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

The Glory of Brahmacharya

Swami SivanandaThe meaning of brahmacharya

Brahmacharya literally means Achara or conduct that leads to the realization of Brahman or one’s own Self. It means the control of semen, the study of the Vedas and contemplation on God. The technical meaning of Brahmacharya is self-restraint, particularly mastery of perfect control over the sexual organ or freedom from lust in thought, word and deed. It must further involve a permanent abstention from indulgence in erotic imagination and voluptuous reverie.

Brahmacharya is the vow of celibacy. The avenue to the abode of supreme peace begins from Brahmacharya or purity. Brahmacharya is absolute freedom from sexual desires and thoughts. Brahmacharya is meant for both men and women. Bhishma, Hanuman, Lakshman, Mira Bai, Sulabha and Gargi were all established in Brahmacharya.

Mere control of the animal passion will not constitute Brahmacharya. This is incomplete Brahmacharya. You must control all the organs—the ears that want to hear lustful stories, the lustful eye that wants to see objects that excite passion, the tongue that wants to taste exciting things and the skin that wants to touch exciting objects.

It is very necessary that you should be pure in mind if you wish to be a Brahmachari. Mental Brahmacharya is more important. You may succeed in physical Brahmacharya, but you must succeed in mental Brahmacharya also. That state of mind wherein no single sexual thought enters the mind is termed mental Brahmacharya. If thoughts are impure, the sex impulse will be very strong. Brahmacharya depends upon regulating the whole course of life.

When you cannot control the lustful thoughts, at least control the physical body. Physical Brahmacharya must be strictly practiced at first. Control the body when the sex impulse troubles you. Mental purity or mental Brahmacharya will gradually manifest.

You may be able to stop copulation for months and years, but there should not be any sexual craving or attraction for women. Evil thoughts also should not arise when you look at a woman, when you are in the company of women. If you succeed in this direction, then you are established in perfect Brahmacharya. You have crossed the danger zone. Thought is the real action. An evil desire is tantamount to adultery. The desire is more than the act.

The state of mental Brahmacharya must be kept up even amidst temptations and sickness. Then only you are safe. The senses begin to revolt during times of ailment and also when you come in contact with sense objects.

Keep the mind fully occupied. Intense musing on the objects of sense does more harm to the inner spiritual life than actual sense-gratification. If the mind is not rendered pure by Sadhana, mere mortification of the external senses will not produce the desired effect. Although the external senses are mortified, their internal counterparts, which are still energetic and vigorous, revenge upon the mind and produce intense mental disturbance and wild imagination.

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.

No space is empty at any time. This is the law of nature. If one thing is removed from a place, immediately another comes in to take its place. The same law holds good in the case of the inner mental world also. Therefore, it is necessary to entertain sublime divine thoughts to replace evil thoughts. As you think, so you become. This is the immutable psychological law. The vicious mind is gradually divinised by entertaining divine thoughts.

The glory of brahmacharya

You cannot have health and spiritual life without Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya brings material progress and psychic advancement. It is the basis for morality. It is the basis for eternal life. It is the shield for waging war against the internal Asuras—lust, anger and greed. It serves as a gateway to the bliss beyond. It opens the door of Moksha. Brahmacharya is the only key to open the Sushumna and awaken Kundalini. Just as the oil comes up in a wick and burns with glowing light, so also, the Veerya or semen flows up by the practice of Yoga Sadhana and is converted into Tejas or Ojas. The Brahmachari shines with Brahmic aura in his face. Brahmacharya is the bright light that shines in the house of the human body. The scriptures declare emphatically:

“Ayustejo Balam Veeryam Prajna Sreescha Yashastatha
Punyamcha Sat-Priyatvamcha Vardhate Brahmacharyaya”

By the practice of Brahmacharya, longevity, glory, strength, vigour, knowledge, wealth, undying fame, virtues and devotion to the truth increase. Truth cannot dwell where passion lives.

Without Brahmacharya, all your exercises are nothing. It is the master-key for opening the realms of health and happiness. He who has even a little bit of Brahmacharya will tide over a crisis of any disease very easily.

After Dhanvantari had taught all the details about Ayurveda to his disciples, they enquired about the keynote of this medical science. The Master replied, “I tell you that Brahmacharya is truly a precious jewel. It is the one most effective medicine—nectar indeed—which destroys diseases, decay and death. For attaining peace, brightness, memory, knowledge, health and Self-realization, one should observe Brahmacharya, which is the highest Dharma. Brahmacharya is the highest knowledge; Brahmacharya is the greatest strength. Of the nature of Brahmacharya is verily this Atman and in Brahmacharya It resides. Saluting Brahmacharya first, the cases beyond cure, I cure. Aye, Brahmacharya can undo all the inauspicious signs.”

The power of celibacy

By the establishment of continence, vigour is obtained. The Yogi gets Siddhi or perfection by attaining perfect mental and physical Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya helps him in gaining divine knowledge and other Siddhis. When there is purity, the rays of the mind are not dissipated. Focusing of the mind becomes easy. Concentration and purity go together. Although a sage talks a few words only, a deep impression is produced in the minds of the hearers. This is due to his Ojas Sakti, which is conserved by the preservation of semen and its transmutation.
A true Brahmachari in thought, word and deed has wonderful thought-power. He can move the world. If you develop strict celibacy, Vichara Sakti and Dharana Sakti will develop. Vichara Sakti is the power of enquiry. Dharan’a Sakti is the power of grasping and holding the Truth. Continence increases infinitely the power of retentive memory. The strict celibate has keen and acute memory even in old age. A man who has the power of Brahmacharya can turn out immense mental, physical and intellectual work.

