It is quite possible for a man to practice celibacy while remaining in the world, albeit there are various sorts of temptations and distractions. Many have achieved this in times of yore. There are many even at the present moment also. A well disciplined life, a Sattvic and moderate diet, study of religious scriptures, Satsanga, Japa, Dhyana, Pranayama, daily introspection and enquiry, self-analysis and self-correction, Sadachara, practice of Yama and Niyama, physical, verbal and mental Tapas in accordance with the teachings of the Seventeenth Chapter of the Gita—all will pave a long way in the attainment of this end. People have an irregular, unrighteous, immoderate, irreligious, undisciplined life. Hence they suffer, and fail in the achievement of the goal of life. Just as the elephant throws sand on its own head, so also, they themselves bring difficulties and troubles on their own heads on account of their foolishness.
Those who practice Brahmacharya generally complain that they get mental fatigue owing to continence. This is only a deception of the mind. You get sometimes a pseudo-hunger, whereas, when you actually sit for dinner, you have no real good appetite and you do not take any food. So also, there is a false mental fatigue. If you observe Brahmacharya, you will have immense mental strength. You will not be able to feel it always. You will manifest it when the occasion arises, in the same way as a wrestler manifests his physical strength in the arena, though he feels as normal man in ordinary times.
Continence is not harmful. It conserves energy. It gives immense strength and peace. Sexual indulgence leads to moral and spiritual bankruptcy, premature death, and loss of faculties, talents and capacities.
The practice of celibacy is not attended with any danger or any dire disease or undesirable result such as the various sorts of complex which are wrongly attributed to it by the Western psychologists. They have no practical knowledge of the subject on hand. They have got a wrong, ill-founded imagination that the ungratified sex energy assumes in disguise the various forms of complex such as the touch phobia. The complex is due to some other causes. It is a morbid state of mind due to excessive jealousy, hatred, anger, worry and depression brought about by various causes.
On the contrary, even a little self-restraint or a little practice of continence is an ideal pick-me-up. It gives inner strength and peace of mind. It invigorates the mind and nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will-force and brain-power. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. It renovates the system or constitution, rebuilds the cells and tissues, energises digestion and gives power to face the difficulties in the daily battle of life. The special virtues of endurance and bravery are intimately connected with the cultivation of chastity. A perfect celibate can move the world, can stop the ocean-waves like Lord Jesus, can blow up mountains, can command nature and the five elements like Jnana Dev. There is nothing in the three worlds that cannot be achieved by him. All Siddhis and Riddhis roll under his feet.
Some ignorant people say: "It is not right to check passion. We must not go against nature. Why has God created young beautiful women? There must be some sense, in His creation. We should enjoy them and procreate as many as possible. We should keep up the progeny of the line. If all people become Sannyasins and go to forests, what will become of this world? It will come to an end. If we check passion, we will get disease. We must get plenty of children. There is happiness in the house when we have abundant children. The happiness of married life cannot be described in words. It is the be-all and end-all of life. I do not like Vairagya, Tyaga, Sannyasa and Nivritti." This is their crude philosophy. They are the direct descendants of Charvaka and Virochana. They are life-members of the Epicurean school of thought. Gluttonism is their goal of life. They have a very large following. They are friends of Satan. Admirable is their philosophy!
When they lose their property, wife and children, when they suffer from, an incurable disease, they will say, "O God, free me from this horrible disease. Forgive me my sins. I am a great sinner."
Passion should be checked at all costs. Not a single disease comes by checking passion. On the contrary, you will get immense power, joy and peace. There are also effective methods to control passion. One should reach Atman, which is beyond nature, by going against nature. Just as a fish swims upstream against the current in a river, so also, you will have to move against the worldly currents of evil forces. Then alone can you have Self-realization. Passion is an evil force; and it should be checked if you want to enjoy undecaying Atmic bliss. Sexual pleasure is no pleasure at all. It is a mental delusion. It is attended with dangers, pain, fear, exertion and disgust. If you know Yoga or the science of Atman, you can very easily control the dire malady, which is passion. God wants you to enjoy the bliss of Atman, which can be had by renouncing all these pleasures of this world. These beautiful women and wealth are the instruments of Maya to delude you and entrap you into her nets. If you wish to remain always as a worldly man with low thoughts, debasing desires, you can by all means do so. You are at perfect liberty. You can marry three hundred and fifty wives and procreate as many children. Nobody can check you. But you will soon find that this world cannot give you the satisfaction you want, because all objects are conditioned in time, space and causation. There are death, disease, old age, cares, worries and anxieties, fear, loss, disappointment failure, abuse, heat, cold, snake-bites, scorpion-stings, earthquakes and accidents. You cannot at all find rest of mind even for a single second. As your mind is filled with passion and impurity, your understanding is clouded and your intellect is perverted now. You are not able to understand the illusory nature of the universe and the ever-lasting bliss of Atman.
