Definition - What does Daya mean?

Daya is a Sanskrit word that is usually translated as “compassion.” It derives from the root word, da, meaning “gift,” and is a concept in Hinduism and Sikhism in which empathy is felt for the suffering of others. It is total identification with what the others are experiencing and, therefore, the compelling need to relieve that suffering.

In yogic and Hindu traditions that recognize 10 yamas (restraints), daya is one of these yamas, which along with the niyamas (observances), form the foundation of moral code.

Yogapedia explains Daya

In the sense of yama, daya is the effort of conquering the insensitive and cruel feelings toward others, thereby allowing compassion to flourish. In some traditions, daya goes beyond compassion and empathy for fellow humans, extending to animals, plants and the earth.

In Sikhism, daya is considered a divine quality; one of five such qualities, or virtues, which also include:

Sat (truth)
Santokh (contentment)
Nimrata (humility)
Pyare (love)

Sikhs strive to make these qualities part of their personality.

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