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Prajna, the Vital Energy
The vital energy or prajna in a person basically exists in three states:
1. Normal or subtle state: In the normal state, vital energy is spread over the entire body (in blood, bones, muscle, nerves, etc.) giving us energy to indulge in various day to day activities. Pranic energy in this state is integral with the entire body in a state of harmony and union. The body is fully geared and the life force is available to perform action efficiently. Based on the kind of activity we indulge in, life force flows to that particular part to perform the action. For example when an athlete gears up to run a marathon, his life force focuses into his leg muscles. When a boxer is in the ring, his life force centers around his arm muscles, when a chess player in midst of a game, his life force is concentrated in his brain and so on.
2. Gross or semen state: When man is under sexual excitement, his life force or prajna is withdrawn from every part of the body and focused into the sex center. Life energy which was earlier in a subtle state of amalgamation with his blood, flesh, etc., in the normal state, separates from those regions to a large extent and flows to his sex center. This sends a signal for his testes to produce sperm. The prostate gland gets ready with the prostatic fluid. The Cowpers glands ready up the bulbo-urethral fluid [preseminal fluid]. Man is now fully geared up to engage in the sex act. Almost all his vital energy, except the basic energy required for his vital organs to function, has now come down to the sex center. Energy is in a sate of wait to propel semen out of his system. Note how sexually aggressive a person becomes when he is fully aroused in the sex plane. This is further to all his prajna being in a state of sexual focus; in this state man cannot efficiently indulge in any other activity other than the sexual act. Ask a fully aroused man to play a game of chess … he might not even remember the movements! Semen in this state is the linear, gross representation of his prajna or vital energy in liquid form. Energy which was earlier in electricity-like form has now become physical, embodied in liquid semen.
In a man who constantly resides in the sex plane, his prajna is mostly in this gross semen form. This is the reason such people cannot effectively carry out any other form of work. The nature of gross semen is expellation. Its sole purpose is to reach outside to aid reproduction. This is called the ejaculatory mode. It cannot perform any other function in this state. If not let out immediately, it will flow out in a wet dream.
Once in the ejaculatory mode, semen can never be fully reconverted back to pranic energy. The sexual glands have already secreted various physical secretions to manufacture gross semen. All these processes are not fully reversible even through transmutation and meditation. There are severe limitations. A considerable volume of vital energy will flow out, immaterial of meditation or celibacy, once it has reached this final gross form due to sexual duress.
3. Very subtle or ojas state: When a yogi leads a life of true celibacy, conserving all his vital energy and transcending it from its normal state to a highly concentrated, very subtle state through techniques such as meditation, asana, prajnayama etc., his prajna becomes very subtle in nature. Its intensity increases to a great extent. It is akin to gross water being heated and converted to superheated-gaseous steam in a distillation plant. Vital energy now has enormous potential energy. It rises up like steam does and reaches his ajna chakra or the point between his eyebrows. This is called ojas state. [ojas = radiant life energy] The full power of this state is said to come to a brahmachari on reaching 12 years of true celibacy, without wastage of even a single drop of semen. His pranic energy is now totally sublimated. It gives him the ability to enter the metaphysical word/astral planes. He can get astral visions, knowledge of creation, god, etc. Advanced urdhvareta yogis get powers such as trikala gnyana or knowledge of the past, present and future. Many ancient sages in this state had ashta siddhis or eight superhuman powers like levitation (ability to fly), astral travel, ability to make the body microscopic or macroscopic, bhuta vidya or the power to converse with wild animals and win their obedience, listening to sounds many miles away (doorashravana), power of sight ranging to hundreds of miles (dooradristi) and many more
I will give a detailed description of all the siddhis for the information of celibates in another answer sheet. Most importantly, the yogi gets vision of God and is blessed with self-realization. This is the highest state.
Celibates should understand what exactly sublimation is all about. Urdhvareta kriya in reality is not conversion of gross semen into ojas. It is conversion of subtle/normal prajna into ojas, by preventing the formation of gross semen. If you continuously indulge in sexual activity that brings down prajna from its normal state to a lower gross/semen state, sublimation becomes difficult and roundabout. It must again be brought back to its normal state and then taken to the very subtle/ojas state.
The answer to what happens in a man at the start of celibacy lies in this fact. At the start of celibacy when man shuns sex stimuli, his prajna or vital energy comfortably rests in the normal/subtle state. Earlier it was being brought down to form semen. Now that need has been removed. The body stops production of earlier quantities of semen. Initial stages of celibacy do not really involve re-absorption. Most volume of semen in gross form at the start of celibacy actually flows out. It is due to lack of further production by which energy levels go up. This is exactly why for celibacy to bear fruit say beyond three months or so, sublimation into ojas is necessary. Until this time the body is actually not in a state of re-absorption. It is only in a state of non-production and in a state of harmonization of existing prajna at the subtle state. Further to this, production of gross semen goes on reducing and formation of more and more prajna goes on increasing (provided the celibacy is true and genuine).
So when we say sublimation of semen into higher forms, it is really sublimation of prajna in normal state into ojas state. For prajna to reach normal state, man should desist from sexual excitement thereby prevent formation of gross/semen state. In an urdhvareta yogi, this is fully achieved. His body does not produce gross semen at all. The vital energy required to sustain his body and intellect are fed from that part of his prajna. The rest is fully converted to ojas.
Q. Please tell me the difference between banda and prajnayama - do they have the same results? Please tell me something about vajroli mudra.
