Swami Sivananda Saraswati

(1887-1963)

Practice of Brahmacharya

Source (very large file): Divine Life Society

Source: Divine Life Society

Swami Sivananda

Section 4: Symposium

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COMMENTARY ON SWAMI SIVANANDA'S 8TH SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION

By Swami Chidananda

Brahmacharya: Preserve the vital force (Veerya) very, very carefully. Veerya is God in motion or manifestation - Vibhuti. Veerya is all power. Veerya is all money. Veerya is the essence of life, thought and intelligence.

Brahmacharya, which is the third of the five niyamas of Maharshi Patanjali, gets mentioned in practically every one of the scriptures of Sanatana Vaidic Dharma (Eternal Religion) - the Bhagavata, the Ramayana and all the Puranas. It is also in all the Yogas - Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga.

In the Hindu tradition three great principles or qualities have been laid down as fundamental practices for spiritual development. They are ahimsa, satyam and brahmacharya (non-injury, truthfulness and chastity).

Yadi moksham icchasi chetthaatha
Vishayan vishavat thyaja
Brahmacharyam ahimsa cha
Satyam peeyusha-vad-bhaja

"If you desire your highest blessedness, give up like poison desire for sensual enjoyment and pleasures and like nectar receive into your life the triple virtues of chastity, non-injury and truthfulness."

Down the ages this has come to be the cardinal doctrine of the Higher Life.

Within the context of the Christian faith, the prophetic religion that formed itself around the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, faith, hope and charity are lauded as cardinal virtues. Within the context of this religion, there is also Sannyas (order of renunciation) - the Christian monastic tradition. In this monastic tradition, three great vows are indispensable, they are poverty, chastity and obedience. That is the monastic vow. That is the vow of the monks and priests in seminaries as also the vow of the nuns in convents.

This also existed in pre-Christian Roman times when for the mystical Oracle of Delphi, it was only virgins who were qualified to perform the high task of divining the will of God and guiding man. This they proclaimed in a state of spiritual trance. These unmarried maidens were dedicated to God and this task, and it was believed that it was only in the pure minds and hearts of these virgins that God revealed His sacred Will. They were called Vestil Virgins of Delphi. So, the tradition of brahmacharya - chastity, self-control, sex purity did not commence from Christianity, it must have already been there within the tradition of Judaism as well.

Long before that, during the time of Buddha - who preceded Jesus by more than 500 years - the doctrine of chastity was a necessary preparation and foundation for the life of renunciation, asceticism and Yoga for the seeker after the Great Reality or for attainment of Enlightenment and Wisdom. This foundation was recognized by Buddha. The Young prince living in a palace with his young wife and baby - Rahul, left everything and went into the forest. That great renunciation, great tyaga was wonderfully brought out by Sir Edwin Arnold in his Light of Asia, a poetical presentation of Buddha's great life, career and attainment.

Thus, it is something that has been handed down to humanity from time immemorial. It is a part of the global heritage from various diverse directions and sources. Far back, even before Zoroaster or Buddha, the ancient prophets of the Upanishads proclaimed the same thing. We hear mentioned in the Vedic age of Indra and Virochana approaching Brahma for instructions, and Brahma sending them back to observe brahmacharya for so many years - "Then come and ask me, I shall give you some knowledge, part of my knowledge." So they go and observe the vow of celibacy for so many years and come back. Then He gives them a part of the Truth. After that He says - "Now go back and observe celibacy for some more years and come back." Because, it is necessary to grasp the concept of That which is beyond the grasp of the mind and the senses, beyond speech and thought. They were unable to grasp it. A gross mind which is identified with the body, with the senses and with the sense appetites, and which is enslaved by the pleasure principle only, is unfit to think of abstract and abstruse ideas and concepts. A mind that has become gross due to the progressive increase of rajas and tamas, becomes unfit and naturally spiritual life and practices are a far cry to that individual. Mind must become attenuated, it must become very fine. There should be no grossness - desires, attachments and cravings in it. A certain psychic fineness of the antahkarana (inner being) is said to be essential and indispensable for rising higher into sublime ideas, thoughts and processes of viveka (discrimination), vichara (enquiry) and atma sadhana (enquiry into the Self). Therefore, this process of purification, the rising from the gross to the subtle, is the essence of the concept of brahmacharya.

The sage, Rishya Sringa, was established in brahmacharya. When a whole kingdom was threatened by famine, due to a drought, the king was deeply concerned, people were in great fear and anxiety. Then some sages advised that if this great man, who was established in the vow of absolute celibacy and continence, could be brought to the kingdom, into the royal city, then the heavens would bless them with rain. So they induced him to come. Thus the famine and possible death due to starvation of countless people was averted.

Long, long ago, our Puranic scripture, Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana has given the highest place for a great lady who was a paragon of virtue and chastity and total fidelity to her husband. Never did a thought of any other man cross her mind even in dream or imagination. So much so that the three great cosmic deities, the Creator, the Preserver and the Dissolver - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara had to admit her greatness and confess that they had failed in trying to shake her from her firm adherence to chastity when they tried to test her - she was given a crucial test, maybe to glorify this great quality of chastity. She became immortal - Sati Anasuya, the mother of the Trimurtis incarnated as one avatara - Sri Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Adi-Guru.

Even so, the great world mother, Jagan-Mata Sita Janaki - the queen and wife of Lord Rama - became immortal as an example of the great virtue of pativrata (faithful wife). And therefore the couple, Maryada Purushottam Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra and Jagan Mata Sita Janaki are regarded as the ideal for the second ashrama - the grihastashrama, forever and for all times to come, for all those that believe in the Vedas and the Vedic way of life.

For 14 years Laxmana observed the vow of perfect celibacy and therefore it was he alone who was able to ultimately give victory to the side of Rama by destroying Indrajit (Meghanada) the invincible and invulnerable son of Ravana.

In the cultural history of India, the name of Bhishma evokes awe, wonder and admiration in the hearts of each and every individual who has heard about him and the great vow he took in order to fulfil the desire of his father. It has gone down in history as Bhishma Pratigna. He became a lifelong Brahmachari, and was one of the most invincible of warriors in the whole narrative of the Mahabharata. Just as the determination, the resolution, and the austerity performed by Bhagirath, another scion of the royal race and royal family, has gone down in history as something unprecedented, unparalleled, unique. We speak of Bhagiratha prayatna!

Now, we cannot simply brush aside all these facts as so mush foolishness or so much meaningless. These were not normal people, they were supernormal extraordinary personalities who had acquired Supreme Wisdom, great intuition and attained towering heights of Self-realization. Sages like Vyasa and Valmiki, were not infantile, irrational idealists - they were Tattva-vettas, Brahma-jnanis and therefore we would only be demonstrating our emptiness, our bankruptcy in vichara and viveka if we question the rationality of the principles and teachings of these great ones.

So it seems to be important that not only in the context of Satya Sanatana Vaidic Dharma but in the context of all the great living religions of the world today there is something deeply scientific and meaningful and of great importance in the observance of these principles. And you will find that Zoroaster, Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, they might not have propagated any Yoga path or Sadhana system, but they gave forth great teachings for attaining Blessedness by fulfilling the highest purpose of human existence namely love of God.

All these are indications of the concept of conserving a certain dynamic force in the human biological being and converting and sublimating this force upon which your existence, my existence - the existence of all of us physically, has been dependent. I am here, Chidananda, sitting and talking to you through the Grace of Gurudev. This has been possible because my parents produced for me this physical vehicle into which I could come at the time of prarabdha (pre-fixed birth). Even so, because the parents of Buddha, Raja Shuddhodana and mother Yasodhara had prepared the wondrous body for the Tathagata, we have the inspiring teachings of this great Master who built up a large following, a great religion, philosophy, and meditational system.

And it is therefore this concept of conserving a dynamic biological force within the human system and converting it into a higher subtler force through sublimation, conservation, preservation and taking it higher into the psyche in the form of a very, very refined subtle energy, psychical energy called ojas - ojas means that which is radiant, that which shines, that which is effulgent. This wise technique, a scientific method of converting the gross into the subtle; physical into the spiritual; psychic into the spiritual was evolved by the great sages.

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Perpetuation of the Species

Because provision was made by the Cosmic Intelligence Power that we call para-Brahman and the Cosmic Force that we call Para-shakti, Adi-shakti, Maha-shakti, it has been possible that different species of living creatures, different species of plant life, botanical life, has lived, developed and evolved through the ages. This perpetuation of the species is the law of life in the entire universe, in every form of life, not only human, animal or sub-animal - insect, reptile, fish - but even in the botanical world. How there is cross pollination and how the flower is the means of carrying out this act of reproduction, it is an intricate, mysterious marvel! Those who study it will be amazed at the wonderful science behind it, will marvel at this unknown mysterious Cosmic Intelligence that has brought this process about. One is struck with awe and admiration when one begins to go deeper into the process of how life is perpetuated on every level, every plane and every field of life, even from the most rudimentary life of a single cell, how it splits, divides itself and multiplies.

How wonderful that a seed is able to germinate due to the presence of two factors, so that the power of these factors gives it that mighty force of even breaking through rock, breaking through the pressure of heavy soil over it - a tiny, tender little thing like a seed that has just germinated. What a miracle! What great force! It cleaves the earth ten times harder than its tender shoot, and surfaces. If by chance a seed has been deposited on the top of a concrete terrace, when it germinates it even breaks through bricks and cement walls and displaces them and puts forth its own life.

This act of multiplying and reproducing is present everywhere. It saturates and permeates the whole universe because from the angle of cosmology, the entire universe is the outcome of such a primal first wish for multiplication. "I am One, may I become many." Thus the Vedas say that there was one imponderable, mysterious Being. What that Being was, who knows, because that Being was one without a second. So, a second not being present, not existing how can there arise the question of anyone cognizing that Being? Who was there to cognize when that-Ekameva 'dvitiyam Brahma (God) alone existed. And in that mysterious Being there arose this germ of an idea. He thought: "May I become many. I am One, may I become many." That is how they try to explain the genesis of the advitiya and the aneka from the Ekameva 'dvitiya. And, therefore, the concept of multiplication is at the very heart and essence of existence because it arose from Brahma and therefore it is present everywhere. In the Bible it is put in a different way. God created man and told him: "Go forth and multiply." And, if you delve into the scriptures of all religions, you will find that somewhere or the other this fact is there.

Therefore, the great Cosmic Intelligence and Power called God or Paramatman, the Supreme Soul or the Universal Spirit, permeates and indwells everything that exists. And thus when there is a provision made in a certain period of life then it takes on the nature of a very, very sacred act. Because, ultimately the atman is not created, what is created by the parents, human or sub-human, is only a vehicle for the entry into the earth plane of a spirit, a nucleus of consciousness. And the creation of this receptacle is an act wherein the partners in a marital state co-operate with Brahma, the creator - Srishtikarta Brahma. So they take on a certain part of Brahma's function. Therefore it is sacred.

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Power of Brahmacharya

It is this force of brahmacharya that is the invaluable force that gives success in sravana (hearing), manana (reflection) and nididhyasana (concentration). It gives success in the practice of the nine modes of Bhakti - Sravana, kirtana, smarana, archana, vandana, pada-sevana, dasya, sakhya, and atma-nivedana. It makes possible the successful practice of Raja Yoga - yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. It makes for a fruitful practice of asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, kriya leading into samadhi of the Hatha Yoga system. It is this force that brought forth Ravindranath Tagore, Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, Beethoven, Bach, Albert Schweitzer, Joan of Arc and Mother Theresa. It is this marvellous force that brought forth sage Valmiki and all the other great towering figures in history. Their miracle was because of this secret of conservation, preservation, sublimation and sublime application towards a higher purpose.

The profligate who wastes his vital power and becomes a nervous wreck falls prey to various diseases. He is like the foolish multi-millionaire's son who throws away his money in drinking, gambling and other extravagances, purchasing a dozen cadilacs, houses and land in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Isles of Capri and Monte Carlo and then afterwards becoming bankrupt and reduced to a beggar, why? Whatever was given to him was squandered. It was lost. Not knowing its value, he became reduced to abject poverty. What a deplorable, pitiable state!

