Yoga is known as Brahmavidya, knowledge of the supreme spirit. This great knowledge is ancient and extremely difficult to attain. For its accomplishment, many lifetimes are required. If it were evaluated objectively, it would be defined as the supreme religion, the global religion, the universal religion, the human religion or the eternal religion. It is true that India is the land of its origin, but the entire world has equal claim to it. For its accomplishment, the grace of a guru versed in yoga is necessary. This yoga is included in the six philosophies.
Two approaches are prominent in the world: that of knowledge and that of action. Thus yoga, too, can be of two types: jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge) and karma yoga (yoga of action). Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion to God) is included in both jnana and karma yoga, because knowledge and action are useless without devotion.
There cannot be different types of yoga. But there are differences in the natures of different sadhakas, differences of background, differences of methods used for spiritual practice; differences in fitness for practice, and many other differences. For this reason, multiplicity may be seen in yoga. The meaning of yoga is samadhi.
As wakefulness, dream, and sleep are three states of mind, so also is samadhi a state of mind. This fourth state is not experienced by everyone; it can be experienced only by an advanced yogi. There are two intrinsic divisions of yoga: sakama (with desire) and niskama (without desire). Sakama yoga is known as 'social religion' or religion for the masses, and niskama yoga is known as 'individual religion' or the religion of liberation. Among the various religions of the world, only the branch of social religion is available. But among Indian religions, both the above religions are available. This is the distinctive feature of Indian religions. By observance of social religion, the individual, the family, the society, and the nation are elevated. This religion is universally practicable. Individual religion is the religion of enlightened persons only. The basis of social religion is individual religion. At different times, according to the prevailing circumstances of the society, external changes are made, but the basic principles remain the same.
II. Importance of Celibacy
In yoga terminology, non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and nonpossessiveness are called 'yamas' (moral restraints); and purity, contentment, self-study, worship of God, and austerity are called 'niyamas' (moral observances). Restraints and observances (yama-niyama) are the strong-hold of yoga or religion. Without them, the preservation of yoga or religion is impossible.
Wise yogis have described these restraints and observances as the great universal codes of conduct. The principles of these restraints and observances form the greatest part of social religion.
Celibacy is of prime importance in social religion. If it is abandoned and only the remaining codes of conduct are accepted, social religion will he dead and insentient. The character of the individual, the family, the society, and the nation is based on social religion.
In ancient India, four ashramas (orders or periods of religious life) were established. Three of these ashramas (the ashrama of the celibate student, the retired householder sadhaka and the ascetic were carried on in the forest. Only the ashrama of the householder was practiced in the city. Besides the ashramas of the householder, in all other orders, celibacy was predominant. There were limitations in the life of the householder, too, by which partial celibacy was achieved.
By observing this arrangement, it is understood that in the building of character, there is no means equal to celibacy. The yoga in which there is no place for celibacy and yet is called yoga is mere ignorance. The antonym of the term 'bhoga' is yoga, and the synonym of yoga is celibacy.
Among the yoga scriptures, there is an independent scripture named 'Bindu yoga' (yoga of semen). Thus the importance of celibacy is easily seen. Bhoga is descent while yoga is ascent. There is ascent (sublimation) of semen in yoga and descent (ejaculation) of semen in bhoga. In spite of being a knowledgeable person, one who does not know the importance of celibacy is a fool.
Without celibacy, the personality of an individual does not develop in the least. Maharishi Patanjali has stated in his Yoga Aphorisms: "After becoming an urdhvareta (a yogi who has accomplished perpetual sublimation of semen) through yoga, a yogi becomes all-powerful. That yogi alone can realize the supreme truth. Since through celibacy the impossible becomes possible, the gain of fame, wealth, and other material things is assured to the celibate. At one place Lord Siva said to Goddess Parvatiji, "O Parvati, what is there on this earth which cannot be accomplished if one has control over his sexual fluid?" That is, all powers reside at the divine feet of the enlightened urdhvareta.
Only a yogi, through the practice of yoga, can become urdhvareta. The divinity of deities, too, is dependent on celibacy. "Deities have conquered death through the penance of celibacy ". Where even death is overcome, what power do poor diseases have to enter the body of the urdhvareta saint?
