The Ten Niyamas - Observances or Practices in Hinduism

01
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1st Observance - 'Hri' or Remorse & Modesty

The boy’s tears show his remorse, hrî, at having accidentally broken a neighbor’s window. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

What does living virtuously mean to Hindus? It is following the natural and essential guidelines of dharma and the twenty ethical guidelines called 'yamas' and 'niyamas,' or 'restraints' and 'observances' - ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behavior. These "do's" and "don'ts" are a common-sense code of conduct recorded in the Upanishads, the final section of the 6,000 to 8,000-year-old Vedas.

Here we present the ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The first observance, Remorse and Modesty (hri) - being modest and showing shame for misdeeds.

Allow yourself the expression of remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds. Recognize your errors, confess and make amends. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds. Resolve all contention before sleep. Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits. Welcome correction as a means to bettering yourself. Do not boast. Shun pride and pretension.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

02
of 10

2nd Observance - 'Santosha' or Contentment

Three generations living at home, enjoying one another, happy, fulfilled and content in their simple life. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The second observance, Contentment (santosha) - seeking joy and serenity in life.

Nurture contentment, seeking joy and serenity in life. Be happy, smile and uplift others. Live in constant gratitude for your health, your friends and your belongings. Don't complain about what you don't possess. Identify with the eternal You, rather than mind, body or emotions. Keep the mountaintop view that life is an opportunity for spiritual progress. Live in the eternal now.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

03
of 10

3rd Observance - 'Dana' or Charity

A well-to-do woman takes joy in giving food and clothing to needy neighbors in a selfless act of dâna. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The third observance, Giving or charity (dana) - giving generously without thought of reward.

Be generous to a fault, giving liberally without thought of reward. Tithe, offering one-tenth of your gross income (dasamamsa) as God's money, to temples, ashrams and spiritual organizations. Approach the temple with offerings. Visit gurus with gifts in hand. Donate religious literature. Feed and give to those in need. Bestow your time and talents without seeking praise. Treat guests as God.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

04
of 10

4th Observance - 'Astikya' or Faith

A man’s car stalls as a train approaches. He holds to his faith, and Siva, nearby, helps him escape to safety. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The fourth observance, Faith (astikya) - believing firmly in god, gods, guru and the path to enlightenment.

Cultivate an unshakable faith. Believe firmly in God, Gods, guru and your path to enlightenment. Trust in the words of the masters, the scriptures and traditions. Practice devotion and sadhana to inspire experiences that build advanced faith. Be loyal to your lineage, one with your satguru. Shun those who try to break your faith by argument and accusation. Avoid doubt and despair.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

05
of 10

5th Observance - 'Ishvarapujana' or Worship of the Lord

Hands raised in adoration during a pûjâ, a devotee venerates Ganesha in an act of Ishvarapûjana, worship. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The fifth observance, Worship of the Lord (Ishvarapujana) - the cultivation of devotion through daily worship and meditation.

Cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation. Set aside one room of your home as God’s shrine. Offer fruit, flowers or food daily. Learn a simple puja and the chants. Meditate after each puja. Visit your shrine before leaving the house. Worship in heartfelt devotion, clearing the inner channels to God, Gods and guru so their grace flows toward you and your loved ones.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

06
of 10

6th Observance - 'Siddhanta Sravana' or Scriptural Listening

A teacher passes along the gift of scriptural learning to four boys through recitation of holy scriptural texts. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The sixth observance, Scriptural Listening (siddhanta sravana) - studying the teachings and listening to the wise of one's lineage.

Eagerly hear the scriptures, study the teachings and listen to the wise of your lineage. Choose a guru, follow his path and don’t waste time exploring other ways. Read, study, and above all, listen to readings and dissertations by which wisdom flows from knower to seeker. Avoid secondary texts that preach violence. Revere and study the revealed scriptures, the Vedas and Agamas.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

07
of 10

7th Observance - 'Mati' or Cognition

A sage blesses a young boy, bestowing upon him mati, insightful cognition and spiritual understanding. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The seventh observance, Cognition (mati) - developing a spiritual will and intellect with the guru's guidance.

Develop a spiritual will and intellect with your satguru’s guidance. Strive for knowledge of God, to awaken the light within. Discover the hidden lesson in each experience to develop a profound understanding of life and yourself. Through meditation, cultivate intuition by listening to the still, small voice within, by understanding the subtle sciences, inner worlds and mystical texts.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

08
of 10

8th Observance - 'Vrata' or Sacred Vows

A couple voice their wedding vows, vrata, promising life-long fidelity in one of our most sacred rites of passage. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The eighth observance, Sacred Vows (vrata) - fulfilling religious vows, rules and observances faithfully.

Embrace religious vows, rules and observances and never waver in fulfilling them. Honor vows as spiritual contracts with your soul, your community, with God, Gods and guru. Take vows to harness the instinctive nature. Observe fast periodically. Pilgrimage yearly. Uphold your vows strictly, be they chastity, marriage, monasticism, nonaddiction, tithing, loyalty to a lineage, vegetarianism or nonsmoking.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

09
of 10

9th Observance - 'Japa' or Incantation

A Hindu woman chants her mantra on a mâlâ of holy beads, performing japa during her morning sâdhana. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The Ninth Observance, Recitation or Incantation (japa) - chanting mantras daily.

Chant your holy mantra daily, reciting the sacred sound, word or phrase given by your guru. Bathe first, quiet the mind, and concentrate fully to let japa harmonize, purify and uplift you. Heed your instructions and chant the prescribed repetitions without fail. Live free of anger so that japa strengthens your higher nature. Let japa quell emotions and quiet the rivers of thought.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

10
of 10

10th Observance - 'Tapas' or Austerity

Religious austerity, tapas, ranges from simple self-denial to rigorous yogic ordeals and physical challenges. Source: 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation' by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The ten niyamas - the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow - as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

The tenth observance, Austerity and Sacrifice (tapas) - performing sadhana, penance, tapas, and sacrifice.

Practice austerity, serious disciplines, penance and sacrifice. Be ardent in worship, meditation and pilgrimage. Atone for misdeeds through penance (prayaschitta), such as 108 prostrations or fasting. Perform self-denial, giving up cherished possessions, money or time. Fulfil severe austerities at special times, under a satguru's guidance, to ignite the inner fires of self-transformation.

Reproduced with permission from Himalayan Academy Publications. Parents and educators may visit minimela.com to purchase many of these resources at a very low cost, for distribution in your community and classes.

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Das, Subhamoy. "The Ten Niyamas - Observances or Practices in Hinduism." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-ten-niyamas-observances-1770074. Das, Subhamoy. (2017, March 3). The Ten Niyamas - Observances or Practices in Hinduism. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-ten-niyamas-observances-1770074 Das, Subhamoy. "The Ten Niyamas - Observances or Practices in Hinduism." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-ten-niyamas-observances-1770074 (accessed May 27, 2018).