Energy and strength are necessary for all processes and all activities. The higher the activity, the greater the need of energy. Diesel can drive certain vehicles. Petrol can only drive certain vehicles. Neither diesel nor petrol can make an aeroplane fly, they have to have high octane fuel for making aeroplanes fly. Therefore, crude energy is enough for physical functions. A more subtle type of energy is necessary for intellectual functions - going to the university and studying for a law, science or nuclear science degree. An altogether different type of highly refined, extremely subtle force is necessary for the process that takes you across the barrier of the relative and launches you into the Absolute. Dhyanavastha - it is that subtlest of the subtle, most refined process that brings you face to face with the Supreme Reality - God-realization. It is the stage of Yoga next to Super-consciousness or samadhi, where Purusha (Spirit) attains awareness of His own ever-free, independent, all-perfect nature distinct from prakriti (matter). And therefore, it is only one step next to the threshold of Super-consciousness, Self-realization, Aparoksha Anubhuti. For that process, you can just imagine how subtle and how refined the mind has to be. And so the gross potential has to be first of all refined. It is like mining ore from the bowels of the earth. The ore contains gold, but it is not gold. It has to be refined and sifted until pure gold is brought out. So the biological sex-force has to be transmuted into a subtle psychic spiritual force called ojas.

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Duties of Householders

All this talk about brahmacharya must not give us the impression that in Hinduism and in the Hindu religion, sex has no place and celibacy is the only thing that is insisted upon and lauded as the highest virtue. That would be a mistake, a misconception. In the Varnashrama Dharma, pattern of life formulated and given for the individual born into the Hindu faith (Vaidica Dharma), brahmacharya is insisted upon as total abstinence from sex life, from any form of physical and mental manifestation of sex life, for three of the four ashramas. But in the Grihasthashrama (householders' life) the exercise of sex life is regarded as sacred, and elaborate rules and regulations have been drawn up for it. A great deal of advice, guidance and instructions have been given for the second ashrama, where it becomes not only a right and permitted but is elevated to the sacred duty of the householder. It has been given as the most important duty to perpetuate the particular family lineage, and it is considered a sacred duty to contribute one's mite towards the generation of tomorrow. So, it has been recognized as an important function of the human individual, and this lifelong partnership is regarded as one of the most sacred aspects of human life. Here it has been carried to the level of the yajna (sacrifice). In the samskaras (four stages of life) this particular aspect of yajna is there in order to support life. Just as the eating function of the individual has been taken to the level of a yajna, saying it is ahuti, not an offering to an outer fire in a yajna kund but a daily sacred offering to agni (the inner gastric fire) - to that agni each morsel of food is offered as ahuti; so this is a sacred yajna - the offering of the ahuti of the life principle into the partner in order to perpetuate the family lineage.

But then it is made legitimate, permissible, a duty. If you do not perform that duty, dire consequences are foretold by the scriptures - that if you do not have a progeny, and there also if you do not have a male progeny, the parents will go to hell, a special hell reserved for them. And, therefore, Sanatana Vaidica Dharma has even permitted that if a Brahmin has not a putra santana (male child) he may take another wife. He can even take four wives. Where the male offspring is very important to a royal household, a king can marry several wives. So Hinduism is not anti-sex or a negation of the human nature and human function. On the contrary where it is necessary it is regarded as the highest duty.

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Brahmacharya in Modern Society

Brahmacharya is that way of living your life, that way of conduct and behaviour that will ultimately and gradually lead you towards Brahma jnana - grant you Brahma jnana. In a specific way, it has come to mean purity in sex life. But, this is an insufficient meaning. Mahatma Gandhi said that no attempt to keep oneself under control and in mastery only from the point of view of one's carnal passions or physical appetites will ever be successful unless simultaneously one tries to keep all one's senses under control. Absolute establishment in brahmacharya, absolute sex purity is possible only if one is a self-controlled person in a completely integral sense of the term. You must have your ears under control. You must have your eyes under control. You must have your hands and feet under control. You must have your tongue also under control. Then there is some possibility of being established in sex purity. And Gurudev's concept of brahmacharya is not only limited to the physical restraint of the body and its passions but includes mental brahmacharya as well. He said: "You must be established in perfect brahmacharya, physically as well as mentally so that even in dream, any gross or carnal thought should not arise in your mind."

How is it that so much importance is given to the sex function in modern materialistic society today. People are obsessed and dominated by it. This is human perversion. The Upanishads speak about the nine-gated city which is the abode of the mysterious Brahman - it is this body. Any medical person will tell you that the activity of the body processes are made up of anabolism and catabolism - combinedly spoken of as metabolism. Anabolism is the building process, catabolism is the breaking down process. The breakdown process naturally leads to the accumulation of debris (mala). Accumulated debris is unwanted matter and naturally if it accumulates it threatens life. It has to be eliminated. For intake, provision has been made through the mouth - you eat and drink and if you want to communicate you have to speak. Because life needs oxygen you breathe through the nose. If you want to get knowledge you have to see and you have to hear also. Then there are the two excretory exits through which we eliminate waste matter. The actual most important function of these two lower extremities is elimination which starts at birth and ends only at the point of death. From the first breath the jivatma takes as a physical entity until the last breath leaves the body, the eliminating function goes on. So these are actually eliminating exits. Out of this entire life-span the reproductive function is performed for only a small period. If we strictly adhere to the injunctions of the Vedas that period is restricted to one-tenth of the life-span.

Otherwise, for the rest of the time - morning, noon, evening, night and if it is winter even at midnight, these exits are used only for drainage. You cannot imagine an architect designing a house or a building without drainage through the bathroom and kitchen sinks, otherwise filth will accumulate and you will have to leave the house. So, you can understand if toxins and waste material are not eliminated from the body, toxic waste will accumulate and soon there will be general toxemia and the person will die.

Long ago when I was a student someone with right understanding told me that these lower extremities are just for drainage. But, if instead of that, you through your peculiar type of imagination focus upon it with some other concept which is only a very specialized function and which is exercised for only a brief period in order that the human species does not become extinct, you become obsessed and enslaved by it.

Why is the pleasure principle linked with the exercise of any sense organ? It is absolutely indispensable, for if it is not coupled with the pleasure principle, the very impulse to exercise it will not be there and therefore will not be indulged in.

The one great problem of modern society is the sexual behaviour of people. This is going from bad to worse over the past several decades. Those who have some contact with Western society knows what aberrations are going on in this field - especially in the marital field. We know of divorces without limit, a thing which society looked upon with great outrage in the Victorian Era. People were scandalized if a man left his wife and went off with another woman or if a woman left her husband for another man. It was a major scandal. It was a shame! Now, it is the order of the day. Special courts have even been established for dealing with divorce cases only.

Why is this so? The secret of this is how one views the other sex. How does man view woman? How does woman view man? Swami Vivekananda was asked what is the distinctive quality or feature of Indian society as distinct from Western society - he was one who had made a vast practical life study of Indian people and Indian Society, having criss-crossed the whole country by foot, going into villages, towns, cities and families, so these things were familiar to him. Two things he said: One is the concept of Guru-shishya relationship, the second was that in Western society the woman is a wife, she is Mrs. So and So... So the wife-hood of a woman is the dominant factor in Western society, whereas in Indian society she is primarily a mother - a mother figure, and her wife-hood is nobody's concern except the man whom she has lawfully wedded as his life's partner. And the common term for addressing a woman in the whole of India from Cape Comorin to Himalayas, from Nagaland to Punjab is mother, mataji, amma. In public she is always addressed as amma. If a husband refers to his wife he never calls her by name, he always refers to her as the mother of my son, the mother of my daughter. And when visitors are there he refers to her as his child's mother - Ramu's mother. Thus he brought out the central unique feature of Indian society as distinct from Western society.

This gives us a key - what the normal, spontaneous, natural idea of man to woman should be. A man, if he is normal and has a certain level of refinement in his psyche, when he sees a woman the thought should come to him of some human relationship. There is a human relationship between one human being and another human being, so the only thought should be on the basis of some type of human relationship. Therefore, a man is to a woman either a brother, a cousin, a nephew, an uncle, a father or a husband and woman is to a man either a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a niece or a mother. But, if the first thing that comes into the mind is: "I am a man and here is a woman," then there is something fundamentally and basically wrong in the make-up or bringing-up of that person. If a woman looks at a man and says: "Here is a male, here is a man," then if this is the only idea that is evoked with regard to the other sex, it means that there is something missing, there is something fundamentally wrong which is not correct and right within that consciousness.

And what is the anatomy of this error in view, in attitude, in approach, in the feeling itself? The anatomy of this error is an obsession with the physical level of the personality.

A person is a physical, biological being, he is a mental, intellectual, psychological being. He is also a vital, living being, which is neither physical only or psychical only. He has a pranic level where he has hunger, thirst, a feeling of heat and cold. He has a psychological level, and in this psychological level there is a spontaneous, uncontrolled part which keeps constantly in a state of activity in the form of thoughts, memory, imagination, sentiments, emotions, attitudes, moods, over which he has no control at all, it is spontaneous. And there is another part which is a purposeful exercise of a certain part of the antahkarana (inner being). That purposeful exercise is in the form of observation, perception, discrimination - grasping the distinction between what you perceive, and something other than what you perceive. So, it is a specialized performance, a specialized function that takes place and it is usually purposefully initiated and carried out also. It is called the intellectual process of reasoning, discriminating, inquiring, reflecting and perceiving in a special way. This is the higher prakriti (nature), the buddhi (intellect). Both of them together go to make up the inner psychological level of your being. And then a refined higher level of the buddhi functions as an awareness of what is allowed and what is not allowed as a human being.

"I have a great background. I have inherited a culture. I am not an isolated phenomenon. I am connected with the past. And there is something in me of the totality of the past - their ideals, their views, their attitudes, their concepts of right and wrong. So all these things are functioning within me." And so each one comes here with a certain inbuilt awareness of what is beautiful, what is ugly, what is noble, what is ignoble, what is proper, what is improper, what is right, what is wrong, what ought to be done, what ought not to be done. And this sense of the ideal and what is correct and right, is called the moral sense or ethical sense. This is a higher operation than even the intellectual level of our being. This is an ethical man, a moral man.

And if in your consciousness there has come about a certain refinement, and that refinement brings about your normal consciousness to be in a state of identifying yourself with your ethical level, ethical personality, then your whole life takes on a different plane. Whereas, if there is an essential crudeness in the consciousness within, and it tends to normally and habitually identify itself with the grossest aspect of your human personality - the physical, biological, body aspect, then the entire human reaction comes upon the physical, biological level only. Spontaneously, first and foremost it is the biological level that makes itself felt, demonstrates itself and expresses itself and in this way looking at another only as a physical being and qualified by a certain sex.

If you think: "I am this body, this physical body, physical mechanisms," and therefore being rooted in this awareness, mainly rooted in this consciousness of yourself, naturally, you think of all other beings upon this concept, upon the same level. If someone appears before you, it is a physical body that appears before you, and your reaction to it is also a biological animal reaction. Then naturally it creates a problem right upon the physical level itself.

It needs therefore a refinement of consciousness. Gradually you have to educate yourself to shed - like one shakes off a lose slipper and puts on a new one - one has to shake off the old remnant. There was a certain human race thousands of years ago when there was no intellectual development, no mental development, no evolution, leave alone spiritual development. These beings therefore lived in a state of one hundred per cent body consciousness only, just as the animals live. The animal level of consciousness is totally identified with the body. And if man's consciousness is predominantly on the level of the animal consciousness, he is far from spiritual evolution, and all tall talk about Yoga, sadhana, samadhi, Super-consciousness or Ecstasy is only talk. It is so much of ideas - so much of words. If you have a good command of words you can talk about these ideas, you can give expression to them. But, if you are always rooted and caught in the net and coils of a gross physical awareness only, and your whole reaction to the outer world of physical things is also upon the physical biological level, then there is a great deal of spade-work to do.

The main function of the lower extremities is drainage, cleansing, elimination. That is their function. But if this is set aside and not given its rightful place and some special function alone is exaggerated and blown-up out of all proportion, and the mind becomes hooked on this wrong exaggerated aspect of the eliminatory instrument, then this causes problems.

The Cosmic Intelligence Power and its manifest counterpart prakriti (nature), has built in a mechanism within all living creatures, that there is a time when this principle of appropriation is not at all manifest, not at all functioning. In an infant and in a child it is not there at all. In its joy of living it is completely extroverted. Children have less body consciousness than adults, so in one way we are grosser than them. Therefore there is a distinct period when this inner element, this inner principle of sex is not at all felt, it is absent. But then, at a certain age, gradually it is made to start manifesting in various ways. First of all in physical ways. Various symptoms appear - little moustaches come, little hoarseness of voice manifests, and a vague awareness of certain strange feelings within the body. These are pre-puberty changes. It is a period when the being gradually goes into pre-adulthood in the form of adolescence. It is the most sensitive part of the human beings' life, and it is then that the individual requires wise guidance, a good atmosphere, right type of company, ideas and environment. Unfortunately in this modern world, everything that is inimical, harmful and undesirable alone forms the outer atmosphere and environment of the society of today.