III. Aim of Celibacy
Lord Krsna stated in the Bhagavad Gita, "'Partha, I am the eternal seed of all individual souls. That is, I myself am the supreme truth (Brahma), everybody's soul, semen, and the cause of the entire universe. That is why the sages practiced the exceedingly difficult worship of celibacy."
The true importance of semen is known only to a yogi. That is why the great yogi Goraksanatha, chanting in praise of semen, has said, "As a fair lady grieves due to separation from her beloved, so does an ascetic grieve due to his separation from his semen". Eminent yogic scriptures say, "As long as there is death there is birth, and as long as there is birth there is death." Birth is inevitable; one has no power to stop it. But there is a possibility of restricting death.
Ancient yoga science has proved that the cause of death is the descent of bindu (semen) and the source of immortality is the sublimation (ascent) of semen. If death is one end to life, eternity should be the other. If there is a cause of death, a human being may possess an ability to eradicate that cause. When a machine stops due to some defect, a mechanic can reactivate it. Similarly, if the body machine ceases due to some defect, a perfect yogi can reactivate it.
Svetasvatar Upanisad is extremely ancient. In it, it is said, "Disease, old age, and death cannot enter the body of a yogi who has attained the body purified by yoga fire". On achieving sabija samadhi, the yogi acquires the divine body purified by yogic fire. This divine body itself is the external manifestation of a true yogi.
IV. The Form of Celibacy and its Two-Fold Practice:
Sage Vyasa in Yoga Darshana has defined celibacy in this way, "To abandon the pleasure gained through the sexual organs by restraint is defined as celibacy". The restraint of the sexual organs is defined as nishkam karma yoga (yoga of action without expectation of fruits). It is also known as Brahmavidya (knowledge of the supreme spirit). Through its performance, the yogi becomes urdhvareta. This knowledge is esoteric, ancient, and the source of all knowledge. After it is attained, nothing remains to be known.
Thousands of sadhakas, aware of the importance of celibacy, attempt to practice it, but they are unable to maintain the celibacy necessary for the attainment of Brahmavidya (knowledge of the supreme spirit truth). That is why in scripture it is said, "Celibacy alone is the supreme penance. Of course, other penances are also penances, but they are all inferior. That urdhvareta saint who has done penance over the restraint of the sexual organ is not a human being but a god."
A. Celibacy of a Brahmachari
In our body, there are two types of glands: endocrine and exocrine. The secretion of the ductless endocrine glands is absorbed by the lymphatics and veins. In this manner, the secretion absorbed by the blood is distributed to the entire body. In the second type of gland, the secretion of the ductal exocrine glands is distributed to different parts of the body. During childhood the testes of a boy and ovaries of a girl secrete these fluids as they are absorbed by the blood.
On the advent of youth, the sexual energy in the bodies of young men and women becomes active and agitates them. Finally, there is discharge. Once there is discharge, the path of decent is opened up for ever. To carry out the formidable task of restraining and sublimating this energy is as difficult as making a river flow back to its source high in the mountains.
To be a celibate is one thing, and to become urdhvareta is another. The celibacy of a celibate student, a retired householder sadhaka and an ascetic is ordinary celibacy, but the yogi's celibacy is extraordinary. Those practicing ordinary celibacy seek refuge in ordinary (willful) yoga with yama and niyama. The yogi, practicing extraordinary celibacy, seeks refuge in sahaja yoga (spontaneous yoga) also with yama and niyama.
Some very important rules for practicing celibacy: One should not have lustful thoughts about the opposite sex, nor should one enter into discussions about him or her because these discussions agitate the mind. One should not amuse oneself with him or her. One should not talk with him or her in solitude. One should not want to use him or her for sexual purposes or possesses him or her in a sexual way. One should not engage in sexual intercourse.
B. Scientific Methods for the Preservation of Celibacy for the Common Sadhaka.
(1.) Yoga Technique
If for any reason there is a thought of sexual desire, the eyes should be fixed between the eyebrows. This will pacify this undesired awakening. With the strengthening of apana vayu, the sexual organ awakens and the mind becomes troubled. As the mind is absorbed into this passion, the apana vayu and the sexual organ become unrestrained. In this situation, one should seek refuge in prana in order to restrain the momentum of apana.