Passion can be effectively checked. There are potent methods. After checking passion, you will enjoy real bliss from within—from Atman. All men cannot become Sannyasins. They have various ties and attachments. They are passionate and cannot, therefore, leave the world. They are pinned to their wives, children and property. Your proposition is wholly wrong. It is Asambhava. It is impossible. Have you ever heard in the annals of the world’s history that this world became vacant as all men became Sannyasins? Then, why do you bring in this absurd proposition? This is an ingenious trick of your mind to support your foolish arguments and satanic philosophy, which has passion and sexual gratification as its important tenets. Do not talk like this in future. This exposes your foolishness and passionate nature. Do not bother yourself about this world. Mind your own business. God is all-powerful. Even if this world is completely evacuated when all people retire to the forests, God will immediately create crores of people by mere willing, within the twinkling of an eye. This is not your look-out. Find out methods to eradicate your passion.
Marriage cannot be taken as an indispensable factor in everyone’s life. Rather, a true aspirant should definitely keep himself far, far away from the fetters of a married life. For him, marriage constitutes a curse; while at the same time, for a man of a lustful disposition for whom it is extremely difficult to get over carnal passions, it is a sort of a fence and a protecting vault to his moral recklessness. Marriage is, therefore, prescribed for those—and it applies to the majority of mankind—who are not yet ready for a life of absolute self-restraint and thus is to be regarded by them as a sacrament, and certainly not as a licence to self-indulgence.
Every one born in this world need not necessarily marry. Marriage is meant to regulate one’s life in the world. But for the institution of marriage in society, life would become irregular and beastly. But, where there is no passion in the heart, where the desire for God is strong, where there is a longing for spiritual pursuits, marriage is not compulsory. Such a man can lead a Naishthik Brahmachari’s life.
Parents should not force marriage on their sons. They should not stamp out the spiritual Samskaras of their children. Many young men in whom there is a spiritual awakening write to me in pitiable words: "Dear Swamiji, my heart throbs for higher spiritual things. I have no interest in worldly matters. The surroundings are not favourable. I am entangled in the meshes of marriage. My parents forced me, much against my will, to marry. I had to please my old parents. They threatened me in various ways. I now weep. What shall I do now?" Young boys, who have no idea of this world and this life, are married when they are eight or ten years of age. We see children begetting children. There are child-mothers. A boy of about eighteen has three children. What a horrible state of affairs! Early marriages have wrought early loss of semen. There is physical and mental degeneration. There is no longevity. All are short-lived. Frequent child-bearing destroys the health of women and brings in a host of other ailments.
You have adopted various habits from the West in matters relating to dress and fashion. You have become a creature of vile imitation. They, in the West, do not marry unless they are able to maintain a family decently. They have got more self-restraint. They first secure a decent station in life, earn money, save something and then only think of marriage. If they have not got sufficient money, they remain bachelors throughout their lives. They do not want to bring forth beggars into this world just in the same manner as you do. He who has understood the magnitude of human suffering in this world will never dare to bring forth a single child from the womb of a woman.
The love between husband and wife is mainly physical, selfish and hypocritical. It is not constant. It is of an ephemeral and changing nature. It is carnal passion only. It is sexual appetite. It is tinged with lower emotions. It is of bestial nature. It is finite. But divine love is infinite, pure, all-pervading and everlasting. There is no question of divorce here.
In reality, there is no internal union between husband and wife in the vast majority of cases. Savitri and Satyavan, Atri and Anasuya are very, very rare in these days. As husbands and wives are externally united only for selfish ends, there is only some show of smile and external love. It is all mere show only.
As there is no real union in their heart of hearts, there is always some kind of friction and rupture, wry faces and hot words, in every house. If the husband does not take his wife to the cinema, there will be fighting in the house. Can you call this real love? It is mercenary, commercial business. On account of lust, men have lost their integrity, independence and dignity. They have become the slaves of women. What a pitiable spectacle you see! The key is with the wife, and even for two rupees, the husband has to stretch his hands to her. Still he says, under delusion and intoxication of passion, "I have a sweet, loving wife. She is really a Mira! She can be really worshipped!"
In mercenary love, there cannot be any real happiness between the two, the lover and the beloved. If the husband is in a dying condition, the wife takes the bank passbook and walks to her mother’s house quietly. If the husband loses his job for some time, the wife shows wry faces, speaks harsh words and does not serve him properly with any love. This is selfish love. There is no real affection from the core of the heart. So there is always quarrel, fighting and Asanti in the house. Husbands and wives are not really united. They pull on anyhow, dragging a dreary, cheerless existence.
