Indian Arts and Culture Hinduism The 10 Yamas & Niyamas of Hinduism "Twenty Timeless Keys to Your Divine Destiny" Share Flipboard Email Print Mark Gibson Hinduism Important Texts India Past and Present Temples and Organizations Indian Arts and Culture Hindu Gods Hindu Gurus and Saints By Subhamoy Das M.A., English Literature, University of North Bengal Subhamoy Das is the co-author of "Applied Hinduism: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World." He has written several books about Hinduism for children and young adults. our editorial process Subhamoy Das Updated June 25, 2019 What does living virtuously mean to Hindus? It is following the natural and essential guidelines of dharma and the 10 yamas and 10 niyamas - ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behavior. These do's and don'ts are a common-sense code recorded in the Upanishads, in the final section of the 6000-to 8000-year-old Vedas. Read about the 10 yamas, which means "reining in" or "control", and the 10 niyamas, i.e., observances or practices as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. The 10 Yamas - Restraints or Proper Conduct Ahimsa or Non-injurySatya or TruthfulnessAsteya or NonstealingBrahmacharya or Sexual PurityKshama or PatienceDhriti or SteadfastnessDaya or CompassionArjava or HonestyMitahara or Moderate DietSaucha or Purity The 10 Niyamas - Observances or Practices Hri or ModestySantosha or ContentmentDana or CharityAstikya or FaithIshvarapujana or Worship of the LordSiddhanta Sravana or Scriptural ListeningMati or CognitionVrata or Sacred VowsJapa or IncantationTapas or Austerity These are the 20 ethical guidelines called yamas and niyamas, or restraints and observances. Sage Patanjali (c 200 BC), propounder of Raja Yoga, said, "These yamas are not limited by class, country, time, or situation. Hence they are called the universal great vows." Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, a yogic scholar, revealed the inner science of yama and niyama. He states that they are the means to control the 'vitarkas,' i.e., the evil or negative mental thoughts. When acted upon, these thoughts result in injury to others, untruthfulness, hoarding, discontent, indolence or selfishness. He said, "For each vitarka, you can create its opposite through yama and niyama, and make your life successful." As Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami says, "The ten restraints and their corresponding practices are necessary to maintain bliss consciousness, as well as all of the good feelings toward oneself and others attainable in any incarnation. These restraints and practices build character. Character is the foundation for spiritual unfoldment." In Indian spiritual life, these Vedic restraints and observances are built into the character of children from a very early age to cultivate their refined, spiritual being while keeping the instinctive nature in check. Parts of this article are 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.