How to practice asteya or non-stealing

Post By: Published on: December 10, 2016 Reading time: 4 minutes

What is asteya (non-stealing), the third yama?

Asteya in yoga-sūtra is non-stealing. Stealing or theft is taking anything which does not belong to us without permission. This can be expanded to include effort. Some examples might be:

  • Taking stationery from the office for personal work.
  • Cheating on taxes.
  • Ticketless travel.
  • Not contributing to household chores.
  • Not sharing an inheritance.

Asteya can also be expanded to include team work because successful teamwork requires team members to share credit and not take credit where there is no contribution.

Therefore, non-stealing or asteya requires enormous self-discipline. This requires conformance to order or harmony by the person (dharma). Consequently, this conditioning is only possible when an eco-system is built which rewards effort or honesty and disregards limelight-hogging and punishes theft.

Such a system would require leadership, conditioning, training and continuous effort to change.

When one practices astheya, there is an increased control over ahaṅkāra (the feeling that I am the doer). This reduces the sense of the Self (asmitā) and consequently, increases one’s evolution in awareness (prajñā).

Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand asteya.

Example 1 – Let us compare two different football teams, one of novices and another of professionals.

Novices normally never play in any single position. Consequently, when one person kicks the ball, everyone runs after it. As a result, everyone wants credit for the goal and this gives rise to prima donnas who never pass the ball.

On the other hand, professional team members are specialists who maintain their own positions. Though each team member has his own characteristic style of playing, the team operates on the principle of give and take, with a common goal and conditioning or dharma (value system). Here, credit for work done is often subsumed into the achievement of the team, and as a result, the team wins.

In fact, if one person were to hog the lime light and take credit for work not done by him, the cohesiveness of the team would be disturbed and the team would no longer perform as a winning unit.

Teaming is not confined to physical possessions but also includes the ability to share thoughts, information, credit and criticism.

Main gates of Srirangapatna fort

Example 2 – How loss of teamwork and greed for success can lead to disaster…

On 23 June, 1757, at the battle of Plassey, Robert Clive bribed Mir Jaffer to stay out of battle. Consequently, Siraj-ud-Daula was defeated in the battle and this starting the British rule in India.

Similarly, on 4 May 1799, at the battle of Srirangapatna, Mir Sadiq was bribed to withdraw his soldiers from battle. As a result, Tipu Sultan lost the battle and was killed. Finally, this led to the consolidation of power by the British in India.

Points to Ponder on asteya (non-stealing).

Internal Tags: Karma, Dharma (conditioning)Stress and Situational AwarenessStress and pranaAwareness measures, Bhakti Yoga fundamentals, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.

External Tags: Consciousness, Integrity

  • A team is a collection of people with a common purpose. What makes this entity so important?
  • How does the performance of a well-trained and led team make a difference to the goal?
  • How do we integrate different team requirements to a single objective?
  • What is the role of the team leader? Why is he or she important?
  • How does one resolve intra-team conflict?
  • How important is communication in a team?
  • Is hierarchy important in a team?
  • Is structure important in a team?
  • What is the impact of a prima donna (one who constantly hogs the limelight?)
  • What is morale? How important is it to team dynamics?
  • How do you motivate a team in difficult situations?

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