Our ancients went out of the way to see that the contrary would be the case. They wanted the growing individual to be surrounded by helpful, elevating and ideal surroundings. For this, they formulated a certain mode of life in this period and gave it the most significant term - Brahmacharya Ashrama. In this first quarter of his life he is sent away from the family, from the city, from all sorts of temptations and attractive things. He goes into an ennobling, elevating natural atmosphere - waking up in the morning with the beauty of sunrise, soft breezes and birds singing, breathing unpolluted air, drinking pure water and surrounded by natural flora. He is sent to a Gurukula where a sage and his wife, well learned in scriptures and leading an ideal life of moderation, self-control, good conduct, with noble character and purity take care of them. They live in a family with an ideal daily routine. That was the proper foundation laid down for the whole life. In such a wonderful atmosphere the students thrived. They became ideal individuals. They shone with a certain splendour of purity. They had strong, stalwart limbs and well-formed bodies. They were early risers, did their exercises and bathed in forest streams. They did all types of service - cutting and gathering firewood for the Guru and for his wife's kitchen, cutting grass and gathering leaves for the Guru's goshala, tending the cows, working in the fields. And at the same time they studied - two or three hours of instruction in the morning, two or three hours in the afternoon, and then satsanga at night. Thus they grew up completely protected from all demeaning influences.

So, it is the one-hundred per cent opposite pole to the modern environment in which a student has to struggle even in primary class, with unfavourable circumstances. Everything around them - the people, the sights, the sounds, the environment, the polluted atmosphere and wrong company - everything negative. So it is an uphill task! Therefore, all the more necessity for raising one's voice and shouting from the house-tops, proclaiming the great message of brahmacharya, self-control, moderation, pure thoughts, pure words, pure company - purity in thought, word and deed; pure literature to read - not touching anything that is degrading, yellow literature, blue films and advertisement boards which you can see from half a mile away, either of some very, very compromising attitude of people or someone with a pistol shooting others. All this is likely to bring a wrong type of inner evolution.

After all, the human mind is a marvellous camera, whatever it sees, it takes in. It is like a super computer. You do not have to feed in data, it feeds of itself. The whole world is its source and this human computer becomes filled with ashlila (dirt), it becomes a garbage can due to the very atmosphere the individual has been put in. So, how much more necessary, how great is the need for giving the right type of instructions - opening their eyes and making them aware to what they should be closed; having ears, what they should not hear; having eyes, what they should not see. How to go amidst this atmosphere untouched, that is the great lesson that is necessary.

Therefore, there is a need for a re-orientation of your own consciousness because it is in terms of the level of your consciousness that you will relate yourself and see and build up your attitude towards other persons and things and beings outside you in the environment, in the universe. You are a person living in this universe. You cannot try to isolate yourself. You cannot try to cut yourself off. There has to be inter-changes, otherwise you will develop an inner sickness. You will become neurotic and self-centered. That also is not a healthy thing. That has to be avoided. There has to be normal human intercourse and at the same time it should be upon a firm healthy basis. Such a firm, healthy basis can come only on the basis of your own level of consciousness.

If your level of consciousness is a completely gross, ignorant, body-based consciousness, physical consciousness, naturally you are going in for trouble, you are only inviting such a vibration from others. You will see others, understand others, relate yourself to others only on this self-same gross biological idea of yourself. If this has to be changed, you have to raise your level of consciousness to a higher level of consciousness. "I am a spiritual being, or I am at least a mental-intellectual machinery having a physical body - but not a physical body having a mind and intellect."

This complete change of your own awareness of yourself, your own idea of yourself is to be brought about and established. That is the key to success in brahmacharya which is the basis of all attainment. If you feel yourself as a gross biological, physical body, your entire approach, your entire relationship with the outer physical world will be upon this plane, and you can well imagine what will be the result of it upon yourself. Every human being will be to you a gross biological physical body only. This relationship will plague you day and night. You will be obsessed only with this physical consciousness. And until you, with various devices, face yourself from this level, no amount of reading, no amount of satsanga, no amount of imagining yourself to be something else, is going to help you in any way. You have to turn the key and suddenly raise the level. Once this level is transcended, the whole subject of brahmacharya takes on a new direction. Then things have to be tackled upon a different level.

The root cause of all sin is body consciousness. Therefore, if you want to be free of body consciousness you start with your body level. Be rooted in brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is the sense of total mastery of all your senses, self-control and all that is necessary to bring about self-mastery - purity of food, purity of company, purity of reading, nobility of thoughts, having self-restraint (nirodh) in your mind. If any negative down-playing thought comes, instantaneously it must be thrown out. It should not be allowed to remain for a single moment, not even a split second. That type of self-restraint, samskara (impression) has to be cultivated, created within your antahkarana (inner being).

If an undesirable person tries to enter an exclusive club or restaurant, there are people called bouncers at the door, they will catch hold of him and bodily lift him up and throw him out of the door. He cannot gate-crash and get in. So you must have your own psychological, ethical bouncers within you for all gross gate-crashers in the form of wrong thoughts. In the same way, there are machines in the mint and also in sophisticated factories where they select fruits and nuts for export market - they go up a conveyer-belt and different sizes are separated. Anything that is of bad quality gets eliminated and only the best is retained.

In the same way there should be created within your mind a device where anything that is sub-standard, opposed to your spiritual or ethical ideal, automatically gets eliminated, thrown out. These are all methods to elevate your consciousness.

Brahmacharya is total purity - a complete view, different view of looking at things and people and experiences, and more than anything else, a total and different view of looking at yourself. Ultimately others are what you are to yourself. The first change has to come within you, then that change can also begin to come in others.

In a very knowledgeable part of Gurudev's teachings on brahmacharya, He has said: "Change the angle of vision. It is a psychological thing - change of angle of vision. He has given a number of beautiful instances how a change of angle of vision can bring about a total revolution in your perception and naturally in your reactions. When the perception itself becomes changed, your reaction to perception will also become different, not what it was before.

We should make a promise to the Lord and a promise to ourselves that we will enter into a glorious new life with an absolutely changed vision and completely transformed awareness of ourselves, lifting our consciousness from obsession with the gross body and its parts to a level of consciousness where there is an inner awakening, where there is a great light within and we shine with a renewed awareness of our true spiritual identity - I am a Hindu, I am an Indian. I am an inheritor of a great ethical tradition, ethical heritage. I must be a living embodiment of this heritage. I must make myself a personification of dharma. I must become a channel of this great ethical view of life, way of life.

God bless you to make use of the wisdom you have received as your great heritage of the past. My prayers with each and everyone of you in this sublime and noble task of self-culture unto perfection.

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Advantages of Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya is a magic word, a key to success in all walks of life. It is a radiance that shines through one's thoughts, speech and activities. It is tejas and ojas. It is verily Para Shakti, Bhagavati, the Divine Mother Herself in manifestation. It is dynamic divinity, it is God in motion. It is a vibhuti of God. God is manifest in this cosmos, in this cosmic phenomenal process as Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshvara. He is present in human society in the form of their respective shaktis - Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati, whom we adore every year during the nine nights of Navaratri. And the same Cosmic Being that manifests as Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshvara, that vigorously acts in this phenomenal universe of man as Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati, that same Cosmic Being is residing within us as the great kundalini shakti at the muladhara chakra - the basic centre among the six centers situated along the spinal column, culminating in the seventh centre, the 1000 petalled lotus in the crown of the head (this is the area within the psychic body corresponding to the physical crown of the head). And the most significant of all aspects of kundalini shakti is the energy, the creative force, the creative energy. And therefore, creative energy is said to be God in motion. It is divine vibhuti. It is a manifestation of Para Shakti. The control of one's senses and the resolution to preserve, conserve, transform, convert and sublimate this gross physical force into a subtle mental, intellectual force and ultimately sublimate it into a pure spiritual force that shines in one as intense aspiration, as the power to concentrate, as good thoughts and meditation that leads to Super-consciousness. All this and more the power of continence can do for the human being. Most of the great intellectual giants and geniuses have been persons of great character, self-control and concentration - Vivekananda, Dayananda Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi.

"Samyam!" (control) say the Upanishads. The uncontrolled one can hardly comprehend the subtler than the subtlest or attain jnana. It is not for the vacillating or the weak. Therefore, Swami Vivekananda stressed a great deal on one's strength - inner mental strength, strength of character, strength of self-control, strength of body and mind.

The basis of this pervasive purity of life - of thoughts, of imagination, of actions, of brahmacharya - is character. If one has a lofty character, that strength of character enables him to hold on to a high level and standard of living. The basis of character is self-control. The basis of self-control is wise living, avoiding all that is adverse to self-control and wisely, with viveka (discrimination) and vichara (enquiry), ordering one's life in such a way that one always is amidst auspicious surroundings and always wisely avoids temptations. They say: "Discretion is the better part of valour." Therefore one must know how to be and when to be valorous and strong, and when and how to avoid being foolhardy, when to be discrete. There is a saying: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Therefore, discretion is the better part of valour. Such discretion, such self-control, such wise-living can arise only from alertness, a vigilant alertness, an inner alertness, to see where one is going, to know what will happen if one goes in that direction, and to be able to pull back if it is the wrong direction and go in the right direction.

The basis of such wise self-control are principles for living adopted after much consideration. The basis of such principles is to have a lofty ideal. "I must become like this. I must become like So and So." The basis of lofty idealism can enable one to achieve any victory and shine. The basis of such idealism is keen aspiration. First of all you must desire it.

The basis of a successful academic career in the university is high distinction in the examination. The basis of high distinction is study, study, study - burning the midnight oil, avoiding all sorts of wasteful activities, avoiding the company of frivolous, hedonistic people and cultivating the company of serious-minded people and keen attention in the classroom when the professor is explaining some new principles or new lesson and lots of homework. This means determination. And the basis of such study and a scholarly attitude towards one's education is seriousness, a desire to succeed, and an aspiration: "I must have top marks, I must be among the first." So, this urge, this keen aspiration becomes something instinctive. It is healthy, it is correct. Zeal, fervour, aspiration are highly laudable. This is a positive, creative, constructive urge. There should be aspiration.

Such aspiration comes from an understanding - that is what is worthwhile having. What is merely external show, if I run after it, I will make a fool of myself. All glitter, external glitter, a fleeting momentary, pleasurable sensation, a titillating of some nerves, leaving one ashamed. Any sense indulgence is just a confession of one's bankruptcy of wisdom, of sagacity, of lack of deep thinking.

This keen aspiration arises when we know that the Supreme Being alone is the fulfilment of all desires and cravings in our quest for happiness. That is ananda (bliss) - sweeter than the sweetest, more nectarine than anything else in this world; the beauty of the beauties, incomparable! You develop a deep faith in this truth, in this central fact of life, that in the Supreme alone you can obtain fulfilment, the attainment of the highest happiness, not anywhere else. If you thus know that these contact born sensations and pleasures are only the wombs of pain, you would not succumb to them. Such knowledge comes from satsanga (company of the wise), Guru Vakya (Guru's words), svadhyaya (study of scriptures). Successful svadhyaya is there where there is deep faith.

You can never be wrong if you have deep Guru bhakti, if you have deep faith, absolute trust in the words of the Guru's teachings. It is the right approach to life. Therefore it is said in the Gita, a person is what his faith is. "Tell me what he believes in - I will tell you what he is. Tell me what company he keeps - I will tell you what that person is." In this way, as is your faith and firm belief, so will be your chesta or endeavour.

Develop, therefore, firm faith in the teaching of the Guru, the scriptures, what you hear in satsanga. And due to constant hearing in satsanga, be convinced of the emptiness of fleeting names and forms, fleeting things which attract you, that seem to be real, but are not real. And being convinced, you will be wise, you will be alert, you will become fired with idealism, a great aspiration, "I must know the Supreme Being, that should be my goal, nothing less, I will not opt for anything less than the Supreme Experience. I want God-realization. I want atma jnana, I want Self-realization." When this aspiration comes and with this idealism before you, it makes you not live a haphazard, aimless, principleless, characterless life. Idealism makes you strictly adhere to certain noble and sublime principles. And a principled life is the basis of self-control, self-mastery. Such self-mastery is the basis of character. It is character that is the basis of brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is the basis of Immortality, Divine Perfection. Brahmacharya is the basis of Liberation. Brahmacharya is the basis of a radiant Divine life lived with great enthusiasm, great fervour. Such a Divine life is the heart of Gurudev's gospel - His teachings, His message to mankind, His wisdom teachings for all time to come.

God bless you in pondering these fundamental truths about yourself, your life, your character, your conduct, the ideals you have inherited from the past and the sublime way you must make your future by the wise practical way you deal with your present - supported and ennobled by the past. If the present is wisely applied, your future can be a thing of beauty, a joy to you, a joy to others and satisfaction to your own endeavour. May you shine as an ideal human being where everything is in its place, in its right proportion. Our ancients were never kill-joys or cynics. They said enjoy, not for a little time and afterwards become nervous wrecks and go into an asylum or a hospital permanently. But they said enjoy, and live to be a 100 years. One can enjoy and live to be a 100 years only if one is wise and moderate in one's environment, not unwise and immoderate in one's life.

