7. THE MEANING OF BRAHMACHARYA
Brahmacharya literally means Achara or conduct that leads to the realization of Brahman or one's own Self. It means the control of semen, the study of the Vedas and contemplation on God. The technical meaning of Brahmacharya is self-restraint, particularly mastery of perfect control over the sexual organ or freedom from lust in thought, word and deed. Strict abstinence is not merely from sexual intercourse, but also from auto-erotic manifestations, from homosexual acts and from all perverse sexual practices. It must further involve a permanent abstention from indulgence in erotic imagination and voluptuous reverie. All sorts of sex anomalies and evil habits of various sorts like masturbation and sodomy must be completely eradicated. They bring about a total breakdown of the nervous system and immense misery.
Brahmacharya is purity in thought, word and deed. It is celibacy and continence. Brahmacharya is the vow of celibacy. The term 'celibacy' is from the Latin 'caelebs', meaning unmarried or single, and signifies the state of living unmarried. But brahmacharya is not mere bachelorhood. It includes the control, not only of the sex or reproductive Indriya, but also of all other Indriyas in thought, word and deed. This is the definition of brahmacharya in a broad sense of the term. The door to Nirvana or perfection is complete brahmacharya. Complete celibacy is the master-key to open the realms of Elysian bliss. The avenue to the abode of supreme peace begins from brahmacharya or purity.
Brahmacharya is absolute freedom from sexual desires and thoughts. A real Brahmachari will not feel any difference in touching a woman, a piece of paper or a block of wood. Brahmacharya is meant for both men and women. Bhishma, Hanuman, Lakshman, Mira Bai, Sulabha and Gargi were all established in brahmacharya.
Mere control of the animal passion will not constitute brahmacharya. This is incomplete brahmacharya. You must control all the organs - the ears that want to hear lustful stories, the lustful eye that wants to see objects that excite passion, the tongue that wants to taste exciting things and the skin that wants to touch exciting objects.
To look lustfully is adultery of the eyes; to hear anything that excites passion is adultery of the ears; to speak anything that excites passion is adultery of the tongue.
The eight breaks in brahmacharya
You should carefully avoid the eight kinds of enjoyment, namely, Darshan or looking at women with passionate resolve, Sparshan or touching them, Keli or play, Kirtan or praising the qualities of the other sex, Guhya-Bhashan or talking in private, Sankalpa or determination, Adhyavasaya or nearing the other sex with the desire for gratification and Kriyanivritti or the actual sexual act. These eight kinds of enjoyment are eight kinds of breaks, so to say, in the current of Akhanda Brahmacharya practice. You must avoid these eight interruptions with great care, sincere exertion and vigilant circumspection. Only he who is free from all these breaks can be called a true Brahmachari. A real Brahmachari should ruthlessly avoid all these eight breaks.
A Brahmachari should avoid looking at a woman with lustful eyes. He should not have the desire to touch her or go near her with evil intention. He should not play, cut jokes or converse with her. He should not praise a woman's qualities within himself or before his friends. He should not speak to a woman in secrecy. He should not think of women at all. He should not have a carnal desire to have sexual enjoyment. A Brahmachari should, without fail, avoid sexual intercourse. If he breaks any of the above rules, he violates the vow of brahmacharya.
Though the first seven kinds of Maithuna do not cause the actual loss of semen, yet the semen is separated from the blood and it tries to escape when opportunity arises, either in dreams or in other ways. In the first seven kinds, man enjoys mentally.
Aspirants should not indulge in talk about sex. They should not think about ladies. Bring the image of your Ishta Devata into your mind if the thought of a woman crops up. Repeat the Mantra vigorously.
Lustful look, lustful thinking, wet dreams are all failures or breaks in brahmacharya. Be chaste in your look. Give up Drishti Dosha or lustful look. A lustful look itself is a break in brahmacharya. There is internal discharge. Veerya is separated from the system.
See Mother Kali in all women. Cultivate sublime, divine thoughts. Do Japa and meditation regularly. You will be established in brahmacharya.
Physical brahmacharya and mental brahmacharya
It is very necessary that you should be pure in mind if you wish to be a Brahmachari. Mental brahmacharya is more important. You may succeed in physical brahmacharya, but you must succeed in mental brahmacharya also. That state of mind wherein no single sexual thought enters the mind is termed mental brahmacharya. If thoughts are impure, the sex impulse will be very strong. Brahmacharya depends upon regulating the whole course of life.
When you cannot control the lustful thoughts, at least control the physical body. Physical brahmacharya must be strictly practiced at first. Control the body when the sex impulse troubles you. Mental purity or mental brahmacharya will gradually manifest.
Surely it is better to control the Karma Indriyas at least than to indulge actually in sensual pleasures. Gradually the thoughts will be purified if you persist in your Japa and meditation. Eventually there will be direct control of the mind also.
A sexual act, a sexual contact, revives all bad ideas and gives them a new lease of life. Therefore, the body should be controlled first. Physical brahmacharya must be maintained first. Then only you can achieve mental purity and mental brahmacharya.
You may be able to stop copulation for months and years, but there should not be any sexual craving or attraction for women. Evil thoughts also should not arise when you look at a woman, when you are in the company of women. If you succeed in this direction, then you are established in perfect brahmacharya. You have crossed the danger zone.
Thought is the real action. An evil desire is tantamount to adultery. The desire is more than the act. But, there is a great deal of difference between the actual shooting of a man and thinking to shoot a man, between actual copulation and thinking to have intercourse with a woman. Philosophically speaking, thinking to shoot a man or thinking to have copulation is the real act.
Even if there is a single impure sexual thought in the mind, you can hardly expect to have strict mental brahmacharya. You cannot then be termed as Oordhvaretas or one in whom the seminal energy flows upwards towards the brain for being stored up as Ojas Sakti. There is a tendency for the semen to flow downwards even if there is a single impure thought.
The state of mental brahmacharya must be kept up even amidst temptations and sickness. Then only you are safe. The senses begin to revolt during times of ailment and also when you come in contact with sense objects.
If thoughts of a lustful nature manifest in your mind, it is due to hidden passion. The cunning diplomatic mind seeks silent gratification by looking at a lady and talking to her. Mental Maithunam takes place secretly or unconsciously. The force that drags you is hidden passion.
The sex energy has not been sublimated thoroughly. The vital being or Pranamava Kosa has not been regenerated and purified perfectly. This is the reason why impure thoughts enter your mind. Do more Japa and meditation. Do selfless service in some form for the society. You will soon attain purity.
Learn to cleanse your mind with the water of purity or celibacy, with the soap of divine love. How can you expect to become pure internally by merely washing the body with soap and water? Internal purity is more important than external purity.
Continue the life of brahmacharya. Herein lies your spiritual progress and realization. Do not give a new lease of life to this dire enemy lust by repetition of the sinful act.
Keep the mind fully occupied. Intense musing on the objects of sense does more harm to the inner spiritual life than actual sense-gratification. If the mind is not rendered pure by Sadhana, mere mortification of the external senses will not produce the desired effect. Although the external senses are mortified, their internal counterparts, which are still energetic and vigorous, revenge upon the mind and produce intense mental disturbance and wild imagination.
It is the mind that really does all actions. A desire arises in your mind and then you think. Then you proceed to act. The determination of the mind is put into action. First there is Sankalpa or thought and then comes action. Therefore, do not allow the sexual thoughts to enter the mind.
No space is empty at any time. This is the law of nature. If one thing is removed from a place, immediately another comes in to take its place. The same law holds good in the case of the inner mental world also. Therefore, it is necessary to entertain sublime divine thoughts to replace evil thoughts. As you think, so you become. This is the immutable psychological law. The vicious mind is gradually divinised by entertaining divine thoughts.
A common complaint
There is always a complaint amongst men that they do not get good success in brahmacharya despite their earnest efforts and sincere practices. They get unnecessarily alarmed and discouraged. It is a mistake. There is a thermometric registration in the spiritual realm also. It is very subtle. The spiritual thermometer registers or indicates the advancement in mental purity even to the minutest degree. You want a Visuddha Buddhi or pure intellect to comprehend the degree of purity. Intense Sadhana, burning Vairagya and burning Mumukshutva or desire for liberation bring on the highest degree of mental purity quickly.
