Shaucha (Sanskrit: , also spelled Saucha, ?auca) literally means purity, cleanliness and clearness. It refers to purity of mind, speech and body. Saucha is one of the Niyamas of Yoga. It is discussed in many ancient Indian texts such as the Mahabharata and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. It is a virtue in Hinduism and Jainism. In Hinduism purity is a part of worship, an attitude or purity of mind an important quality for salvation. Purity is a mind pure and free of evil thoughts and behaviors.
Saucha includes outer purity of body as well as inner purity of mind. The concept of Saucha is synonymous with Shuddhi (). LePage states that Saucha in yoga is on many levels, and deepens as an understanding and evolution of self increases.
Shaucha, or holistic purity of the body, is considered essential for health, happiness and general well-being. External purity is achieved through daily ablutions, while internal purity is cultivated through physical exercises, including asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques). Along with daily ablutions to cleanse one's body, the concept of Shaucha suggests clean surrounding, along with fresh and clean food to purify the body. Lack of Saucha, such as letting toxins build in body are a source of impurity.
Shaucha goes beyond purity of body, and includes purity of speech and mind. Anger, hate, prejudice, greed, pride, fear, negative thoughts are a source of impurity of mind. The impurities of the intellect are cleansed through the process of self-examination, or knowledge of self (Adhyatma-Vidya). The mind is purified through mindfulness and meditation on one's intent, feelings, actions and its causes.
Teachers of the Vedanta path of yoga prepare to have holy thoughts and for performing holy actions. Students and the young help teachers prepare for worship, building self-control and selflessness. This is to offer a true gift - to offer something without expecting anything in return. Sarada Devi said "Pure mind begets ecstatic love (prema-bhakti)."
Saucha is included as one of five Niyamas in Yoga, that is activity that is recommended for spiritual development of an individual. Verse II.32 of Yogasutra lists the five niyamas. In verse II.40, Patanjali describes outer purity, while verse II.41 discusses inner purity, as follows:
Through cleanliness and purity of body and mind (Saucha, Shudhi)
comes a purification of the essence (sattva),
a goodness and gladness of feeling,
a sense of focus with intentness, the mastery and union of the senses,
and a fitness, preparation and capability for self-realization.-- Patanjali, Yogasutras II.41
Saucha is one of the ten Yamas listed by ?ilya Upanishad, as well as by Sv?tm?r?ma. It is one of the virtuous restraints (yamas) taught in ancient Indian texts. The other nine yamas are Ahi?s? (): Nonviolence, Satya (?): truthfulness, Asteya (): not stealing, Brahmacharya (?): celibacy chastity and fidelity, K?am? (): forgiveness, Dh?ti (?): fortitude, Day? (): compassion, ?rjava (): sincerity and non-hypocrisy, and Mitahara (): moderate diet.
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(He is) free from possessiveness, free from egoism, free from pessimism, looks on all with an equal eye, free from craving. (In him) is seen confidence, endurance, renunciation, purity, absence of laziness, absence of cruelty, absence of delusion, compassion for all creatures, absence of the disposition to slander others or to exult at gains; (he is) satisfied, humble, emancipated, indifferent, peaceful, unaffected by ups and downs, pursuer of Brahma, and exhibits purity in all acts aiming for tranquillity, understanding and the right.
Bhagavad Gita describes purity at three levels in Book 17, verses 14-16, namely body, speech and thoughts. Purity of body comes from cleanliness of body as well as from what one eats and drinks. Purity of speech comes from being truthful and through use of words that are not injurious, hurtful or distressing to others or self. Purity of thoughts comes from reflection, peace of mind, silence, calmness, gentleness and purity of being.
Purity of mind, speech and body has been one of the important virtues in Indian philosophy.
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