[Paragraph numbering is unchanged from the original compilation. Footnotes (in maroon) are the responsibility of this website.]
1. Those who want to perform national service, or to have a gleam of the real religious life, must lead a celibate life, whether married or unmarried.
2. Life without Brahmacharya appears to me to be insipid and animal-like. The brute by nature knows no self-restraint. Man is man because he is capable of, and only in so far as he exercises, self-restraint. What chiefly distinguishes man from the beast is that man from his age of discretion begins to practice a life of continual self-restraint. God has enabled man to distinguish between his sister, his, mother, his daughter and his wife. What formerly appeared to me to be extravagant praise of Brahmacharya in our religious books seems now, with increasing clearness every day, to be absolutely proper and founded on experience. I hold that a life of perfect continence in thought, speech and action is necessary for reaching spiritual perfection. And a nation that does not possess such men is poorer for the want. Brahmacharya is impossible without complete control of all senses. My own experiment shows that occasional fasting is very helpful in subduing animal passions. 
[1. While Gandhi's words to his followers were laudable, much controversy exists about whether his personal life was very different from what he preached. It is possible that Gandhi was celibate at certains times, which is when he did his writing, but that at other times he was not. Also it's possible that his "obsession" with the idea of brahmacharya rebounded upon him in strange ways. It should be noted that Gandhi did not seem to have guidance from a guru who was competent in the practice. A frank discussion about Gandhi's difficulties with celibacy can be read in the article "Master of His Own Mind" at Indiatoday.In ]
About Gandhi, from Sivananda's memoirs 
[2. Ch. 7 via Sivananda ashram: chaitanyadham.tripod.com ]
3. Mahatma Gandhi wrote in his autobiography that when he was about 34 years old, he heard the Inner Voice saying that the observance of total celibacy was indispensable for further spiritual progress. Gandhiji was already doing selfless service, observing, mouna on Sundays, daily praying, reading Bhagavad Gita and sticking to yama and niyama: satyam, ahimsa, brahmacharya etc. All that was already there. But now he was convinced: "further progress is not possible unless I have TOTAL brahmacharya." Gandhiji consulted his wife Kasturba, who agreed with his proposal. He was 34 or 35 years old and from that age until 79, for more than 40 years, he observed strict brahmacharya. This observance is the reason that his achievement is so great.
4. Gandhi said fathering and supporting children robbed him of precious energy during a time when he wanted to devote himself more completely to public service. However, over a period of many celibate years – admittedly struggling with the practice and even breaking his vow on several occasions [3, 4, 5, 6] – Gandhi discovered that the benefits of brahmacharya far exceeded birth control. His home life became more "peaceful, sweet, and happy," he developed a new measure of self-restraint, and he found increasing reserves of time and energy to devote to humanitarian and spiritual pursuits. "I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it," he wrote in his autobiography. "What formerly appeared to me to be extravagant praise of brahmacharya in our religious books seems now, with increasing clearness every day, to be absolutely proper and founded on experience."
[3. For a time, Gandhi "tested" his celibacy by sleeping naked with young women, who were also naked, including his grand-neice, "cuddling" with them. He said that despite his best efforts he was unable to stop his physical arousal when doing this. See "The Sexuality of a Celibate Life" by Vinay Lal: sscnet.ucla.edu.]
[5. See article in Independent.co.uk: Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi's sex life, which is a review of the biography Gandhi: Naked Ambition by Jad Adams. See 2-page summary (pdf) of the book Here ]
By Swami Sivananda (cont.)
5. "Look at Mahatma Gandhi! He had acquired this power by constant and careful practice of Ahimsa, Satyam and Brahmacharya: non-violence, truth and celibacy. He influenced the world through this power alone. Through Brahmacharya and Brahmacharya alone can you get physical, mental and spiritual advancement in life."
From Mahatma, vol 5, "My Life" (1939)
6. From that day when I began brahmacharya, our freedom began. My wife became a free woman, free from my authority as her lord and master, and I became free from the slavery to my own appetite, which she had to satisfy. No other woman had any attraction for me in the same sense that my wife had. I was too loyal to her as husband and too loyal to the vow I had taken before my mother to be slave to any other woman. But the manner in which my brahmacharya came to me irresistibly drew me to woman as the mother of man. She became too sacred for sexual love. And so every woman at once became sister or daughter to me.