Even if anyone repeats the Gayatri or the Pranava for just half an hour, the spiritual thermometer registers at once a minute degree of brahmacharya or purity. You are unable to note it on account of your Malina Buddhi or impure intellect. Do Sadhana regularly for one or two years and then compare your state of mind with that of the previous year. You will surely find a vast change. You will experience or feel more calmness, more purity, more inner moral force or strength. There is no doubt of this. Because the old vicious Samskaras are very powerful, it takes some time for mental purification. You need not be discouraged. Nil desperandum. Never despair. You have to fight against the Samskaras of Anadi Kala or beginningless time. Therefore, a great deal of exertion is needed.
8. THE GLORY OF BRAHMACHARYA
There cannot be any language without vowels. You cannot draw a picture without a canvas or a wall. You cannot write anything without paper. Even so, you cannot have health and spiritual life without brahmacharya. Brahmacharya brings material progress and psychic advancement. It is the basis for morality. It is the basis for eternal life. It is a spring flower that exhales immortality from its petals. It is the substratum for a life of peace in Atman. It is the firm support for Brahma-Nishtha, which is eagerly longed for by sages, aspirants and Yogic students. It is the shield for waging war against the internal Asuras - lust, anger and greed. It serves as a gateway to the bliss beyond. It opens the door of Moksha. It contributes to perennial joy, to the uninterrupted and undecaying bliss. Even Rishis, Devas, Gandharvas and Kinnaras serve at the feet of a true Brahmachari. Even Isvara applies to his forehead the dust of the feet of a genuine celibate. Brahmacharya is the only key to open the Sushumna and awaken Kundalini. It brings glory, fame, virtue and Mana-Pratishtha. The eight Siddhis and the nine Riddhis roll under the feet of the true celibate. They are ever ready to obey his command. The Lord of Death flees from him. Who can describe the magnanimity, majesty and glory of a true Brahmachari!
Brahmacharyena Tapasa Deva Mrityumupagnata. The Vedas declare that by brahmacharya and penance the Devas have conquered death. How did Hanuman become a Mahavir? It is with this weapon of brahmacharya that he acquired unsurpassable strength and valour. The great Bhishma, the grandfather of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, conquered death by brahmacharya. It is only Lakshman, the ideal Brahmachari, who put down Meghanada, the man of inestimable prowess, the conqueror of the three worlds, the son of Ravana. Even Lord Rama could not face him. It is through the force of brahmacharya that Lakshman was able to defeat that invincible Meghanada. The valour and greatness of emperor Prithviraj was due to the strength of brahmacharya. There is nothing in the three worlds that cannot be attained by a Brahmachari. The Rishis of yore knew fully well the value of brahmacharya and that is the reason why they sang in beautiful verses about the glory of brahmacharya.
Just as the oil comes up in a wick and burns with glowing light, so also, the Veerya or semen flows up by the practice of Yoga Sadhana and is converted into Tejas or Ojas. The Brahmachari shines with Brahmic aura in his face. Brahmacharya is the bright light that shines in the house of the human body. It is the blossomed flower of life around which the bees of strength, patience, knowledge, purity and Dhriti wander about humming hither and thither. In other words, he who observes brahmacharya will be endowed with the above qualities. The scriptures declare emphatically:
"Ayustejo Balam Veeryam Prajna Sreescha Yashastatha
Punyamcha Sat-Priyatvamcha Vardhate Brahmacharyaya"
By the practice of brahmacharya, longevity, glory, strength, vigour, knowledge, wealth, undying fame, virtues and devotion to the truth increase.
Secret of health and longevity
Pure air, pure water, wholesome food, physical exercise, outdoor games, walking with brisk steps, rowing, swimming, light games like tennis - all contribute to the maintenance of good health, strength and a high standard of vitality. There are indeed many ways to gain health and strength. These ways are doubtless indispensably requisite. But, brahmacharya is the most important of all. Without brahmacharya, all your exercises are nothing. It is the master-key for opening the realms of health and happiness. It is the corner-stone of the edifice of bliss and unalloyed felicity. It is the only specific that keeps up true manliness.
The preservation of semen is the secret of health and longevity, and of all success in the physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual planes. He who has even a little bit of brahmacharya will tide over a crisis of any disease very easily. If it takes a month for an ordinary man for recovery, this man will be completely all right in a week.
The Srutis declare a full life or age of one hundred years for a man. This you can attain only by the establishment of brahmacharya. There are instances of men who have attained longevity and intellectual powers despite their loose, immoral ways. But they would have been still more powerful and brilliant had they possessed a good character and continence as well.
After Dhanvantari had taught all the details about Ayurveda to his disciples, they enquired about the keynote of this medical science. The Master replied, "I tell you that brahmacharya is truly a precious jewel. It is the one most effective medicine - nectar indeed - which destroys diseases, decay and death. For attaining peace, brightness, memory, knowledge, health and Self-realization, one should observe brahmacharya, which is the highest Dharma. Brahmacharya is the highest knowledge; brahmacharya is the greatest strength. Of the nature of brahmacharya is verily this Atman and in brahmacharya It resides. Saluting brahmacharya first, the cases beyond cure, I cure. Aye, brahmacharya can undo all the inauspicious signs."
Practice of brahmacharya gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and the nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will force and brain power. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. Strength and fortitude are obtained.
The eye is the window of the mind. If the mind is pure and calm, the eye also is calm and steady. He who is established in brahmacharya will have lustrous eyes, a sweet voice and a beautiful complexion.
Celibacy promotes concentration
By the establishment of continence, vigour is obtained. The Yogi gets Siddhi or perfection by attaining perfect mental and physical brahmacharya. Brahmacharya helps him in gaining divine knowledge and other Siddhis. When there is purity, the rays of the mind are not dissipated. Focussing of the mind becomes easy. Concentration and purity go together. Although a sage talks a few words only, a deep impression is produced in the minds of the hearers. This is due to his Ojas Sakti, which is conserved by the preservation of semen and its transmutation.
A true Brahmachari in thought, word and deed has wonderful thought-power. He can move the world. If you develop strict celibacy, Vichara Sakti and Dharana Sakti will develop. Vichara Sakti is the power of enquiry. Dharan'a Sakti is the power of grasping and holding the Truth. If a man persistently refuses to yield to his lower nature and remains a strict celibate, the seminal energy is deflected upwards to the brain and is stored up as Ojas Sakti. Thereby the power of the intellect is intensified to a remarkable degree. The intellect becomes sharp and clear by continence. Continence increases infinitely the power of retentive memory. The strict celibate has keen and acute memory even in old age.
A man who has the power of brahmacharya can turn out immense mental, physical and intellectual work. He has a magnetic aura around his face. He can influence people by speaking just a few words or even by his very presence. He can control anger and move the whole world. 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.
It is worth repeating that a true Brahmachari possesses tremendous energy, a clear brain, gigantic will-power, bold understanding, retentive memory and good Vichara Sakti. Swami Dayananda stopped the carnage of a Maharaja. He broke the sword with his hands. This was due to his power of brahmacharya. Jesus, Sankara, Jnana Deva and Samarth Ramdas were all Brahmacharins.
Have you realized, my dear friends, the importance of brahmacharya? Have you recognised, my dear brothers, the true significance and glory of brahmacharya? How can you expect to be strong and healthy if the energy that is acquired through various means with great difficulty and at great price is wasted daily? It is impossible to be strong and healthy unless males and females, boys and girls, try their level best to keep up brahmacharya or the vow of celibacy.
Even among electrons, there are bachelor electrons and married electrons. Married electrons manifest in pairs. Bachelor electrons exist singly. It is these bachelor electrons only that create magnetic force. The power of brahmacharya is seen in electrons also. Friend, will you learn some lessons from these electrons? Will you practice brahmacharya and develop power and spiritual force? Nature is your best teacher and spiritual guide.
