Brahmacharya means celibacy. A Brahmachari is one who is a celibate, one who observes chastity or celibacy. The term ‘Celibacy’ is from the Latin word ‘Caelebs’, which means ‘unmarried’ or ‘single’ and signifies the state of living unmarried. It means control of not only the reproductive Indriya but also control of all senses; it means purity in thought, word and actions.
The life of a Brahmachari begins with the Upanayana ceremony, the investiture of the sacred thread, his second birth. The Brahmachari should direct his entire attention solely to study and acquiring of such knowledge as would enable him to become a worthy member of society. During this period of study let him live either with his parents or at the place of his study under the supervision of teachers. He should not live by himself, with friends and acquaintances, nor with relatives.
A Brahmachari is one who is attempting to realise Brahman by his conducting a life of absolute celibacy. Brahmacharya is the conduct of leading a celibate life. A Brahmachari should study religious books till he reaches the age of twenty-five. If he has taken the vow of celibacy till the end of life, if he wants to become a Naishtika Brahmachari, he need not enter the stage of householder. He should have real lasting Vairagya and Viveka (dispassion and discrimination). Then only he will be really benefited. He can devote his whole life to spiritual pursuits.
A Brahmachari should worship his Guru, worship cows and gods with due reverence. Guru is the embodiment of all Vedas and all Devas. Therefore God and Guru should be taken as one and he should worship his Guru daily. He should serve his Guru with faith and devotion for complete twelve years.
The Brahmachari should have Japa as his highest possession. He should never leave Japa. Through Japa alone the Brahmachari attains success, no matter whether he performs any other Vedic sacrifice or not. Through the contact of his senses with their objects of gratification, he undoubtedly acquires sin. Hence, by controlling them, he achieves success. Control of the senses is possible for the Brahmachari only through Japa.
Brahmacharis should do their Sandhya Vandana daily at the proper time,-morning, noon and evening. ‘Sandhya’ is the point of junction of two periods of time. There is a special manifestation of force or purity at Sandhyas. The student will derive immense benefit by doing prayers at this particular meeting point of two periods of time. Arghya (offering libation) with repetition of the Gayatri should be given to the sun at the proper time. You will have wonderful health, vigour and vitality and a pure, sharp intellect. At the present moment students have entirely neglected their Sandhyas. Their minds have been charged with materialistic poison. They have become slayers of Atman. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die" has become their philosophy! Poor, self-deluded souls! How long will you continue this state of affairs? Do not kill the soul within. Awake, arise and purify yourself. Do Sandhya. Understand and realise its potency and efficacy. Do some form of worship or other and realise the splendours of the Atman. Regain your lost divinity.
A true Brahmachari only can cultivate Bhakti. A true Brahmachari alone can practise Yoga. A true Brahmachari only can acquire Jnana. Without Brahmacharya no spiritual progress or success in worldly affairs is possible.
Brahmacharis should entirely give up betel-chewing, cigarettes, tobacco, snuff, tea, coffee, etc. Tobacco produces nicotine poisoning, tobacco-heart (irritable heart), nervous diseases and tobacco-amblyopia (eye disease).
O bold Brahmachari, practice of Brahmacharya gives good health, inner peace, strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments strength, vigour and vitality. It gives power to face the difficulties in the daily battle of life. It is the master key for opening the realm of health and happiness. It is the corner stone of bliss and unalloyed felicity. It is the only specific that keeps up true manliness. Therefore keep up Brahmacharya by all means. Brahmacharya is freedom from sexual thoughts and desires. Preserve the vital fluid. It is the life-force in you. You will enjoy supreme bliss. A perfect Brahmachari can move the world, can command the five elements, like Sant Jnana Deva.
Brahmacharya is the basis for acquiring immortality. Brahmacharya brings material progress and psychic advancement. It is the substratum for a life of peace in the Atman. It is a potent weapon for waging war against the internal Asuras, viz., Kama, Krodha, Lobha, etc. It contributes perennial joy, uninterrupted and undecaying bliss. It gives tremendous energy, clear brain, gigantic will-power, bold understanding, retentive memory and good Vichara Sakti. Through Brahmacharya and Brahmacharya alone you can get physical, mental and spiritual advancement in life.
