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Tapas in Hinduism – Meaning and Significance of Tapas

Tapas in Hinduism is penance. The first image that comes to the mind when we talk about Tapas is that of a Sannyasi or Yogi or a human being sitting in forest or on a mountain and meditating to achieve boons. This image is a false one. There is more significance and deeper meaning to Tapas.

The real concept of Tapas in Hinduism is to remove the concept of duality or dvandva from mind. To firm up the belief that there is no second – there is only Supreme Truth.

To firm up this belief, a yogi tries to overcome dualities like hunger and thirst, cold and heat, happiness and sadness… etc.

Tapas can be performed by both men and women or by any living being.

In true Hindu Teaching, Tapa is not performed to attain something – like siddhi or wealth or magical powers. It is performed for removing the ignorance that has accumulated in us in this birth and several other births. It is to purify and finally merge with the Supreme Truth.

Tapa is not merely sitting in solitude and meditating. It can also be performed by doing one’s karma. Performing one’s duty without attachment, fear or desire for fruits is also Tapas.

While performing Tapas a Yogi might attain specific powers – these should not be mistaken as supernatural powers. It is the result of intense concentration and practice of several years.