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Books on Brahmacharya

Gurudev has written a whole book on brahmacharya only. Another holy man who propagated spiritual living - character, conduct, ethics, and morality, building up of the body, health-culture, physical culture, and of the same name - Swami Sivananda of Amaravati, near Nagpur in Maharashtra. He also has written a complete book on the subject of brahmacharya titled: Brahmacharya Hechi Jeevan (Brahmacharya alone is Real life). It was written in Marathi and has been translated into many languages - Kanarese, Hindi, English.

Swami Jagadishananda of the Sri Ramakrishna Mission has also written a whole book on brahmacharya under the caption: The Creative Power of Continence. Another teacher who became very well-known later on and who used to visit the, Scandinavian countries regularly, Sri Swami Narayanananda Saraswati who had his Ashram on the Dehradun Road in Rishikesh, has also written one or two knowledgeable books on the self-same subject.

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THE PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE OF BRAHMACHARYA

By Swami Chidananda

The Four Great Purusharthas

Four great values have been given by our ancients as the objectives to attain which every human individual must strive. These four great values are called the Purushartha Chathushtaya. 'Purushartha' means right exertion or effort. So they have given the same word for the object of effort also. Now, what are these four great values? They gave the foremost importance, they gave the primary place, to the value called ethics or morality. It is called Dharma. Whatever you engage in doing should be that which ought to be done, should be that which is proper to be done, should be that which is right, which is pure, which is moral and ethical. You should not do anything that contradicts the law of ethics and morality. Why? Because, in morality only lies your highest good. In that only lies your highest welfare. If your thoughts, words and actions are moral and righteous, there will be happiness. They will secure for you your welfare and good. Otherwise, you will reap the harvest of bitterness because of a law that pervades this universe, a law that is called the Law of Cause and Effect. This law states: "As a man thinketh so he becometh". This law is also stated in another way, namely: "As you sow, so shall you reap". This Law of Cause and Effect is also called the Law of Karma or Karmaphala. Therefore, if you engage in righteous action, the result of it is auspiciousness and blessedness; the result of it is your own highest good and your own welfare, your own happiness. If you ignore or neglect this law, discard this law, and your actions are not proper, not right, what happens? You invite upon yourself a reaction that is bitter, a reaction that is not conducive to your own good, to your own welfare, because you have to steadily progress towards divine perfection and here you put and create obstacles. You slow down your progress towards that great goal. You create your own miseries. Therefore, having in mind the highest welfare and good of the human individual, our ancients put ethics as the foremost value, because more than anything else, they wanted to secure the greatest benefit and good of the individual soul or Jivatma. And they said: "This is. the way".

So, adhere to the moral and ethical values in life. Never deviate from the ethical standard. Then you will be happy. You may have troubles. People may trouble you and you may have some difficulties; yet you will have happiness. Inside you will have happiness and peace. I say, "Inside", because physical troubles and mental difficulties and torments there will always be. Those you have to suffer according to your Prarabdha. But, if at the present you engage in righteous activity, it will give you immense strength. Take the example of the Pandavas. What all difficulties, trials, tribulations and sufferings they did not undergo! Yet they had that inner satisfaction and contentment that they had not deviated from what was right and therefore it gave them inner strength. They never broke down. They never collapsed. Nothing was able to shake them. They were always firm in their abidance in virtue. Therefore the five Pandavas who abided in and adhered to virtue were able to overcome the hundred Kauravas who lacked the inner strength, because in the latter there was not the strength of virtue, there was not the strength of Dharma. So, Dharma upholds those who uphold Dharma. And those who do not uphold Dharma, they fall. Therefore, the first and foremost value in the Purushartha Chathushtaya is the ethical value or the moral standard in all our activities. This is called Dharma.

Now we come to the second value. You have got the body, you have got hunger and thirst, you feel heat and cold. So you want food, you want shelter, you want clothing. And you want other necessities of life. So, for all this, you want money; and therefore, you must have a job or ply a trade or profession. This aspect of life the ancients did not ignore. They said, "Yes, this is also an inevitable value arising out of the fact that you are living in this world". They called this value Artha. Artha is money, the economic value. Money is inevitable; it is necessary. For that also you must strive. But you must strive for it on the basis of Dharma, on the basis of righteousness. Your efforts to earn your livelihood should not be immoral, unethical or unrighteous. Dharma should be the basis even of your professional activities or business activities. Anything you do to make a living should be based upon Dharma. Dharma should be the basis.

And then, the third value. Any animal - be it a dog, donkey, cow or buffalo - is satisfied if it has food and a place to rest. But man is not like that; he has got many longings, many desires, many ambitions. Man is a vital being with a vital psychological personality within. He has got many longings, many desires, many ambitions and plans and schemes. So, this vital value also was given a place among the Purusharthas; a place was provided also for this vital value arising out of the desire nature of man. The other animals have no desire. They have only the instinct to go by. They want only food and drink and shelter and rest, and therefore, they are content if these are provided to them. But man is not content. He has the desire nature in him. They call it Kama.

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The Twofold importance of Dharma

Kama means desire of any kind. But, here also, any desire that goes contrary to morality and ethics should be shunned. It should not be kept, it should not be given any place in your life, because it will stop your evolutionary process, your progress upwards towards God-consciousness. Such desires only are to be harboured in your mind, such desires only are to be fulfilled, as are in accordance with the law of righteousness, with the law of Dharma. So, Dharma is the overall and continuous foundation and basis for all human striving. Even in your professional activities, in your various social and other activities, Dharma must always accompany you. Dharma must always infill your thoughts, words and actions. Thus, the economic value and the vital value pertaining to your Prapancha or your outer worldly life also should be animated by Dharma, pervaded by Dharma. Then it will lead you to Sukha (happiness). If Dharma is abandoned, then it will lead you to Duhkha (sorrow). This is the simple truth.

And another important reason why all these activities and strivings upon the outer plane should be continuously characterized and qualified by Dharma is that only then your life will move in the direction of the highest and supreme value. What is that highest and supreme value? It is the spiritual value which is God-realization, Atma-Jnana, liberation, divine perfection, highest spiritual consciousness and illumination. That is the supreme value. For that only we have taken birth. That only makes life worth living. No matter how desperate life may be, if you have this one goal that you must attain Divine Consciousness, you will get the strength to overcome and bear all the vicissitudes of life. "I am divine. Temporarily I have forgotten it. And until and unless I attain Divine Consciousness, my life will not be full and I will not remain content." - If that one goal is there with you, no matter what happens to you, all that will look secondary and less important. Whereas, your supreme goal will look the most important of all things; it will dominate your life and it will be enough to take you above all the vicissitudes of life. It will give you strength and definite direction in life, a specific aim in life. And from then on, your life will move in a self-chosen direction. That life cannot be assailed by misfortune. It will not be shaken. Having acquired great strength and power, it will ride triumphant over all the ups and downs of life and move towards the self-chosen goal in a very determined manner. So, the highest spiritual goal it is that makes your life worth living, that gives deep meaning to life. Otherwise, what is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of just eating, drinking, sleeping and one day dying? Doing little petty silly things and one day dying? Death puts an end to all. But what is that which makes life meaningful? Through this life of birth, change, growth, old age, disease, decay and death, you are to attain immortality and deathlessness by making use of this life. You are to attain Divine Consciousness. You must resolve: "I shall become deathless. I shall realize my deathless nature. I shall realize that I am Immortal Soul, Spirit Divine". And you must exert to the utmost to attain that goal. That supreme value is the most important value which gives life real depth, true meaning and a purposefulness. It makes life significant, important, sacred, purposeful. Therefore it is the most important value in life. If that value is there, you get the strength to overcome all difficulties, all the stresses and strains of life, and it is in relation to that supreme value that Dharma acquires an even greater importance, an even deeper significance.

Dharma is important for two reasons. Firstly, if it is there in your secular life of Artha and Kama, in your secular life of the economic and the vital values, it leads to happiness. If it is not there, then it leads to sorrow and misery. Therefore you must have Dharma. This is the lesser significance and use of Dharma. The higher purpose and significance of Dharma is that if it infills your life, then it leads your life to Moksha or the attainment of the highest spiritual value in life. It liberates you once and for all from the wheel of life and death. Then there is no more want, no more sorrow, no more weeping, no more wailing, no more difficulties and problems. You transcend all the Tapatrayas. You become established in a state of absolute peace, absolute contentment, absolute joy. You attain supreme satisfaction, become fearless and free. That supreme experience which is the highest Purushartha or Parama Purushartha, that attainment of Moksha and Divine Consciousness, is made possible only if your entire life is infilled by Dharma. So, Dharma has a direct connection with Moksha. Therefore they put it as the basis of your entire life. And in the framework of this Dharmic life, upon the foundation of Dharmic life, spiritual Sadhana becomes rapidly fruitful. Whatever Japa you do, whatever prayer you say, whatever spiritual study you do, whatever meditation you do, all become like striking a dry match stick on a dry match box...immediately there is fire. Where there is Dharma animating and pervading your entire life, there spiritual Sadhana becomes dynamic, rapidly fruitful and progressive. This is the great ideal of Bharatavarsha. It is inevitable to strive for the economic value and the vital value, because of your earthly nature. But it is only the spiritual value which makes life successful, which liberates you for ever from all the sorrow and bondage. And it is the ethical value which is the most important of all, because both for Prapancha as well as Paramartha, both for the life here and the life hereafter, it is that which guarantees that your life will lead to happiness and blessedness and not to sorrow and wretchedness.

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Conservation of Energy in the Context of a Spiritual Life

And in the context of the Purushartha Chathushtaya or the fourfold value to be attained, we require strength. We require energy. Any effort, any exertion, requires strength and energy. And energy can be gathered together only if it is conserved, only if it is preserved. But, if it is frittered away, you are always in debt. Just as, if you want to build a house or start a business, slowly you put by money and go on saving, saving, saving and then put it in a fixed deposit in some bank, and then, after five years or ten years, you would have enough to start a business or build a house. But, if every month you spend more than you get, if every month your expenditure is more than your income, how can you ever dream of having a house or starting a business? Always you will be in debt. You will be very owing. Your plight will be miserable. Similarly, energy is to be conserved. Conservation of one's energy in order to put it to higher use is the central principle of brahmacharya. What they call brahmacharya is a wise direction of our ancients to make the individual's efforts successful. Towards this end, they said: "You must conserve your energy". Because, if energy is sufficiently conserved, you can put it to any use that you want, you can attain anything that you wish to attain. But if you are bankrupt in energy, all attainment becomes difficult. It becomes a long-drawn struggle. So, preservation of energy is the essence of brahmacharya. Energy is frittered away in a dozen different directions. Too much talking, too much worry, too much wanting, getting fits of temper, anger, fighting and quarrelling, the arguing habit, overeating - all these things drain away energy. All excesses, all immoderate habits, all wastage of nervous and emotional energy through negative thoughts of hatred, envy and jealousy and all health-killing habits like smoking and drinking - they also drain away energy. Thus, Samyama or sense-control becomes an inevitable part of brahmacharya.

The functioning of any sense wastes away nervous, energy. That should be controlled, that should be wisely checked. And one of the most refined of energies, most concentrated of energies, is the sex energy. The sex energy is what we may call the quintessence of energies. It is the energy-potential in its 24 carat form. It is the quintessence of all that we eat and assimilate and preserve in the system, in the same way as honey is the very quintessence of flowers, and butter is the very quintessence of milk. Thousands of bees go and bring nectar from millions of flowers and work upon it in a huge beehive, and out of that by some miracle of biochemistry, comes honey. Out of litres of milk or gallons of milk comes butter. In the same way, the sex energy is the most rarified and perfectly pure form of human physical energy. If that sex energy is wisely conserved, it becomes available to you for being converted into any other form of energy. For example, if you want to study hard and become a brilliant scholar with a wonderful memory, sex energy comes to your aid. If you want to become a brilliant surgeon, sex energy comes to your aid. If you want to become a great master musician, the preserved sex energy comes to your aid. This is because, sex energy, when preserved, gradually becomes transformed into subtler energy. Of course, there are Yogic processes - Asanas, Pranayama, Surya-Namaskar, high emotions, noble emotions, spiritual sentiments and such other things - which help this work of transformation. So, the work of transformation goes on, goes on, goes on, and the rarified energy becomes available for higher intellectual pursuits, research and invention, meditation and so on. And, therefore, the wise conservation of this vital energy has always been given an important place in all religions in the context of a spiritual life.