Jesus, Sankara, Jnana Deva and Samarth Ramdas were all Brahmacharins. Even among electrons, there are bachelor electrons and married electrons. Married electrons manifest in pairs. Bachelor electrons exist singly. It is these bachelor electrons only that create magnetic force. The power of Brahmacharya is seen in electrons also. Friend, will you learn some lessons from these electrons? Will you practice Brahmacharya and develop power and spiritual force? Nature is your best teacher and spiritual guide.

Brahmacharya for householders

It is beyond all doubt that a life of Brahmacharya is glorious and marvellous. At the same time, a life of moderation in the household life is equally good and helpful for spiritual growth. Both have their own advantages. You must have great strength to tread the path either way. The life of an ideal householder is as much difficult and rigid as that of an ideal Sannyasin. Pravritti Marga or the path of Karma Yoga is as much difficult and rigid as that of Nivritti Marga or the path of renunciation.

Even as a householder you can be a Brahmachari, by sticking to the principles of Grihastha Dharma, by moderation and regular worship of God. Brahmacharya in Grihasthashrama is absolute moderation in sexual intercourse. Marriage should not in any way lead you downwards in your spiritual path. You should keep the spiritual fire ever blazing. You should make your wife also understand the real glory of a spiritual life. If both of you observe Brahmacharya for sometime and then avoid excesses, she will give birth to robust children who will be the pride of the country. Conserved energy can be used for higher spiritual purposes. Prevention of frequent maternity will preserve your wife’s health too.

If you want to practice Brahmacharya, think and feel that your wife is your sister. Destroy the idea of husband and wife and develop the idea of brother and sister.

As soon as a son is born to you, your wife becomes your mother, because you yourself are born as the son. A son is nothing but the energy of the father. Change the mental attitude. Serve your wife as the World Mother. Start spiritual Sadhana. Destroy passion. Every morning, as soon as you get up from bed, touch your wife’s feet and prostrate before her taking her for Kali or the World Mother. Do not feel ashamed. This practice will remove the idea of ‘wife’ from your mind. If you cannot do the prostration physically, at least do it mentally.

As soon as a child is born, man must give up lust. He must observe celibacy. He must treat his wife as his own mother. This is a great Sadhana for the householder.

Says Manu: “The first-born child is born of Dharma and the rest of Kama or lust. The sexual act for mere pleasure is not justifiable”.

When the couples who live around you vie with one another in materialism, and in their individual capacity, to drag each other down, both of you should compete with each other in advancing rapidly in spiritual Sadhana. What a novel competition! What a blessing it is to have such a competitor as the lifepartner!

Duty of teachers and parents

If you compare the present system of education with our ancient Gurukul system, there is a wide gulf between the two. In the first place, the present system of education is very costly. The moral side of education is absolutely ignored at the present moment. Every student in the Gurukul was pure. Every student, had perfect moral training. This was the predominating feature of ancient culture. Every student had a knowledge of Pranayama, Mantra Yoga, Asanas, the code of morals, Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads. Every student possessed humility, self-restraint, obedience, a spirit of service and self-sacrifice, good demeanour, politeness, a courteous nature, and last but not the least, a desire to acquire Atma-Jnana.

A great and onerous duty rests with the teachers and professors of schools and colleges to train the students in the path of Sadachara or right conduct and to mould their character properly. Brahmacharya includes character-building or right moulding of character. They say that knowledge is power. But I assert boldly, with great assurance and practical experience, that character is power and that character is far superior to knowledge even.

Your whole life and your success in life depend entirely upon the formation of your character. All the great persons in this world have achieved their greatness through character and character alone. The brilliant luminaries of the world have won their laurels of fame, reputation and honour through character and character alone.

The teachers themselves should be strictly moral and pure. They should be endowed with ethical perfection.

When students reach the age of maturity, certain growths and changes take place in the physical body. The voice changes. New emotions and sentiments arise. Naturally, the youngsters become curious. They consult the street boys. They get ill advised. They ruin their health by vile habits. A clear knowledge of sexual health, hygiene and Brahmacharya, of how to attain longevity and how to control passion, should be imparted to them. Parents should teach their children the various stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana that relate to Brahmacharya and right conduct.

Parents should advise their children, often and often, on the subject of Brahmacharya. This is their imperative duty. Candid talks to the boys and girls are very necessary when they begin to show signs of puberty. It is no use beating about the bush. Matters that relate  to sex should not be kept hidden. It will be only false modesty if the parents feel shy to talk to their children on this important subject. Silence will only excite the curiosity of the adolescent children. Whereas, if they can understand these things clearly in time, surely they will not be misguided by evil companions and they will not develop bad habits.

Teachers and parents should give proper instructions to the boys and girls as to how they should lead a clean life of Brahmacharya. They should get rid of their false sense of modesty and shame.

O teachers and professors! Wake up now! Train the students in the path of Brahmacharya and righteousness and morality. Make them true Brahmacharins. Do not neglect this divine work. You are morally responsible for this onerous task. This is your Yoga.

Excerpts from “Practice of Brahmacharya” by Swami Sivananda