Monday, January 10, 2011

Brahmacharya -Practice

The edifice of life is a four-storied mansion. In this mansion the ground floor is most important
one. The upper three storeys are based upon this. It is known as Brahmacharya (continence or
celibacy). In everyone's life childhood and youth are extremely important. This period of life
should be regulated by practising purity and tranquillity.
Brahmacharya means leading a life of pure thoughts, pure actions and pure aspirations.
Unfortunately today people tend to regard Brahmacharya as living somehow in an unmarried
state. The term Brahmacharya carries within it its sacred import. Brahma-charya means
whatever thoughts we entertain, whatever actions we perform, whatever enterprises we undertake,
they should all be filled with the consciousness Brahman (the Supreme Omnipresent
Divine). Conducting ourselves with the awareness that the Divine is present everywhere is
Brahmacharya is present in all four stages
The basic characteristic of Brahmacharya is that one should be full of pure thoughts, all one's
actions should be sacred and one should be engaged in selfless service. Brahmacharya is not
confined to the early years of one's boyhood and adolescence. Brahmacharya is a state that is
implied in all the three other stages of life also (Grihastha, Vaanaprastha and Sanyasa). The
base is Brahmacharya. The second stage or storey is that of Grihastha (the householder). The
third is Vaanaprastha (retirement to the forest). The fourth is Sanyasa (complete renunciation of
all attachments). Brahmacharya is present in all three other stages like an undercurrent: Brahmacharya
in the Brahmacharya state, Brahmacharya in the Grihastha state, Brahmacharya in
the Vaanaprastha and Brahmacharya in the Sanyasa states. In all four states, Brahmacharya is
immanent in equal measure. It signifies purity in all the states. Only when there is purity,
Brahmacharya has any meaning.
Manava (Man) means one who is pure. Man means one who is noteworthy. It also means one
who has faith. These are the various meanings of the Sanskrit word Manava. Delving into the
meaning of the word Manava further, it will be noted that it consists of two terms: Maa (ever)
and Nava (new)--that which is ever new, that which is always fresh. In this freshness there is
pavitrata (purity or sanctity).
Hence, in this sacred human birth, to lead a life filled with pure thoughts and pure actions is
characterised as Brahmacharya. So the real meaning of Brahmacharya is not confined to the
corporeal discipline of celibacy attached to it in the physical sense, but it implies recognition of
the Divinity inherent in man and leading a life based on that recognition. Therefore, for the life
of the householder, the recluse and the renunciant, Brahmacharya is the foundation.
The foundation of a student's life is purity
The period of a student's life is a crucial stage in life. All the three other stages are based upon
one's life as a vidyarthi (student). Whatever purity or sanctity you develop during your student
days will determine the degree of purity in the other three stages. Life as a student is thus a
foundation for the rest of one's life. Hence a strong foundation must be laid for the ground floor.
If the ground floor is weak and gives away, the whole edifice will collapse.
Hence, the entire human existence should be sanctified by observing Brahmacharya. This
implies that, by practising purity and recognising the omnipresent Divinity, one should regulate
one's daily life by spreading purity and sacredness everywhere. Purity of mind, purity of Chittha
(consciousness), purity of the heart and purity in action---this fourfold purity constitutes
Brahmacharya. Whatever you do, you must act with the same sense that it is an offering to the
Divine. This is the real significance of Brahmacharya.
Food is the primary requisite for life. Without food one cannot live. Hence life has been
described as Annamaya (composed of food). But man is not content to live on food alone. The
mind is not satisfied if the stomach is full. Although food is essential for the body, the mind
craves for Ananda (bliss). Life can find fulfilment only if Ananda is experienced. Hence, man
cannot rest content with merely being alive. He has to be active and ever on the move. In the
process he has to ask himself the questions' Why am I restless? Why am I active? What do I do
to engage myself in actions? When the right answers are found for all these questions, all actions
become sacred.
The heart should be filled with sacred feelings
"What for am I performing these actions? How am I doing them? What is the sanctity attaching
to them?" It is when one enquires into these matters, he will realise their true purpose and
meaning. This enquiry has to be conducted in the proper way. He should ask himself whether the
enquiry is purposeful or futile. Once he comes to the conclusion that a certain action is fight, he
should do it with earnestness. Brahmacharya is the primary requisite for developing pure
thoughts and performing pure actions.
Moreover, in practising Brahmacharya, it is essential to cultivate sacred thoughts. The heart
should be filled with sacred feelings. You must eschew from your mind any thought of .causing
