Tapas (तप्) (Penance or Austerity)
The root word of Tapas in Sanskrit is tapa (तप) which means heat. Tapas or the spiritual energy is generated by practice of austerities like deep meditation, self-control & discipline and other spiritual practices to attain purification and transformation in the self. Tapasya means self-discipline, undertaken to achieve a goal. With the help of Tapas, the practitioner or worshipper experiences supernormal vision.
The word “Tapas” finds mention in Rigveda (Verse -10.154.5), Satapatha Brahmana (Verse -5.3 - 5.17), Chāndogya & Mandukya Upanishads, Atharva Veda (Verse -4.34.1, 6.61.1, 11.1.26), Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan (Verse – 2.1, 2.32) and Bhagwat Gita (Verse - 17.14-19).
Constituents of Tapas:
The Bhagwat Gita (Verse - 17.14-16) deals with tapas from three angles:
Kinds of Tapas:
The Bhagwat Gita (Verse - 17.17-19) defines the purposes of tapas as Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika as under:
Purpose of Tapas
Tapas in Kriya Yoga
In the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan, one of the limbs is Niyama (observances of rules). Niyama are five which comprises purity, contentment, tapas (austerity), self-study and self-surrender (शौचसंतोषतपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः || Verse-2/32). Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan says, tapas, self-study and self-surrender are means of Kriya Yoga (तपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि क्रियायोगः ||Verse-2/1). Tapas word is used in the sense of control over food, forbearance and also the performance of specified kriya.