Greatly Inspiring Brahmacharya (Celibacy) Quotes

Compiled by Gopal Krishna


[Renumbered from the original.]

  1. Sri Ramakrishna was uncompromising on the need for celibacy for God-realization. He used to tell devotees, "To be able to realize God, one must practise absolute continence. Sages like Sukadeva [1] are examples of an 'urdhvareta' (a person of unbroken and complete continence). Their chastity was absolutely unbroken. A man practising unbroken brahmacharya for twelve years develops a special power. He grows a new inner nerve called the nerve of memory. Through that nerve he remembers all, he understands all. When a man succeeds in the conservation of his sexual energy, his intellect reflects the image of Brahman. The man who carries this image of Brahman in his heart is able to accomplish everything - he will succeed wonderfully in whatever action he engages himself.

    [1. ]

  2. The loss of reproductive elements dissipates a person's strength. But there is no harm in nocturnal emission. That reproductive element is from food. After nocturnal emission, a man retains enough to succeed. But he must not lose it voluntarily. What remains after nocturnal emission is very refined. The Lahas stored pots of molasses with holes in the bottom. After a year it was found that the molasses had turned into crystals, like sugar candy. Whatever liquid there was had come out through the holes.

  3. Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahima): "What you were saying about men of continence is correct. One cannot hold these spiritual teachings without practising brahmacharya. Someone said to Chaitanya Deva, 'You give the devotees so much instruction. Why aren't they able to make much progress?' He replied, 'They squander it all by breaking brahmacharya. That's why they're not able to hold on to spiritual instruction.' If you fill a leaky pail with water, the water trickles out little by little."

  4. Sri Ramakrishna (to Balaram) — Maya is only 'lust and greed'. By living in the midst of them for a few days, one loses spiritual awareness but feels that all is well. A scavenger carries a pot of excreta and in course of time, doesn't feel any repulsion for it. One gradually acquires love and devotion for God by practicing the chanting of the Lord's name and glories.

  5. If you want to realize God, you will have to be a brahmachari. Without practising brahmacharya, one cannot concentrate steadily on God. From brahmacharya comes intellectual conviction and then comes faith in the power of Brahman. Without this faith, one cannot feel that he is living in Brahman. Practise japam (repetition of the holy mantra) and meditation day and night. This is the way one can get rid of attachment to lust and gold.

  6. When a man succeeds in the conservation of his sexual energy, his intellect reflects the image of Brahman, even as a glass gives a perfect image when its back is painted with mercury solution. The man who carries this image of Brahman in his heart is able to accomplish everything; he will succeed wonderfully in whatever action he engages himself.

  7. As long as you have even a little consciousness of 'I,' you are under the jurisdiction of the Primal Power - and unable to set yourself free.

  8. Sri Ramakrishna and principles of yoga: 'Lust and greed' are impediments to yoga. You ask me why you don't develop deep dispassion. There is a reason for it. You have a strong desire for sense enjoyments, your mind is filled with pravritti. I say the same to Hazra. In the countryside before they bring water to the fields, they make mud ridges on all four sides of the field so that water can't flow out. They are mud ridges, but they have water outlets here and there. There are holes. Water is brought with full force to the field, but it goes out through the holes. Our desires are like these holes, these outlets. You may be practicing japa (repetition of God's name) and austerities, but at the back of your mind, you have desires for sense enjoyments. From the outlets of desire, everything leaks out. One catches fish with a bamboo trap. Ordinarily bamboo is straight, but when bent to the ground, it acts as a fish trap. Desire for sense enjoyments is the fish, so the mind remains bent toward the world. If there is no desire, the mind naturally orients upward, toward the Lord. Do you know how? Like the needles of a scale. Because of the weight of 'lust and greed,' the upper needle does not align itself with the lower needle. Thus one strays from the path of yoga. Haven't you seen the flame of a lamp? It flickers by just a puff of air. The state of yoga is like the flame of a lamp where there is no wind. Our mind is spread out in different directions. A part of it has reached Dacca, a part Delhi and another part Coochbehar. You have to collect this mind and concentrate it to a point. If you want a cloth worth sixteen annas, you have to pay this amount to the cloth merchant. Even if there is a slight obstacle, yoga is not possible. If the telegraph wire is broken, howsoever small the break may be, it will not convey your message.

  9. The nearer you come to God, the more tranquility you feel. Peace, peace, profound peace. The nearer you approach the holy Ganges, the cooler you feel. A dip in it is even more soothing. On attaining the knowledge of Brahman, attachment to the world and enthusiasm for 'lust and greed' vanishes. You attain perfect peace. A piece of burning wood produces a crackling sound and gives out heat. When it is consumed and has turned to ash, all sound ceases. As soon as you get rid of attachment, the restlessness for 'lust and greed' vanishes. Finally you attain tranquility.

