Powerful Aids to Celibacy

Swami SivanandaAvoid all kinds of self-abuse. They drain away your vital energy and leave you like a dead man or like the sugar-cane from which the juice has been extracted. Veerya is indeed a priceless possession. Do not waste it for the sake of a momentary excitement and sensation. You will lose your eyesight. You will have dimness of vision. You will have shattered nerves.

Do not look at the reproductive Indriya. Do not also touch the generative organ with your hands now and then. This will aggravate your Kama Vasana. When it gets erection, do Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha.

Sexual excesses and outbursts of anger and hatred should be given up. Energy is depleted by fits of anger. The cells and tissues are filled with morbid poisonous materials when one loses his temper and entertains deep hatred. Various sorts of physical ailments crop up. The blood becomes hot and thin, and consequently, night pollution results. Various sorts of nervous diseases are attributable to excessive loss of the seminal energy and frequent fits of explosive anger or wrath.

Most of the diseases take their origin in overeating. Observe moderation in diet. Avoid late suppers. The evening meal should be light and eaten before 6 or 7 p.m. If possible, take milk and fruits only at night. No solid or liquid should be taken after sunset. When you take milk, mix ginger essence in it. Or boil crushed ginger with milk before taking the milk. Give up hot Chutnies, garlic, onion and pungent foodstuffs.

Sleep on a coarse bed. Use rough mats. Sleep on the left side. Allow the Solar Nadi, Pingala, to work throughout the night through the right nostril. In acute cases, sleep on the back until recovery.

If you are a married man, sleep in a separate room. You should never allow your wife to massage your legs at night. This is a dangerous practice.

It is befitting for a celibate to wear always wooden sandals as thereby the semen will be conserved, eyes will be benefited, life prolonged and holiness and lustre increased.

Endeavour to qualify yourself as your own doctor. Understand the laws of nature, the principles of hygiene and health. Do not tresspass against the laws of health. Do not give room for the mind to think of the body or the disease. This is the treatment for any kind of disease.

Root out love of leisure and ease. Overcome laziness and always keep the body and mind engaged in some useful work. Keeping the mind constantly engaged is one of the great secrets of Brahmacharya. Lead a disciplined, rigorous life.

First, dietary control. Meat can make a scientist, but never a philosopher, a sage or a Sattvic Person. Meat excites the passions. Gradually give up salt and tamarind. Salt excites passion and emotion. Salt excites and strengthens the Indriyas. Renunciation of salt brings in a cool condition of the mind and the nerves. It helps meditation.

Do not indulge in seeing naked pictures. All these tend to increase passion and deplete Veerya. You should strictly avoid these.

Watch the thoughts. Mind is a great electricity battery. It is a big dynamo indeed. This force of thought is transmitted with a tremendous lightning speed along the nerves to the organs. The physical body is fleshy mould prepared by the mind in accordance with the Samskaras and Vasanas for its own experience and enjoyment. The mind sways the organs of an undisciplined passionate man who has boisterous revolting Indriyas. It becomes an obedient faithful servant of a trained, developed Yogi. An ever-vigilant Brahmachari should always watch his thoughts very carefully. The bad thought should be nipped in the bud by supplanting counter divine thoughts. It should not be allowed to penetrate the physical body.

It is the mind that really does all actions. A desire arises in your mind and then you think. Then you proceed to act. The determination of the mind is put into action. First there is Sankalpa or thought and then comes action. Therefore, do not allow the sexual thoughts, to enter the mind.

That which the tongue speaks of, the organs of action do. That is the reason why it is said in the Vedas: “Let my mind think of auspicious things.” Entertain sublime divine thoughts. The old evil sexual thought will gradually vanish, just as the old nail in a plank goes away by inserting over it a new nail.

Seek Satsanga or good company. Even a moment’s company with wise people is quite sufficient to overhaul the old vicious Samskaras of worldly-minded people. The magnetic aura, the spiritual vibrations and the powerful thought-currents of developed adepts produce a tremendous influence on the minds of worldlings. The personal contact of Mahatmas is a blessing in reality for worldly persons. This is the reason why Sankara and others have spoken so highly of Satsanga in all their books.