Passion is not love at all. It is an animal instinct. It is carnal love. It is of a beastly nature. It is shifting. If the wife loses her beauty on account of some incurable malady, she gets divorced and the husband marries a second wife. This state of affairs is going on in the world.
A husband loves his wife not for the sake of his wife, but for the sake of his own self. He is selfish. He expects sensual pleasure from her. If leprosy or smallpox destroys her beauty, his love for her ceases. When the wife dies, the husband is drowned in sorrow, not because of the loss of his loving partner in life, but because he cannot get sexual pleasure now.
When your wife is young and beautiful, you admire her curly hair, rosy cheeks, fine nose, shining skin and silvery teeth. When she loses her beauty on account of some chronic incurable malady, she no longer holds any attraction for you. You marry a second wife. Had you loved your first wife with Atma-Bhav, had you a comprehensive understanding that the Self in you and in your wife was the same, your love for her would have been pure, unselfish, lasting, undecaying and unchanging. Just as you love old sugar-candy or old rice the more, so also, you would love your wife more and more, even when she becomes old, as you have Atma-Bhav through Jnana. Jnana only will intensify Prem and make it lasting.
Physical love is animalism. Love of the body or skin is passion. It is passion exalted and refined. It is gross and sensual. Passion for the flesh or body is not pure or real love. It is only Moha or infatuation born of ignorance. You do wicked deeds and kill your soul on account of this passion.
Even our sisters of ill fame show for some time abundant love, sweet smile and honeyed words towards their customers. This they do as long as they can extract money. Can you call this love and real happiness? Just tell me frankly. There is cunningness, diplomacy, crookedness and hypocrisy here. There is no element of sacrifice in this love.
It is only for passionate people that the Grihastha Ashram or householder’s life is prescribed, because they cannot control their lust. If one is born with sufficient spiritual Samskaras, inborn Viveka and Vairagya, like Sankara or Sadasiva Brahman, he will not enter the Grihashtha Ashram. He will at once take to Naishthik Brahmacharya and then embrace Sannyasa. The Srutis also endorse this. Says the Jabala Upanishad: "Renounce the world on the very day you get Vairagya".
To some, marriage hinders the spiritual progress; to others, it helps. For Raja Bhartrihari, it was a hindrance; for saint Tukaram, it was a help. Man reaches the same goal in the long run. Let the run be the shortest. Let the short cut be preferred to the long walk. That is what man always wants.
A life of celibacy is a hundred times better than the life of a Grihasthi. I believe in celibacy, for it is the thing that unfolds the hidden power in man. Brahmacharya is the straight road to God-realization; marriage is a serpentine route. The former is more preferable than the latter, but man takes to the latter route on account of his lower passions.
The realization of the Self, however, is not denied even to a Grihasthi just because he has the burden of a family on his shoulders. Saint Tukaram was married twice and had children; yet, he reached Vaikuntha in a Vimana or an aerial car. If your outlook on worldly life is simple, true and honest, if your would-be partner is one who is pious and one who will obey you in all matters, there is no harm in marrying. But if the married life is more likely to prove burden, a curse on one, why should one marry and entangle oneself in chains that can never be cut asunder?
If you want to observe strict celibacy, do not marry. Do not allow yourself to be duped by saying, "I will observe strict celibacy after marriage." Afterwards it will offer you its own arguments for giving up this vow of celibacy. Your Dharma is to realize God.
You had enough of sense and sex gratification in all your previous bodies of various animals. Animal life is meant for satisfaction of the lower appetites of sex and tongue, but human life is meant for a higher purpose. Why do you, oh man, burn the sandalwood tree for serving the purpose of charcoal? This human life is very precious, envied even by the gods. One life lost means one golden opportunity to become God is lost.
Sensual pleasure is tantalizing. As long as a person does not possess the object of desire, so long there is enchantment. After obtaining possession of the object, he finds that he is entangled in it. The bachelor thinks of his marriage day in and day out, but enjoyment does not, and cannot, bring satisfaction to him. Far from it, it only aggravates and intensifies the desire and makes the mind more restless through passion and craving. He realizes that he is in imprisonment. This is Mayaic jugglery. This world is full of temptations.
