Monday, January 10, 2011

A critical discussion on brahmacharya (celibacy)

I had a critical discussion on brahmacharya (known as celibacy in English) with some of my friends. They raised many critical questions which I am trying my best to answer in this post. Feel free to give your feedback in comments section as it will help in learning and development of me and other readers of this blog.
Dear XYZ Bhai,
Regarding the stress on celibacy in my post ( How to groom next generation spiritually as well as intellectually? ), you raised very important questions. Let me try to share my views and reasoning on them. You may not agree with them, but that’s alright because if two people always agree on everything, this can only mean one of them has stopped using his/her brain. Still, please be open-minded about my reasoning.
Question.1. Your first question was related to this point “Natural frequency of loss of reproductive elements for both males and females is once a month. More than that will do damage to the body and mind unless some extra diet is taken. Even extra diet will not solve the problem fully, as body and mind invariably becomes weak for next 1-2 days due to low level of pranic energy as a result of intentional loss of reproductive elements.” The first question you raised on this point is: ‘I prefer the term “discharge” or “emission”, not “loss”. Nothing is lost as it is replenished.’
Yes, but nature replenishes things at a particular rate, which cannot be accelerated to an infinite degree. Now, my point was: nature’s mechanism is generation of reproductive elements enough for once a month. Vedas and even thinkers like Socrate advised householders to avoid breaking brahmacharya more than once a month. If males do not keep their mind excited with lustful textual and visual material, the natural/unintentional loss of reproductive elements will not be more than once a month in general. Now, consider two situations:
Situation 1. Person A breaks celibacy everyday.
Situation 2. Person B does not break celibacy intentionally and has an unintentional discharge once a month.
Clearly, person A has been losing much more vital elements than person B. Left to nature, person B has an unintentional discharge once a month. Left to him/herself, person A is losing vital elements everyday. Now, this can only mean that person A is forcing his/her body to generate more vital elements in the body by losing it on daily basis. So, how is that natural? It is like a person who loves the experience of eating so much that he eats, then vomits so that he can eat again and then again eats and vomits. Definitely, human body can be abused like that in all matters including eating and other pleasure-experiences, but that would be forcing the body against its natural order and bring unpleasant results in the long run.
Question 2. On this point that natural frequency of loss of reproductive elements is once a month, you also asked, “What is the evidence behind the claim on male natural frequency?” Now, what is the evidence that headache exists? Has anyone ever seen it? If one has a headache, can one show it to others or can some scientist prove the existence of headache and the pain associated in a laboratory? No. The fact is that scientific facts are not only established on the basis of laboratory experiments, but also on the commonalities found in the general analysis of the data – this is the basis on which many laws of economics, medical sciences and many more realms of science operate. If we do the general analysis of the data, we find that on-an-average the unintentional loss of reproductive elements in males happens once a month. Based on this data, we can conclude that the natural frequency is once a month, just like we conclude the natural frequency of meals is 3-4 meals a day based on the general analysis of data.
Question 3. On point 3 “Due to reason 2, parent should maintain celibacy for at least 2-3 months before conceiving the child, otherwise their reproductive elements will have a low-level of vital/pranic energy and as a result, their child will not be that intellectually and spiritually developed. If they maintain celibacy for more duration, that will be even better. Also, child should be conceived only when both the parents have crossed the age of 25 (below that age neither the body nor the mind is mature enough to undertake serious and extremely important responsibilities of parenthood) and both parents have a peaceful and positive state of mind for at least last 30 days. Conceiving the child with a tense and negative state of mind reduces the quality of child a lot as these negativities release poisonous elements in our blood-stream and they hurt all our cells (including reproductive elements in the body).”, you raised this question: “Evidence? Even if all that is said before this is true, what is the evidence that the child will not be “intellectually and spiritually developed”? Did Dalai Lama or Albert Einstein’s parents follow this method that you prescribe? Isn’t this just a meeting of two DNAs, which is unaltered by stress, frequent sex, and negative feelings? If you say that frequent sex leads to low sperm count, I can believe that. However, if a child is conceived of parents who have sex more frequently than once a month, I do not believe that the child is of inferior quality.”
DNA is not unaltered by stress and other physical and mental conditions.
  • Bygren and other scientists have now amassed historical evidence suggesting that powerful environmental conditions (near death from starvation, for instance) can somehow leave an imprint on the genetic material in eggs and sperm. These genetic imprints can short-circuit evolution and pass along new traits in a single generation.
  • For instance, Bygren’s research showed that in Overkalix, boys who enjoyed those rare overabundant winters — kids who went from normal eating to gluttony in a single season — produced sons and grandsons who lived shorter lives. Far shorter: in the first paper Bygren wrote about Norrbotten, which was published in 2001 in the Dutch journal Acta Biotheoretica, he showed that the grandsons of Overkalix boys who had overeaten died an average of six years earlier than the grandsons of those who had endured a poor harvest. Once Bygren and his team controlled for certain socioeconomic variations, the difference in longevity jumped to an astonishing 32 years. Later papers using different Norrbotten cohorts also found significant drops in life span and discovered that they applied along the female line as well, meaning that the daughters and granddaughters of girls who had gone from normal to gluttonous diets also lived shorter lives. To put it simply, the data suggested that a single winter of overeating as a youngster could initiate a biological chain of events that would lead one’s grandchildren to die decades earlier than their peers did. How could this be possible?
There is a whole new branch called Epigenetics which is studying how DNA expressions can change. The latest research in this field states: ” there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism;instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism’s genes to behave (or “express themselves”) differently.”
DNA changes can happen through other mechanisms also like (ref:
If eating behaviour of parents during pregnancy period can influence the offspring’ physical strength leading to shorter lives as researched by Bygren and other scientists, why should it be so far-fetched to accept that mental behaviour of parents during the pregnancy period also influences offspring’s physical and mental strength? Mind influences the body and hence, the mental conditions of mothers will have a huge impact on the child.
I do not know how you formed this notion that mother’s mental health has nothing to do with offspring’s health and mind when there are hundreds of researches done that all these things have a big impact on the offspring.
  • ref: Studies suggest that babies of women who suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety are more likely to be born low birthweight even when born at full term. Some stress-related hormones (such as norepinephrine) may constrict blood flow to the placenta, so the baby may not receive the nutrients and oxygen it needs for optimal growth.
  • ref: – In 2004, in effect, a group of Canadian researchers published the results of a study initiated in 1998, following an ice storm in Quebec. This natural disaster exposed a large number of pregnant women to a high stress, and the researchers could track such pregnancies and the subsequent development of children up to 2 years of age. This found that the more severe was the level of prenatal stress, the lower the development of intellectual and language skills of children at 2 years, especially if stress exposure had occurred in the early stages of pregnancy.
The only thing you may question is how brahmacharya during pregnancy is useful for the offspring’s health. If parents eating too much can make the life shorter for the offspring as researched by Bygren and his team, then why not depleting one’s precious elements through loss of brahmacharya will hurt the offspring. After all, reproductive elements contain lots of vital elements calcium and phosphorus, also in lecithin, cholesterol, albumen, nucleoproteins, iron, vitamin E, etc. (lecithin which is considered a brain-food and is a very important nutrient for development for our nervous system and brain).
Now, did the parents of brilliant people like Einstein, Newton, etc followed this rule? There is no evidence at all to say whether they followed the rule or violated. We simply do not know. Now, in India, our sages wrote down these rules. They must have done some research on this. There is enough reasoning I gave above showing that for the embryo’s brain and nervous system to develop properly, nutrients like lecithin, nucleoproteins, etc in mother’s body should be preserved during pregnancy period by practice of brahmacharya.
Question 4. Loss of energy is not a problem because then everything we do requires loss of energy like eating, work, physical exercises, etc. So, why expending energy in breaking brahmacharya should be considered anything different from doing so in physical exercises? Why can one not consider breaking brahmacharya as sort of physical exercises which will induce same benefits to oneself as one gets through physical exercises even if one loses some energy in the process? 