If you cannot get good Satsanga in your own place, you can visit places of pilgrimage. Study of books written by realized persons will also be tantamount to Satsanga. The only potent specific for inducing burning Vairagya and desire for liberation is Satsanga.

Constantly remember: “Through the grace of God, I am becoming purer and purer, every day. Pleasures come but not to stay. Mortal flesh is only clay. Everything will pass away. Brahmacharya is the only way.” Develop Viveka and Vairagya.

It will not be out of place here to draw the reader’s attention to some Buddhist monks who always keep a human skull with them. This is to cause Vairagya in them and to remind them of the impermanent and perishable nature of human life.

Without renunciation of woman, it is impossible to have Self-realization. Ladies should not be offended when they read these lines. I only want to impress upon both the sexes the force and the glory of Brahmacharya and the evil effect of lust. I have great regard and admiration for women. Brahmacharya should be practiced by both men and women.

Mere condemning of lust is not sufficient to wean the mind from sexual craving. Remember this point well. Lust is a potent force, very difficult to be got rid of. That is the reason why the Sastras and saints censure and condemn women in order to create dispassion and discrimination in men and wean them from lustful tendencies and aggressive attacks. Sri Sankara, Sri Dattatreya, Sri Rama, Sri Tulasidas have all criticised women not out of hatred, prejudice or dislike, but out of compassion for elevating people from the quagmire of Samsara. Their criticism of women implies and includes criticism of man also. Their criticism aims at weaning the minds of worldly persons from sexual sin and creating disgust for sexual pleasure, and dispassion for worldly objects. This is misunderstood by people.

The same scriptures and saints who censure women in one place praise them in another. They say, “Women should be honoured. They are Ardhanginis. They are manifestations of Sakti or the energy of the Lord. Only those who honour women can attain prosperity.” Therefore, O women! Try to know the heart of the scriptures and the saints and become wise.

In India, religion is preserved and maintained only through the devotional element in women. Devotion is a fundamental characteristic of Hindu ladies. Hate lust, but not women.

When you obtain Viveka and Vairagya, then lust cannot take hold of you. You will see and realize, “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma. All is Brahman only.” You will have Atma-Drishti. The sex idea will then vanish.

A vow of celibacy will give you sure protection against temptation. It is a strong weapon to attack lust. If your renunciation is not the outcome of discrimination and dispassion, the mind will be simply waiting for an opportunity to get back the object that has been renounced.

If you are weak, take a vow of celibacy for a month and then extend it to three months. You will gain some strength now. You will be able to prolong the period to six months. Gradually you will be able to extend the vow to one or two or three years. Sleep separately and do vigorous Japa, Kirtan and meditation daily. You will hate lust now. You will experience freedom and indescribable joy.

If you can render your will pure, strong and irresistible by eliminating desires, by eradicating Raga-Dvesha, by reducing your wants and by practising Titiksha, passion will die. Will is a powerful enemy of passion.

Lust takes its origin from impure resolution. Indulgence strengthens it. When you resolutely turn away from it, it vanishes and dies. You will have to destroy the old mind and build a new mind. Nevertheless you will have to do it if you want to attain immortality and eternal bliss. You will surely succeed if you are fiery in your resolve and if you have an iron determination.

A man or a woman should practice self-analysis and self-examination. They should have a proper understanding of the ways in which lust operates and plays, and the things and emotions which excite passion and the manner in which one falls a victim to the other. Then only control of lust is possible.

Change the mental attitude. You will have heaven on earth. You will be established in Brahmacharya. This is an important method for becoming a true Brahmachari. See Atman in all women.

For a scientist, a woman is a mass of electrons only. For a Vaiseshika philosopher of Rishi Kanada’s school of thought, she is a conglomeration of atoms—Paramanu, Dvyanu, Tryanu. For a tiger, she is an object of prey. For a passionate husband, she is an object of enjoyment. For a crying child, she is an affectionate mother who gives milk, sweets and other indulgences. For a jealous sister-in-law or mother-in-law, she is an enemy. For a Viveki or a Vairagi, she is a combination of flesh, bone, urine, faecal matter, pus, perspiration, blood and phlegm. For a full-blown Jnani, she is Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman.