The vital energy, the Virya, supports your life. It is the Prana of Pranas which shines in your sparkling eyes, which beams in your blooming cheeks. It is a great treasure for you. It is the quintessence of blood. One drop of semen is manufactured out of forty drops of blood. Mark here how valuable this fluid is!
Brahmacharya or spotless chastity is the best of all panaceas. One who has perfect control over the sexual energy attains powers unobtainable by any other means. The door to Nirvana or perfection is complete Brahmacharya. Complete celibacy is the master-key to open the realms of elysian bliss. The avenue to the abode of supreme peace begins from Brahmacharya or purity. Ojas is spiritual energy that is stored up in the brain. By sublime thoughts, meditation, Japa, worship and Pranayama, sexual energy can be transmuted into Ojas Sakti and stored up in the brain. This energy can be utilised for divine contemplation and spiritual pursuits.
That man in whom the sex-idea is deep-rooted can never dream of understanding Vedanta and realising Brahman even in one hundred crores of births. Sexual Vasanas (subtle desires) are more powerful than other Vasanas. Therefore you will have to direct all your efforts to subduing the sexual Vasanas. Narada says in his Bhakti Sutras: "These (sexual) propensities, though they at first are like ripples, acquire the proportions of a sea, on account of bad company" (Sutra 45). Therefore avoid evil company at all costs.
What is the state of your mind, when you attend a ball-room dance or nautch party, or when you read the ‘Mysteries of the Court of London?’ What is the state of your mind when you attend the Satsanga party of a realised sage at Banares on the banks of the Ganga, or when you study the soul-elevating classical Upanishads? Compare and contrast your mental states. Remember, friend, that there is nothing so utterly ruinous to the soul as evil company. One should not talk even of stories of women, the luxurious ways of rich persons, rich foods, vehicles, politics, silken clothing, flowers, scents, etc. Because the mind gets easily excited; it will begin to imitate the ways of luxurious persons. Desires will crop up. Attachment also will come in.
Obscene pictures, vulgar words, novels which deal with love stories, excite passion and produce ignoble, mean, undesirable sentiments in the heart. Whereas, the sight of a good picture of Lord Krishna or Lord Rama or Lord Jesus or Lord Buddha and the hearing of the sublime songs of Suradas, Tulasidas or Tyagaraja induce noble sentiments, holy thrill in the heart and produce tears of joy and Prem, and elevate the mind to Bhava Samadhi instantaneously. Do you clearly see the difference now?
He who has wasted the vital energy becomes easily irritable, loses his balance of mind and gets into a state of explosive fury for trifling things. When a man becomes furious, he behaves improperly. He will do anything he likes. He will even insult his parents, Guru and respectable persons. He does not know what he is exactly doing, as he loses his power of reasoning and discrimination. It behoves, therefore, that an aspirant who tries to develop good behaviour must preserve the vital energy. Preservation of this divine energy leads to attainment of strong willpower, good behaviour, spiritual exaltation and Sreya or Moksha eventually.
There is no harm in looking at a beautiful woman. You can admire her beauty and think that the beauty in her face is the beauty of the Lord. Beauty is God. Woman brings the message that God is Beauty of beauties. Woman is the symbol of beauty. There should not be any lustful look (Drishti Dosha). The angle of vision must be changed as indicated above.
Again and again think that the beauty of the face is the beauty of the Lord. Godly feeling will arise when you look at a woman or a beautiful picture. Study the tenth chapter of the Gita—Vibhuti Yoga, again and again.
Physical Brahmacharya must be strictly practised at first. Control the body. Mental purity or mental Brahmacharya will gradually manifest.
Lead a well regulated moral life. Moral strength is the backbone of spiritual progress. Ethical culture is part and parcel of spiritual Sadhana. Loss of this vital energy is tantamount to practical death. Heavy loss of the vital energy is the cause of desire, miseries and premature death. Therefore take particular care to preserve this vital energy. Keep up Brahmacharya or the vow of celibacy. By the observance of Brahmacharya many of the sages of yore have attained immortality. It is the source of new strength, vigour, vitality and success in life and eternal happiness hereafter.