From Guide to Health, part 1, Ch 9. 
[7. Ref. paragraphs 7-18 below: rkvenkat.org/chastity.html ]
7. Necessity of Continence. Many are the keys to health, and they are all quite essential; but one thing needful, above all others is brahmacharya. Pure air, pure water, and wholesome food certainly contribute to health. But how can we be healthy if we expend all the health that we acquire? How can we help being paupers if we spend all the money that we earn? There can be no doubt that men and women can never be virile or strong unless they observe true brahmacharya.
What, then, is brahmacharya? It means that men and women should refrain from carnal knowledge of each other. That is to say, they should not touch each other with a carnal thought, they should not think of it even in their dreams. Their mutual glances should be free from all suggestion of carnality. The hidden strength that God has given us should be conserved by rigid self-discipline, and transmitted into energy and power-not merely of body, but also of mind and soul.
8. Meshes of Sensuality. But what is the spectacle that we actually see around us? Men and women, old and young, are caught in the meshes of sensuality. Blinded for the most part by lust, they lose all sense of right and wrong. I have myself seen even boys and girls behaving as if they were mad under its fatal influence. For the sake of a momentary pleasure, we sacrifice in an instant all the stock of vital energy that we have laboriously accumulated. The infatuation over, we find ourselves in a miserable condition. The next morning we feel hopelessly weak and tired, and the mind refuses to do its work. So the days pass and years, until at length old age comes upon us, and find us utterly emasculated in body and in mind.
9. The Law of Nature. But the law of nature is just the reverse of this. The older we grow, the keener should our intellect be; the longer we live, the greater should be our capacity to communicate the benefit of our accumulated experience to our fellow-men. And such is indeed the case with those who have been true brahmacharis. They have no fear of death, and they do not forget God even in the hour of death; nor do they indulge in vain desires. They die with a smile on their lips, and boldly face the day of judgment. They are true men and women; and of them alone can it be said that they have conserved their health.
10. We hardly realize the fact that incontinence is the root-cause of most of the vanity, anger, fear, and jealousy in the world. If our mind is not under our control, if we behave once or oftener every day more foolishly than even little children, what sins may we not commit consciously or unconsciously? How can we pause to think of the consequences of our actions, however vile or sinful they may be?
11. True Brahmacharis. But you may ask: "Who has ever seen a true brahmachari in this sense?" The race of true brahmacharis is by no means extinct; but if they were commonly to be met with, of what value would brahmacharya be? Thousands of hardy laborers have to go and dig deep into the bowels of the earth in search of diamonds, and at length they get perhaps merely a handful of them out of heaps and heaps of rock. How much greater, then, should be the labor involved in the discovery of the infinitely more precious diamond of a brahmachari?
12. What about the Married? We have already seen what is the highest state for us to attain. We should keep this ideal constantly before us, and try to approach it to the utmost of our capacity. When little children are taught to write the letters of the alphabet, we show them the perfect shapes of the letters, and they try to reproduce them as best they can. In the same way, if we steadily work up to the ideal of brahmacharya, we may ultimately succeed in realizing it.
13. Fatal Merry-Making. Married people should understand the true function of marriage, and should not violate brahmacharya except with a view to progeny.
14. Sensuality, a Poison. But this is so difficult under our present conditions of life. Our diet, our ways of life, our common talk, and our environments are all equally calculated to rouse animal passions; and sensuality is like a poison eating into our vitals. Some people may doubt the possibility of our being able to free ourselves from this bondage. This is written not for those who go about with such doubting of heart, but only for those who are really in earnest, and who have the courage to take active steps for self-improvement. Those who are quite content with their present abject condition will find this tedious even to read; but I hope it will be of some service to those who have realized and are disgusted with their own miserable plight.
15. Advice to the Unmarried. From all that has been said, it follows that those who are still unmarried should try to remain so; but if they cannot help marrying, they should defer it as long as possible.
16. Sexual Enjoyment. I can affirm, without the slightest hesitation, from my own experience as well as that of others, that sexual enjoyment is not only not necessary for, but is positively injurious to health. All the strength of body and mind that has taken long to acquire is lost all at once by a single dissipation of the vital energy. It takes a long time to regain this lost vitality, and even then there is no saying that it can be thoroughly recovered. A broken mirror may be mended and made to do its work, but it can never be anything but a broken mirror.