  10. Those through whom God will teach mankind must renounce the world. It is essential for religious teachers to renounce 'lust and greed.' Without it, their teachings are not accepted. It is not enough for them to renounce inwardly. They must also renounce outwardly. Only then can they teach mankind. If they don't, people will think that they are being asked to renounce 'lust and greed,' while they secretly enjoy them.

  11. An Ayurvedic physician prescribed some medicine to a patient and said, 'Please come again another day and I will tell you about diet.' That day, there were a number of jars of molasses in his room. The patient lived quite far away. He came another day. The physician said to him, 'Be careful about your diet. Molasses is not good for you.' When the patient had left, somebody asked the physician, 'Why did you cause him the trouble of coming here again, all that way? You could have said this to him the first day.' The physician laughed and said, 'There is a reason. I had some jars of molasses in my room that day. If I had asked him to give up molasses, he wouldn't have trusted me. He would have thought, He has so many jars of molasses in his room, he must surely be eating some of it. In that case it can't be so bad. Today I have hidden the jars; he will now believe me.'... I have seen the religious teacher of the Adi [Brahmo] Samaj. I hear that he has married two or three times. And that he has grown sons. Such are religious teachers! If these people say that only the Lord is real and all else is an illusion, who will believe them? You can guess very well what kind of disciples they will have.

  12. Full renunciation is for sannyasins. They shouldn't even see the picture of a woman. Women are like poison for them. They must keep at least ten cubits away or, if that's not possible, at least one cubit. Even if a woman is a great devotee, a sannyasin shouldn't talk to her for long. ... A sannyasin should live in a place where he doesn't even see the face of a woman, or very rarely.

  13. Money is also a poison for sannyasins. When you have money, you quickly fall prey to anxiety, pride, physical comfort, anger, and so forth. Rajas increases. When there is rajoguna, it leads to tamoguna. So a sannyasin shouldn't touch money.

  14. 'Lust and greed' make you forget God. Why such difficult rules of conduct for a sannyasin? They are there for the instruction of humanity as well as for his own good. Even if a sannyasin lives unattached, having controlled his senses, he should renounce 'lust and greed' in order to teach mankind. People will muster the courage for renunciation only if they see the one hundred percent renunciation of a sannyasin. Then only will they endeavour to renounce 'lust and greed.' If a sannyasin doesn't impart this instruction of renunciation, who else will? One should lead a householder's life only after attaining God. It is like keeping butter in water after it has been churned. Janaka led the life of a householder only after attaining the knowledge of Brahman.

  15. Discrimination and dispassion: One is able to renounce the attachment to 'lust and greed' by the yoga of practice. The Gita says this. Practice brings extraordinary strength to the mind. Then you don't find it difficult to subdue the senses, to control passions like lust and anger. For instance, a tortoise doesn't bring out its limbs once it has drawn them inside its shell, even if you cut it into four pieces with an axe. Differentiating between the real and the unreal in this manner is discrimination. Dispassion means a distaste for worldly things. This does not come about all of a sudden. It has to be practiced daily. To begin with, you have to renounce 'lust and greed' in the mind. Then, God willing, you can renounce them externally as well as internally.

  16. If you are attached to 'lust and greed,' you develop pride of learning, pride of wealth and high position, all these things.

  17. Do you know what happens when you live as a householder? A lot of your mental powers are unnecessarily expended. This wastage of mental powers can be made up only by embracing sannyasa. Your father gives you your first birth. Your second birth is when your sacred thread ceremony is performed. And the third one is when you enter monastic life.

  18. 'Lust and greed.' These indeed are the two obstacles. The attachment to a woman leads one away from the path to the Lord. A man is unable to realize what has brought his downfall. When I went to the Fort, I hardly knew that I was going down a slope. When the carriage reached the Fort, I observed how far down I had come. Ah, She doesn't let man know! Captain said, 'My wife is spiritually wise.' When an evil spirit possesses a person, he does not know that he is possessed. He just says, 'I am all right.' (Everybody sits perfectly still.)

  19. It is not only lust which is a danger in family life. There is anger, too. When you are thwarted in your desire, you get angry. Q. "When a cat reaches out to snatch fish from my plate, I can't do anything about it?" Sri Ramakrishna: "Why not? You must beat it once, there is no harm in that." The householder must hiss [threaten], but never pour venom. Reason? One must not harm anybody. However, you have to make a show of anger to save yourself from the enemy or he will hurt you. But one who has renounced need not even hiss.

  20. Lovelorn! Oh, you have to be mad for God to attain Him! ... This does not happen if the mind dwells on 'lust and greed.' What joy is there in lust? One feels ten million times that joy from a vision of God. One feels the joy of union with the Atman in every pore.