Through brahmacharya get over the miseries of mundane life and attain health, strength, peace of mind, endurance, bravery, material progress, psychic advancement and immortality. One who has a perfect control over the sexual energy attains powers unobtainable by any other means. Therefore, dissipate not thy energy in sensual pleasures. Conserve thy energy. Do noble deeds and practice meditation. You will soon become a superman. You will commune with God and attain Divinity.
9. IMPORTANCE OF CELIBACY IN SPIRITUAL LIFE
Brahmacharya is a divine word. It is the sum and substance of Yoga. Through Avidya, this is forgotten. The importance of brahmacharya was emphasised by our great Rishis. It is the supreme Yoga, which Lord Krishna emphasises repeatedly in His "Immortal Song". In Chapter VI, Sloka 14, it is very clearly stated that the vow of brahmacharya is necessary for meditation: Brahmacharivrate Sthitah. In Chapter XVII, Sloka 14, He says that brahmacharya is one of the requisites for the austerity of the body. Now, we have another statement made in Chapter VIII, Sloka 11, that Yogis practice brahmacharya in order to attain the goal spoken of by the Knowers of the Vedas. A similar statement is also found in the Kathopanishad.
In the Raja Yoga of Patanjali Maharshi also, Yama is the first step. Yama is the practice of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha - non-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and non-receiving of gifts. Among these brahmacharya is the most important.
In Jnana Yoga too, Dama or self-control is the foundation for the student.
In the Mahabharata again, you will find, in the Santi Parva: "Many are the branches of Dharma, but Dama is the basis of them all'.
Brahmacharya is the vital subject for those who want success in material or spiritual life. Without it, a man is absolutely unfit for worldly activities as well as for spiritual practices.
Celibacy in the different religious orders
Down the ages, the highest stress has been laid on brahmacharya or sexual abstinence in every religion. Throughout folklore runs the idea that second-sight and the vision of the supernatural are especially, if not solely, the privilege of the celibates. Westermack favours the explanation that pollution destroys holiness. A tribe on the Rio Negro enjoined celibacy upon their Shamans, because they believed that medicine would prove ineffectual if administered by a married man.
Lambichus states that the gods do not hear him who invokes them if he is impure from sexual connections. In Islam, strict continence is required on the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is required for the Hebrew congregation during the theophany at Sinai and before entering the temple. Ancient India, Egypt and Greece enforced the rule that the worshipper must abstain from intercourse during and before worship. In Christianity, continence was required as a preparation for both baptism and Eucharist.
The highest type of Christian was a celibate. Christian teachers praised celibacy, and marriage came to be, in their eyes, only a secondary good for those who were unable to serve continence. The bishops of the Greek Church are always celibates, being chosen from the monks.
The monk, who lowers himself to touch a woman's person with corrupt thoughts, while he clasps her hand or clasps her hair or touches one part or another of her body, brings shame and degradation on the order. The present ordination vow is to abstain from all sexual intercourse as long as life shall last.
The Jains force on their Munis the rule to abstain from all sexual relations; not to discuss topics relating to women, not to contemplate the forms of women. Lust is thus condemned: "Of the myriad vices, lust is the worst."
There are other rules subsidiary to this, forbidding all actions of an unchaste kind, especially any act or word which might either lead to a breach of the principal rule or give rise to an impression that it was not being strictly observed.
A Bhikshu is not to sleep in any place where a woman is present, or to preach the sacred doctrine in more than five or six words to a woman unless a grown-up man be present, or to exhort the sisters unless specially deputed to do so, or to journey along the same route with a woman. On his round for alms, he is to be properly clad and he is to walk with downcast eyes. He is not to accept a robe from any woman not related to him, except under specified conditions. He is not to sit in a secluded place with a woman, much less to touch or speak to her with impure intent.
The Buddhist "Order of Mendicants" was governed by the 227 rules of the Patimokha. Of these, the first four were of specific gravity. A breach of any one of the four rules involved expulsion from the order; and they were, therefore, called the Parajika or the rules as to acts involving defeat.
The first rule says: "Whatsoever Bhikshu - who has taken upon himself the system of self-training and rule of life, and has not thereafter withdrawn from the training or declared his inability to keep the rule - shall have carnal knowledge of any living thing, down even to an animal, he has fallen into defeat, he is no longer in communion". "Withdrawn from the training" was the technical expression for throwing off the robes, retiring from the order, and returning to the world, a step which any member of the order was at liberty to take at any time.
Numa was said to have instituted the "Order of Vestal Virgins". They remained unmarried for thirty years. Burial alive was the penalty for breaking the vow of chastity. The Virgins were distinguished by extraordinary influence and personal dignity. They were treated with marks of respect usually accorded to royalty; thus, on the streets, they were preceded by a lictor and the highest magistrates made way for them. They enjoyed sometimes the exceptional privilege of riding in a carriage; at public games, a place of honour was assigned to them. And after death they, like the imperators, were allowed to be buried within the city, because they were above the laws. They enjoyed the royal privilege of mercy, for if they met a criminal on his way to execution, his life was spared.
In the large colony of Tibetans at Darjeeling, several hundreds of the men doing coolies' work are ex-lamas who fled from Tibet, with their paramours or singly, in order to escape the severe penalties attaching to their breach of celibacy. The delinquent is denounced, and if caught, is subject to corporal chastisement in public, as well as to a heavy fine and expulsion from the order in disgrace.
The Peruvian "Virgins of the Sun" - a type of priests - were punished with living burial if detected in misconduct.
Brahmacharya - the foundation of spiritual life
Brahmacharya is a sine qua non of spiritual life. It is a great desideratum. It is of vital importance. Without perfect brahmacharya, you cannot have substantial spiritual progress.
Abstinence or continence is the corner-stone on which the pedestal of Moksha stands. If the corner-stone is not very strong, the superstructure will fall down when there is heavy rain. Even so, if you are not established in brahmacharya, if your mind is agitated by evil thoughts, you will fall down. You cannot reach the summit of the ladder of Yoga or the highest Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
There is no hope for you to have Self-realization or Knowledge of the Self if you are not well established in brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is the master-key to open the realms of eternal bliss. Brahmacharya is the very foundation of Yoga. Just as a house that is built on a rotten foundation will surely fall down, so also, you will fall down from your meditation if you have laid no proper foundation, namely, the attainment of perfect brahmacharya. You may meditate for, a period of twelve years, and yet, you will have no success in Samadhi if you have not destroyed the subtle lust or the craving-seed that lingers in the innermost recesses of your heart.
Brahmacharya is the basis for the attainment of Kaya Siddhi. Complete celibacy must be observed. This is of paramount importance. By the practice of Yoga the semen becomes transmuted into Ojas Sakti. The Yogi will have a perfect body. There will be charm and grace in his movements. He can live as long as he likes. This is also known as Iccha Mrityu or death at will.
The practice of brahmacharya is the most important qualification for the spiritual aspirant, no matter what his chosen path may be - Karma Yoga, Upasana, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga or Vedanta. The discipline of complete abstinence is demanded from all aspirants. A true Brahmachari only can cultivate Bhakti. A true Brahmachari only can practice Yoga. A true Brahmachari only can acquire Jnana. Without brahmacharya, no spiritual progress is possible.
Lust deals a deadly blow to the spiritual calibre of man. It is not possible for you to enter the spiritual path that leads to union with God unless and until you control lust and become established in brahmacharya. As long as lust smells sweet in your nostrils, you cannot entertain sublime, divine thoughts in your mind. That man in whom the sex idea is deep-rooted can never dream of understanding Vedanta and realising Brahman even within Sata Koti Janma, even within one hundred crores of births. Truth cannot dwell where passion lives.
Sexual indulgence is a great obstacle in the spiritual path. It bars spiritual practices definitely. The sexual urge must be controlled by entertaining sublime thoughts and regular meditation. There must be complete sublimation of the sexual energy. Then only the aspirant is absolutely safe. The total annihilation of the sexual desire is the ultimate spiritual ideal.
