, i.e. through a conscious and sustained effort to resist all temptations and to overcome all obstacles that stand between you and your goal.
TAPAS is of three kinds:
- TAPAS of the body (KAYIKA), for example continence (BRAHMACHARYA), non-violence (AHIMSA), fasting (once a week), etc.
- TAPAS of the speech: using words that are true and do not prejudice any living being. A very special form of TAPAS of the speech is MAUNA – the silence.MAUNA implies not to talk at all for a certain period of time (one day or a few hours). A superior level in MAUNA is mental silence, i.e. keeping the mind totally quiet. MAUNA has extremely beneficent effects, conserving energy and sharpening the insight.
- TAPAS of the mind (MANASIKA): a perfect peace of mind, effortless self-control, lack of negative thoughts, removing pessimism.
TAPAS is very much related to will power. In YOGA practice, TAPAS implies perseverance and daily practice.
Some people start to practice YOGA and are enthusiastic at the beginning but when some obstacles appear they quit immediately. The avoiding of discomfort is not a positive attitude, but a sign of weakness.
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