There is neither sex nor sexual Vasana in Brahman. Brahman is Nitya-Suddha, eternally pure: By constant thinking on that sexless Atman, you will be established in Brahmacharya. This is the most powerful and effective method. This is the best kind of Sadhana for those who know the right technique of Vichara. But, only advanced students in the path of Jnana Yoga can rely on the method of Brahma Vichara alone for the destruction of passion. For the vast majority of persons, a combined method is very congenial and healthy. When the enemies are very powerful, a combined method of lathis, pistols, shot-guns, machine-guns, submarines, torpedoes, bombs and poisonous gases is used for the destruction of the enemies. So also, in the destruction of this powerful enemy, passion, a combined method is absolutely necessary.

Excerpts from “Practice of Brahmacharya” by Swami Sivananda

Words of Indian Saints Part #12

paramahansa-yogananda“God is harmony; the devotee who attunes himself will never perform any action amiss. His activities will be correctly and naturally timed to accord with astrological law. After deep prayer and meditation he is in touch with his divine consciousness; there is no greater power than that inward protection.”

“Then, dear Master, why do you want me to wear an astrological bangle?” I ventured this question after a long silence, during which I had tried to assimilate Sri Yukteswar’s noble exposition.

“It is only when a traveler has reached his goal that he is justified in discarding his maps. During the journey, he takes advantage of any convenient short cut. The ancient rishis discovered many ways to curtail the period of man’s exile in delusion. There are certain mechanical features in the law of karma which can be skillfully adjusted by the fingers of wisdom.

“All human ills arise from some transgression of universal law. The scriptures point out that man must satisfy the laws of nature, while not discrediting the divine omnipotence. He should say: ‘Lord, I trust in Thee, and know Thou canst help me, but I too will do my best to undo any wrong I have done.’ By a number of means – by prayer, by will power, by yoga meditation, by consultation with saints, by use of astrological bangles – the adverse effects of past wrongs can be minimized or nullified.

“Just as a house can be fitted with a copper rod to absorb the shock of lightning, so the bodily temple can be benefited by various protective measures. Ages ago our yogis discovered that pure metals emit an astral light which is powerfully counteractive to negative pulls of the planets. Subtle electrical and magnetic radiations are constantly circulating in the universe; when a man’s body is being aided, he does not know it; when it is being disintegrated, he is still in ignorance. Can he do anything about it?

“This problem received attention from our rishis; they found helpful not only a combination of metals, but also of plants and – most effective of all-faultless jewels of not less than two carats. The preventive uses of astrology have seldom been seriously studied outside of India. One little-known fact is that the proper jewels, metals, or plant preparations are valueless unless the required weight is secured, and unless these remedial agents are worn next to the skin.”

“The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.” These words of Master’s often returned inspiringly to my mind.

The starry inscription at one’s birth, I came to understand, is not that man is a puppet of his past. Its message is rather a prod to pride; the very heavens seek to arouse man’s determination to be free from every limitation. God created each man as a soul, dowered with individuality, hence essential to the universal structure, whether in the temporary role of pillar or parasite. His freedom is final and immediate, if he so wills; it depends not on outer but inner victories.

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Bhakti & Jnana Part #1

swami sivanandaPratima is a substitute or symbol. For a beginner Pratima is an absolute necessity. By worshiping an idol Isvara is pleased. The Pratima is made up of five elements. Five elements constitute the body of the Lord. The idol remains an idol; but the worship goes to the Lord. Just as a man is pleased by shaking hands with his friends by touching a small portion of his body, so also God is pleased when a small portion of His Virat (cosmic) body is worshiped. Just as the child develops the maternal Bhava (mother-feeling) by playing with its imaginary toy-child made up of rags, and suckling it in an imaginary manner, so also the devotee develops the feeling of devotion by worshiping the Pratima and by concentrating upon it. Pictures, drawing, etc., are only a form of Pratima. The devotee associates the attributes of God with the image and feels His presence or immanence there. He finds it easy to concentrate his mind on the image. The mind wants a concrete prop to lean upon in the beginning stage of practice.

Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya defines Bhalrti as devotion unto Atman. You cannot entirely separate Bhakti from Jnana. When Bhakti matures, it becomes transmuted into Jnana. A real Jnani is a devotee of Lord Hari, Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Siva, Durga, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Lord Jesus and Buddha. He is a Samarasa Bhakta.

If a Vedantin excludes Bhakti, remember, he has not really grasped and understood Vedanta.
Lord Krishna takes a Jnani as a first-class Bhakta. “Of these, the wise, constantly harmonised, worshiping the One, is the best; I am supremely dear to the wise, and he is dear to Me. Noble are all these but I hold the wise as verily Myself; he self-united, is fixed on Me, the highest path.” (Gita: VII-17, 18.) Jnana intensifies Bhakti.

God takes a human form for elevating human beings. There is descent of God for the ascent of man. This is known as Avatara or incarnation of God. In the Gita (IV-6, 7, 8) you will find: “Though unborn, the imperishable Self, and also the Lord of all beings, brooding over nature, which is Mine own, yet I am born through My own power. Whenever there is decay of righteousness, then I Myself come forth. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers, for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born from age to age.”

Avataras generally proceed from Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. They cannot come out of Isvara Himself. Just as a tailor who makes coats for others can make a coat for himself also, God who has created the bodies for others, can create a body for Himself as well.

Lord Krishna told Arjuna that this was the ancient and imperishable Yoga which he taught to Vivasvan the Sun-God; Vivasvan taught it to Manu; Manu taught it to Ikshvaku and so it was handed down through Parampara from royal sage to royal sage till it is decayed in the world by great efflux of time and was now renewed for Arjuna as he was His devotee and friend.

God is the Antaryamin, the Inner Self of all beings. He is not an absolute landlord of this world. He is not extra-cosmic or super-cosmic deity. He pervades and permeates all atoms and the whole universe. He is the Lord of the breath, mind and all organs. In him we live, move and have our very being.

A simple Jivanmukta is like a star that glitters at night. He throws a little light only. Somehow or other he has crossed to the other shore through some Tapas and Sadhana. He cannot elevate a large number of people. Whereas an Avatara is a mighty person. He removes the veil of ignorance of thousands of men and women and takes them to the land of eternal rest, bliss and sunshine.

The Lord incarnated as Nara and Narayana. The object of the incarnation was to teach by precept and example the performance of duty without desire for reward. Nara and Narayana were doing severe penance at Badrikashram. The Lord appeared as a swan to teach Atma-Yoga to Brahma. Dattatreya, the Kumaras, four sons of Brahma are all partial incarnations of Vishnu. Lord Vishnu has taken ten Avataras up till now. Dakshinamoorthy was an Avatara of Lord Siva.

The philosophy of Jesus Christ, the Yogi of Nazareth, is the best of its kind for the European world as is the philosophy of Buddha for Thailand, China, Japan and Sri Lanka. So is the philosophy of Mohammed for Arabia. All are the sons of God made in His image to give to the different parts of the great wide world a message of peace and of the secret of life.

Very few people like Bhishma recognized Lord Krishna as the Avatara. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says: “The foolish disregard Me, when clad in human semblance, ignorant of My Supreme nature, the great Lord of beings.” (Gita: IX-11.) “Those devoid of reason think of Me, the unmanifest, as having manifestation, knowing not My supreme nature, imperishable, most excellent.” (Gita: Vll-24.)

The pseudo-Avataras dress themselves as Lord Krishna with crown and peacock-feathers on their heads and appear before credulous disciples and say: “I am Lord Krishna. Drink my Charanamrita. I shall give you Mukti.” Any saint who wants to rise up should not allow his disciples to advertise.

In this Kali-Yuga, Kali-Avatara is expected.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

Words of Indian Saints Part #7

paramahansa-yogananda“In sleep, you do not know whether you are a man or a woman,” he said. “Just as a man, impersonating a woman, does not become one, so the soul, impersonating both man and woman, has no sex. The soul is the pure, changeless image of God.”

