All the religions place emphasis on observing cleanliness. Amongst the Hindus purity or cleanliness is the last rule of the eightfold yoga (Ashtang Yoga) and some other yogas. In preparing for the eightfold yoga, the body is cleaned in various ways:
Nasal Douche (Neti Karam). A piece of thin cotton cord is softened by dipping it in some fat. One end is inserted in one nostril and is then passed out through the other nostril. The two ends are then pulled up and down. By this process, the inner nasal region is cleaned.
Cloth Stomach Douche (Dhoti Karam). A bandage of fine cloth 3 to 5 inches wide and 10 to 20 yards long is used. It is wetted with water. A portion of it is daily swallowed until the whole can be swallowed. The upper end is held firmly by the teeth. The cloth is then slowly taken out. The internal part of the stomach is cleaned by this process.
Enema (Wasti Karam). In this process one sits in water up to his navel. A hollow bamboo stick about one finger broad and four fingers long is passed up the anus. Water is drawn up through the stick and then thrown out. The internal portion below the stomach is thus cleaned. In a way, it is like taking an enema.
Intestinal Douche (Neauli Karam). In this process one sits with his shoulders level and back straight. The stomach is drawn in and the intestine is churned from right to left. The inner air is expelled and the inside is cleaned.
Stomach Water Douche (Guj Karam). In this process one drinks as much water as one can and then vomits it out through the mouth. By this the inside is washed clean.
Sex Organ Douche (Bajroli Kararn). In this process water is drawn through the penis and is then expelled. The inside is thus cleaned.
After performing these processes a yogi practises fixation of the gaze (Taratak). In this practice the gaze is first fixed on the tip of the nose, and is then withdrawn to its root. When this practice is perfected, the attention is taken to the inner chakras (ganglia). By this practice divine sight is obtained. The thoughts of other persons can be read and the foundation is laid for access to finer regions. By this practice the obstruction of Bhujang or Kundalni Nari1 to Sushumna Nari2 is removed. The tongue is lengthened until it can touch the eyebrows. It is then taken inside and is used to close or plug the palate. The nectar which drops from the moon which is seen on the left side of the region of Trikuti is then enjoyed.
Gurus do not say that the performing of these acts results in salvation. All of them, in fact, are considered to be useless if one does not practise devotion to the Lord. The Gurus say that even if one does all the six practices to perfection but has no devotion to the Lord, he is like a sweeper. No knowledge is obtained without a Master. The follower of these practices still remains drowned in ignorance. In spite of all this purification, the inner defect is not removed. (See chapter on Naam).
Without Naam these acts are no more than the feats of mystery-mongers.
If one does six prescribed deeds But if in him there is no devotion to the Lord,
No praising of the feet of the Lord or reciting of His merciful actions, such a man is like a sweeper.
Ravi Das, Kedara, 1124
One who engages in cleaning the intestines (Neauli Karam) and works like a furnace by practising inhalation and retention of breath gets no knowledge without a Master and is drowned in ignorance. The blind one washes again and again but the inner dirt is not removed. Without the Name all actions are fruitless. Like the misleading tricks of magic man.
Prabhati M1, 1348-5
Amongst the Muslims, ablutions are compulsory before saying prayers (Namaz). By this the outside of the body is cleaned. By keeping fasts the inside of the body is cleaned. Both Christians and Buddhists pay great attention to cleanliness. Amongst the Sikhs, the Nirmalas and Namdharis (puritan sects of Sikhs) place great emphasis on frequent bathing. Of the three principal religious practices (Naam, charity and bathing), bathing or cleanliness is one. It includes purity of the body, mind and intellect. (See chapter on Naam, Charity and Bathing)
The elderly orthodox ladies consider bathing at sacred places to be cleanliness. One should put the sacred mark (tilak) on the forehead, do worship, and not touch the clothes or other belongings of sweepers or others who belong to low castes. If one happens to touch them, one should bathe. If one happens to take food from a person of low caste, he should also do penance. Then alone he becomes purified. It cannot, however, be denied that baths are necessary for cleanliness and good health.
But how can external cleanliness be of any help if the inner pot is dirty? One should speak the truth and have truthful conduct before he can be said to be pure. To be proud of being a Brahmin by birth is useless. He who knows the Lord (Brahm) is really a Brahmin. He who knows the truth (God) is truthful and pure. The key to knowing the truth can only be obtained from a Master. Real purity cannot be had without serving a Master.