17. Health and Morals. As has already been pointed out, the preservation of our vitality is impossible without pure air, pure water, pure and wholesome food, as well as pure thoughts. So vital indeed is the relation between health and morals, that we can never be perfectly healthy unless we lead a clean life. The earnest man, who forgetting the errors of the past, begins to live a life of purity, will be able to reap the fruit of it straightaway. Those who practice true brahmacharya, even for a short period, will see how their body and mind improve steadily in strength and power, and they will not, at any cost, be willing to part with this treasure.
18. How Married People can Observe Brahmacharya. It is not enough to observe the laws of health as regards air, water and food. They should be constantly engaged in good work during the day. They should read such books as fill them with noble thoughts and meditate over the lives of great men, and live in the constant realization of the fact that sexual enjoyment is the root of much misery. Whenever they feel a craving for sexual indulgence, they should bathe in cold water, so that the heat of passion may be cooled down, and be refined into the energy of virtuous activity. This is a difficult thing to do, but we have been born to wrestle with difficulties and conquer them; and he who has not the will to do so can never enjoy the supreme blessing of true health.
From My Experiments with Truth, ch. 3.8. 
[8. Ref. paragraphs 19-21: rkvenkat.org/chastity.html ]
19. Vow of Brahmacharya: The great potentiality of brahmacharya daily became more and more patent to me. A perfect observance of brahmacharya means realization of Brahman. Every day of the vow has taken me nearer the knowledge that in brahmacharya lies the protection of the body, the mind, and the soul. For brahmacharya was now no process of hard penance; it was a matter of consolation and joy. Every day revealed a fresh beauty in it. But if it was a matter of ever-increasing joy, let no one believe that it was an easy thing for me. Every day I realize more and more that it is like walking on the sword's edge, and I see every moment the necessity for eternal vigilance.
20. Necessity of Restraints. Brahmacharya means control of the senses in thought, word, and deed. There is no limit to the possibilities of renunciation, even as there is none to those of brahmacharya. Such brahmacharya is impossible of attainment by limited effort. For many, it must remain only as an ideal. An aspirant after brahmacharya will always be conscious of his shortcomings, will seek out the passions lingering in the innermost recesses of his heart and will incessantly strive to get rid of them. So long as thought is not under complete control of the will, brahmacharya in its fulness is absent. Let no one think that it is impossible because it is difficult. It is the highest goal, and it is no wonder that the highest effort should be necessary to attain it.
21. To the Aspirants after Brahmacharya. I must utter a warning for the aspirants after brahmacharya. Though I have made out an intimate connection between diet and brahmacharya, it is certain that mind is the principle thing. A mind consciously unclean cannot be cleansed by fasting. Modifications in diet have no effect on it. The concupiscence of the mind cannot be rooted out except by intense self-examination, surrender to God, and lastly, grace.
But there is an intimate connection between the mind and the body, and the carnal mind always lusts for delicacies and luxuries. To obviate this tendency, dietetic restrictions and fasting would appear to be necessary. The carnal mind, instead of controlling the senses, becomes their slave, and therefore, the body always needs clean, non-stimulating foods and periodical fasting. Those who make light of dietetic restrictions and fasting are as much in error as those who stake their all on them. My experience teaches me that, for those whose minds are working towards self-restraint, dietetic restrictions and fasting are very helpful. In fact, without their help, concupiscence cannot be completely rooted out of the mind.
From Yeravada Mandir, ch. 3 and 4. 
[9. Ref. paragraphs 22-26: rkvenkat.org/chastity.html ]
22. Brahmacharya or Chastity. (ch. 3) The man who is wedded to Truth and worships Truth alone, proves unfaithful to her if he applies his talents to anything else. How then can he minister to the senses? A man whose activities are wholly consecrated to the realization of Truth, which requires utter selflessness, can have no time for the selfish purpose of begetting children and running a household. Realization of Truth through self-gratification should appear a contradiction in terms.