  21. When a person gets even a drop of God's ecstatic love, 'lust and greed' become so insignificant! When you get a drink sweetened with sugar candy, how can you care for one mixed with molasses? When you pray to God with a yearning heart, when you chant His name and glories incessantly, you gradually develop that kind of love for Him.

  22. The Brahmo [2] devotee: "Lust and anger are the real enemies. What can we do about them?" Sri Ramakrishna: "Turn the six enemies around - towards God. Have lust for union with the Atman. Show anger to those who are an obstacle in the way to God. Have greed to attain Him. If you have to say, 'Me and mine,' say it in relation to Him - as, for example, 'My Krishna or my Rama.' "

    [2. ]

  23. If you have pride, let it be like the pride of Bibhishana who said, 'I have bowed to Rama. This head shall never bow to anybody else.'

  24. There is a view that a man doesn't attain spiritual awakening until his desire for worldly enjoyments is over. But what is there to enjoy? The pleasures of 'lust and greed' are momentary - this moment they exist and the next moment they disappear. What is there in 'lust and greed'? Its enjoyment is like eating a hog-plum that is all stone and rind. Eat it and you get colic. The moment you swallow sweet sandesh, it is gone.

  25. One does not realize God unless 'lust and greed' have vanished from the mind. The fire of spiritual wisdom first burns up lust, anger and other such enemies. Later it destroys the sense of I-ness [117] . Lastly, it brings about a great turmoil [in the body].

  26. About Sri Ramakrishna: "He has seen the plight of worldly people who are forgetful of God. That is why he is developing renunciation for these things. Need one whose mind is freed from the attachment to 'lust and greed' worry about anything? Oh, how strange! I had to perform so much repetition of the Name and meditation to get rid of these desires. How is it that he has absolutely freed his mind from desire so quickly? Is it so easy to get rid of lust? Oh, what a sensation I felt in my chest even six months after starting my spiritual practices! I would lie under a tree and weep. I cried to the Divine Mother, 'Mother! If I experience the feeling of lust, I will cut my throat with a knife!' (To the devotees) If the mind is free from 'lust and greed,' what else remains to be attained? Then one enjoys only the joy of Brahman."

  27. Sri Ramakrishna [on chakras and kundalini]: You cannot achieve union with God when the mind dwells on 'lust and greed.' The mind of an ordinary person remains in the centres of awareness located at the genital, anal, and naval regions. It takes a lot of effort in spiritual discipline for the kundalini to awaken. There are three nerves - ida, pingala, and sushumna. And in the sushumna are six lotuses, the lowest being the muladhara. Then there are svadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddha, and ajna. These are the six spiritual centres. When the kundalini awakens, after it has crossed the lotuses of muladhara, svadhisthana, and manipura, it reaches the anahata lotus located at the heart. It stays there. The mind is then withdrawn from the three lower centres of anus, sex organ, and navel; it attains a spiritual consciousness and sees a light. The aspirant is speechless with wonder and exclaims, 'What is this! What is this!' Having pierced six centres, the kundalini reaches the lotus of sahasrara and unites with it. When the kundalini reaches there, the aspirant passes into samadhi. According to the Vedas, these centres are called bhumis or planes. There are seven planes. The heart is the fourth, and the lotus at anahata is twelve-petalled. The vishuddha centre is the fifth plane. When the mind reaches there, the heart yearns only to talk of God and to hear about Him. This centre is located in the throat. It has a sixteen-petalled lotus. The person whose mind has reached this centre feels great pain to hear any worldly talk, such as talk of 'lust and greed.' When he hears such talk, he gets up and leaves the place. After this comes the sixth plane, the ajna centre of two petals. When the kundalini reaches there, one has the vision of God's form. But there is still a thin screen of separation. Like a lantern, the light can't be touched because of a glass barrier. Then one reaches the seventh plane, the thousand-petalled lotus. When the kundalini reaches there, samadhi comes about. The Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute Shiva resides at the sahasrara. Here He unites with Shakti - it is the union of Shiva and Shakti. When the mind reaches the sahasrara, one becomes absorbed in samadhi. In this state all awareness of the external disappears, and the person cannot preserve his body. If milk is poured into his mouth, it runs out.

  28. On the difference between the mind of a worldly man and a genuine renouncer: Girish (to Sri Ramakrishna): "Well sir, at times the mind rises so high - and then it falls so suddenly! Why is this?" Sri Ramakrishna: "This happens when one leads a worldly life. The mind is first up, then down. First you feel so strong, and then so weak. You see, it is because one has to live amidst 'lust and greed'. In worldly life the devotee contemplates the Lord and repeats His name, but then he gives his mind to 'lust and greed'. He is like a housefly. Sometimes it sits on sandesh, at other times on a festering wound, and even on excreta. It is different with tyagis (those who have renounced the world). Taking their mind from 'lust and greed,' they give it to the Lord and only sip the sweetness of Hari's name."

Continued on Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Part 2

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