Sex attraction, sexual thoughts and sexual urge are the three great obstacles in the path of God-realization. Even if the sexual urge vanishes, the sex attraction remains for a long time and troubles the aspirants. Sex attraction is very, very powerful. Sex attraction binds one to this world. Each cell in the body of a male or a female is surcharged with the sex element. The mind and the senses are filled with sex juice. Man cannot remain without looking at a woman, without talking to her. He derives pleasure in the company of a woman. Woman also cannot remain without looking at a man, without talking to him. She derives pleasure in the company of a man. That is the reason why he or she finds it extremely difficult to annihilate the sex attraction. Sex attraction cannot be destroyed without the grace of the Lord. No human effort can eradicate in toto this mighty force of sex attraction.
The organ of sight does great mischief. Destroy the lustful look, the adultery of the eye. Try to see God in all faces. Again and again generate the currents of dispassion, discrimination and enquiry. Eventually you will be established in Brahman or the Eternal. Again and again generate sublime divine thoughts and increase your Japa and meditation. The sexual thought will be annihilated.
Of what avail is knowledge of the arts and sciences, of what avail is reputation or titles, of what avail is repetition of the Lord's Name or meditation or enquiry of "Who am I?", if you become a slave of lust? Control this strong urge first by the rigorous penance of sense-control. Before you take to advanced meditation, first become at least a strict physical celibate. Then endeavour to have perfection in mental chastity.
Amongst you all, there may be a hidden Shakespeare or a Kalidasa, a hidden Wordsworth or a Valmiki, a potential saint, a St. Xavier, an Akhanda Brahmachari like Bhishma Pitamaha, a Hanuman or a Lakshman, a Visvamitra or a Vasishtha, a great scientist like Dr. J.C. Bose or Raman, a Yogi like Jnana Deva or Gorakhnath, a philosopher like Sankara or Ramanuja, a Bhakta like Tulsidas, Ramdas or Eknath.
Awaken, then, your hidden faculties, potential energies of all description, through brahmacharya and attain God-consciousness quickly and get over the miseries of this mundane life with its concomitant evils of birth, death and sorrow.
Blessed is the Brahmachari who has taken the vow of celibacy till the end of life. Twice blessed is that Brahmachari who is sincerely struggling to destroy lust and attain perfect purity. Thrice blessed is that Brahmachari who has completely rooted out lust and has attained Self-realization. Glory be to such exalted Brahmacharins! They are veritable gods on earth. May their blessings be upon you all.
10. BRAHMACHARYA FOR HOUSEHOLDERS
It is beyond all doubt that a life of brahmacharya is glorious and marvellous. At the same time, a life of moderation in the household life is equally good and helpful for spiritual growth. Both have their own advantages. You must have great strength to tread the path either way.
Varnashrama Dharma is practically extinct now. Everyone is a Vaisya or a Bania with greed for accumulation of wealth by hook or by crook, by begging, borrowing or stealing. Almost all Brahmins and Kshatriyas are Banias or Vaisyas only. There is no real Brahmin or Kshatriya in these days. They want money anyhow. They do not attempt to practice the Dharmas of their caste or order of life. This is the fundamental cause for the downfall of man. If the householder discharges strictly the duties of his stage of life, if he is an ideal Grihasthi, there is no necessity for taking Sannyasa. The swelling up in the number of Sannyasins at the present moment is due to the failure of the householders in the discharge of their duties. The life of an ideal householder is as much difficult and rigid as that of an ideal Sannyasin. Pravritti Marga or the path of Karma Yoga is as much difficult and rigid as that of Nivritti Marga or the path of renunciation.
If a man leads a life of celibacy even in his householder's life and has copulation occasionally for the sake of progeny only, he can bring forth healthy, intelligent, strong, beautiful and self-sacrificing children. The ascetics and savants of ancient India, when married, used to follow this excellent rule very carefully and also used to teach, by practice and precept, how to lead the life of a Brahmachari even as a householder. Our ancestors indeed followed the ascetics in creating progeny for the defence of the motherland and for other ennobling works of the nation. Those who have read Srimad Bhagavata know the lives of Devahuti, daughter of Manu, and her husband Kardama Rishi. Kapila Muni, founder of the Sankhya philosophy, was born of Devahuti after Kardama Rishi visited her once to give her a son. Parasara visited Matsyagandhi to bring forth Sri Vyasa, founder of the Vedanta philosophy.
Great Rishis of yore were married, but they did not lead the life of passion and lust. Their life of Grihasthashram was a life of Dharma only. If it is not possible for you to emulate them to the very letter, you will have to keep their lives before you as landmarks, as an ideal for emulating, and you must tread the path of Truth. Grihasthashram is not a life of lust and loose living. It is a strict life of selfless service, of Dharma pure and simple, of charity, goodness, kindness, self-help, and all that is good and all that is helpful to humanity. If you can live such a life, the life of a Grihasthi is as good as the life of a Sannyasin.
What is brahmacharya in married life?
Lead a well-regulated, moderate married life. Even as a householder you can be a Brahmachari, by sticking to the principles of Grihastha Dharma, by moderation and regular worship of God. Marriage should not in any way lead you downwards in your spiritual path. You should keep the spiritual fire ever blazing. You should make your wife also understand the real glory of a spiritual life. If both of you observe brahmacharya for sometime and then avoid excesses, she will give birth to robust children who will be the pride of the country. Conserved energy can be used for higher spiritual purposes. Prevention of frequent maternity will preserve your wife's health too.
Brahmacharya in Grihasthashrama is absolute moderation in sexual intercourse. Householders are allowed to visit their wives once in a month at the proper time without the idea of sexual enjoyment just to get progeny to keep up the line. This is also brahmacharya Vrata. They are also Brahmacharins.
Householders should ask their wives also to observe fasts and to do Japa, meditation and other practices, which will enable them to keep up this Brahmacharya Vrata. They should train their wives also in the study of the Gita, the Upanishads, the Bhagavata and the Ramayana and in diet regulation.
If you want to practice brahmacharya, think and feel that your wife is your sister. Destroy the idea of husband and wife and develop the idea of brother and sister. You both will develop pure and strong love, because the impurity of lust will be removed. Talk to your wife always on spiritual matters. Narrate to her stories from the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata. Sit with her on holidays and read some religious book. Gradually her mind will be changed. She will take interest and delight in spiritual practices. Put this into practice if you want to get rid of the miseries of Samsara and enjoy the eternal bliss of the Soul.
Young men of the present day imitate Westerners in taking their wives always with them when they go out. This practice creates a strong habit in men for having the company of women at all times. A little separation brings a great deal of pain and suffering. Many get a shock when they lose their wives. Further, it becomes very difficult for them to take a vow of celibacy even for a month. Poor, miserable weaklings! Spiritual bankrupts! Try to be away from your partners in life as much as you can. Talk little with them. Be serious. Do not laugh or joke with them. Go along for an evening walk. What did your wise forefathers do? Assimilate from the West only what is good. Vile imitation in fashion, style, dress and food is dangerous.
When the wife becomes the mother
As soon as a son is born to you, your wife becomes your mother, because you yourself are born as the son. A son is nothing but the energy of the father. Change the mental attitude. Serve your wife as the World Mother. Start spiritual Sadhana. Destroy passion. Every morning, as soon as you get up from bed, touch your wife's feet and prostrate before her taking her for Kali or the World Mother. Do not feel ashamed. This practice will remove the idea of 'wife' from your mind. If you cannot do the prostration physically, at least do it mentally.
As soon as a child is born, man must give up lust. He must observe celibacy. He must treat his wife as his own mother. When once this thought is brought foremost in the mind, how can he, even when the child dies, change his mental outlook and think of his wife with a lustful look? This is a great Sadhana for the householder. If a child is not born, it is not advisable to marry a second wife. Both husband and wife may then pursue the spiritual path jointly, observing celibacy.
Living a life of spiritual partnership
Says Manu: "The first-born child is born of Dharma and the rest of Kama or lust. The sexual act for mere pleasure is not justifiable". Thirsty aspirants who are treading the path of Self-realization, who are householders above forty years of age, should give up contact with their partners in life. Because, a sexual contact revives all bad ideas and gives them a new lease of life. Marriage should now be considered a God-ordained holy alliance of two souls for the complete divinization of their nature and for realising the goal of life - God-realization - through a well-ordered Dharmic Grihastha life. The husband and the wife should, from now on, observe perfect physical brahmacharya, if they want rapid spiritual progress and Self-realization in this very birth. There are no half-way measures in the spiritual path.