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Sex Energy-A Manifestation of Para Shakti

What is this sex energy? This energy, this sex energy, is a manifestation of God. It is Brahman in dynamic expression. It is Shakti, Para Shakti. We all know that this phenomenal universe is the activity of the cosmic power call this which is illimitable, indescribable and infinite. We call this cosmic power Para Shakti, Maha Shakti, Maha Maya or Prakriti. Countless billions of universes come and go through the activity of this great cosmic energy. It is this cosmic energy, this Para Shakti, that manifests as the incredible energy of the sun, the energy of the planets and, the incredible speed at which they whirl in their own orbits. It is this cosmic energy which manifests as the power of gravity, as the power of the sun's radiance, as the power of all these great planets and heavenly bodies, as the power of the wind and other elements. If sometimes the wind is furious, it will even blow up houses. It is the cosmic energy which manifests as the power of fire, as the power of the volcano, as the power of floods, as the power of earthquakes, as the power of the Bhumi (Earth) to bear mountains, rivers and seas. So, earth, air, water, ether - all are nothing but the manifestations of this great power. It is the same power inside the seed that makes the seed grow into a huge tree. It is the power behind lightning and thunder. Any power that you see in this universe is the power of this great cosmic force and it is this same power that animates all living beings, trees, plants, insects, birds, bees, reptiles, fish and animals. It is the power of the lion, it is the power of the elephant and it is the power of the brilliant intellect or genius of a Faraday, a Raman or an Einstein. This self-same power abides in us and animates our entire body mechanism. It is the power that digests our food, that makes our heart pump blood, that makes our lungs breathe, that makes our muscles and joints work, that makes our tongue talk and ear hear. It is this very power that is also present as the sex energy in us. So, sex energy is part of the one indivisible great cosmic power present in the human individual. In its gross biological aspect, it is called the sex energy. In its subtler aspect, it is the energy of discrimination, the power of the intellect to analyze and enquire and ratiocinate. In a still subtler aspect, in its psychic aspect, it is the power of the Kundalini. And in its supreme aspect, it is nothing but Atma Shakti. Because Brahman and Shakti are not two. They are the static and the dynamic aspects of one and the same principle. Therefore, the sex energy is nothing but the presence of the Divine Mother in all human beings. It is something divine, it is something sacred, and its supreme function in the scheme of things of the Creator is to keep going the universal process. It is the function of reproduction which is present in all nature, in all life. Without this subtle power of duplication or reproduction, all species will become extinct. So, the utilization of the sex energy for the purpose of reproduction is actually a sacred process for cooperating with Brahma, the Creator. And any other aspect of the sex energy is a secondary, lesser aspect. And if this energy or power is wisely utilized in a moderate and restrained way, even after such utilization, a sufficient amount of it will be available for higher spiritual development. And if this gross biological energy is converted through Yogabhyasa into a subtler form, it becomes available for deep contemplation, reflection and meditation. Manana, Nididhyasana and Samadhi are enabled through the power of this conserved and converted energy. That is brahmacharya. So, all practices to successfully conserve and convert the sex energy into a higher form and utilize it for a higher spiritual purpose are included in the broad meaning of the term brahmacharya. Therefore, brahmacharya is not only a single act of restraint; it is a whole way of life. It is that way of living and moving and acting which will take us towards Brahma-Jnana. That is brahmacharya. And therefore it involves moderation in all our activities and a wise restraint of all our senses.

In the context of Indian culture, of Bharatiya Samskriti, total restraint of the sex energy was laid down upon three Ashramas, namely, the Brahmacharya Ashrama, the Vanaprastha Ashrama and the Sannyasa Ashrama - the student-stage of youth, the retired stage of the elderly person and the monastic stage of the last part of your life. And, even in the Grihasthashrama, legal or legitimate utilization of this power for the purpose of perpetuating the species was laid down. The result was that in the Grihasthashrama, Brahmacharya meant moderation, a wise rational, restrained use of the sex energy for the purpose of procreation. Moderation, and chastity or fidelity to one's married partner, were laid down. It was enjoined upon the married person not to cast any impure look upon any person other than one's lawfully wedded wife or lawfully wedded husband. So, out of this lofty concept of brahmacharya there arose two great ideals, the Pativrata Dharma and the Eka-Patni-Vrata of the Grihastha. For the married man there was only one woman in the whole universe, his lawfully wedded wife; the other women were like mothers to him. He cast no lustful, passionate, carnal eye upon any other woman. And for the chaste wife there was only one man in the whole universe and that man was her Lord and husband, whom she regarded with reverence and worshipfulness. All other men were like children to her. Towards others she had the Bhav of mother, of cosmic mother. It was only towards one person that she entertained the feeling: "I am a woman. I am wife"; and that person was her lawfully wedded husband. This is the great ideal that has arisen out of the supreme principle of brahmacharya, the supreme concept of brahmacharya. Thus, in so far as the pure classical attitude of Bharatiya Samskriti towards the sex energy was concerned, it was one of reverence. The ancient Masters never thought of the sex energy as either ugly or bad or wicked or evil or immoral. Such wrong notions about the sex energy are all the result of a failure to understand the sublimity of this particular force. It is due to superstition and lack of understanding that in normal society, deprived of right instruction and right knowledge, people begin to look upon it as something ugly, as something evil. One reason for the development or evolution of such an attitude is that because of all-too-common human weakness for sex, they had to place some sort of a moral taboo on sex. Otherwise, human weakness is such that it always takes the line of least resistance and, therefore, they said, "No. No. This should not be done. It should not be done in such and such a stage, because Shastras say so". They gave it this sort of colour.

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The Human Body Compared to a Mansion

One little point needs to be stressed here. The body is like a mansion. No matter how wonderful a mansion may be, even if it be made of marble and set with jewels, no one will be able to live in that mansion unless it has a kitchen and a bathroom and a toilet. Because, whatever man takes in, part of its goes to form his mind, part of it goes to form his body, and the remaining waste has to be eliminated. And waste is always foul-smelling. The impurities of the body are always foul-smelling. In the outer mansion they have to have a toilet, they have to have a kitchen. If there be no kitchen, no one can live there. You may construct any type of palace, but if there is no food, no lunch, no breakfast, no afternoon tea - even for a day - no one will live there. But then, when a kitchen is there, you have to provide drainage also. Kitchen means garbage, left-over food, vegetable cuttings, fruit peels and all that. If all this is kept, it will begin to rot and so you have to have a garbage disposal arrangement. You have to have drainage and sewerage. In the absence of all these arrangements, it will not be possible to live in that mansion. Likewise, in the human body, in this mansion of nine gates, in this Navadvara Kuti, where you have an entrance way and windows for light and air and knowledge, for the sake of drainage and garbage disposal, God has provided two holes. Their real importance is that of drainage. They are only drains. This is the only right understanding of the matter. No doubt, the occasional function of reproduction is there, but to over-exaggerate that aspect is foolish. It betrays a lack of knowledge. Because, from birth until death, day after day, thirty days in a month, and three hundred and sixty-five days in the year, the constant function that these exit gates have to fulfil is drainage. And the occasional function that they have to fulfil is in cooperating with Brahma, but that is only some rare occasional function, and that also, only in a very short period of one's life. In the first Ashrama of Brahmacharya, it has no place; in the third Ashrama of Vanaprastha, it has no place; and in the fourth Ashrama of Sannyasa, it has no place. Out of the whole life, it is only in one Ashrama that that particular function of it is exercised. Otherwise, the main function of these outlets is only drainage of impurities. If you change your Drishtikona and understand the body in the right perspective, then a great deal of your problem will be solved. It is taking a wrong view and giving a wrong emphasis which makes one to get into all sorts of difficulties. Secondly, take a look at it from the Vedantic point of view. The Adesha or Sandesha of Vedanta, the primary declaration of Vedanta, is that you are not this body, but that you are the Ajara Amara Avinashi Atma. Then, if you are not to identify yourself with your entire body, how can you identify yourself with one aspect of it? So, if your faith in Vedanta is Pucca, is firm and genuine, if you are true to your Vedanta, then, you have your solution in your own hand.

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How to Rise Above Sex

There is another important angle to this matter of brahmacharya. And that pertains to your aim and ambition in life. What is it that you want out of life? What great desire dominates your life? Is there something that is a consuming hunger in you? Do you want to become the highest musical genius in this world? Or do you want to become the fastest Olympic runner or weightlifter in this world? No matter what your ambition is, if there is some one overwhelming or all-consuming hunger in you, then all other problems recede into the background. They do not present a great difficulty. But, if you do not have such an overwhelming ambition in one direction, then everything becomes a problem and sex also becomes a problem. Therefore, the right way of solving this problem of sex is to rise above it so that it becomes something not important. You have to rise above sex - not wrestle with it, but rise above it. Because, if you do not have an overall concentrated urge or ambition in life, then the clamour of these little senses becomes a great din in your life. Your life will always be under that clamour. But, if you have got an overwhelming urge for something else, then this clamour does not reach you at all, because you are too busy engaging your entire attention in some other direction. So, the right way of solving this situation of sex is to rise above it, by developing great love for God, great love for an ideal, developing passion for a pure life, a moral life, an ethical life, an ideal life and nurturing Tivra Mumukshutva for attaining liberation. If intense Mumukshutva is there, then all other things recede into the background. They become less important. So, if you want to attain victory over the clamour of the senses, you must arouse within yourself a great fire of higher aspiration. Then, what happens? In order to attain that upon which your heart is set, you give yourself so totally to it that you have no time for other things. Even great scientists do not have this problem, because they are all the time completely absorbed in their scientific research. They do not pay much importance to food or clothing or bathing or anything. Why? Because they are all absorbed in, and interested in, something else. That is the way of becoming established in brahmacharya, in successful brahmacharya, in effective brahmacharya.

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Voluntary Self-restraint Is No Suppression

There is a Western idea that sex is a natural urge and so free expression should be given to it. And if free expression is not given to it, the sex urge will become suppressed, will become repressed. And if it is thus suppressed and repressed, it will create all sorts of abnormalities within you and you will develop neurosis and various types of complex and you will become an abnormal person. There is partial truth in it. There is truth in it to the extent that if this suppression and repression is forced upon you by circumstances beyond your control, by social environment, by other taboos and deep-seated inhibitions within you, due to your father's advice or mother's dominance or family and all, then it can give rise to some undesirable inner abnormality. But this situation never applies if realizing the greatness of a higher goal and realizing the necessity of this important Sadhana of self-control in order to attain that goal, you make up your mind fully, willingly and voluntarily. Then there is no question of suppression. If with a full willing heart you enter into this course of self-discipline and self-restraint, then there is no question of suppression. No one is asking you to do it. You want to do it. You are yourself desirous of it. So, done with full willingness, done with great enthusiasm, it becomes a voluntary thing. Then, psychological situations will not arise. On the contrary, every time you succeed in controlling the sense-urge, you get a sense of elation, you get a sense of achievement you get a sense of inner satisfaction that you have succeeded. So, it is something that goes on giving you endless satisfaction and a sense of triumph, a sense of overcoming. Therefore it is entirely a positive process, a very creative and positive process, not a negative and suppressive process. So, regarding brahmacharya, if you take the right approach and attitude towards it, then it is simple. It is a question of conserving energy, of preserving energy, so that it may be utilized for higher things which you wish to attain.

The energy in you is a part of the great cosmic energy. Cosmic energy, when individualized in the human being, manifests in many aspects. And one very important aspect is the physical biological aspect. That is the sex energy. A higher aspect is the mental and occult aspect. The mental and occult energy is called Medhas. Then there is in the individual the psychic aspect of the cosmic energy. This is the Kundalini Shakti. And above everything else, in its highest aspect, the cosmic energy shines in the human beings as Atma Bal, as Atma Shakti, as the radiance of the Atman. So, think over all this. All this is food for thought. These are seeds of certain concepts for your further reflection.


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BRAHMACHARYA - AN OUTLOOK OF CONSCIOUSNESS

By Swami Krishnananda

The last one among various items of self-restraint constituting the Yamas, is brahmacharya, which actually means the 'conduct of the Absolute'.

'Brahman' is the Supreme Being; 'Charya' is conduct, or behaviour. How God behaves - that is called brahmacharya, finally. It is a very difficult thing for us to understand, because we do not know how God behaves, how the Absolute conducts Itself. The attitude of the Supreme Being towards the universe and all beings is brahmacharya, and to the extent that we are able to participate in this attitude, it may be said that we are also following that canon. Our participation in the attitude of the Supreme Being may be infinitesimal, but there should be at least this 'tendency' towards holding the same attitude, the same outlook as that of the Lord. So, brahmacharya is an integrated outlook of consciousness, an attitude of the personality, and an interpretation of things. These are the essential basic principles of brahmacharya. And minus these principles, the term brahmacharya will yield only a chaotic meaning which will not help us much. In the Anu-Gita of the Mahabharata, a similar broad and majestic interpretation of brahmacharya is given, as coming out from the mouth of Sri Krishna Himself, during his instructions to Arjuna. The idea behind this significant term brahmacharya, translated as the conduct of the Absolute, is that it is a gradual adjustment of the powers of one's personality towards larger and larger dimensions of impersonality, because, the Absolute or Brahman is the Supreme Impersonality conceivable and existent. There is no externality to the Absolute and, therefore, it cannot be pulled in any outward direction. It has no conscious relationship with anything, though it is related to everything in the world. It cannot be said that God is not related to the world, He is related even to the minutest of things; even to a grain of sand, God is related. Yet, in a way, He is not-related to anything. The idea is that the attitude of the Supreme Spirit is of a generalized or universalized relationship with all things,. free from particularized or specialized interpretations or evaluations in regard to any thing or any object.

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How Our Energy Gets Diverted and Dissipated

Whenever there is a specialized outlook in any particular direction, along the channel of an object or a group of objects, living or non-living, consciousness moves in that direction. No matter what our interest is in that direction, our mind moves. When the mind moves, the Prana also moves. When the Prana moves, the energy also moves. So, one follows the other. Our mental interest in any particular direction draws the power of the Prana in that very direction, and like a charge of electricity, our energies are diverted. Whenever we think of an object, especially when we do so with a particular interest, which process is called the Klishta Vritti in the language of Patanjali, we are drawn towards that object, a part of us goes to it. Any interest psychologically manifest in the direction of any particular object is a diversion of energy along that channel, and psychological or emotional interest is nothing but a way of transferring oneself, at least in part, if not in whole, to that particular centre wherein one's interest lies. So, in some measure, we cease to be ourselves for the time being when we admire something, love something, or are attracted towards something. Sometimes, we can be wholly lost to ourselves when the attraction is full and hundred-per-cent, as may happen when we are looking at a painting, or enjoying a beautiful landscape, 6r reading a piece of lofty literature. The object may be conceptual, visible or audible, it makes no difference; we get transferred. When we listen to an enrapturing melody, our being is transferred to the modulation of the voice which is the music or the melody. When we look at a beautiful form, a landscape, a painting or any other object, we are drawn in our consciousness, and we are drawn even in reading arresting literature. In all these processes of sensory or intellectual absorption, outside oneself, there is a channelizing of force of which we are constituted and which forms our strength. As long as we do not sell ourselves to any outside object, do not participate in anything external, we stand by ourselves. Otherwise, in some percentage, we cease to be ourselves and become another. If one becomes another and does not continue to be what oneself is, A becomes B for the time being, and there is a cessation of the characteristic of A. The subject becomes the object in its evaluation of the object as something in which it has to take interest for some purpose which is in its mind. This should not happen, holds Patanjali, in essence. Because, if this happens, the energy that is supposed to be conserved for the purpose of meditation on the universality of the Purusha will be spent out in other directions, and to that extent, we will be losers of our strength. The fickleness of the mind or the absence of memory about which we often complain, the distraction to which the mind is heir to, the jumping of the feelings from one centre to another - all these are attributable to the fluctuation of energy in our system. It is like the torrential Ganga moving in force with her waves dashing up and down and not resting stable as a limpid lake without movement. When our energies are in tumult, the impact of it is felt by the mind. We are shaken up in our whole system, because of the desire of the personality to move outside itself. As milk gradually becomes curd by an internal shaking of itself, the subject can turn into the object. And love of any kind is nothing but the transference of the subject into the object in some measure, be that object perceptible or merely conceptual. The very thought of the object disturbs the mind. This is mentioned in a famous passage by Bhishma in the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata.

As we have noted earlier, the thought of an object is of two kinds, called the Aklishta Vritti and the Klishta Vritti by Patanjali. We can think of an object through an Aklishta Vritti or we can think of it through a Klishta Vritti. When we open our eyes and look at a large tree standing in front of us in the forest, al Aklishta Vritti is formed in the mind. It is a modification of the mind, because the mind has transformed itself into the form of the tree which we are beholding. But, it has not upset our emotion. It has not drawn our attention largely. We just look at it and are aware that there is a tree. To the extent that we are aware that there is some object outside us, the mind has transformed itself; it has ceased to be itself for the time being, though it has not caused us any sorrow. The tree has not attracted us or repelled us. But if we see a cobra with its hood raised, the modification of the mind at that time is not merely Aklishta, it is not merely a gazing at an object without internal association of emotion. Because, the emotion acts at the sight of a snake, while it will not act in that manner when we look at a tree or a mountain. Even as there is a particular type of emotional reaction at the time of the perception of an object like a cobra, there is another type of reaction of a similar intensity when we look at things which are highly valuable from our point of view. It may be a large treasure-chest or something else which we think is worthwhile. So, anything we like or dislike evokes a Klishta Vritti in the mind. A thing in which we are not particularly interested either way evokes an Aklishta Vritti in the mind. For the purpose of Yoga, both these Vrittis have to be subdued. Neither the Klishta nor the Aklishta is a desirable thing from the point of view of Mano-nirodha (control of the mind) or Chitta-vritti-nirodha (control of thoughts), which is Yoga.

The objects of the world speak in a language which we understand in our own way. They get transformed into a meaning when they enter into the mind of individuals; and each individual has his own or her own reading of any particular object. Every object sings a song and we listen to this music, but its meaning is different for different persons. For instance, the same word may convey different meanings to different persons because of the association of those persons in different ways with the particular context in which the word is uttered. All objects in the world speak to us in a psychological language or with a philosophical significance. But, the association of each one of us with them is such that it reads a specialized meaning in this generalized evoking of reaction from us by those objects. This particularized interpretation by each individual in answer to the general call of objects is his love or hatred. Objects of the world are not intended for being loved or for being hated. They exist as we also exist. Just as we do not evince any particular emotional love or hatred towards ourselves, and our loves and hatreds are only in regard to things outside ourselves, we can extend this logic to other objects also. No one assesses himself in terms of love and hatred. His assessment is in regard to other things, other persons. So, studying things in an impartial manner, we find that loves and hatreds are outside the scheme of things. They are not in the order of nature. They do not exist in nature at all. But for us, they only exist and nothing else! We are immersed in this tumultuous chaos, or the clamours of the senses and the mind, which go by the name of likes and dislikes.

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Conservation of Energy for Brahma-Sakshatkara

Here is the basic foundation of the great admonition by the Yoga teacher that we have to conserve energy. We generally understand brahmacharya to be celibacy, a very poor translation of the word, and a misdirected meaning also. By celibacy we mean abstinence from marriage, and we associate or identify celibacy with brahmacharya or continence in the light of the requirement of Yoga, especially as mentioned by Patanjali. But, nothing of the kind is brahmacharya. It is not non-marriage, and it is not celibacy in its popular meaning. A person who has not married need not necessarily be a Brahmacharin. And a person who has married need not cease to be that. Because, what we have to be careful in noting in this context is the intention behind this instruction, and not merely the following of it in social parlance. The intention is the conservation of energy, and the directing of the whole of one's personality towards the great objective of universal consciousness. And the energy of the system is required for any kind of concentration, not merely for God-realization or Brahma-Sakshatkara. We require energy even to solve a mathematical problem. Even to build a bridge across a large river, even to study the minute particles of nature in a physical research laboratory, one requires a tremendous concentration of mind. Even to walk on a wire in a circus requires concentration. So, wherever there is a necessity to hold one's breath and concentrate one's attention, as in walking on a very narrow passage, tremendous energy is required, concentration is necessary. A two-feet wide bridge without any protection on either side and spanning a stream flowing in a deep gorge below - we know how we will walk on that bridge, holding our breath and thinking only of that narrow passage and nothing else. Certainly we will not be thinking any other distracting thought in our mind. Like that, the fixing of the mind on the great ideal of Yoga requires a complete surrender of oneself, in every part of one's being, in the form of concentration. This cannot be done, says Yoga, if we have got other interests.

So, a lack of brahmacharya means nothing but the presence of interests other than the interest in Yoga. The distracting object may be anything. If we have got a strong interest in something which distracts our attention, the energy goes. Any kind of leakage of energy in any direction, caused by any object or any event or context, is a break in brahmacharya. A burst of anger is a break in brahmacharya, though one does not normally think so. No one condemns a man because he is angry. We may even think him to be a wonderful person in spite of his burst of anger, but the truth is that he has failed utterly in his brahmacharya. He is broken down totally. Because most people are tradition-bound, they go by the beaten track of social tradition and custom, and think that religion is nothing but what society sanctions. But, it is not like that. Religion is not merely the requirement demanded by a Hindu society or a Christian organization. It has nothing to do with these things. What the universe expects us to manifest from our side, in respect of it, is the great religion of mankind, the religion of God or the religion of the universe. Nobody is going to save us, merely because we are religious in the eyes of the people. In that case, we may well go to dogs with all our religion. What will help us, what will guide us, what will take us by the hand and lead us along is the great law which we obey, in the manner in which we are required to obey it, under the circumstances of our relationship with all things in the universe. So, in every way, we have to conserve our energy without any kind of distraction.

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The Individual - A Pressure Centre

The philosophers, the mystics, the saints and the sages have made a thorough analysis of the energies of the human mind, the psycho-physical organism in all its completeness. It would appear that we are centres of pressure or stress. Every individual is such a centre, which seeks to break down this pressure, overcome this stress, by adopting some means which it thinks is the proper one under the circumstances. But, the understanding of the way in which this stress is to be removed depends upon one's own stage of evolution. Everyone knows that stress and strain are not good, but everyone does not know how to be free from them, because the causative factors of stresses and strains are not properly understood or analyzed. We may know that we are sick, but we may not fully know why we are sick. And unless we know the cause behind our illness in the form of psychological stress and strain, distraction of attention, like and dislike, we will not be able to handle this subject properly. The so-called desires of man are the outer expressions of his personality to relieve itself from the stresses and strains in which it finds itself shackled. We are perpetually in a state of mental stress and nervous pressure from childhood to doom, and the whole of our life is spent only in trying to find out ways and means of relieving ourselves of these stresses and strains, and we have our own way of doing it. The way in which we try to relieve ourselves of these stresses and strains - this way is called the expression of desires. What is called desire is the method we adopt to relieve ourselves of our tensions, nervous and psychological. So, each person tries his own method to relieve himself of his tension, according to the manner of his understanding. But, most of these ways are misdirected ways. They increase the tension on account of ignorance about the reason behind the arising of the stress or the strain.

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Stresses and Strains - Their Cause and Cure

The stress or the strain has arisen on account of a separation of the individual from Nature. The world has cast us out as exiles. We have been thrown outside the realm of Nature as unwanted children. Our internal desire, finally, is to unite ourselves with Nature which is our mother or our parent. The relief that we are seeking from our stresses and strains is ultimately a desire or a longing to become one with our parent, from whom we have been cut off or isolated. Our desire is to possess everything. And the desire to possess is called love. What goes by the name of love of any kind in this world is a desire to possess things, which are considered as instruments capable of relieving us of our stresses and strains. Whether we are right in this interpretation of the situation or not is a different matter. But, just as a little bit of scratching of an eczema patch will give the sufferer a little relief, a forgetfulness of the tension or the stress for the time being is imagined to be a way of relief from the stress itself. When a larger stress swoops down upon us, the lesser stress is forgotten. We are directed away from the lesser stress and the pain, we even forget it for the time being, when a larger stress or strain comes and sits on our head. Let us suppose that we have some worry and we are thinking about it. A larger worry comes and then we forget the lesser worry. Because, the higher thing has come. All our pains, sorrows and complaints vanish in a minute, in a trite, when we are about to be drowned in a river, for instance. We do not complain about anything at that time. Everything would seem to be all right if only we could be saved from possible drowning. Because, that is a problem larger than all the other little problems about which we are constantly complaining in life. So is the case with our asking for the fulfilment of our desires by contact with things.