This refuge in prana may be attained by fixing the eyes between the eyebrows. On attaining this refuge, the apana is weakened and the awakening of the sexual organ is subdued. Frequent concentration of the eyes between the eyebrows alters the momentum of the vayu and due to this change in momentum; the direction of the mind is also altered.
Just as one may stop the turning of the wheel of a machine by pressing a switch, so the activated sexual urge of the body-machine may be restrained by fixing the eyes between the eyebrows frequently. This urge will invariably be restrained by this yogic technique. To abstemious sadhakas, this technique is a divine treasure.
(2.) Ordinary Techniques
(a) If there is a thought of sexual desire in the mind, it can be pacified simply by drinking a glass of cold water and engaging the mind in good thoughts.
(b) At that time the sex drive is restrained by fixing the mind on the idea of a mother, sister, daughter, deity, or holy idol of revered Sadguru. However, it is to be kept in mind here that this device will succeed only if there is extreme reverence for the person one has in mind.
(c) By abandoning solitude, too, sexual desire may be subdued.
(d) At that time a fine stream of cold water should be poured on the sexual organ after urination. This will interfere with the sexual thoughts in the mind and replace them with new thoughts. Thus the sexual desire will be weakened and destroyed.
(e) A bath of cold water will also quieter the sexual desire.
(f) By standing in waist deep water or sitting in a tub filled with cold water, one may destroy sexual desire.
(g) By performing fifteen to twenty anuloma-viloma pranayamas along with the recitation of the Guru mantra, one may also pacify this desire. Instead of anuloma-viloma, bhastrika pranayama may be practiced. In anuloma-viloma, the energy of the incantation is increased, thus the mind is strengthened and is not dominated by sexual desire.
(h) By studying Holy Scriptures, praying to the Lord, and chanting mantra, the sexual desire is destroyed.
C. Celibacy of the Urdhvareta Yoga
Without being an urdhvareta, the knowledge of the supreme truth (Brahma jnana) cannot be attained. Hence Sri Bhagavan has said in the Bhagavad Gita, 'Kaunteya! Unsatisfied desire is the restless foe of the jnani. Brahma jnana is concealed by it." (Chapter 3, verse 39).
As an astonishing energy is generated by the steam in a machine, similarly an extraordinary energy is generated by sublimating the sexual fluid in the body. As a result of this process, the yogi acquires the divine body. The stage of yoga during which the yogi acquires divine body is defined by the scriptures as sarupya mukti; emancipation during which the seeker acquires the sought after form. After attaining that liberation, i.e. after transcending that stage, the yogi attains sarstya mukti in the fourth stage of yoga. In sarupya mukti, the yogi achieves a form identical with that of Sri Hari (the Lord) and in sarstya mukti, he achieves all the powers of the Lord. In this manner, the yogi resembles the Lord. This fourth stage of liberation is the pinnacle of samkhya yoga, niskama karma yoga, and bhakti yoga.
Lord Siva and Lord Krsna are not bhogas. They are urdhvareta yogis. They are the first propounders of Brahmavidya (knowledge of the supreme truth). What the sadhaka should do first of all to become an urdhvareta is shown by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, "Thus O Bharatsrestha! First restrain the senses and decisively abandon this evil lust which destroys knowledge and realization." (Chapter 3, verse 41).
Now He depicts the device by which this passion should be dispelled, "O Mahabaho! In this way, consider this unconquerable enemy mightier than the intellect; abandon it by restraining Atman with Atman."
In order to dispel desire, Bhagavan has directed Arjuna to restrain Atman with Atman. This is an esoteric yoga practice. Here I interpret the term Atman as sukra (semen). In Sanskrit the term Atman has many meanings. Among these are 'vital element' and 'essential element'. Sukra is both a life element and an essential element. Thus these terms can be used in the place of Atman. This is also related to the dispelling of passion. The second term Atman is used for the purified mind.
To restrain Atman with Atman is to restrain the discharge of semen by the purified mind. The description of this method is as follows. In comparison to the battle of the Mahabharata, the battle of sensual passion is extremely formidable. In Niskama karma yoga (yoga of rewardless acts) the sadhaka has to produce semen in his testes through siddhasana and sublimate it. Semen is produced in the testes when there appears a powerful awakening in the penis.
