Cleanliness – Saucha
Taken together, Niyamas and Yamas are seen as personal obligations to live in a good and honest way. Niyamas are on the “to do” list. This is my observation of sauca – cleanliness:
Heather doing the laundry in a village in Northern Europe:
Take Ariel, Daz, Bold, Persil, Lenore, Softlan, Fairy, or Biotex washing powder. Place clothing in the Miele, Zanussi, Hoover, or Bosch. Select the programme, close the door, add powder and start the cycle.
Go and do something else at top speed.
Dryer on afterwards for 90 minutes
Remove from dryer, bury your cold face in the warmth, but recoil at the dominant odour of chemical perfumes that the glamorous ladies on the TV all get so insanely excited about.
Take the washing upstairs and have a row with the family about who will sort and distribute the items.
Thankfully, I’ve never ironed.
Heather doing the laundry in a village in Southern India:
Place three small scoops of unidentified washing powder in the bucket that you also use for bathing and watering the plants.
Add clothes, stir and take the bucket outside and rub each and every item of clothing in the areas that you feel need it.
Rinse the clothing under blue skies at the garden faucet. The water splashing your grubby feet snd cleansing the dust that settled on the early morning walk. You ask a friend to help you to twist the textile in the opposite direction, and the good, clean water gently rains down upon the dry grass by your glossy feet.
The next step is to drape the bright cotton scarves, baggy pants and tunics that begin to sway like royal pennants on the humble washing line.
The final stage is to gather the dry, sweet clothing later in the day and bury your face into the scorched delicate smell of the wind.
Thankfully, I’ve never ironed. (See above)
Two methods for the same outcome, but I know which I prefer. Then I know that as a mother I have a full five member teenage family’s worth of laundry to deal with on a daily basis. As I’m sure that the ladies in this Indian village sigh about too when faced with the same chore. But here I fiddle about being all earthy and lifting my sun-kissed face up to the constantly benevolent Indian winter sun and, for the first time in twenty years, have only myself to clean for. A startling thought for a soft-hearted mum who has felt the overwhelming need and desire to simply go away, then come back – cleansed in body and soul.
So I favour the gentle process of need to mind to hand, to muscle to action, to thought to smell to touch and back to centre. It was too fast, too loud, too efficient for everyone back in Northern Europe to achieve the pinnacle of chemical cleansing. Similar to working with computers, we become a slave to the machine and end up doing the work of many (travel agent, accountant, banker, teacher, chef, therapist to name a few increasingly nearly defunct professions)
My simile then is that of processes. For me cleanliness of body or soul, or saucha in Sanskrit, is one of simplicity, self-relience and a simple, yet defined process which doesn’t involve any machines, only the strength of our body, mind and aspiring soul.