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

Obstacles in God-realization #4

Swami SivanandaEvil Company

A man is known by the company he keeps. Birds of the same feather flock together. These are all proverbs or wise maxims. They are quite true. Just as a nursery is to be well fenced in the beginning for protection against cows etc., so also a neophyte should protect himself very carefully from foreign evil influences. Otherwise he is ruined totally. The company of those who speak lies, who commit adultery, theft, cheating, double-dealing, who are greedy, who indulge in idle talks, back-biting, tale-bearing, who have no faith in God and in the scriptures etc., should be strictly avoided.

Newspapers deal with all sorts of worldly topics. Aspirants should entirely give up reading of newspapers. Reading of newspapers kindles worldly Samskaras, causes sensational excitement in the mind, makes the mind outgoing, produces an impression that the world is a solid reality and makes one forget the Truth that lies underneath these names and forms.

False Tushti & Rasasvada

The Sadhaka gets some experience during the course of his Sadhana. He sees wonderful visions of Rishis, Mahatmas, astral entities of various description, etc. He hears various melodious Anahata sounds (Nada). He smells Divya Gandha. He gets the powers of thought-reading, foretelling etc. The Sadhaka now foolishly imagines that he has reached the highest goal and stops his further Sadhana. This is a serious mistake. He gets false Tushti or contentment. These are all auspicious signs that manifest on account of a little purity and concentration. These are all encouragements which God gives as a sort of incentive for further progress and intense Sadhana. The aspirant gets more strength of conviction by having these experiences.

Rasasvada is another kind of experience. It is bliss that comes from lower Savikalpa Samadhi. The Sadhaka who has experienced this supersensual bliss imagines that he has reached the final destination and gives up his Sadhana. He should never be satisfied with alpam or lower experiences. He should compare his experiences with the highest experiences of sages that are described in the Upanishads and find out whether they exactly tally with them or not. He should exert till he reaches the seventh Jnana Bhumika. “I have obtained all desires, I have done everything, I know everything. There is nothing more to be known. There is nothing more to be obtained.”

So-called Friends

The so-called friends are your real enemies. You cannot find even a single, unselfish friend in this universe. Your real friend in need who attends on you sincerely is God, the indweller of your heart. Trust in that Immortal Friend only who dwells in your heart. Then alone you are perfectly safe. He will give you whatever you want. Hear His sweet counsel from within with one-pointed mind and follow.

Depression

Aspirants get moods of depression occasionally. These moods may be due to indigestion, cloudy condition, influence of lower astral entities, and revival of old Samskaras from within. Treat the cause. Remove the cause. Do not allow depression to overpower you. Immediately take a brisk, long walk. Run in the open air. Sing divine songs. Chant Om loudly for one hour. Walk along the sea-side or river-side. Play on the harmonium if you know the art. Do some Kumbhakas and Sitali Pranayamas. Drink a small cup of orange-juice or hot tea or coffee. Read some of the elevating portions of Avadhoota Gita and Upanishads.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

Obstacles in God-realization #2

Doubt (Samsaya)

Swami SivanandaMind deludes people through doubting. Sometimes he gives up his Sadhana altogether. This is a serious mistake. Whenever doubt tries to overpower any student he should at once take recourse to the company of Mahatmas and remain with them for some time under the influence of their currents.  There are various kinds of impurities in the mind. It takes a long time for purification of the mind and getting a one-pointed mind. Concentration is a question of practice for several lives. Concentration is the most difficult thing in the world. Even if you do a little practice the effect is there. The Samskaras are there. Nothing is lost. That is the immutable law of nature. You will not be able to detect the little improvement that has come out of a little practice, as you have no subtle intellect and as you have many kinds of impurities from beginningless time. You must develop virtues, Vairagya, patience and perseverance to a maximum degree; you must have an unshakable conviction in the existence of God and in the efficacy of spiritual practices. You must have a strong determination: “I will realise God right now in this very birth, nay in this very second. I will realise or die.”

Tandri-Alasya-Nidra

Tandri is half-sleepy state. Alasya is laziness. Nidra is sleep. The first two are the precursors of sleep. These three are great obstacles in the path of realisation. Sleep is a powerful force of Maya. It is called Laya. It is Nidra Sakti. Sleep is the greatest obstacle as it is very powerful. It takes time and demands great strength of will to tear this old, old habit.

Arjuna is called Gudakesa or conqueror of sleep. Lord Krishna addresses him: “O Gudakesa”. Lakshmana also had conquered sleep. Besides these two persons who had conquered sleep, we have not heard of anyone. There are people who have reduced the sleep to 2 or 3 hours. Even Yogins and Jnanins sleep for two or three hours. Sleep is a psychological phenomenon. Brain needs rest at least for a short time. Otherwise man feels drowsy and tired. He can neither work nor meditate. The sleep of a Jnani is different from the sleep of a worldly man. In a Jnani the powerful Samskaras of Brahmabhyasa are there.

Sadhakas can gain time for their Sadhana by reducing sleep. The practice of reducing sleep will be very troublesome in the beginning. When the habits are changed, it will be pleasant in the end. When drowsiness tries to manifest, stand up and do the Japa. Dash cold water on the face and head. Take milk and fruits only at night. Avoid overloading the stomach at night. Take the night meals before sunset. Do Pranayama morning and evening before starting meditation. Do Sirshasana and Sarvangasana. Run for five minutes in your compound. Drowsiness and sleep will vanish.
The Practice of keeping vigils on Sivaratri and Sri Krishna Janmashtami is highly commendable. The Christians also keep vigils on Christmas and New Year’s night.