Are you a householder above forty years of age? Then, you must become a perfect Brahmachari now. Your wife also must observe fast on Ekadasi. Do not say now, "Swamiji, what can I do? I am a householder". This is a lame excuse. How long do you want to remain as a passionate householder? Is it till the end of life? Is there not a nobler mission in life than eating, sleeping and procreating? Do you not want to enjoy the eternal bliss of the Self? You have tasted enough of the mundane pleasures. You have passed the stage of a householder. I can excuse you if you are a young man, but not now. Now get ready for the stage of Vanaprastha and mental Sannyasa while remaining in the world. Colour your heart first. This will be a noble life indeed. Prepare yourself. Discipline the mind. Real Sannyasa is mental non-attachment. Real Sannyasa is destruction of Vasanas, 'I-ness', 'mine-ness', selfishness and Moha for children, body, wife and property. You need not retire into the Himalayan caves. Attain the above state of mind. Live in the world with family and children amidst peace and plenty. Be in the world, but be out of the world. Give up worldliness. This is real Sannyasa. This is what I really want. Then you will become a King of kings. I am shouting at the top of my voice like this for many years, but only very few persons follow my teaching.
A good wife, a worthy jewel, is the materialisation of the Lord's infinite grace for one who treads the Pravritti Marga. Harmony in every walk of life is a rare gift of the Lord to a couple. Each partner should be to the other a true companion in every sense of the term. Grihastha Ashrama is a safe rung in the ladder of evolution to Godhead. Follow the scriptural laws and enjoy infinite bliss. True union can be established on the spiritual basis. Both of you should aspire to realize the common goal of life - God-realization. When the couples who live around you vie with one another in materialism, and in their individual capacity, to drag each other down, both of you should compete with each other in advancing rapidly in spiritual Sadhana. What a novel competition! What a blessing it is to have such a competitor as the life-partner!
11. WOMEN AND BRAHMACHARYA
An aspirant writes: "I would like to know whether the same theory regarding the formation of Veerya and loss of the same holds good in the case of women also. Are they actually affected to the same extent as men?" The question is an important and pertinent one. Yes, indulgence in the sexual act is exhausting to the female system and a drain upon the vitality as in man. The nervous strain it imposes on the system is very great indeed.
The female gonads, the ovaries corresponding to the testes in the males, produce, develop and mature precious, vital force like semen. This is the ovum. Though the woman does not actually lose this out of her body, as in the case of semen in man, yet, due to the sexual act, it leaves the ovaries and is taken up in the process of conception to form the embryo. And one knows only too well what a strain and drain on strength child-bearing is to a woman. Repeated depletion of this force and the strain of childbirth makes wrecks of healthy ladies, and works havoc with their strength, beauty and grace as well as their youth and mental power. Eyes lose the lustre and sparkle that are indicative of the inner forces.
The intense sensuous excitement of the act shatters the nervous system and causes debility too. Their system being more delicate and high-strung, females are often more affected than men.
Women should preserve their precious vital force. The ovum and the hormones secreted by the ovaries are very essential for the maximum physical and mental well-being of women.
Women also should observe the vow of celibacy. They also can remain as Naishthic Brahmacharinis like Mirabai and devote themselves to the service and devotion of God. Or they can do Brahma-Vichara like Gargi and Sulabha. They will be styled as Brahma-Vicharinis, enquirers of Brahman, if they adopt this path.
Grihastha-Dharminis or householders among women should observe Pativrata-Dharma or the vow of chastity and should keep Savitri, Anasuya, as their ideal. They should see Lord Krishna in their husbands and realize God, like Laila in Majnu. They also can practice all the Kriyas such as Asanas and Pranayamas. They should do vigorous Sankirtan, Japa and prayer daily in their houses. Through Bhakti, they can easily destroy passion, because by nature they are devotional.
Many women of yore had done miraculous deeds and shown to the world the power of chastity. Nalayini, by the power of chastity, stopped the rising of the sun to save her husbands's life. Anasuya turned the Trimurtis - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara - into babies when they wanted Nirvana Bhiksha. It is through the power of chastity only that she was able to turn the great deities into babies. Savitri brought back the life of Satyavan, her husband, from the noose of Yama, by her chastity. Such is the power of chastity or brahmacharya. Women who lead an ideal householder's life with chastity can also become like Anasuya, Nalayini or Savitri.
Brahmacharinis - ancient and modern
In olden days, there were Brahmacharinis in India. They were Brahmavadinis; they discoursed on Brahman. They did not wish to lead the life of Grihastha-Dharminis devoted to a householder's duties. They served the Rishis and sages in their hermitages and did Brahma-Vichara or enquiry of Brahman. King Janasruti placed his daughter at the service of Rishi Raikva. You will find this in the Chhandogya Upanishad.
Sulabha was a very learned lady. She was born in a royal family. She was a Brahmacharini. She was instructed in the religion of emancipation. She observed the practice of asceticism. She was firm in the practices that belonged to the mode of life she led. She was steady in her vows. She never uttered a word without reflecting on its propriety. She was a Yogini. She led the life of a Sannyasini. She appeared before Janaka in his court and had a great discussion with him on Brahma-Vidya or the Science of the Self.
Gargi was also a Brahmacharini. She also was a highly cultured lady. She also had a lengthy discussion with Yajnavalkya on Brahma-Vidya. The dialogue between them comes in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
In Europe also there were many women who were celibate and who dedicated their lives entirely to severe austerity, prayer and meditation. They had their own hermitages. In India, even at the present moment, there are educated women who lead the life of Brahmacharinis. They do not wish to marry. This is due to the force of good Samskaras of previous births. They give education to the girls in schools. They give free tuition privately to poor girls and train them in sewing and other household works. They study religious books and practice meditation in the morning and in the evening. They do Kirtan. They keep a daily spiritual diary. They conduct Satsanga classes and Kirtan among women. They train girls in the practice of Asanas and Pranayama. They give discourses on the Gita and the Upanishads. They deliver lectures on the religious subjects in English, Sanskrit and Hindi. During holidays and on important occasions, they hold religious conferences for ladies on a grand scale for mass spiritual awakening.
Sometimes they visit nearby villages and distribute medicines freely to the poor. They are equipped with the knowledge of first-aid, homoeopathy, allopathy and the bio-chemical system of medicine. They are trained in nursing the sick. There is a highly educated Brahmacharini, who is well-versed in Sanskrit, English and Hindi, who is the head of an institution for girls. She maintains a free private school also for poor girls at her own expense. This is a very noble service indeed.
Such girls and women are really a blessing to India. They lead a life of purity and self-sacrifice. They enjoy bliss, prosperity and renown here and will also attain the immortal abode of supreme peace hereafter. India is in need of more Brahmacharinis of this description who can dedicate their lives to service, meditation and prayer.
There was a Maharani in the erstwhile United Provinces who wore simple dress, ate simple food, served Sadhus and poor people and always lived amongst Sannyasins. She had a sound knowledge of the scriptures and she did regular meditation and prayer. She observed Mouna or the vow of silence for months together and spent some time in seclusion and ruled her state also.
There is an educated woman who is an M.B.B.S. Her husband is holding a good position. She treats the patients freely. She does not charge any fees for visiting. She does very good service to the society. She is not a job hunter. She is free from greed. She does medical service for the purification of her heart. She regards medical service of the poor people as worship of God. She looks after the house and serves her husband. She studies religious books and spends sometime in meditation, worship and prayer. She is an ideal woman who leads a glorious and pious life.
Loose life is not freedom
The world is in dire need of such ideal women. I wish that the world may abound with such glorious women. I do not condemn women. I do not oppose giving them education and freedom. I have the highest veneration for women. I adore them as Devis or goddesses. But, I am not in favour of such freedom for women as will ruin them. I am in favour of such education and culture as will make them - immortal and glorious, as will make them ideal women like Sulabha, Mira and Maitreyi, like Savitri and Damayanti. This is what I want. This is what everybody would like.