1. Bandha means 'lock' or 'hold'. Practice of 'thribandha' (mula, uddiyana & jaalandhara bandha) is the means by which prajna (upward wind) and apana (downward wind) are united and made to enter 'sushumna naadi' to aid awakening of kundalini for meditation leading to samadhi (super-consciousness). Bandha is preferably carried out before the start of prajnayama in the beginner.
2. Prajnayama is the control of prajna or vital energy through the means of breath. Union of prajna and apana is yoga. There is no yoga or brahmacharya without prajnayama. Prajnayama is the tool with which the yogi clears his naadis (subtle energy channels) and makes them conducive to transmit vital energy. Through prajnayama are thrown out the impurities of the physical body. The highest kind of prajnayama is that which eventually leads to 'kevala kumbhaka' (cessation of breath). Prajnayama leads to control over the prajna which leads to control over the mind. One who does not have control over his prajna has no control over his mind. One who has conquered prajna has conquered the mind.
Bandha and prajnayama are complementary to each other. If prajna is electricity, prajnayama and bandha are the switches that direct electricity to the required points in a systematic manner. Hence both are to be practiced.
3. Vajroli kriya: When a yogi after the long practice of asana, prajnayama and meditation with unbroken brahmacharya attains siddhi over his rethas (semen) over a period of time, vajroli kriya occurs. This occurs just before the stage of 'savikalpa samadhi'. It refers to the process by which the bindu (seed) which was previously flowing downwards and outwards (as semen through ejaculation) reverses itself and starts flowing upwards and inwards back into the 'ajna chakra' in the 'chandra sthana' (region of the moon) located in the brain. Soma which is responsible for samadhi is the result of union of 'shukra' (male element of bindu) with 'rajas' (female element of bindu, which is present but dormant within the male body in the perineum). When these two unite inside and the resulting energy rises up the 'sushumna' into the brain, soma is the result. Their union is very difficult. This is also called 'urdhvareta kriya'. When this process occurs through great efforts from the yogi and through the grace of God, the yogi becomes an urdhvareta.
After reaching this stage, the urdhvareta yogi starts to acquire the 'divya sharira' (divine body purified by 'yogaagni', the fire of yoga) which is immune to disease, debility and even death if his prarabdha (past karma) so supports. This body is also called as 'vajra deham' (diamond body). It leads to beauty, grace, strength and adamentine toughness, according to Patanjali. The yogi also develops various siddhis. Thus vajroli refers to the natural process of reversal of seminal energy into bindu and then soma, through the 'urdhvareta kriya' that is a prerequisite to samadhi.
Contrary to general perception, vajroli is not the pulling up of semen during sexual intercourse. This is a ploy used by the ancient sages to misguide undeserving aspirants who read yogic scriptures. So that wicked, evil and dishonorable people with questionable intentions do not succeed in yoga, they have hidden the true meaning of vajroli behind the cloak of sexual intercourse.
Q: What are the changes which take place at the physical level in one who is transforming himself into an urdhvareta?
A: It takes a very long time, with very honest and sincere brahmacharya in thought, word and deed coupled with God's grace for one to achieve full sex sublimation including the stoppage of wet dreams. However, as an aspirant climbs up the ladder of brahmacharya to the best of his efforts by abhorring from the sexual act, ejaculation and impure thoughts for a considerable period of time, an inner phenomenon called urdhvareta kriya (process) also called by the name 'vajroli' takes place in his system, due to which semen which was earlier flowing downward and being ejaculated outward now starts flowing upward and inward. This aids the formation of 'ojas' shakti in his brain. The aspirant is not yet a complete urdhvareta, as he has not yet achieved complete sex sublimation or transmutation. Semen will still flow down if he is not vigilant against the senses (wet dreams stop in one who is a complete urdhvareta).
When the aspirant maintains this state of brahmacharya for a considerable period of time from when the 'vajroli kriya' starts to function, the passage of flow of semen within his body (from the sex glands to the urethra) starts to become narrow and constricted. Under such circumstances if he indulges in ejaculation of semen (even in a copious wet dream), instead of pleasure he experiences pain. This further aids in developing distaste and dispassion towards the sex act.
This is one of the most important of changes which occurs in the body of the brahmachari at the physiological level. Coupled with this, certain external changes take place such as:
- The body becomes more taut, wiry and lithe. The tendency to accumulate bulk and fat reduces.
- The face develops a red hue and wrinkles gradually start to disappear.
- The skin glows with luster and the eyes become bright; eyesight starts to improve.
- Overall, all organs in his body gradually start to return to their original state of maximum function (as they were during childhood).
From this stage onwards, the brahmachari must be very, very careful in avoiding more than necessary contact with members of the opposite sex in particular, and people in general. Further to the 'vajroli kriya' taking place he starts to develop a magnetic personality and appears very alluring to the world in general and women in particular. Any act of letting his ego get goaded resulting in pompousness, pride or arrogance will immediately lead to his downfall in the form of his semen deserting him; for the appearance of these negative traits is invariably accompanied by blossoming of latent lust present within. The aspirant should very clearly know that he has no more conquered lust than a child has learnt to deal with the world. Lust is only in a state of control. It is still present in its fullest form within him, but in a latent and dormant state at most. From now on he has to be very humble before the world and god, always keeping in mind that this power he is developing is not his own but the power of God shining through him. Only humility, kindness and consideration towards fellow beings and an attitude of gratitude towards God for all that he has given will strengthen celibacy and make for further growth.