Manorajya

Manorajya is building castles in the air. This is a trick of the mind. The power of imagination is tremendous. Maya havocs through the power of imagination. Imagination fattens the mind.
The power of imagination will not allow the mind to keep quiet even for a second. Just as swans of locusts or flies come forth in a continuous stream, so also currents of Manorajya will stream forth incessantly. Vichara, discrimination, prayer, Japa, meditation, Satsanga, fasting, Pranayama, practice of thoughtlessness will obviate this obstacle. Pranayama checks the velocity of the mind and calms the bubbling mind. A young ambitious man is unfit to remain in a solitary cave. He who has done selfless service in the world for some years, and who has practised meditation for several years in the plains in solitary rooms can live in a cave. Such a man only can really enjoy the solitude of Himalayan retreats.

Lack of a Preceptor

The spiritual path is thorny, rugged and precipitous. It is enveloped by darkness. The guidance of a Guru who has already trodden the path is imperatively necessary. He will be able to throw light and remove the obstacles on the path. The knowledge of the Self is revealed through Parampara and handed down from Guru to the disciple in succession.

Beware of pseudo-Gurus. They are knocking about in abundance in these days. They will exhibit some tricks or feats to attract people. Think that those who are proud, who are roaming about to make disciples and to amass money, who talk of worldly matters, who speak untruth, who boast of themselves, who are talkative, who keep company with worldly people and women, and who are luxurious, are false impostors. Do not be deceived by their sweet talk and lectures. In this connection it will not be out of place to mention the story of a man who was in search of a Sat-Guru. He found out after all one Sat-Guru. The student asked the Guru: “O Venerable Sir, give me Upadesh.” The Guru asked: “What sort of Upadesh do you want?” The disciple asked: “O Beloved Master! Who is superior, disciple or Guru?” The Guru said: “Guru is superior to disciple.” The disciple said: “O Revered Guru! Make me a Guru. I like that.” Such sort of disciples are plenty in these days.

Vishayasakti (SENSUALITY)

This is the greatest of all obstacles. The mind refuses to leave completely the sensual pleasures. Through the force of Vairagya and meditation, the desires get suppressed for some time. All of a sudden the mind thinks of sensual pleasures through the force of habit and memory. There arises mental disturbance. Concentration decreases. The mind moves outwards in sensual objects.

In the Gita (II-6O, 67) you will find: “The turbulent senses, O Arjuna, do violently carry away the mind of a wise man, even though he be striving (to control them). For the mind, which follows in the wake of the wandering senses, carries away his discrimination, as the wind carries away a boat on the waters.” “The objects of senses turn away from the abstinent man leaving the longing (behind); but his longing also turns away on seeing the Supreme.” (II-59.)

Some desires lurk in the corners of the mind. Just as old dirt from the corners of the room comes out when you sweep, so also through the pressure of Yogic practices, these old lurking desires come out to the surface of the mind with redoubled force. The Sadhaka should be very careful. He should be ever watching the mind vigilantly. He must nip the desires in the bud by developing his Vairagya, Viveka and increasing his period of Japa and meditation.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

Background of Thought

Swami SivanandaThe background of thought of a Manradi is about his money. His mind is always on the safe. He plans, speculates and schemes as how to increase his money in the bank from one lakh to two lakhs. The background of thought of a young man is about his wife. The background of thought of a doctor is about his patients, dispensary and drugs. The background of thought of a lawyer is about his clients, courts and rulings of the High court. The background of thought of an old grandmother is about her grand-children. The vast majority of people indulge in thoughts of jealousy and hatred and these thoughts form their background.

But the background of thought of a Bhakta is about his Ishta-Devata. A devotee of Lord Krishna always thinks of Krishna with flute in hand. He has a concrete background. A Vedantin or a student of Yoga has an abstract background. He meditates on abstract ideas. A Sattvic background keeps the mind always pure and takes the devotee to the goal. The mental image of Lord Krishna destroys all other worldly thoughts. A sacred background of thought either concrete or abstract is a valuable spiritual asset for a man. A habit to think of the image is formed by constant thinking of one’s Ishta Devata. Even in the office when you leave the pen on the table, the mind through the force of habit will at once move to the background of thought and think of the picture of Lord Krishna. Even in dream you will have vision of Lord Krishna only. The greater the Sadhana, the stronger the background of thought of the mental image.

The image leaves a definite impression on the mind. This is called Samskara. If this impression is repeated very often, a tendency or habit is formed in the mind. That is the reason why the aspirant is asked to repeat the Mantra several lakhs of times. A man can shape his mind for good or bad. It depends upon the nature of food he gives to the mind. Every thought produces a definite change in the substance of the brain also.

One has to create a Sattvic background of thought through continued struggle. The mind will run back to its old ruts and manufacture images of worldly objects. The Sadhaka will have to bring back again and again the mind to the Sattvic background of thought that he has developed. The struggle will be keen in the beginning. Later on the mind will quietly rest in the spiritual background of thought.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda