Celibacy Quotes

Sri Adi Shankara on Celibacy

In his celebrated work "Vivekachudamani," Sri Sankaracharya, one of the brightest stars in the philosophical and religious firmament of India, has this advice for spiritual aspirants:

  1. Brahmacharya or spotless chastity is the best of all penances; a celibate of such spotless chastity is not a human being, but a god indeed ... To the celibate who practises unbroken brahmacharya, what is there unattainable in this world? By the power of the unbroken brahmacharya, one will become just like myself.
  2. If, indeed, thou hast a craving for liberation, shun sense-objects from a good distance as thou wouldst do poison, and always cultivate carefully the nectar-like virtues of contentment, compassion, forgiveness, straight-forwardness, calmness and self-control.
  3. Darkness and the mass of evils produced by darkness no longer exist when the sun has risen. Similarly, when one has tasted undifferentiated bliss, no bondage or trace of suffering remains.
  4. To be free from bondage the wise man must practise discrimination between self and non-self. By that alone he will become full of joy, recognising himself as Being, Consciousness and Bliss.
  5. One should become aware of oneself, indivisible and perfect like Space itself, when free from identification with such things as one's body, senses, functions, mind and sense of doership, which are all the products of one's own ignorance.
  6. As long as there is life in your body, your people may have concern for you, but once the life-breath ebbs out of your body, even your own wife will run away from you.
  7. Enticed by the physical glamour of a woman (or a man), do not lose your senses; the body is nothing but a conglomeration of flesh, do not forget this any time.
  8. Who indeed is your beloved and who indeed is your son? Strange indeed are these family bonds; who belongs to you and to whom you belong? whence did you come, Oh brother! Reflect on the truth of it all.
  9. The extremely dispassionate man achieves samadhi. A person in samadhi experiences steady enlightenment. He who is enlightened to the Truth achieves liberation from bondage, and he who is truly liberated experiences eternal joy.
  10. It is owing to people's worldly desires, their desires for scriptures, and their desires concerning their bodies that they do not achieve realisation.
  11. Give up identification with this mass of flesh as well as with what thinks it a mass. Both are intellectual imaginations. Recognise your true self as undifferentiated awareness, unaffected by time, past, present or future, and enter Peace.
  12. Only he who is free from the terrible hankering after the senses which is so hard to overcome is fit for liberation, and no-one else, not even if he is an expert in the six branches of scripture.
  13. Childhood skips off on sport and play. Youth flies off in pursuits of fleeting sense pleasures. As one grows older he is drowned in worry about the security and future of his wife and children. One's whole life gets spent in some kind of worry or other. And at no stage does man find time to lift his thoughts to God.
  14. The company of the good weans one away from false atttachments; when attachment is lost, delusion ends; when delusion ends, the mind becomes unwavering and steady. An unwavering and steady mind is merited for Jivan Mukti (liberation even in this life).
  15. When youth is gone, where is lust and its play? Where is the lake when its waters have dried up? Where are the kinsfolk when riches are gone ? When Truth is realised, where is the snare of Samsara?
  16. The pleasures and riches of worldly life are deceptive appearances. Understanding that they are all but a passing-show, be detached and dispassionate, cultivate renunciation and seek Brahman.
  17. Day and night, dawn and dusk, winter and spring, all these are flitting across the stage of the world. While time thus is frolicking and befooling us, our life span is also running out; yet we do not , even a little, give up the clinging to our desires, nor do we let the desires loosen their grip on us.
  18. What is Self-Control? A firm hold on the lust of the eyes and the outward powers.
  19. Who is a jivanmukta (an enlightened sage)? Just as there is the firm belief that 'I am the body,' 'I am a man,' 'I am a priest,' 'I am a serf,' so he who possesses the firm conviction that 'I am neither priest nor serf nor man, but stainless Being, Consciousness, Bliss, the Shining, the inner Master, Shining Wisdom,' and knows this by direct perception, he is a jivanmukta.
  20. In solitude live joyously. Quieten your mind in the Supreme Lord. Realise and see the All-pervading Self every where. Recognise that the finite Universe is a projection of the Self. Conquer the effects of the deeds done in earlier lives by the present right action. Through wisdom become detached from future actions (Agami). Experience and exhaust "Prarabdha" the fruits of past actions. Thereafter, live absorbed in the bhav: "I am Brahman" !
  21. It is the very nature of the magnanimous to move of their own accord towards removing others' troubles. Here, for instance, is the moon who, as everybody knows, voluntarily saves the earth parched by the flaming rays of the sun.
  22. The study of the Scriptures is useless so long as the highest Truth is unknown, and it is equally useless when the highest Truth has already been known.
  23. The first step to Liberation is the extreme aversion to all perishable things, then follow calmness, self-control, forbearance, and the utter relinquishment of all work enjoined in the Scriptures. Then come hearing, reflection on that, and long, constant and unbroken meditation on the Truth for the Muni. After that the learned seeker attains the supreme Nirvikalpa state and realises the bliss of Nirvana even in this life.
  24. Sense-objects are even more virulent in their evil effects than the poison of the cobra. Poison kills one who takes it, but those others kill one who even looks at them through the eyes.
  25. The shark of hankering catches by the throat those seekers after Liberation who have got only an apparent dispassion (Vairagya) and are trying to cross the ocean of samsara (relative existence), and violently snatching them away, drowns them half-way.
  26. He who has killed the shark known as sense-object with the sword of mature dispassion, crosses the ocean of Samsara, free from all obstacles.
  27. Know that death quickly overtakes the stupid man who walks along the dreadful ways of sense-pleasure; whereas one who walks in accordance with the instructions of a well-wishing and worthy Guru, as also with his own reasoning, achieves his end – know this to be true.
  28. So for a seeker after Liberation the infatuation over things like the body is a dire death. He who has thoroughly conquered this deserves the state of Freedom.
  29. The aspirant should carefully practice this (meditation) that reveals his natural bliss until, being under his full control, it arises spontaneously, in an instant when called into action.
  30. While practicing Samadhi there appear unavoidably many obstacles, such as lack of inquiry, idleness, desire for sense-pleasure, sleep, dullness, distraction, tasting of joy, and the sense of blankness. One desiring the knowledge of Brahman should slowly get rid of such innumerable obstacles.
  31. Blessed indeed are those virtuous persons who at first have this consciousness of Brahman and then develop it more and more. They are respected everywhere.
  32. Recognise that the pleasures of sense-objects (samsara) are riddled with pain.Seek the Self with consistent endeavour.

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