Guru Arjan Sahib says, "He alone is a king who gathers the wealth of truth." Guru Nanak says:
Nanak considers the true One to be true.
Sri Rag M3, 1518
Truth can only be known through the truth which is with the Saints alone. He alone is rich who gathers the true treasure of the Lord's Name.
Nanak gathers the true purity which is with the Saints.
Gauri M5, 250-16
Guru Nanak Sahib says that only the bathing of those who practise truth is fruitful. Only the bathing of those who practise truth is approved.
Wadhans M1, 565
Purification cannot be achieved by external bathing alone. It can only be had by bathing in the internal pool of nectar (Amritsar, Mansarover or Tribeni). This is possible only by searching within one's own body. Inside the body is the true pool of nectar. The mind can drink it with devotion.
Maru M3, 1946-5
By reaching the pool of nectar the three covers of the soul (gross, subtle and ethereal) and the bondage of the gunas (qualities), mind, maya and the five elements are all removed and the soul becomes pure.
By bathing in the inner pool of pure nectar the mind becomes cleaned and absorbed in truth.
Asa M3, 363
Man is full of the poisons of his defects. By washing the body the inner poisons are not removed.
It is recorded that Guru Amar Das Ji in his early years led a clean and well regulated life as prescribed by the scriptures, and visited the Ganges every year with his companions. After he had surrendered to Guru Angad Ji, his companions, when they were on their way to the Ganges, came to see him. In order to make them understand true purity, he gave them a bitter gourd bowl and asked them to dip it in the Ganges whenever they bathed. When they were returning from the pilgrimage they met Guru Amar Das Ji and gave the bowl back, telling him that they had bathed it in the Ganges as he had requested. Guru Sahib cut it into two, put water in it, and then gave the water to them for drinking. It tasted bitter. Guru Sahib asked them why its bitterness had not gone in spite of its having been bathed in sacred waters.
Kabir Sahib asks, "What is the good of cleaning the body as long as the mind is full of poison?" A bowl may be bathed in the sixty-eight sacred spots of the Hindus, but it still will not lose its bitterness.
What is the good of cleaning the mind If there is poison inside? The bowl was bathed in sixty-eight sacred spots, but its bitterness was not removed.
Kabir, Sorath, 656
In the same way, merely cleaning the body does not result in removing the poison from the inner body.
Guru Nanak says that by washing the body one does not become pure. Only they are pure in whose hearts the Lord dwells. They are not pure who wash the outer body.
Oh Nanak, only those are pure in whose heart He dwells.
Asa War M1, 472
Guru Arjan says that one cannot become pure by bathing at sacred spots while ego still reigns in the heart. How can one become pure by bathing at a sacred spot, when the mind is full of the poison of egotism?
Bharoen M5, 1149
He further says that a man may go on cleaning himself day and night, but he will not remove the dirt of the mind by washing the body. He may take great pains to clean the body, but the poison of the mind is not removed. He may wash this impure body with water again and again, but how can the mind become pure?
He cleans the body day and night, but the dirt of the mind is not removed. By cleansing or washing the body in any way. The poison of the mind is not removed. He washed the body with water constantly. How then can the mind become pure?
Gauri M5, 265
Kabir Sahib says to the same effect that one who is full of the poison of sense attachments cannot obtain salvation by bathing at sacred spots. If bathing could lead to salvation then the frog which bathes constantly would not be born again and again. If one with inner uncleanliness bathes in sacred spots He does not go to heaven.
Nothing comes from trying to please the worldly people. For the Lord is not unaware. Worship the one Lord God. Practise the true Name and serve the Master. If one were to gain salvation by bathing, then the frog which bathes constantly would not be born again and again.
Kabir, Asa, 484
Guru Nanak Sahib says that when the heart is full of untruth and attachment, what is the good of bathing?
When the mind is full of the poison of avarice and falsehood, what is the use of bathing? When the devotee constantly repeats the pure Name, then only is the inner mind purified.
Sorath M1, 593
When the hands, feet and the body are besmeared they are washed clean with water; when the clothes get dirty and polluted, they are cleansed by soap; when one's mind gets defiled by sin, it can be purified only by communion with the Word.
Jap Ji, Stanza 20
Gurus say that outer cleanliness or untouchability is false cleanliness. If the inside is impure, no good can be achieved by washing the outside. The uncleanliness really pertains to the mind. By telling a lie the tongue and the body both become impure and untruth flows out of the mouth. How can that man then be pure? One who indulges in evil thinking, cruelty, backbiting, lust, anger, fear, attachment, pride or bad company becomes degraded. (See chapter on Evil). In order to gain real purity one should avoid these things. It is of benefit to keep away from bad company. What is the use of remaining in such company and sitting with evil people?
If the mind is impure, the body is also impure, and so is the tongue. He who is false of mouth speaks untruth, and how can he be pure?
Sri Rag M1, 55
Evil intentions are drummer women, Heartlessness is a butcheress, backbiting is an untouchable. What is the use of drawing a circle around yourself when all these are within you? 3
Sri Rag War M1, 91
Until all these things stop entering our mind, the heart cannot become pure. It is only by getting such purity that we are able to attain truth. Oh Nanak, only the true and the pure know the truth.
Sri Rag M1, 15
Guru Nanak Sahib says that one should contemplate on truth, but it is only when one is pure that truth can be had. Oh Nanak, truth should be contemplated, but only the true can find the truth.
Asa War M1, 472
By simply reading the scriptures or having discussions about them one cannot become pure. True purity can only be obtained by love and devotion for the Lord. One does not gain salvation by mere discussion or recital, or by reading many books. The body becomes pure only when there is love and devotion for the Lord.
Sri Rag M1, 59-4
In reality, persons of low mentality are untouchables, rather than sweepers, cobblers, minstrels and bards. The real seeker should therefore give up rituals and undertake inner purification according to the directions of a Master and thus realize the Lord. He should drive out all thoughts except those of the Lord, so that the Lord may reveal Himself.
Tulsi Sahib says that one should clean the cell of the heart so that the Lord may enter it. He should exclude thoughts of all others from the heart so that the Lord may dwell in it.
Clean the cell of the heart for the Beloved, banish all thoughts of others to make room for Him. Gurus describe the clean body as one in which the true Name of the Lord is dwelling. True cleanliness is achieved by the inner practice of the Shabd. That heart is pure in which there is devotion for the deathless Lord and Master. That body is pure where dwells the true Name; that one is true who fears the Lord; and that tongue is true which sings His praises.
Sri Rag M1, 19
Real cleanliness is achieved by good fortune by being absorbed in the Shabd, or by the Lord coming to dwell within. When one unites with the Shabd one becomes possessed of right conduct, and gets glory in the true court; he becomes absorbed in the jewel of the Name; this is true from age to age.
Prabhati M1, 1332
He who has great good fortune, oh Nanak, repeats the true and pure Name.
Asa M3, 377
It is necessary to be clean both inside and outside. Have a clean body, speak good words. But unless pure thoughts arise inside, nothing pure can come out. It is, therefore, very necessary that the thoughts should be pure. Out of the fullness of his heart a man speaks. Therefore, be pure of heart and tongue. Outer cleanliness is the beginning of inner purity. Unless the body is clean the mind cannot be pure. If the heart is not clean, how can the soul be clean? The body can be kept clean by bathing and putting on clean clothes. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Do not utter any unkind or harmful words. Use words that sound sweet to all. Cleanliness of the heart consists in not entertaining any evil thoughts. Unite yourself with the Name and thus get rid of all impure thoughts and attain cleanliness or purity of the soul.
[…] "The path of the yogins … is concerned with meditation at these six centers, beginning from the lowest and gradually rising from one to the next higher by means of praytyahara and dharna as already explained. In this process, one also calls to his aid the kundalini shakti, or the great serpentine power lying dormant in three and a half folds in the vagus nerve, in a coiled state like a serpent. This latent energy or power is awakened with the help of pranayam.
Chapter Two, 2. VI.,
Dharna as a form of Yoga (Mansik Yoga),
by Kirpal Singh (1894–1974)
Part One, Chapter Two, 2., VI.,
Dharna as a form of Yoga (Mansik Yoga)
by Kirpal Singh (1894–1974)