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The Havoc Wrought by the Externalizing Senses

In one of the Sutras, Patanjali tells us that sensory contact with things is not the way of relieving tension caused by desires, because desires cannot be removed by any kind of sensory contact. Our desire is not for the contact. That is the whole point, though it appears that the senses tell us to come in contact with various things in the world for the relief of our tension. We are not asking for things. Nobody wants anything in this world finally. But, it appears as if we are wanting them, due to a mischievous interpretation given to these circumstances by our senses, by externalizing our internal anguish for a communion with all things. All loves, all desires, are urges for communion with things. While our urge within is a holy and pious impulse to come in union with all things, with Nature as a whole, this impulse is thrown in the direction of space and time and is externalized by the powers of the senses. What is the result? The longing of ours, which has its meaning in one direction, takes another shape because of its reflection through the senses. While our face is attached to our body, it looks as if it is outside us when we see it in the mirror. We are not outside ourselves, we are in ourselves. But, it appears as if we have gone out of ourselves, because of the presentation of the mirror in front of ourselves. The mischief is done by the mirror. Some such catastrophic activity takes place when our loves, likes, emotions and desires are cast into the mould of the senses. The senses have only one work to do, to externalize everything. So, even our desires are externalized, while really our desire is for something else. That is the reason why we are not satisfied, no matter what objects are given to us, we are always disillusioned in the end. Whatever be our possession, it is not going to satisfy us finally. Because we are asking for some particular thing, and we are given another thing by the dacoits of the senses, they are really thieves.

Very strange is this phenomenon that the mind spatializes itself and temporalizes itself in its activity, when it affiliates itself to the activities of the senses, and its own desires for something which it has lost appear as desires for those things which are outside it. This is a highly significant situation in which everyone is finding himself or herself, something which escapes one's notice always, a very dangerous circumstance about which we need not talk much, because it is so clear. And one need not be told again and again as to why the ways in which we try to fulfil our desires are not the proper ways. Firstly, there is a basic blunder in the very attitude of the mind in imagining that what it seeks through the fulfilment of desires lies outside it. The other blunder is, that in its movement towards the so-called external things, it has lost its energies. It has weakened itself. The Self, when it becomes the non-self, becomes a corpse, becomes dead. So, a person who has desires is a weakling. He has no strength at all. He has neither physical strength nor mental strength. The more the unfulfilled desires, the greater is the weakness of the body and the mind. One cannot walk even. One cannot digest food. One cannot think, cannot remember anything. This happens when there are too many desires unfulfilled. But, what to do under the circumstances?

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Desire - A Metaphysical Evil

As students of Yoga interested in the true welfare of our souls, we must be able to know what has really happened to us. We should not be wool-gathering, we should not be in a fool's paradise even in the name of religion or spirituality. Any kind of outward ritualistic movement of our personalities, even in the name of religion, is not going to save us, in the end, because this evil called desire is a metaphysical evil. It is not a social evil, it is not a physical evil. It is a metaphysical evil, as the philosophers call it. It is a cosmic catastrophe, and therefore, it requires all the analytical capacity that we are capable of to know what has happened to us, and know how we can gradually wean ourselves away from this impulse that is dragging us out from ourselves in the direction of the objects of sense. This weaning oneself away from objects is done very gradually. The fulfilment of desires is not condemned in the religion of India especially, though it is well known that desires have to be completely extirpated one day or the other; because, they are bondages which tether the soul to the body and its physical associations. The great system of social living and personal living inculcated in India, and accepted by other great philosophers in other countries also, is known as the Varnashrama system, a highly scientific analysis of the human situation and the desires of man and the needs of man at different times. We have various kinds of needs, though all needs may be called desires, and all desires may be called undesirable things in the end. Yet, when they are there as realities to the senses and the mind, and not lesser realities than our own bodies and our personalities, we have to tackle them with great caution. We have to interpret them as realistically as we interpret our own selves. The objects are as real as ourselves and as unreal as ourselves. To the extent that we are real, the things connected with us are also real. And to the extent that we are unreal, to the same extent, they are also unreal. The subject and the object evolve simultaneously. The evolution is not just individualistic and subjective. So, this system of Varnashrama is a systematic procedure to adjust ourselves and adapt ourselves to the circumstances of life, horizontally in society, and vertically in our own personality. The horizontal adjustment is the Varna and the vertical adjustment is the Ashrama. We have to be complete in society, in our relationships with people, and we have to be complete in our own selves by a suitable harmonious alignment of the various layers of our personality. Such an adjustment is very effectively brought about by following the great canons of the Varna and the Ashrama.

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Varnashrama - An Aid to Free Ourselves from the Grip of Nature

People generally think that Varna means caste, but it is not that. It means a class. The principle of the classification of society is called the Varna-Dharma. It is a classification, not a 'castification'. To say that Varna means caste is to give it a wrong name and an erroneous interpretation. No man is complete in himself, and therefore, no man can be satisfied merely in his own self without the cooperation of other persons. Man is, among other things, intellect, will, emotion and energy. There are certain people with a tremendous physical capacity, but intellectually they are poor. There are others who are rationally and intellectually brilliant, but physically weak. The other two aspects, namely, emotion and will, are also distributed disproportionately among people. Everyone is not possessed of these characteristics in the same measure. Inasmuch as everyone's intention is the welfare of all human beings, the solidarity of mankind in general, it is necessary that we share among ourselves the commodities that we have. The commodities are not necessarily physical ones; they can be psychological ones also. If one has great intellectual capacity and spiritual acumen, which are necessary for the welfare of society, but not other facilities, he will share the knowledge and wisdom and the directing intelligence that he has with others, for the facilities which he does not have. The mutual cooperative activity of society - spiritually, administratively, economically and manually - forms the essence of the Varna system. The classification into Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras is not a categorization of people into superior and inferior types, into bosses and subordinates, but it is a classification of the functions of individuals according to their knowledge and capacities, for the purpose of a complete cooperative organization of humankind, with a noble intention and purpose. This is one way in which we can be happy in this world. Otherwise, we will be in misery everyday, every moment. The desires of ours are classified in this manner, and they are given an opportunity of permissible satisfaction, by a mutual cooperation horizontally in this manner.

There is the other side, namely, the vertical side, which is the subject of the Ashrama-Dharma, or duties pertaining to the different Ashramas, or stages of life. Just as we have totally misunderstood the meaning of the Varna system, we have also misunderstood the meaning of the Ashrama system. Just as we condemn the classification of Varna as caste distinction, we convert the classification of the stages of one's life by way of Ashrama, into a kind of dead routine of religion. Neither Varna nor Ashrama is a routine. Varnashrama is a vital participation in the processes of life, externally as well as internally. Externally it goes by the name of Varna, and internally it goes by the name of Ashrama. The idea behind this is the fulfilment of the requirements of the human personality, in the way it would be required, for the purpose of a transcendence of all limitations, with the great goal of Moksha, or liberation of the spirit, in mind. What a glorious psychological organization this Varnashrama is! No item in this classification is unimportant, because nature catches us by the throat, with such a firm grip, that we cannot free ourselves from its compulsive pressure without the aid of the Varnashrama-Dharma. We are caught firmly by Nature socially, physically, vitally; psychologically, rationally and even spiritually. So, we have to free ourselves from these clutches or pressures by a gradual dissociation of ourselves from nature, as we untie its knots one by one.

If we tie a thread into a dozen knots, and then want to untie them and straighten out the thread, we do not go to the bottom knot first, but rather to the topmost one. The topmost knot is untied first, then the previous one or the eleventh knot, then the tenth, then the ninth and so on, till at last we come to the very first knot. We cannot touch the first knot in the very beginning. Similarly, in spiritual life, the first problem is treated last, and the last problem is taken up first. Because, the first is more subtle and more proximate to the realities of things than the later ones which are the evolutes of the causes. The effects have to be taken care of first, and the causes later on. So, outwardly as well as inwardly, these systems of organization known as Varna and Ashrama, are procedures enjoined upon every person, for untying the various knots of entanglement in life, engendered by one's needs which are social, physical, vital, emotional, intellectual and so on.

Such a vast involvement is associated with this little thing called brahmacharya, by the practice of which we do not merely put on a conduct personally and socially but establish ourselves in a status of strength, where we are so tuned to things that our energies do not move at all in any direction, but are held up in such a way that there is no urge within ourselves to transfer our energies to outside things for the fulfilment of our desires. Desires have to be fulfilled, and also, they are not to be fulfilled. Both these statements are correct statements. But, the statements must be understood in their proper meaning. For instance, hunger has to be appeased, though hunger is a disease of the body, though it is a canker that eats into every man's vitals and compels him to remember always that he is a body. Can anything be worse than this that one should be made to feel always that one is a prisoner? One may be a captive in it prison, but why should one be made to think everyday that one is a prisoner? But, that is precisely what hunger does. All the time it makes you remain body-conscious. Such an evil thing it is, but how can one get out of it. By meeting the demands of the body, while exercising very great caution simultaneously. That is why we put on clothes when we feel chillness; we go to sleep when we are tired; we eat a meal when we are hungry. We go for a walk and we do many things. Now, all these activities are so far removed from the goal of our life, as the north pole from the south, and yet they are taken as necessities. We may call them necessary evils, if we like. They are evils, no doubt, but they are necessary evils. So, they have to he befriended first, in order that we sever ourselves from them ultimately. The intention behind the practice of the canons of Varna and Ashrama in a graduated manner is not the indulgence of desires, but their graduated, scientific, systematized and cautious fulfilment in a measure that is permissible and required under the circumstances for the purpose of freeing oneself from them finally. So, we do not eat because we want to eat, but because it is necessary to reach a stage where we need not eat at all. There is, therefore, a deep background behind the psychology of the canons known as the Yamas and a clear understanding of this background will help us to practice these canons better.


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MARRIAGE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

By Swami Krishnananda

Scientists are accustomed to the well-known phenomenon known as the "Big Bang," an occurrence which is regarded as the origin of creation of the universe. The meaning attributed to this phenomenon is that the universe was originally a single Cosmic Atom, as it were, known in Sanskrit terminology as Brahmanda, which split into two parts by a bang, an instantaneous separation of itself into two parts, representing what may be called the Cosmic Subject and the Cosmic Object. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad has already proclaimed that there was one Universal Self which projected Itself as a subjective side and an objective side of Itself, the Cosmic Positive and the Cosmic Negative. The intriguing secret behind the relationship of the two Cosmic parts seems to be that there is on the one hand the duality of the positive and the negative and there is on the other hand the correlativity of the positive and the negative, since the two phases are actually the two types of the phenomenal occurrence in the otherwise unitary indivisible original existence.

Sage Yajnavalkya says that each unit of life is actually like a split "pea," in which one cannot easily say whether the pea is one or two things joined together. Also, the very idea of a bi-polar existence implies the interference of space and time, and even if it is accepted that the apparent two-fold life is an appearance of the original one life, the idea of "another" cannot arise unless there is some medium through which it looks as if it is there, just as one person can look like two persons when one beholds oneself through the medium of a mirror. Such a possibility involves the existence of space and time which are the most elusive things everywhere in creation. No one can understand what these actually mean since these are involved in the process of thinking itself, and no one can also deny that they do exist.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad goes on to say that the two Cosmic parts are comparable to husband and wife, in which context, the one part rushes towards the other part to come in contact with it while the other part wishes to avoid the contact since such a contact is not possible as the so-called "other" really cannot stand apart from that which seeks the contact. Humorously, through an analogy, the Upanishad says that the wife aspect ran away to escape the husband aspect coming in contact with it since an attempt at such a contact looked meaningless and also abortive. The Upanishad goes further and says that the bi-polar wholeness reduces itself to lesser and lesser "wholes," from gods in heaven down through humans, animals, plants and trees and even the lowest of creatures like insects, thus making out that this dual pull is present everywhere in creation from the highest to the lowest of created elements.

At the human level this principle of bi-polar existence takes an interesting turn, since in the human being there is an element of the instincts of the lower species and at the same time a reason which reflects the characteristics of transcendental existence. While in the earlier stages of evolution mentioned, the process of bi-polar existence appears more or less as a spontaneous feature, at the human level it becomes slightly complicated due to the reason and the instinct clashing with each other almost everyday of one's life, causing a lot of misery. As the human being is a unit in human society, the laws framed by society condition the activities of a person, while the instinctive impulses come from the other levels of life insist that they should have an upper hand over all things, and when the instincts are strong enough they can rebel against social norms, much to the chagrin of the individual, as is well-known in human history. In order to obviate this problem of conflict between individual and society, people in a common agreement among themselves have instituted a system called marriage.

Now, what exactly is marriage? It is quite clear that it is a form of legalization of the inherent instinct of the bi-polar existence asserting itself and then a check upon any uncontrolled ravaging activity of the instinct. The point is that a person cannot live totally isolated from society since existence itself would be difficult without cooperation from others. Inasmuch as this instinct is present in every person and everyone would like to manifest it as much as possible, there would be difficulty in such a behaviour since everyone else also would like to do the same thing. This goes to say that the institution of marriage is a process of granting limited freedom to the operation of the instinct permitting it to operate within the circle of social norms, with due respect for the welfare of everyone equally.