harm to anyone. Only then, the life that starts with Annamaya (food-filled) will culminate in
Anandamaya (a blissful life). Man should not consider that happiness consists in having a house
full of children and equipped with all the amenities for comfortable living. Nor can peace be
realised through wealth, power or position. Peace is the outcome of our actions and thoughts. If
our thoughts are pure, our actions will also be pure. When actions are pure, life itself becomes
Concentrate on your duty in the present
The primary reason for the lack of peace in the world today is that the thoughts and conduct of
people have gone astray. The first step, therefore, is to make our thoughts pure. We need not
bother about the past or the future. Concentrate your attention on your duty in the present.
Dedicate all your energies to the fulfilment of this duty. This was the basis on which our ancients
directed their lives, according to the injunctions of the Vedas and the Sastras. Today there is a
wide gulf between the lives led by our ancients and the prevailing modes of living. What is the
mason for this difference?
Admittedly, food is essential. But them is scarcity of food today. What is the mason for this
shortage? The fact is people have given up the practice of Yagas and Yajnas (sacrificial rites and
rituals) which used to be performed in the past. Yajna is not merely sitting in front of a fire and
uttering some mantras. Yajna really means the spirit of sacrifice or thyaga (renunciation). Today
this spirit is totally absent. Indeed, the desire for bhoga (enjoyment) has grown limitlessly.
Because of this, the fascination for external objects has developed, leading to the forgetting of
one's true nature. As a result, man has become prey to the numerous sufferings.
Divinity is ever present in man in all its purity. But man is unable to recognise this because of his
attachments to transient pleasures like the black bee. This bee has a proboscis with which it can
bore a hole through a strong bamboo or even through the human body. But when it enters a lotus
flower and the lotus folds itself, the bee is unable to get out of its tender petals because it is
immersed in the enjoyment of the honey in the lotus and forgets its own real strength. Likewise,
man today, forgetting the Divine that is present within him and in everything he beholds,
immersed in worldly concerns and intoxicated with mundane pleasures, is oblivious to his own
true Divine nature. Man forgets his inherent capacity in the involvement with the mastery of the
external world.
Do not ever give up faith in Divinity
The youth of today must get away from these involvements and develop confidence in their true
selves. Whatever difficulties they may confront, whatever obstacles may come in their way, they
should regard them as passing clouds. Nothing in the world is permanent. Only one thing is
permanent and unchanging. That is the Divine. Install firmly in the minds the Divine and regard
it as the only permanent entity that can confer enduring bliss. All others--whether they be
relations, friends or possessions--cannot give you lasting bliss.
One of the students had spoken about how in one year both his parents had passed away, leaving
eight children, of whom he was the eldest. In this tragic situation, Swami alone could offer
solace and courage to the bereaved children. From that time to this day Swami had been looking
after the children who looked up to Swami as "Sai Mother" and "Sai Father." No kith or kin
could have looked after them in this manner. The Divine does not give up anyone who has faith
and trust in the Divine. Difficulties may come in succession like mountains, but they will
disappear like snow if Divine grace is there. What is required is firm faith in God. Strengthen
your faith in the Divine.
Another devotee (an American businessman) was once faced with such difficulties that he
wanted to wind up his business. But Swami advised him not to do so. Because of his past
experiences with Swami, he had firm faith in Him and carried on his business. He was able to get
over his difficulties. No one has suffered in this world who has had firm faith in God. Many have
come to grief because of lack of faith.
Disbelief in divine affirmations
Today you believe in what you see in the films or what you read in the newspapers or novels.
You believe in what you see in a play or what is said in an almanac. But you have no faith in the
Divine pronouncements of the Vedas: Thath Thwam Asi (That thou art), Ayam Atma Brahma
(This Atma is verily Brahman), Aham Brahmaasmi (I am Brahman). Prajnaanam Brahma (The
Constant Integrated Consciousness in man is Brahman). People have no faith in these
Mahavaakyas (Divine affirmations), but are easily misled by the meretricious declarations of
worldly men. This is the lamentable degraded plight of man today. The mason is man has
abjured faith in God. He has become a victim of faith in wordly things.
The first requisite is for men to develop faith in God. This is even more essential for the youth.
Whatever plans you may draw up for the future, base them on faith in God. They should be
righteous. You will then achieve success.
Discourse at "Sai Sruti," Kodaikanal, 23 Apr 1988

No comments:

Post a Comment