Loose life is not perfect freedom. Some women of India have ruined themselves by taking advantage of this false freedom. There is no limit to the freedom, which the so-called educated woman enjoys now. This freedom has caused many homes to be wrecked. It has created disorders in society. It has brought shame on many respectable families. The girls, in their insatiable craving for freedom, have overstepped the limit and lost that priceless possession which the women of the past could keep untarnished.
By mixing with men freely, woman loses her dignity, modesty, feminine grace, and the sanctity of her person and character. A woman who mixes freely with men cannot preserve her chastity for long. There can be, and there have been, exceptions. A woman who mixes with men freely in public life and yet remains pure must be certainly superhuman. An ordinary woman with her natural passion will soon succumb. Human nature will fulfil itself.
What is there in a woman's life if her purity is lost? She is only a living corpse if there is no purity, although she may be rolling in wealth and moving in high circles in society. Promiscuous mixing will lead to disastrous results. Even Rishis and Yogins who are clad in rags, who live on roots in seclusion, will be pulled down by the dark forces of nature if they are careless. Then what to speak of women who eat daily dainties and sweetmeats, who are clad in perfumed velvet and silk with lace borders, who are given to too much mixing, who do not lead a life of self-control, who have no religious training and discipline, who have no idea of the inner life and the religion of emancipation? O wise reader! I leave this for your own consideration, reflection, cogitation and deliberation.
Women should not do anything that can bring dishonour or infamy on them and their family, and a blot on their character. Without character, a man or a woman is considered as dead while living. Women should be very careful and cautious when they move in society. They should avoid too much talking, too much mixing, guffaw and giggling. They should always walk in a dignified manner and not with the swinging of the hips. They should never look at men with a flitting gesture. Clothes should not be too tight or revealing. Abandon make-up.
A call to spiritual life
O Devis! Do not waste your lives in fashion and passion. Open your eyes. Walk in the path of righteousness. Preserve your Pativrata Dharma. See Divinity in your husband. Study the Gita, the Upanishads, Bhagavata and Ramayana. Become good Grihastha-Dharminis and Brahma-Vicharinis. Bring forth many Gourangas. The destiny of the world is entirely in your hands. You are holding the master-key of the world. Open the door of Elysian bliss. Bring Vaikuntha in your home. Train your children in the spiritual path. Sow the spiritual seed when they are young.
O Devis of the world! Should you not strive for the higher life, the grand, the sublime, the only real life in the Soul? Is it sufficient if you are satisfied with the petty material necessities of life on earth? Do you remember what Maitreyi said to Yajnavalkya? "What shall I do with the wealth of this whole world if thereby I would not become immortal?" said she to her husband. How many ladies of this world will be bold enough to assert this wise saying of the Upanishadic ideal of a woman?
To chain themselves with the bondage of Samsara is not the birthright of the mothers and sisters of the world. To get stuck up in family, children and relatives is not the ideal of courageous and discriminative women. Every mother of the world should realize her responsibility to awaken herself, her children, her family and her husband, to the true light, and splendour of spiritual life. What a glorious mother was Madalasa! Did she ask her children to study up to the post-graduate examination, and then seek for some employment? "Suddhosi, Buddhosi, Niranjanosi, Samsara Maya Parivarjitosi - You are pure, you are consciousness, you are taintless, you are devoid of the Maya of Samsara" - such was the Advaitic instruction which Madalasa gave to her children when she rocked them in the cradle. How many mothers of the present-day world have got the fortune to teach their children such profound knowledge? On the other hand, the present-day mothers would try to crush the spiritual tendency of their children even if it is found in them in a microscopic state! What a sad and pitiable condition! Wake up, O mothers, sisters! Wake up from your deep sleep. Recognise your responsibility. Spiritualise yourselves. Spiritualise your children. Spiritualise even your husbands, for you are the makers of the family! Remember how Chudala illumined her husband. You are the makers of the nations! You are the builders of the world! Therefore, spiritualise yourselves. Assert in yourselves the spirit of Sulabha, Maitreyi, Gargi. Do not be cowardly. Come out of your fleshy homes - the homes of delusion, the homes of vanity!
Be you all real Sannyasinis and bring real glory, real greatness, for that is real boldness and courage, that is real wisdom and understanding. A woman is not a woman if she is devoid of spiritual fire in her, if she is ignorant of a higher life in the Soul. A woman's duty is not merely family; her duty is also to transcend the family. Her duty does not lie in sans, bangles, jackets, powders and scents. Her duty does not lie in getting employment for her children. Her duty is also concerned with the Self, the Atman, the Brahman. Such a woman is a real symbol of God. She is to be adored, she is to be worshipped!
12. BRAHMACHARYA AND THE EDUCATIONAL CURRICULUM
If you compare the present system of education with our ancient Gurukul system, there is a wide gulf between the two. In the first place, the present system of education is very costly. The moral side of education is absolutely ignored at the present moment. Every student in the Gurukul was pure. Every student, had perfect moral training. This was the predominating feature of ancient culture. Every student had a knowledge of Pranayama, Mantra Yoga, Asanas, the code of morals, Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads. Every student possessed humility, self-restraint, obedience, a spirit of service and self-sacrifice, good demeanour, politeness, a courteous nature, and last but not the least, a desire to acquire Atma-Jnana.
A vital drawback in the present educational system in India
The college students of the present day do not possess any of the above virtues at all. Self-control is a thing unknown to them. Luxurious living and self-indulgence begin from their very boyhood. Arrogance, impertinence and disobedience are deep-rooted in them. They have become confirmed atheists and rank materialists. Many are ashamed to say that they believe in the existence of God. They have no knowledge of brahmacharya and self-control. Fashionable dress, undesirable food, bad company, frequent attendance at the theatres, and the cinema, and applying Western manners and customs have rendered them weak and passionate. Brahma-Vidya, Atma-Jnana, Vairagya, the wealth of Moksha and Atmic peace and bliss are quite foreign to them.
Fashion, style, epicureanism, gluttony and luxury have occupied their minds. It is very pitiable to hear the life-history of some of the college students. In the ancient Gurukul, boys were healthy and strong and lived long. It has indeed been detected that the health of the students has deteriorated throughout India. Moreover, the vices and bad practices that are ruining their health are on the increase. There is no ethical culture in modern schools and colleges. In the present system, the moral side of education is absolutely ignored.
Modern civilization has enfeebled our boys and girls. They lead an artificial life. Children beget children. There is racial degeneration. The cinema has become a curse. It excites passion and emotion. Nowadays, in the cinema, vulgar scenes and immoral plays are enacted even when they show stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Again I have to reiterate with force that the present system of education in India needs a thorough drastic overhauling immediately.
Any system of education, which is not based on the principles of brahmacharya, and has not in its curriculum a compulsory study of Sanskrit literature, will not be good for the Hindus. It is bound to fail! Those who are responsible for giving them a proper system of education are ignorant on this important point; and hence the numerous unfortunate experiments in education.
Professors of some colleges insist on the students putting on fashionable dress. They even dislike students who wear clean but simple clothing. A great pity! Cleanliness is one thing and fashion is another thing. The so-called 'fashion' takes root in worldliness and sensuality.
Cleanliness of life is very necessary for physical and spiritual growth. Boys and girls suffer in silence on account of ignorance, on account of misuse of bodily parts which constitutes a definite drain upon the vitality. This retards normal mental and physical progress. When 'the human system is deprived of its natural secretions, there must be a corresponding decline in nervous energy. This is the reason why functional disorders develop. The number of wrecks is increasing.
Young boys suffer from anaemia, bad memory and debility. They have to discontinue their studies. Diseases are increasing. Thousands of injections have come into the pharmacy, hospitals and dispensaries. Thousands of doctors have opened their clinics and shops. Yet, misery is increasing day by day. People do not get success in their enterprises and business. What is the reason for this? The reason is not far to seek. It is because of wastage of the vital force or semen through evil habits and immoderate sexual intercourse. It is because of an unclean mind and an unclean body.