If we look at it from the standpoint of ahimsa (non-violence), we find that the fulfillment of ahimsa is impossible without utter selflessness. Ahimsa means Universal Love. If a man gives his love to one woman, or a woman to one man, what is there left for all the world besides? It simply means: "We two first, and the devil take all the rest of them." As a faithful wife must be prepared to sacrifice her all for the sake of her husband, and a faithful husband for the sake of his wife, it is clear that such persons cannot rise to the height of Universal Love, or look upon all mankind as kith and kin. For, they have created a boundary wall round their love. The larger their family, the farther are they from Universal Love. Hence, one who would obey the Law of ahimsa cannot marry, not to speak of gratification outside the marital bond.
The very thought that all the women in the world are his sisters, mothers, or daughters, will at once ennoble a man and snap his chains. If the foregoing argument is appreciated, a consideration of the physical benefits of chastity becomes a matter of secondary importance. How foolish it is to intentionally dissipate vital energy in sensual enjoyment! It is a grave misuse to fritter away for physical gratification that which is given to man and woman for the full development of their bodily and mental powers. Such misuse is the root cause of many a disease.
23. Brahmacharya, like all other observances, must be observed in thought, word and deed. We are told in the Gita, and experience will corroborate the statement, that the foolish man, who appears to control his body, but is nursing evil thoughts in his mind, makes a vain effort. It may be harmful to suppress the body, if the mind is at the same time allowed to go astray. Where the mind wanders, the body must follow sooner or later. It is necessary here to appreciate a distinction. It is one thing to allow the mind to harbour impure thoughts; it is a different thing altogether if it strays among them in spite of ourselves. Victory will be ours in the end, if we non-cooperate with the mind in its evil wanderings.
24. We experience every moment of our lives, that often while the body is subject to our control, the mind is not. This physical control should never be relaxed, and in addition we must put forth a constant endeavour to bring the mind under control. We can do nothing more, nothing less. If we give way to the mind, the body and the mind will pull different ways, and we shall be false to ourselves. Body and mind may be said to go together, so long as we continue to resist the approach of every evil thought.
25. The observence of brahmacharya has been believed to be very difficult, almost impossible. In trying to find a reason for this belief, we see that the term brahmacharya has been taken in a narrow sense. Mere control of animal passion has been thought to be tantamount to observing brahmacharya. I feel, that this conception is incomplete and wrong. Brahmacharya means control of all the organs of sense. He who attempts to control only one organ, and allows all the others free play, is bound to find his effort futile.
To hear suggestive stories with the ears, to see suggestive sights with the eyes, to taste simulating food with the tongue, to touch exciting things with the hands, and then at the same time to expect to control the only remaining organ is like putting one's hands in the fire, and expecting to escape being burnt. He therefore who is resolved to control the one must be likewise determined to control the rest.
I have always felt, that much harm has been done by the narrow definition of brahmacharya. If we practise simultaneous self-control in all directions, the attempt will be scientific and possible of success. Perhaps the palate is the chief sinner. That is why in the Ashram we have assigned to control of the palate a separate place among our observances.
Let us remember the root meaning of brahmacharya. Charya means course of conduct; brahmacharya, conduct adapted to the search of Brahma, i.e., Truth. From this etymological meaning arises the special meaning, viz. control of all the senses. We must entirely forget the incomplete definition which restricts itself to the sexual aspect only.
26. Control of the Palate. (ch. 4) Control of the palate is very closely connected with the observance of brahmacharya. I have found from experience that the observance of celibacy becomes comparatively easy, if one acquires mastery over the palate. Food has to be taken as we take medicine, that is, without thinking whether it is palatable or otherwise, and only in quantities limited to the needs of the body. Just as medicine taken in too small a dose does not take effect or the full effect, and as too large a dose injures the system, so it is with food.
It is therefore a breach of their observance to take anything for its pleasant taste. It is equally a breach to take too much of what one finds to one's taste. The body is injured every time that one over-eats, and the injury can be partially repaired only by fasting. We must not be thinking of food all the twenty-four hours of the day. The only thing needful is perpetual vigilance, which will help us to find out very soon when we eat for self-indulgence, and when in order only to sustain the body. This being discovered, we must resolutely set our faces against mere indulgence.
From Self-Restraint vs. Self-Indulgence 
[10. Ref. paragraphs 27-37: rkvenkat.org/chastity.html ]
27. Duty of Chastity. We exaggerate the difficulty of chastity and voluntary poverty and impute extraordinary merit to them, reserve them for mahathmas and yogis and rule the latter out of ordinary life, forgetting that real mahathmas and yogis are unthinkable in a society where the ordinary level is brought down to the mud-bank.