However, with all this that has been said above, a question will arise as to why is there such an attraction between the male and the female. Philosophically, to answer this question in the light of what has been detailed above, the explanation would be the struggle of the two parts of the one whole to unite themselves into a single unit of existence. But as two things cannot become one, the sexual demand fails to fulfil its purpose ending in exasperation, disillusionment and a distrust in the meaning of life itself. The other aspect is the much neglected side of the phenomenon, namely, Nature's intention to multiply the species. Everyone knows the power of Nature and no one can resist it. The would-be entrant's push towards this world, which we call the coming of a child into existence, is the process of an integral impulse since the child is a whole being, as whole as either the father or the mother. The pressure of the would-be individual, being very strong, compels the male and the female to seek each other with great vehemence, to such an extent that the male and the female elements would even wish to die if this impulse is not going to be gratified, forgetting thereby that they are only serving the injunctions of Nature, though Nature has cleverly put them under an illusion that what they do is for their own personal benefit. Since everything is destroyed by Time, there is a fear that one's existence would be terminated one day, and to escape from the grief of this possibility, the biological impulse wishes to reproduce itself as a child, a son or a daughter, which become a replica of the parents, whom they hug as themselves, as if the child is inseparable from the parents. Considering the fact that no one can go against the injunctions of Nature, sexual life permitted by marriage should be regarded as reasonable and unavoidable, but considering the welfare of the individual himself or herself, it brings no such benefit, ending in depletion of energy, slowly tending towards old age and physical extinction. It looks that the whole drama of creation is a "hide and seek" affair of the truths of existence where everyone does something helplessly under the impression that it is done voluntarily for one's own assumed immortal satisfaction, while the fact is that the entire exercise is a hypnotized person's supposed voluntary enterprise, though commanded by the hypnotist's will.


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BIRTH CONTROL

By Swami Sivananda

Instructions for Householders

Strict regulation of sexual life and a rigid practice of non-violence are necessary if you want to have progress on the spiritual path.

If you use contraceptives you will never learn to exercise self-restraint

He who uses contraceptives is an immoral man.

Learn the virtue of self-restraint. The use of these artificial methods will eventually sap your energy. It will break down all restraint.

There is an intimate connection between sex and control of the palate. He who has controlled the palate has already controlled all the other organs.

Sattvic food will make the practice of brahmacharya easy.

Continence is not harmful. On the other hand it conserves nervous energy. It gives great mental strength and peace of mind. Sexual indulgence leads to moral and spiritual bankruptcy, premature death, nervous weakness and loss of one's faculties, talents and capacities.

Manu says: "The first-born child is born of Dharrna and the rest of Kama or lust. The sexual act for mere pleasure is not justifiable".

Passion for the flesh or body is not pure or real love. It is only infatuation born of ignorance. You do wicked deeds and kill your soul on account of this passion.

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Population Should Be Checked

How is the world to feed all the millions? In spite of advanced agricultural methods and reclamation of waste land, it has been found impossible to balance food production with the increase of population. Hence, the growth of population has to be restrained if there is to be no lowering of the standard of living. If this is not done there will be mass starvation, famine and consequent degradation of morality. Special agencies of the United Nations are busy in finding out a long term solution. The United Nations Population Commission is now at work, assisted by the Economic Council for Asia and the Far East.

No doubt in principle it is right that population has to be restricted. But how? Naturally, through the advanced means of planned parenthood. What do we mean by this?

Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Health Mnister of India answers: "I need hardly say that our educated class thinks of planned parenthood mainly in terms of city-dwellers and educated men and women. There are also many amongst the poorer classes whom our social workers can reach in the cities, where their organizations are working. But they also invariably think of birth control by the artificial methods of contraceptives, which have taken a firm hold of people in countries of the West. I am totally unable to reconcile myself to this view".

Indeed, the unanimous answer as to how to plan parenthood has been the usage of contraceptives. It is a pity that most of our learned leaders, with very few exceptions like Amrit Kaur, should stoop so low in aping the West, with complete disregard and ignorance of their own heritage.

The Vedic preceptors strictly enjoined on their students the practice of unbroken celibacy; and when they had completed their studies and were advised to get married, it was not for the sake of physical pleasure but for the sake of progeny. Self-restraint gave them moral strength and spiritual vision. Through self-restraint they achieved ethical perfection and improved their intellect.

There is no safer and better solution for the restriction of our population than practice of self-restraint. No number of birth control clinics and no amount of propaganda advocating artificial methods can take root in these masses, whose traditional background has been always soaked in spirituality. No method other than self-restraint can be morally and spiritually successful either in India or anywhere else in the world.

In India it was Mahatma Gandhi who, for the first time, organized stubborn opposition against the use of contraceptives for family planning, as artificial methods gave free latitude to the married and even encouraged the unmarried to embrace the path of self-indulgence with vulgar impunity.

Gandhiji said, "If the rural population practiced moral restraint they could limit the size of their families better than through the use of contraceptives. Artificial methods are like putting a premium on vice. The remedy will be worse than the disease." When Gandhiji said this, many eminent leaders, doctors, lawyers and educationists (even some of his foremost disciples), rose to contradict him, saying, "The restraint of the natural impulse in men and women would lead to serious consequences. There will be mass neurosis. Their zest for living and their mental faculties would ebb away, their lives would become drab and dull," and so on and so forth.

All these charges were baseless and were but a confession of lasciviousness on the part of the crusaders against self-restraint. This has been adequately proved by distinguished scientists and doctors and by numerous scriptures belonging to all faiths. To quote a few such noteworthy remarks, let us choose them from Western spokesmen in whom our educated intelligentsia are prone to believe much more than in their own scriptures.

Sir Lionel Beale, Professor of the Royal College in London, says: "Sexual abstinence has never yet hurt any man. Virginity is not too difficult to observe, provided that it is the physical expression of a certain state of mind".

Professor Cesterbu concurs with Beale by saying, "The sexual instinct is not so blindly all-powerful that it cannot be controlled and even subjugated entirely by moral strength. We must know that robust health and ever-renewed vigour will be the reward of this voluntary service".

Sir Andrew Clark also agrees that "continence does not harm; it does not hinder development; it increases perception and energy".

That the practice of continence is a fitting remedy for birth control has been emphasized by the noted American, Joseph H.J. Spenglar. He says, "Moral restraint offers a salutary solution to the problem of over-population".

Gandhiji answered his critics by the example of his personal life. In his autobiography he writes: "I took the vow of brahmacharya in 1906. I launched forth with faith in the sustaining power of God. The more or less practice of self-control has been going on since".

Gandhiji was a man of experience and whatever he spoke was from his personal experience only. His was not an arm-chair philosophy. He emphasized that continence was the prime qualification for success in all achievements and in every walk of life.

"I hold that a life of perfect continence in thought, speech and action is necessary for reaching spiritual perfection. brahmacharya means perfect control of all the sense-organs. For a true Brahmachari, nothing is impossible."

It is obvious that strict celibacy, as practiced by Bhishma, Lakshmana and Hanuman, is not possible for the masses; but it is essential for their physical, moral and spiritual growth. They should have a well-restrained and sacred marital relationship.

Bernard Shaw, a highly intellectual and profound spiritual personality, but an atheist and a non-believer in organized religions as accepted by the masses, voiced the universally accepted truth that "unless we restrain desire we destroy ourselves."

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Danger of Artificial Means

"In my opinion we can give an impetus to birth control in our country by ways and means which ought to come instinctively to us if we are true to the best traditions of our civilization. Perhaps in no other country in the world has the practice of continence been advocated with such emphasis as in India by all our saints and sages. Self-restraint on the part of both men and women, and particularly on the part of men, must therefore be the first weapon in our armoury if we are to battle successfully against overpopulation in our country. Artificial methods seem to the average man to be easy of attainment. Hence, they are advocated by all and sundry. I look up at this as a danger signal because it is always the straight and narrow way that leads us to salvation".

Thus did Rajkumari Amrit Kaur represent the real sentiment of the majority of the masses of our country in the Harijan.

The women of India have a great role to play in thwarting the onslaught of materialism. Through the ages, it is they who have preserved the spiritual character of our society, their natural instincts being religious. It is ignoble that they should subscribe to the philosophy of the modern apostates.

Gandhiji wrote over a decade ago: "In my opinion it is an insult to the fair sex to put up her case in support of birth control by artificial methods. I have little doubt that the vast majority of women will reject them as inconsistent with their dignity".

It is high time now that the leaders of our country became aware of the ignominous consequences of birth-control through artificial means. They should launch a country-wide campaign, particularly in the villages, propagating the gospel of self-restraint, abolition of early marriage, and practice of clean and healthy living.

The nation is fortunate in having Amrit Kaur as its Health Minister. Though miserably outnumbered by the votaries of contraceptives, she emphasizes once more: "Artificial methods are wholly impractical in our country because of the ignorance of our people, the lack of scientific medical aid available to them, and also because of their high cost. I challenge the statement myself that the practice of birth control by the use of contraceptives has proved a success either physically, mentally or morally for the people of the West who have practiced it over a number of years.

"On the other hand it has contributed in no small measure to a lowering of the standard of morality and to a disregard by both men and women of the fundamental responsibility given to human kind for procreation. While birth control is essential for India to restrict its growing population, the more I live and serve the cause of health, and the closer contacts I have with sick and suffering humanity, both in the city and in the village, the more convinced I become that it will be a fatal step for our country to resort to artificial means".

Gandhiji writes in the Harijan: "There is nothing in our society at the present time which is conducive to the practice of self-control. Our very up-bringing is against it. The primary concern of parents is to get their children married anyhow so that they may breed like rabbits. If they are girls, they are married at the earliest age convenient, irrespective of their moral welfare. The marriage ceremony is one long, drawn-out agony of frivolity and feasting. The householder's life is in keeping with the past life. It is a prolongation of self-indulgence. Holidays and social enjoyments are so arranged as to allow one the greatest latitude for sensuous living. The literature that is almost thrust on our generation panders to animal passion. Modern literature almost teaches that indulgence in it is a duty and total abstinence a sin.

"Is it any wonder if control of the sexual appetite has become very difficult, if not impossible? If the practice of birth control through self-restraint is then the most desirable, sensible and totally harmless method, we must forthwith change the environment and social ideal. The only way to bring about the desired results is for individuals who believe in the method of self-control to make the beginning themselves and, with unquenchable faith, to affect their surroundings. For them the conception of marriage I discussed earlier seems to me to be of the greatest significance.

"A proper grasp of it means a complete mental revolution. It is not meant merely for a few select individuals. It is presented as the law of human species. Its breach reduces the status of human beings and brings swift punishment in the shape of multiplicity of unwanted children, a train of diseases, and disruption of man as a moral being responsible to his Maker.

"Birth-control by the use of contraceptives no doubt regulates the number of newcomers to some extent and enables a person of moderate means to keep the wolf from the door. But the moral harm it does to the individual and to society is incalculable. For one thing, the outlook upon life for those who satisfy the sexual appetite for the sake of it is wholly changed. Marriage ceases to be a sacrament for them. It means a revaluation of the social ideals hitherto prized as a precious treasure. No doubt this argument will make little appeal to those who regard the old ideals about marriage as mere superstition. My argument is only addressed to those who still regard marriage as a sacrament and woman not as an instrument of animal pleasure but as the mother of man and trustee of the virtue of her progeny.

"My experience of self-control by fellow workers and myself confirms for me the view presented here. It assumes overwhelming force from my discovery in a vivid light of the ancient concept of marriage. To me, the practice of brahmacharya in married life now assumes its natural and inevitable position and becomes as simple as the fact of marriage itself. Any other method of birth control seems unthinkable and useless. If the idea that the grand and only function of the sexual organ is generation, possesses men and women, then union for any other purpose will be held as a criminal waste of the vital fluid, and the consequent excitement caused to woman and man as an equally criminal waste of precious energy.

"It is now easy to understand why the scientists of old placed such great value upon the vital fluid and why they insisted upon its strong transmutation into the highest form of energy for the benefit of society as a whole. They boldly stated that one who attained perfect control over the sexual energy strengthened the whole being - physical, mental and spiritual - and attained powers unattainable by any other means.

"Let not the reader be disturbed by the absence of many or even any living specimen of such giant Brahmacharis as were found in days of yore. The Brahmacharis that we have today are incomplete specimens. At best they are aspirants who have acquired control of the body but not of the mind. They have not become proof against temptation. This is not because brahmacharya is so difficult of attainment. It is because the social environment is against them, and the majority of those who are making an honest effort unknowingly isolate the control of animal passion from all other passions, whereas, to be successful the effort must include control of all passions to which man is a prey. Whilst complete brahmacharya is not impossible of attainment by the average man and woman, it must not be felt that it requires less effort than that required by a student who wishes to master one of the sciences".

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