When apana vayu forcibly attracts the semen on the inferior path, the unperturbed sadhaka has to execute the exceedingly formidable task of elevating apana vayu with the help of prana vayu. This task can be carried out only through a yoga device and the grace of the guru. When the true form of niskama karma yoga was not understood, the Vama Marga (the left handed path) prevailed in the Buddhist religion and in the Siva, Vaisnava and Shakta branches of Sanatana Dharma.
Thus, after the purification of each nadi in the body, the body becomes steady and perfectly straight naturally. Then the stage of pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) terminates and the stage of dharana (contemplation) begins. In this stage, the external senses cooperate with dhyana and do not create any sort of hindrance. Due to this, restraint of the mind becomes easy. In other words, after the steadying of the senses the mind introverts naturally because the cause of the extroversion of the mind is the wavering of the senses. The restraint of the senses is accomplished with the help of prana and mind, thus with the eradication of the vacillation of the senses there pervades a steadiness in prana and mind both. Only after the accomplishment of this stage does samkhya yoga begin from the ajna chakra. By niskama karma yoga, the muladhara chakra, svadhistana chakra, manipura chakra, anahata chakra, vishuddha chakra, and the brahma granthi, vishnu granthi and rudra granthi are pierced.
Since these chakras are situated within the boundaries of the organs of action (karmendriyas), this is called the field of niskama karma yoga. After the penetration of the inferior chakras and granthis, the process of piercing the ajna chakra and sahasradala chakra begin. These chakras are situated within the boundaries of the perceptive senses (jnanendriya). This is known as the field of jnana yoga or samhkhya yoga.
Now Sri Bhagavan depicts the deserving sadhaka who attains this extremely esoteric and most eminent Brahmavidya: 'Seeking my refuge, one who strives 'to relinquish old age and death realizes this Brahma, perfect spiritual knowledge and complete actions."
This verse is worthy of intense contemplation. It means that only a yogi who becomes urdhvareta and attains divine body is liberated from old age, death, and the bondage of worldly life. Only such a yogi is a real perceiver of truth and an enlightened person. In this verse the term 'old age' is of great, importance. One who is free from death is also free from birth. Thus it is inappropriate here to accept the term 'birthdeath' instead of 'old age-death.' To be freed from old age and death is to attain a divine body purified by yogic fire.
During the period when the yogi reaches the stage of attaining divine body, citta is purified. The common sign of the accomplishment of nirbija (without the seed of desire) samadhi is the divine body. That samadhi is accomplished only when extreme non-attachment arises in the yogi's inner self constituted of citta (mindstuff), buddhi (intellect), mana (mind), and ahankara (ego). Thus it is clear that such a yogi feels no desire for a mortal or immortal body. If he has such interest or desire we cannot say that extreme non-attachment has been generated in his inner self. Such a yogi cannot accomplish nirbija samadhi. The yogi desiring liberation does not meditate for the acquisition of siddhis (miraculous powers); he is desirous only of liberation and that, too, disappears after the generation of this extreme non-attachment. Thereafter, becoming desireless and dauntless, he performs sadhana. This is the science of yoga.
In theory, even the Indian Tantras accept the possibility of divine body, and even the Buddhist Tantras give importance to the principle of divine body. There are three great principles of Buddhism, which occur in stages: sila (chastity), samadhi, and prajna (knowledge). The first two stages mean the purification of the body as well as the mind. As a result of the first two stages, prajna is attained.
The chronological order of these stages is: intellect arises from chastity and samadhi. Until the body is perfectly purified, the ability to retain the intellect or absolute knowledge is not attained. Pure knowledge can manifest only in a pure body. Physical purification occurs through chastity and the purification of citta (mind stuff) occurs through samadhi. Only when rajas and tamas (restlessness and inertia) are attenuated through kriya yoga and sattvaguna (purity) is greatly strengthened is citta purified. In the 18th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, rtambharaprajna (omniscience) is described as sattvica buddhi (pure or sublime intellect). Looking at it from this angle, the terms nadi shuddhi and citta shuddhi are synonymous. Sri Krsna advises his beloved disciple thus "The yogi is deemed superior to the ascetic and the philosopher; he is also greater than the ritualist. Therefore be a yogi, O Arjuna !" To be a yogi is to be urdhvareta.