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Tapas

Tapas (Skt., ‘heat’). Asceticism conceived as a force of creative heat in Indian religions. This force is instrumental in the acquisition of spiritual power (siddhi) and in gaining liberation (mokṣa).

In the Vedas, tapas has both a cosmic and a human aspect. 1 As a cosmic force it is the power underlying manifestation. For example, Prajāpati creates the universe by heating himself (Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa 7. 1. 2, 13).2 At a human level, tapas could be created in the fire sacrifice (agnihotra) and in the sacrificial priest (hotṛ) who manifested tapas by sweating.

With the Upaniṣads and the development of yoga, tapas becomes not a preparation for ritual but a means of realizing the self (ātman) and gaining release (mokṣa). The practice of austerity produces inner heat; for example, in Buddhism the Majjhima Nikāya (1. 244) speaks of the heat obtained by holding the breath; and in Hinduism, the rise of Kuṇḍalinī is associated with the arousal of heat.

Asceticism in some form is common to all yoga schools, though actual practices vary in intensity from mere celibacy to more extreme forms of asceticism such as never lying down, piercing the skin with a sharp instrument, bearing extremes of heat and cold, or, in Jainism, even slowly starving to death as a means of withdrawal from the world (sallekhanā): see also ASCETICISM.

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tapas

tapas Spanish; small savoury dishes served with wine in bars.

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tapas

tapasChiapas, tapas •campus, grampus, hippocampus, pampas •metacarpus, streptocarpus •trespass • Priapus • Lepus •Aristippus, Lysippus •Olympus • Oedipus • platypus •pompous •corpus, porpoise •Canopus, opus •lupus, upas •compass, encompass, rumpus •octopus •multipurpose, purpose

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