Shaucha – Niyama of Raja Yoga

Shaucha means cleanliness. A yogi has always something to clean, throughout his life. Cleaning from the outside, cleaning from the inside. Swami Sivananda says that there are two kinds of purity – internal and external. Purity of body, clothes, surrounding, environment, house and its neighbourhood constitute external purity. External purity generates pure thoughts. When there is purity of the surroundings, the element of sattwa predominates, and tamas cannot stick in the corners of your mind. When your room is untidy, unclean there cannot be a creative working atmosphere.

You need to clean yourself, your environment and look after the broader environment as well, nature. Do not leave behind any dirt – physical, mental, pranic. An untidy and unclean environment attracts lethargy, tamas and dullness. It is like a cobweb in the attics. In your environment as few objects as possible should be placed in an orderly fashion. It is not a vastu science, but a simple prerequisite for a pure mind and mental peace.

We need to take clean, pure, sattwic food that can be digested and eliminated in maximum three hours. We need also to be careful what we take in through our other senses: what we hear, listen to, watch, smell and also what we think, through the sixth sense – the mind. According to yoga the mind is made of food, meaning not only the food we eat but whatever we consume through our senses.

The purity in raja yoga is more mental in nature. Negative thinking, worry, gossip, painful memories, obsessive thinking, self-pity, self-justification, stuff of a low mind should be checked. Anger, jealousy, pride, envy is inner dirt, dross.

Swami Sivananda says that freedom from raga and dwesha, attraction and rejection, purity of intentions, purity of motives and purity of bhava, sentiment, constitute internal purity. Internal purity is more important than external purity. Purity of mind bestows calmness, cheerfulness, joy, strength, harmony, poise, happiness, one-pointedness, victory over the senses. It makes us ft to attain God-realization. The mind must be purified by the practice of virtues, self-control, sanyam, and devotion to God.

A pure mind becomes your friend because it has come out of the shell of the lower mind, the ego, which obscures and covers the Truth. A pure mind enables us to realize this Truth. Swami Sivananda describes the importance of purity:

Purity of the heart, of the sentiments is the gateway to God. It is the antechamber to the presence of the Lord. It is the key by which the door of intuition that leads to the abode of supreme peace is opened. Purity is the passport to the land of eternal bliss. What greater understanding lies before you than purifying your life of all enmity, impurity, hatred, passion and filling it with love, goodness, peace and purity? Therefore, attain purity at all costs.

Sattwa – the state of purity

Swami Niranjan says that intuition comes by engaging the mind and holding the mind in the state of purity. If the mind is not affected and influenced by outer inputs, it is able to express its own creativity and that is intuitiveness. Asana and pranayama will not give us connection with purity. There has to be a sustained effort to purify the mind.

Our mind is not engaged in purity at present. It thinks every negative thought under the sun. That mind is experiencing envy, jealousy, greed, anger, lethargy and other tamasic conditions. A tamasic mind cannot tap into its own source. It has to be free from the effects of tamas. One cannot live in tamas and believe one is living a spiritual life. Swamiji says, “Just as you cannot take a shower without wetting your body, in the same manner, without going into sattwa you cannot clean yourself.”

All the thoughts that are revolving around self – me, mine, and I – are tamasic in nature. Negative thoughts, such as, ‘I am bad, I am not good, I am impure . . .’ are tamasic and detrimental. Thinking all the time ‘I am angry, I am envious, I am jealous’ makes you that. Thinking negative all the time makes one impure.

Pure thoughts will make your mind sattwic and your heart pure. A pure heart will be an inviting home for God to come and stay. When sattwa is generated and the heart is pure, godliness is naturally achieved.


Cleanliness on all levels; for mental purification: trataka, antar mouna, mouna.


A balanced, harmonious, focused and one-pointed personality.

Swami Omgyanam, Serbia