Saucha: Purity in Relationships

Saucha or Purity is one of the Niyamas or Commitments.

Times are changing rapidly. Households and marriages are breaking up and new non-traditional relationships are developing. Traditional or otherwise we need a few guidelines that allow us to measure our relationships. Rishis and yogis laid down a few simple principles, and using these you can examine any relationship. 

Life is Relationships

Rishis and yogis emphasised purity in relationships. This system of Yoga values may be ancient but human beings are still essentially the same. Life is still made up of relationships and relationships are nothing other than emotions, thoughts, speech and action. To maintain purity in our relationships we must be honest. A lie is any speech or action that seeks to deceive. Relationships based on deception are impure. But at the same time, truth without compassion is hard hearted, bitter tongued and cruel. A statement made be true, but it is not truth in its highest form. 

Practice truth at the level of emotions and thought but at the level of speech and action, ahimsa or non-violence is paramount.

Love means Non-violence  

  • We hurt the persons we love and we do not even know it. 
  • We hurt them with our demands and with our expectations. 
  • We hurt them when we take them for granted.
  • We hurt them when we try to change them to suit our whims and fancies.
  • We hurt them when we expect them to know our desires and to fulfil them.

Violence of this subtle nature exists in all relationships. For a pure relationship we must follow the highest principle of ahimsa: We must cease to hurt the ones we love. 

In fact, yoga defines Love. Love is non-violence or Ahimsa.

Forgive Yourself

To practice Ahimsa is no easy task. Often people hurt themselves while practising non-violence. We sacrifice our own desires even our principles, in an effort to be selfless. That is not selflessness; it is hypocrisy. For example, when you suppress your own feelings and convince yourself that you should marry someone you do not wish to marry because your parents want you to. By doing this you are harming yourself, your prospective partner, your   present and future families. 

Practising ahimsa means taking care of ourselves too.

Sometimes we make mistakes and feel guilty. Sometimes we suffer guilt even thinking impure thoughts. Impure actions and thoughts make our relationships tense and strained. For instance, feeling jealous of your brother or sister, or even your spouse. Jealousy brings with it guilt and strengthens the impure thoughts. Be gentle with yourself, a thought is only a thought and will pass if you let it. Unfortunately, most often we give such thoughts too much importance thus they strengthen, and lead us into greater suffering. If you have a violent or adulterous thought, let it go and the desire will pass. Even if you should act upon it, do not condemn yourself for the rest of your life. 

Forgive yourself. Unless you forgive yourself, no one will forgive you.

Love, Respect and Trust

We may have a loving and honest relationship but it may still be impure if we are excessively attached to it. Non-attachment does not mean indifference. It means freedom. Attachment, dependency and possessiveness in relationships is bondage. Non-attachment means mutual respect, not ownership. Your wife does not belong to you. Respect her individuality too. Your children are not your property, they are merely in your care. Know that they have come on this earthly plane on their own mission, not merely to fulfil your desires.

Whatever the relationship, irrespective of times and circumstances it will be pure only if it is built on the foundation of love, respect and trust. A pure relationship brings freedom and makes you strong. 

Any relationship that makes you weak and powerless is impure.