On the principle that evil, like the hare, travels faster than good, which like the tortoise though steady goes slow, voluptuousness of the West comes to us with lightning speed, and with all its variegated enchantment dazzles and blinds us to the realities of life. We are almost ashamed of chastity, and are in danger of looking upon self-imposed poverty as a crime in the face of the Western splendor that descends upon us from minute to minute through the cable, and day to day through the steamers that discharge their cargo on our shores.
We often prate about spirituality as if it had nothing to do with the ordinary affairs of life, and had been reserved for anchorites lost in the Himalayan forests or concealed in some inaccessible Himalayan cave. Spirituality that has no bearing on and produces no effect on everyday life is 'an airy nothing.' Let young men and women know that it is their duty, if they would purify the atmosphere about them and shed their weakness, to be and remain chaste and know, too, that it is not so difficult as they have been taught to imagine.
28. In Confidence, (Young India, 13 Oct 1920) The word in Sanskrit corresponding to celibacy is brahmacharya, and the latter means much more than celibacy. Brahmacharya means perfect control over all the senses and organs. For the perfect brahmachari nothing is impossible. But it is an ideal state which is rarely realized. It is almost like Euclid's line which exists only in imagination, never capable of being physically drawn. It is nevertheless an important definition in geometry yielding great result.
So may a perfect brahmachari exist only in imagination. But if we did not keep him constantly before our mind's eye, we should be like a rudderless ship. The nearer the approach to the imaginary state, the greater the perfection. I hold that a life of perfect continence in thought, speech, and action is necessary for reaching spiritual perfection. And the nation that does not possess such men is the poorer for the want.
29. Advice to Parents. Parents furnish an object lesson which the children easily grasp. By reckless indulgence in their passions, they serve for their children as models of unrestrained license. I have not a shadow of doubt that married people, if they wished well to the country and wanted to see India become a nation of strong and handsome full-formed men and women, would practice perfect self-restraint.
30. To the Newly-Married. I tender this advice even to the newly married. It is easier not to do a thing at all than to cease doing it, even as it is easier for a life abstainer to remain teetotaler than for a drunkard or even a temperate man to abstain. To remain erect is infinitely easier than to rise from a fall. It is wrong to say that continence can be safely preached only to the satiated. There is hardly any meaning, either, in preaching continence to an enfeebled person. May I point out to parents that they ought not to fall into the argumentative trap of the rights of partners? Consent is required for indulgence, never for restraint; this is an obvious truth.
31. Rules for Brahmacharya. I place before the readers a few simple rules which are based on the experience not only of myself, but of many of my associates:
a. Boys and girls should be brought up simply and naturally in the full belief that they are and can remain innocent.
b. All should abstain from heating and stimulating foods, condiments such as chillies, fatty, and concentrated food such as fritters, sweets and fried substances.
c. Husband and wife should occupy separate rooms and avoid privacy.
d. Both body and mind should be constantly and healthily occupied.
e. Early to bed and early to rise should be strictly observed.
f. All unclean literature should be avoided. The antidote for unclean thoughts is clean thoughts.
g. Theatres, cinemas, etc., which tend to stimulate passion should be shunned.
h. Nocturnal dreams need not cause any anxiety. A cold bath every time for a fairly strong person is the finest preventive in such cases. It is wrong to say that an occasional indulgence is a safeguard against involuntary dreams.
i. Above all, one must not consider continence even as between husband and wife to be so difficult as to be practically impossible. On the contrary, self-restraint must be considered to be the ordinary and natural practice of life.
j. A heartfelt prayer every day for purity makes one progressively pure.
32. What is Brahmacharya? (From Young India, 5 Jun 1924) A friend asks: "What is brahmacharya? Is it possible to practice it to perfection? If possible, do you do so?" The full and proper meaning of brahmacharya is search of Brahman. Brahman pervades everything and can, therefore, be searched by diving into and realizing the inner self. This realization is impossible without complete control of the senses. Brahmacharya thus means control in thought, word, and action, of all the senses at all times and in all places. A man or woman completely practicing brahmacharya is absolutely free from passion. Such a one, therefore, lives nigh unto God, is God-like.