Duty of teachers and parents
A great and onerous duty rests with the teachers and professors of schools and colleges to train the students in the path of Sadachara or right conduct and to mould their character properly. brahmacharya includes character-building or right moulding of character. They say that knowledge is power. But I assert boldly, with great assurance and practical experience, that character is power and that character is far superior to knowledge even.
Every one of you should endeavour your level best to mould your character properly. Your whole life and your success in life depend entirely upon the formation of your character. All the great persons in this world have achieved their greatness through character and character alone. The brilliant luminaries of the world have won their laurels of fame, reputation and honour through character and character alone.
The teachers themselves should be strictly moral and pure. They should be endowed with ethical perfection. Otherwise, it will be like the blind leading the blind. Before taking to the profession of a teacher, every teacher should feel the high responsibility of his position in the educational line. Mere intellectual achievement in the art of delivering dry lectures will not suffice. This alone will not adorn a professor.
When students reach the age of maturity, certain growths and changes take place in the physical body. The voice changes. New emotions and sentiments arise. Naturally, the youngsters become curious. They consult the street boys. They get ill advised. They ruin their health by vile habits. A clear knowledge of sexual health, hygiene and brahmacharya, of how to attain longevity and how to control passion, should be imparted to them. Parents should teach their children the various stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana that relate to brahmacharya and right conduct.
Parents should advise their children, often and often, on the subject of brahmacharya. This is their imperative duty. Candid talks to the boys and girls are very necessary when they begin to show signs of puberty. It is no use beating about the bush. Matters that relate to sex should not be kept hidden. It will be only false modesty if the parents feel shy to talk to their children on this important subject. Silence will only excite the curiosity of the adolescent children. Whereas, if they can understand these things clearly in time, surely they will not be misguided by evil companions and they will not develop bad habits.
Teachers and parents should give proper instructions to the boys and girls as to how they should lead a clean life of brahmacharya. They should get rid of their false sense of modesty and shame. They are a good deal responsible for the ignorance of the boys and girls. There has been more suffering caused by ignorance of these matters than by anything else. You are paying the price of ignorance, of the false modesty that matters of sex and sexual physiology should not be discussed. The teachers and parents should diligently watch the conduct of the youngsters and clearly impress on their mind the vital importance of a clean life of brahmacharya and the dangers of an unclean life. Pamphlets on brahmacharya should be freely distributed to them.
Magic lantern demonstrations on the subject of brahmacharya, on the lives of Brahmacharins of yore, on the stories of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, should be regularly conducted in the schools and colleges. This will be a great help in elevating and inspiring the students to a high moral standard.
O teachers and professors! Wake up now! Train the students in the path of brahmacharya and righteousness and morality. Make them true Brahmacharins. Do not neglect this divine work. You are morally responsible for this onerous task. This is your Yoga. You can have Self-realization if you take up this work in right earnest. Be true and sincere. Open your eyes now. Explain to the boys and the girls the importance of brahmacharya and instruct them in the various methods by which they can preserve the Veerya, the soul-force or Atma-Sakti that is hidden in them.
Teachers who have disciplined themselves first should hold private talks with students and give them regular practical lessons on brahmacharya. Rev. H. Packenham Walsh, who was principal of the S.RG. College, Tiruchirappali, a few decades ago, and who later became a bishop, used to hold regular talks with his students on the subject of brahmacharya and self-control.
The future destiny of the world rests entirely with the teachers and students. If the teachers train their students in the right direction, in the path of righteousness, the world will be filled with ideal citizens, Yogis and Jivanmuktas, who will radiate light, peace, bliss and joy everywhere.
Blessed is he who truly endeavours in making his students true Brahmacharins. Twice blessed is he who tries to become a real Brahmachari. May the blessings of Lord Krishna be upon them. Glory to the teachers, professors and students.
13. SOME IDEAL BRAHMACHARINS
Hanuman was born of Anjana from Pavana, the wind-god. He was named Hanuman after the name of the city Hanuman over which his maternal uncle Parti Surya ruled. Hanuman's body was as hard as stone. So, Anjana named him Vajranga. He is also known by the name Mahavir or mightiest hero, because he exhibited several heroic feats. His other names are Balabhima and Maruti.
The world has not yet seen, and will not see in the future also, a mighty hero like Sri Hanuman. During his lifetime he worked wonders and exhibited superhuman feats of strength and valour. He has left behind him a name which, as long as the world lasts, will continue to wield a mighty influence over the minds of millions of people.
Hanuman is one of the seven Chiranjivis. He is the only learned scholar who knows the nine Vyakaranas or sciences of granunar. He learnt the Sastras from the sun-god. He is the personification of brahmacharya. He is the wisest of the wise, the strongest of the strong and the bravest of the brave. He is the Sakti or energy of Rudra. He who meditates on Hanuman and repeats his name attains power, strength, glory, prosperity and success in life. Hanuman is worshipped in all parts of India, particularly in Maharashtra.
Hanuman had the power to assume any form he liked, to swell his body to an enormous extent and to reduce it to the length of a thumb-nail. His strength was superhuman. He was the terror of the Rakshasas or demons. He was well-versed in the four Vedas and other sacred book's. His valour, wisdom, knowledge of the scriptures and superhuman strength attracted everybody who came near him. He had extraordinary skill in warfare.
Hanuman was the chosen messenger, warrior and servant of Sri Rama. He was a votary and devotee of Lord Rama. Rama was his all-in-all. He lived to serve Rama. He lived in Rama. He lived for Rama. He was a minister and intimate friend of Sugriva.
Hanuman was born on the morning of the 8th of the lunar month, Chaitra, on the most blessed day, Tuesday. From his very birth, Hanuman exhibited extraordinary physical strength and worked many miracles. When he was a child, he jumped up at the sun and caught hold of him to eat. All the gods were very much troubled. They came with folded hands to the child and humbly entreated him to release the sun. The child set free the sun at their request.
A Rishi pronounced a curse on. Hanuman for his wrong action that he would remain unconscious of his great strength and prowess till he met Sri Rama and served Him with devotion. Hanuman saw Sri Rama for the first time in Kishkinda. Sri Rama and Lakshmana came there in the course of their search for Sita whom Ravana had carried away. As soon as Hanuman beheld Sri Rama, he became quite conscious of his own strength and power.
Hanuman burnt the whole of Lanka and brought news of Sita to Rama. In the great war between Rama and Ravana, Hanuman killed many heroes of the Rakshasa army. He did many superhuman acts. Carrying a big mountain and other great activities were nothing for Hanuman. All those were due to the power of brahmacharya.
When the great war was over, Vibhishana was installed on the throne of Lanka. The time of banishment was over. Sri Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman sat on the Pushpaka Vimana or aeroplane and reached Ayodhya in time. The coronation ceremony of Lord Rama was celebrated with great eclat and pomp. Sita presented a necklace of pearls to Hanuman.
Glory to Hanuman, the blessed devotee of Lord Rama. Glory, glory to Sri Anjaneya, the mighty hero, undaunted warrior and learned Brahmachari, the like of whom the world has not yet seen and will not see in all time to come.
May we derive inspiration from Hanuman's ideal life of brahmacharya! May His blessings be upon you all. Let us sing His glory:
Jaya Siya Ram Jaya Jaya Siya Ram
Jaya Hanuman Jaya Jaya Hanuman
Jaya Siya Ram Jaya Jaya Siya Ram
Jaya Hanuman Jaya Jaya Hanuman
Lakshmana, the son of Dasaratha by his second queen Sumitra, was the younger brother of Sri Rama. He was an Avatara of Adisesha. He was the constant companion of Rama both in pleasure and in pain. Rama and Lakshmana lived, dined, played and studied together. One could not bear the separation of the other. Lakshmana was a loving servant also of Sri Rama. He carried out Sri Rama's commands to the very letter. He lived in perfect obedience to Sri Rama.
Lakshmana had pure and untainted brotherly love. His object of life was service to his elder brother. Obedience to the commands of his brother was the motto of his life. He would not do anything without getting Rama's permission. He regarded Sri Rama as his God, Guru, father and mother. He followed Rama as a shadow.