You cannot get bliss in the objects of the world. It is only materialistic poison. Further, marriage is a lifelong imprisonment. It is the greatest bondage of the earth. The bachelor who was once free is the yoke and his hands and feet are chained. This is the experience of all married people, invariably as it were. Therefore, do not marry if you can help it. Escape will be difficult after marriage. Realize the glory of a life in the spiritual path and the great difficulties, anxieties, worries and troubles of a married life. Develop intense Vairagya. Assert your birthright of God-consciousness. Art thou not Brahman itself in truth?
A wife is a sharp knife to cut the life of the husband. If the gold necklace and Benares silk sarees are not supplied, the wife frowns at the husband. The husband cannot get his food at the proper time. The wife lies down in bed under the false pretext of acute abdominal colic. You can see this spectacle in your own house and daily experience. Indeed I need not tell you much. Therefore, be wedded to Santi and have Vairagya, the worthy son, and Viveka, the magnanimous daughter and eat the delicious divine fruit of Atma-Jnana, which can make you immortal.
A wife is only a luxury. It is not an absolute necessity. Every householder is weeping after marriage. He says: "My son is ailing from typhoid. My second daughter is to be married. I have debts to clear. My wife is worrying me to purchase a gold necklace. My eldest son-in-law died recently".
Do not marry. Do not marry. Do not marry. Escape will be difficult after marriage. Marriage is the greatest bondage. Woman is a source of constant vexation and trouble. What did Buddha, Pattinattu Swami, Bhartrihari and Gopichand do? Did they not live in peace and comfort without a woman?
Lust is the greatest enemy on earth. It devours a man. A great deal of depression follows the sexual act. You have to exert a lot in earning money to please your wife and satisfy her wants and luxuries. You commit various sorts of sins in acquiring money. You mentally share her pains and sorrows and the pains and miseries of your children as well. You have to worry in a thousand and one ways in running the family. As two minds cannot agree, there will always be quarrels in the house. You have to unnecessarily multiply your wants and responsibilities. Your intellect gets spoiled. On account of heavy loss of the seminal fluid, you will suffer from diseases, depression, weakness and loss of vitality. Consequently, you will have an early death. Therefore, become an Akhanda Brahmachari or a lifelong celibate. Free yourself from all miseries, worries and troubles.
In the presence of light, you cannot have darkness. In the presence of sensual pleasures, Atmic bliss cannot exist. Worldlings want sensual pleasures and Atmic bliss at the same time, in one and the same cup. This is an absolute impossibility. They cannot renounce worldly, sensual pleasures. They cannot have real Vairagya in their heart of hearts. They will talk a lot. Worldly men imagine that they are happy because they get a few ginger biscuits, some money and woman. What more is wanted for them, poor creatures? More beggars are brought forth into the world through lust. All worldly pleasures appear as nectar in the beginning, but become virulent poison in the end. When one gets entangled in married life, he can hardly break the different ties of Moha. Therefore, give up clinging to this illusory life. Be fearless. Control the Indriyas and the mind. You will develop Vairagya. You will be perfectly established in Brahmacharya.
If you can remain as an Akhanda Brahmachari, an unbroken celibate, for a period of twelve years, you will realize God immediately without any further Sadhana. You will have achieved the goal of life. Mark the word ‘Akhanda’.
Seminal energy is a potent Sakti. Semen is Brahman Itself. A Brahmachari who has practiced unbroken celibacy for full twelve years will attain to the Nirvikalpa state the moment he hears the Mahavakya, "Tat Tvam Asi", because his mind will be extremely pure, strong and one-pointed.
An Akhanda Brahmachari, who, for a period of twelve years, has not allowed even a drop of semen to come out, will enter into Samadhi without any effort. Prana and mind are under his perfect control. Bala Brahmacharya is a synonymous term for Akhanda Brahmacharya. An Akhanda Brahmachari has strong Dharana Sakti, Smriti Sakti and Vichara Sakti—power of grasping, retentive memory and power of enquiry. He need not practice Manana and Nididhyasana, reflection and meditation. If he hears the Mahavakya even once, he will at once achieve Self-realization. His intellect is pure, and his understanding is extremely clear. Akhanda Brahmacharins are very, very rare; but there are some. You also can become an Akhanda Brahmachari if you attempt in right earnest.
You will have to be very careful of reaction. The Indriyas that are put under restraint for some months, or one or two years, become rebellious if you are not always vigilant and careful. They revolt and drag you out when opportunities arise. Some people who observe Brahmacharya for one or two years become more passionate and waste the energy considerably in the end. Some become incorrigible moral wrecks also.
Mere matted hair and application of ashes to the forehead and the body cannot make one an Akhanda Brahmachari. That Brahmachari who has controlled the physical body and the physical Indriyas, but who constantly dwells on sexual thoughts, is a confirmed hypocrite. He should never be trusted. He may become a menace at any time.