33. My Strivings after Brahmacharya. I have no doubt that it is possible to practice such brahmacharya in thought, word, and action to the fullest extent.
34. Healthy Soul in Healthy Body. I believe that a healthy soul should inhabit a healthy body. To the extent, therefore, that the soul grows into health and freedom from passion, to that extent the body also grows into that state.
35. Ordinary Meaning of Brahmacharya. The ordinary accepted sense of brahmacharya is the control in thought, word, and action of animal passion. It has been thought to be very difficult to practice this brahmacharya. This control of the carnal desire has been so very difficult, has become nearly impossible, because equal stress has not been laid on the control of the palate. It is also the experience of our physicians that a body enfeebled by disease is always a favorite abode of carnal desire, and brahmacharya by an enfeebled race is difficult to practice naturally.
36. Physical Culture. One who would practice complete control of all the senses, must needs welcome the waning of the flesh. With the extinction of attachment to the flesh, comes the extinction of the desire to have muscular strength. But the body of a true brahmachari is bound to be exceptionally fresh and wiry. This brahmacharya is something unearthly. He who is not swayed by carnal desire even in his sleep, is worthy of all adoration. The control of every other sense shall be 'added unto' him.
37. How to Eradicate Evil Thoughts? So long as the mind is engaged in a perpetual struggle against evil thoughts, there is no reason to despair. When the eye offends, it should be closed. When the ears offend, they should be stopped. It is best always to walk with down-cast eyes. They will have no occasion to go astray. All haunts of filthy talk or unclean music should be avoided.
There should be full control of the palate. One of the rules for control of the palate is to abjure completely or, as much as possible, all condiments. A more difficult rule is to cultivate the feeling that the food we eat is to sustain the body, never to satisfy the palate. There is, however, a golden rule for gaining control of the carnal desire. It is the repetition of the divine word Rama or such other Mantra. Whichever Mantra is selected, one should be identified with it whilst repeating it.
From Navjivan, 26 Feb 1925 
[11. Ref. paragraphs 38-42: rkvenkat.org/chastity.html ]
38. In It's Wider Meaning. Brahmacharya appears to be difficult because we do not control the other senses. Take for example organ of taste which leads the rest. Brahmacharya will come easy to anyone who controls his palate. Zoologists tell us that brahmacharya is observed by the lower animals, as for instance cattle, to a greater extent than by human beings, and this is a fact. The reason is that cattle have perfect control over the palate, not by will but by instinct. They subsist on mere fodder, and of this, too, they take a quantity just sufficient for nutrition. They eat to live, do not live to eat; while our case is just the reverse....
The taste depends upon hunger. Even sweets will not be as tasteful to one who is not hungry, as a slice of dry bread is to another who is really so. We prepare food in various ways with a variety of spices in order to be able to load the stomach, and wonder when we find brahmacharya difficult to observe.
39. Use and Misuse of Eyes. We misuse and corrupt the eyes which God has given us, and do not direct them to the right things.
40. Use and Misuse of Clothes. Clothes are meant just to cover the body, protect it against heat and cold, not to beautify it. If a child is trembling with cold, we must send him to the fireside to warm himself or out into the street for a run, or into the field for work. It is only thus that we can help him to build a splendid constitution. By keeping the child confined in the house, we impart a false warmth to his body. By pampering his body, we only succeed in destroying it.
41. Obstacles in the Way of Brahmacharya. So much for the clothes. Then again, the light conversation carried on in the house creates a very harmful impression on the child's mind. The things which he sees around him also tend to corrupt him. The wonder is that we have not sunk to the lowest depths of barbarism. Restraint is observed in spite of conditions which render it well-nigh impossible. A gracious Providence has so arranged things that man is saved in spite of himself. If we remove all these obstacles in the way of brahmacharya, it not only becomes possible but also easy to observe.
42. Touching a Woman. Brahmacharya does not mean that one may not touch a woman, even one's sister, in any circumstances whatsoever. But it does mean that one's state of mind should be as calm and unruffled during such contact as when one touches, say, a piece of paper. A man's brahmacharya avails for nothing if he must hesitate in nursing his sister who is ill. He has to be as free from excitement in case of contact with the fairest damsel on earth, as in contact with a dead body.
Continued at Mahatma Gandhi Quotes Part 2