Sri Yukteswar never avoided or blamed women as objects of seduction. Men, he said, were also a temptation to women. I once inquired of my guru why a great ancient saint had called women “the door to hell.”

“A girl must have proved very troublesome to his peace of mind in his early life,” my guru answered causticly. “Otherwise he would have denounced, not woman, but some imperfection in his own self-control.”

“Do not allow yourself to be thrashed by the provoking whip of a beautiful face,” he told the disciples. “How can sense slaves enjoy the world? Its subtle flavors escape them while they grovel in primal mud. All nice discriminations are lost to the man of elemental lusts.”

“Just as the purpose of eating is to satisfy hunger, not greed, so the sex instinct is designed for the propagation of the species according to natural law, never for the kindling of insatiable longings,” he said. “Destroy wrong desires now; otherwise they will follow you after the astral body is torn from its physical casing. Even when the flesh is weak, the mind should be constantly resistant. If temptation assails you with cruel force, overcome it by impersonal analysis and indomitable will. Every natural passion can be mastered.

“Conserve your powers. Be like the capacious ocean, absorbing within all the tributary rivers of the senses. Small yearnings are openings in the reservoir of your inner peace, permitting healing waters to be wasted in the desert soil of materialism. The forceful activating impulse of wrong desire is the greatest enemy to the happiness of man. Roam in the world as a lion of self-control; see that the frogs of weakness don’t kick you around.”

The devotee is finally freed from all instinctive compulsions. He transforms his need for human affection into aspiration for God alone, a love solitary because omnipresent.

“To seek the Lord, one need not disfigure his face,” he would remark. “Remember that finding God will mean the funeral of all sorrows.”

“Do not confuse understanding with a larger vocabulary,” he remarked. “Sacred writings are beneficial in stimulating desire for inward realization, if one stanza at a time is slowly assimilated. Continual intellectual study results in vanity and the false satisfaction of an undigested knowledge.”

“If one busies himself with an outer display of scriptural wealth, what time is left for silent inward diving after the priceless pearls?

“Wisdom is not assimilated with the eyes, but with the atoms,” he said. “When your conviction of a truth is not merely in your brain but in your being, you may diffidently vouch for its meaning.” He discouraged any tendency a student might have to construe book-knowledge as a necessary step to spiritual realization.

“The rishis wrote in one sentence profundities that commentating scholars busy themselves over for generations,” he remarked. “Endless literary controversy is for sluggard minds.

But man does not easily return to simplicity. It is seldom “God” for him, but rather learned pomposities. His ego is pleased, that he can grasp such erudition.

Amazing it was to find that a master with such a fiery will could be so calm within. He fitted the Vedic definition of a man of God: “Softer than the flower, where kindness is concerned; stronger than the thunder, where principles are at stake.”

There are always those in this world who, in Browning’s words, “endure no light, being themselves obscure.” An outsider occasionally berated Sri Yukteswar for an imaginary grievance. My imperturbable guru listened politely, analyzing himself to see if any shred of truth lay within the denunciation. These scenes would bring to my mind one of Master’s inimitable observations: “Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others!”

The unfailing composure of a saint is impressive beyond any sermon. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city.”

I often reflected that my majestic Master could easily have been an emperor or world-shaking warrior had his mind been centered on fame or worldly achievement. He had chosen instead to storm those inner citadels of wrath and egotism whose fall is the height of a man.

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Sivananda speaks of Love

swami sivanandaDevotion is ingrained in every being. Even an atheist is devoted to his atheism. Love dwells in the heart of every creature. Without love, life itself cannot exist. Even the most cruel-hearted men love something or other.

A life without love, faith and devotion is a dreary waste. It is real death. Love is Divine. Love is the greatest power on earth. It is irresistible. It is Love that can really conquer an enemy. Its power is infinite. Its depth is unfathomable. Its nature is ineffable. Its glory is indescribable. The essence of religion is Love.

But, in the case of a true devotee of the Lord, this love has been cultured, and the garden of his heart is cleared of the thorns of vicious qualities, of the bushes of lust, anger and greed. Love of God which is the ‘sweetest of fragrances wafts from such a heart.

Turn your gaze within. Look into your own heart. Find out your love. Take firm hold of this love. Cultivate it consciously and deliberately. Find out the thorns and the bushes. By intelligent methods, throw them out. They have no place in the beautiful garden of your heart where the Lord dwells.

When you eradicate the vices that lurk within and cultivate virtues, you will more fully manifest the hidden love. The great Masters of Bhakti have classified Bhakti into five Bhavas. You can adopt any one of these Bhavas or attitudes towards God. These Bhavas are the natural sublimated human attitudes of love.
1. You love your child; correspondingly there is the Vatsalya Bhava towards God where you treat Him as your child.
2. You love your friend; there is the Sakhya Bhava or attitude of friendship towards God.
3. You love your master; there is the Dasya Bhava where you serve the Lord as your
Master.
4. You love your husband or wife; there is the Madhurya Bhava where you take the Lord as your Supreme lover.
5. Some people are loving by nature and their love is distributed on all; they have no particular love-attitude; corresponding to this there is the Santa Bhava where the devotee loves the Lord in his heart, in peaceful contemplation.

Find out where your love lies, whom you love most in the world. Adopt the same love-attitude towards God, your Indweller, your Lord, your real Friend, who resides within your heart. Love for your friends and relations is Moha or deluded attachment. It binds you faster to the wheel of Samsara. It is fleeting and it is fraught with all sorts of unpleasant consequences. Love of God is liberating. It will lead you to perennial bliss and immortality. It is Bhakti which will bring about an Eternal Union between you and the Supreme Lord of the Universe. It will enable you to realise your identity with Him.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

Siva Yogaswami speaks Wisdom (#3)

Satguru Siva YogaswamiYou are always in him and he is always in you. You lack nothing.

It does not matter whether you are a brahmachari or a householder – you must know the truth.

He who has nothing steals. Whom are we to blame?

When you have entirely surrendered, everything you do will be meditation.

The legs cannot do the work of the hand; the mouth cannot do the work of the legs. Then which can be called “great” and which “small”? All are indispensable.

The body is your dwelling-place and you are the dwelling-place of the Lord.

Be true to yourself. Don’t alter your behavior simply to please others.

Illness is a blessing.

Look on praise and blame alike.

Satguru Siva Yogaswami

Life as the Great Experience

Though they practice Yoga for eight thousand years,
still men do not see the Lord, sweet as ambrosia and
delightful to the eye. But if, illumined, you seek Him
within, He is there in you, as a reflection in a mirror.
Tirumantiram 603


Below are listed thirty six contemporary dharmic principles that stabilize external forces so that a contemplative life may be fully lived. When practiced unrelentingly, they bring the understanding of the external and deeper experiences of life.Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Simplify life and serve others.
Live in spiritual company.
Seek fresh air and sunshine.
Drink pure water.
Eat simple, real foods, not animal flesh.
Live in harmony with nature.
Consume what you genuinely need rather than desire.
Revere the many forms of life.
Exercise thirty minutes every day.
Make peace, not noise.
Make a temple of your home.
Develop an art form or craft.
Make your own clothing and furniture.
Express joy through song and dance.
Grow your own food organically.
Plant twelve trees a year.
Purify your environment.
Leave beauty where you pass.
Realize God in this life.
Be one with your guru.
Be nonviolent in thought and action.
Love your fellow man.
Rely on the independent energy in the spine.
Observe the mind thinking.
Cultivate a contemplative nature by seeking the light.
Draw the lesson from each experience of life.
Detach awareness from its objects.
Identify with infinite intelligence, not body,
mind or intellect.
Be aware in the eternal now, not in the past or the future.
Do not take advantage of trust or abuse credit.
Keep promises and confidences.
Restrain and direct desire.
Seek understanding through meditation.
Work with a spiritual discipline.
Think and speak only that which is true, kind,
helpful and necessary.
Create a temple for the next generation by tithing.

By Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami