(Uttam Sanyam Dharma)
'Self-restraint is the key to
The word 'Sanyam' is derived
from the root 'yam' with preposition 'sam' by the addition
of suffix 'ap'.
The word 'Sanyam' has
various meanings like check, restraint, control, prevention and mental
concentration. Uttama Sanyam i.e., Supreme self-restraint is one of
the ten virtues to be cultivated by a man to counteract the four passions
(Kashayas) i.e., anger, pride, deceit and greed.
Therefore, an aspirant for
happiness is advised, "Fight with your (own) self: what is good in
fighting the external foe? By conquering one's 'self' by means of one's
own self, one obtains true happiness."
It has been rightly said, "The
sensual temptations of life do not attract a monk's mind. He is firmly
convinced that the pleasures secured by satisfying the senses are not only
transitory but also futile. He, therefore, comes to the conclusion that
man should aspire to attain the pleasure of eternal nature and for this
purpose man should make strenuous efforts towards self-restraint or
control of one's senses."
The self alone should be subdued,
for it is very difficult to subdue it. It is far better that a man should
subdue his self-control and austerities; rather than be subdued by others
with fetters and suffer corporal punishment.
Self-restraint is the rudder of
life. Just as for want of rudder a boat cannot sail across the river from
one bank to the other safely and punctually. Likewise in the absence of
self-restraint the boat of human life cannot sail across the ocean of the
world from one seacoast to the other i.e., attain liberation or salvation.
The following metaphoric statement also conveys similar ideas:
"The body is said to be the boat
and the soul is said to be the sailor. The samsara i.e., the
worldly existence, is said to be the ocean which is crossed only by great
A man without self-restraint has
been compared to an animal:
Sanyamain bina pranri, pashuraiv
Yogayogayam Na janati,
bhaidastra kuto bhavait
Man devoid of self-restraint has
been called an animal because without self-restraint a man cannot
distinguish between right and wrong, just and unjust. So long as this
living creature does not attend the school of self-restraint, he cannot
develop a grand and lustrous personality. A great scholar says; 'Good
nature can fulfill the lack of beauty, but beauty cannot fulfill the lack
of good nature.'
In the grand and illustrious book 'Dhawal'
an absolute control or check on self has been termed sanyam (self-
restraint) 'samyak yamo sanyam'. The holy soul Shraman, who
observes five kinds of samitis - five regulations of walking; the
mode of speech; the manner of eating food; actions of taking or using and
of putting away anything. He answering the call of nature - practices
Samvara - stops the inflow of karmic matter into the soul by
keeping the five senses under control or moving about in the world with
all his senses properly controlled. He follows the three guptis -
regulations of mind, speech and bodily activity for self- control with
reference to controlling one's inner nature. Finally he subdues the
passions and is endowed Right Belief and Right Knowledge, is called
To discard the external Parigrah
- greed of worldly possessions, and internal Parigrah - freedom
from evil actions in mind, speech and body; aversion for sensuous
pleasures and destruction of passions have been proclaimed in general as
the characteristics of a self-restrained person. Almost all scriptures
define self-restraint as mentioned above.
Two kinds of self-restraint viz. 'sagar'
(with possessions) and niragar (without possession) have been
stated in 'Charit Pahud':
Diviham sanjamcharanram sayaram
teh havai nrirayaram
Sayaram saganthai parigaha rahiy
A householder, who feels attachment
towards his own possessions, is gifted with 'sagar' (self-restraint
with possessions). A monk who is gifted with supreme non- attachment is
endowed with 'niragar' (non-possession self- restraint). Acharya
Samant Bhadra Swamy has also stated the same thing in 'Ratankarand
vikalam chararam, tatsaklam sarvsangviratanam
viklam, sagaranram sasanganam
Self-restraint is of two kinds
based on 'sakal charitra� Absolute in character, and 'vikal
charitra' Partial in character. The monks, who are free from all types
of attachments practice absolute self-restraint; and the house- holders,
who are attached to worldly possessions practice partial self-restraint.
In the sacred book entitled 'Rajvartika'
Acharya Aklank Dev has put self-restraint in two categories with
respect to aphrit (restricted) and upaiksha (detached). A
monk who understands the logic of Time and Space; who is by nature averse
towards the body; who observes the three Guptis - regulations for
self-control; and who is free from the mental attitude of attachment or
aversion, is holder of upeksha (detached self-restraint). 'Aphrit�
(restricted self- restraint) is of three kinds - superb, medium and lower
The self-defense of a monk - that
has independent external means viz. neat and clean shelter place, and
carefully cooked restrained poor food; knowledge and character are whose
main stay - from the outward beasts is superb 'Apharat' (restricted
self-restraint). The scriptures describe the characteristics of a monk
thus: 'A monk is without any possessions, without egotism, without
attachment, without vanity or conceit; he is impartial towards all living
beings whether mobile or immobile.'