The first of the five Niyamas is shoucha, which means cleanliness or purity. Shoucha removes negative thoughts and makes us healthy. Right from small things like brushing teeth etc., fixed rules and regulations have been placed, such that utmost cleanliness prevails in the society.
Shoucham is of two kinds - external cleanliness that includes the cleanliness of the body, objects and the surroundings and the internal cleanliness that involves the purification of the mind.
Most people keep their house clean and neat. But this attitude is not extended to the external surroundings. People throw garbage beside their homes and they spit and urinate at the side of the roads. Many throw plastic and other garbage on the roads even when the dustbins are available. These are clear actions of "ashaucha" or "non-cleanliness".
It is true that proper toilet facilities are not available everywhere and hence many people prefer to go out in the open. But this attitude has become so ingrained in some people that they do not use toilets even when they are available.
Cleanliness is not limited to keeping the house and surroundings clean. It also applies to various human actions like causing environmental pollution. Human beings have made the air, water and earth dirty and polluted by their actions.
Actions like throwing garbage only into the dustbins, not spitting and urinating in the open, unless it is absolutely necessary or there is no other alternative available. Trying to avoid those actions that may cause, water, noise or air pollutions etc. can go a long way in helping the society. These actions are termed as "Bahya Shoucha" or "external cleanliness".
Shoucham is also internal cleansing where we abstain from jealousy, hatred, anger, greed, arrogance and develop the attitude of love, compassion, friendliness, cheerfulness. etc.
In a village there were three best friends - Mohan, Lalith and Arjun. They studied in the same school. All the three were good in their studies. They all liked the school. It was the place where they all met. They never missed school. Their village was very beautiful. Many tourists visited this place. Once Arjun didn't come to school for five days. Lalith and Mohan were worried.
They decided to visit Arjun. They were shocked to see the place where he lived. It was very dirty. There was stagnant water on the roads where they saw mosquitoes breeding. Waste was thrown all around. When they reached Arjun's house they saw that he was down with very high fever. His mother told them that he had malaria.
She was crying badly. Arjun looked very soft and tired. He could hardly talk. Malaria is a disease that is spread by mosquitoes. It affects the liver and blood cells. His father told them that due to unhealthy living conditions very few tourists visited the place.
The next day the boys told the class about Arjun. They decided to do something for their friend. So they decided to clean the place during the weekend. So the students gathered in the street and divided themselves into small groups and started cleaning the place. They swept the roads, collected the waste and threw it in the dustbin. They also cleared the dirty water. Thus, the mosquitoes became less. They continued the cleaning process every week. This was an eye opener for the people staying around.
They slowly started participating in the cleaning spree. All were happy and the place became clean and tidy. More people wanted to clean their streets also. Hence small groups were formed and more places were cleaned. Very few people fell sick. Tourists started visiting the village as before.
The principal appreciated the children in the assembly. The district collector too appreciated the children for making the people aware. The cleaning effort of the people of the village was shown on the TV. Many states also adopted the cleaning movement.
Slowly it became a national movement. Thus a small movement that started in a small village spread to the whole country. Finally, even the President one day declared that our India is a clean India.
If we want our country to be a clean and healthy place to live, we should first keep our house and surroundings clean. Not only external cleanliness, but internal cleanliness is also needed.