He was quite unselfish at heart. He abandoned all the comforts of a royal life willingly only for the company of his brother. He served Rama's cause in all possible ways. He made Rama's cause his own. He sacrificed every personal consideration on the altar of brotherly love. Sri Rama was his all-in-all. Lakshmana could relinquish anything, his life even, for the sakc of Rama. He abandoned in a moment his mother, his wife and his royal comforts to follow Sri Rama and Sita in exile. What a magnanimous soul! What a great Tyagi he was! Here is an unprecedented example, in the history of the whole world, of a disinterested, noble and devoted soul who lived only to serve his brother. That is the reason why the readers of Ramayana eulogize Lakshmana for his pure and unique love towards his brother. Some eulogize Bharata, while others speak very highly of Hanuman, but Lakshmana was in no way inferior to Bharata or Hanuman.
Lakshmana followed Sri Rama for the long period of fourteen years though he was perfectly aware of the dangers of the forest. He accompanied Rama with his bow and arrow, though his help was not required by Visvamitra. It was all due to his devotion and love towards his brother Sri Rama.
Sri Rama also had intense love for Lakshmana. When Lakshmana fell down unconscious by the fatal arrow of Meghanada, Rama's heart was broken. He wept bitterly. He made a determination not to revisit Ayodhya when he lost his dear brother. He said, "A wife like Sita can be had, but a real devoted brother of the type of Lakshmana cannot be had again. The world is nothing for me without my brother."
Lakshmana was pure in thought, word and deed. He led the life of an ideal Brahmachari during the fourteen years of exile. He never looked at the face or body of Sita. His eyes were ever directed towards her lotus-like feet only. When Sugriva brought Sita's cloak and jewels - which, while she was being carried away, she had allowed to fall on the earth, seeing the monkeys on the mountain - Rama showed them to Lakshmana and asked whether he recognized them. Lakshmana said:
Naham Janami Keyure Naham Janami Kankane
Nupura Eva Janami Nityam Padabhivandanat
"I do not recognise the bracelets or ear-rings; I know only the anklets, for I worshipped her feet alone." See how Lakshmana revered Sita as mother or Goddess.
Meghanada, the son of Ravana, had conquered even Indra, the lord of gods. By virtue of this victory, Meghanada also came to be known as Indrajit. He had a boon of being invincible to all except to one who could abstain from all sorts of sensual enjoyments as least for a full fourteen years. He was unconquerable. But Lakshmana destroyed him by the power of his purity, by the power of brahmacharya.
O Lakshmana! We shall ever sing thy glory and repeat, "Ram Lakshman Janaki, Jai Bolo Hanuman Ki!" Introduce us to our beloved Lord Rama, thy dear brother and master. Help us also in holding communion with Lord Rama. O Lakshmana! Be ever merciful to those neophyte Sadhakas who grope in the darkness of ignorance! Teach us the secret of success and help us in becoming staunch celibates till the end of our lives. Once again, salutations to thee, O Lakshmana, the darling of Sumitra and the apple of Sri Rama's eyes!
Bhishma's father was Santanu, who was the ruler of Hastinapura. His mother was Ganga Devi. His early name was Devavrata. He was an incarnation of Vasu Devata.
One day Santanu went into the forests, close to the banks of the Yamuna, for hunting. He came across a handsome maiden. He said to her, "Who are you? What are you doing here?" She replied, "I am the daughter of Dasaraja, the fisher-chief. My name is Satyavati. I am engaged at his command in rowing the boat for taking passengers across the river".
King Santanu wanted to marry her. He went to Dasaraja and asked his consent. The fisher-chief replied, "I am quite willing to give my daughter to you in marriage. But, first, I want you to give me a promise".
The king replied, "O Dasaraja, what is that? I will certainly do what lies in my power". The fisher-chief said, "The son born of my daughter should succeed you".
Santanu did not wish to give this pledge to the fisher-chief, because his valiant and intelligent son Devavrata, whom he loved intensely, would have to abandon the throne. He would no longer be the heir apparent. But the fire of love for the maiden burnt him. He was in a great dilemma. He grew pale and did not take any interest in the affairs of the state. He opened his heart to the chief minister whom he trusted, but the latter was not able to advise him in the matter. Santanu tried to conceal his love for the maiden from his son Devavrata.
Devavrata was wise and was very strong. He suspected something and thought that his father was unhappy. He said to his father, "O beloved father! You are prosperous. You have got everything. There should be no cause for your anxiety. Why are you cheerless now? You are losing your vigour and strength. Kindly let me know the reason for your grief. I am ever ready to do what lies in my power to remove it."
The king replied, "O beloved Devavrata! You are my only son. If any calamity falls on you, I will become sonless. I will be deprived of heaven. You are equal to a hundred sons. Therefore, I do not want to marry again. But one son is no son according to the words of the Rishis. These thoughts are troubling me in my mind".
Thereupon, Devavrata, accompanied by the old minister and many respectable Kshatriya chiefs, went to Dasaraja and pleaded on behalf of his father. He asked him to give his daughter to his father in marriage.
The fisher-chief replied, "O amiable prince! I have already told your father about the condition on which I can give, my daughter in marriage to him".
Devavrata said, "O fisher-chief! I make a solemn declaration now that the son that may be born of this girl shall succeed my father to the throne. I shall do all that you wish".
The fisher-chief said, "I highly appreciate your noble character and high ideal. But your sons may expel my daughter's son at any time at their sweet will. I entertain a grave doubt on this point".
Devavrata prayed, "O Truth! Dwell in me for ever. Come and pervade my whole being! Give me inner strength to stick to the vow of perfect celibacy that I am going to take now in the presence of these people!". He then resolutely said to the fisher-chief, "O Dasaraja! Listen to what I say. From today, I shall lead a life of strict Naishthika Brahmacharya till the end of my life. All the women of the world are my mothers. I am the most devoted and loyal subject of the King of Hastinapura. If I die sonless, I shall yet attain the abode of eternal bliss and immortality".
From heaven at that time, the celestial damsels, the gods and the assemblage of sages showered flowers on him and said, "This is verily Bhishma, the Terrible!".
The fisher-chief said, "O prince! I am quite ready now to give my daughter in marriage to your father". Thereupon, the fisherman and his daughter accompanied Devavrata to the palace of Santanu. The old minister informed the king about all that had happened. The monarchs who assembled in the hall greatly appreciated the extraordinary spirit of self-sacrifice and renunciation of Devavrata and said, "Devavrata is really Bhishma, the Terrible". Since then, Devavrata bore the name of Bhishma. King Santanu was immensely pleased with the noble conduct of his son and conferred upon him the boon of death at will. He said, "May the gods protect you! Death shall never come to you as long as you wish to live".
What an exalted soul! This noble example is an unprecedented one in the history of the world. No one save Bhishma, on the surface of this earth, had made such a great sacrifice for the sake of filial duty at such a young age. Bhishma's filial duty and piety might very well be compared to that of Lord Rama.
Bhishma was very firm, in his principles. He was absolutely free from the slightest tinge of selfishness. He was an embodiment of self-denial and self-sacrifice. His power of endurance and patience in all the difficult trials he met with, were marvellous and unprecedented. He was matchless in fortitude and courage. All men honoured him. All the Kshatriya chiefs paid their homage to him. He was a mighty Yogi and a sage. He was above body consciousness. He rested in his own Satchidananda Svarupa. That is the reason why he was peaceful and serene even though he was pierced by sharp arrows all over his body. Lying on the bed of sharp arrows which was as soft as a bed of flowers to him, he gave wonderful discourses on political, philosophical, religious, social and moral subjects to Yudhishthira. Have you ever heard of anyone, save Bhishma, in the history of the world, who was able to give lofty and sublime discourses on his deathbed? Bhishma laid his life for others. He lived to serve and elevate others. The noble life led by the high-souled Bhishma of mighty will-force still inspires sterling virtues in those who study his discourses in the Santi Parva. Bhishma died long, long ago, but his voice in the Santi Parva and his ideal and exalted life awaken slumbering people to action, righteousness, duty and enquiry, rigorous Tapas and meditation, to this day.
Glory to Bhishma, whose exemplary life of brahmacharya inspires our hearts even today and elevates our minds to magnanimous heights of divine glory and splendour.