This is indeed a very strong line of reasoning. This is the reasoning which many intellectuals have been using recently to promote breaking brahmacharya as very good for physical health like physical exercises. One thing that should be accepted without any problem is that physical exercises need expenditure of some energy in the process, but gives us numerous health benefits by making our lungs, heart, digestive and blood circulation system healthy in the long run and makes our mind fresh.
But, do we find the same benefits in breaking brahmacharya? To answer this we need to understand that there is a very huge difference between muscular energy expended in physical exercises and the most important vital energy which has power to bring forth a new human. Expending the muscular energy for gaining long-term physical health and expending mental energy in our work is different than losing vital energy through break of brahmacharya. Because, what we get is just momentary sensations and end up feeling drained in both body and mind. Building up good muscles takes just few months/years’ efforts, but building up a good intellectual ability takes more than a decade’ efforts. So, replenishing muscular energy is much easier than replenishing mental energy. Sex energy is actually mental energy put into the direction of momentary pleasure. The best reasoning to support this is the scientific fact that lecithin, cholesterol, phosphorus and other constituents of nervous and brain tissue are the main constituents of reproductive elements as well. The loss of these valuable nerve-nourishing substances, by promoting undernutrition, is responsible for the disturbed functioning of the nervous system and brain. If one avoids breaking brahmacharya, then the same nutrients get used up in improving the mental powers because the same nutrients which could have been lost in momentary sensations of lust, are now available for creating new cells of brain and nervous system. So, sex energy cannot be equated with muscular energy.
Hence, physical exercises are different than loss of brahmacharya and hence, brahmacharya should be preserved as much as possible (with possible exceptions for producing offspring).
Question 5. If brahmacharya is so important for mental powers, then how come Western society produce so many intellectual giants?
Before I answer this question, this is a short description of Cēterīs paribus principle
  • Cēterīs paribus is a Latin phrase, literally translated as “with other things the same,” or “all other things being equal or held constant.” A prediction, or a statement about causal or logical connections between two states of affairs, is qualified by ceteris paribus in order to acknowledge, and to rule out, the possibility of other factors that could override the relationship between the antecedent and theconsequent.
Mental powers depend not just on celibacy, but also on factors like (1) self-motivation, (2) exercising the brain rigorously like a good thinker, (3) concentration power, (4) persistence in sticking to the problem-solving efforts for a long time, (5) living in a peaceful and intellectually stimulating environment and (6) healthy diet. Ceteris paribus (other things remaining the same), celibacy will lead to a higher level of mental powers. So, according to “Ceteris paribus” principle, an Einstein can compare the benefits of celibacy only with himself. I can compare the benefits of celibacy only with myself because other factors (like self-motivation, exercising the brain rigorously like a good thinker, concentration power, persistence in sticking to the problem-solving efforts for a long time,, living in a peaceful and intellectually stimulating environment and healthy diet) do not allow for the possibility for interpersonal comparison. And then, of course, everyone has different domains of work. How can one compare the genius of A. R. Rehman with the genius of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam? Or, for that matter, the genius of Sachin Tendulkar with the genius of Amir Khan. For example, 2012 onward I will be working in social and political field fulltime, so the benefits of brahmacharya should be definitely judged by others in my case based on how many people’s lives I am able to touch through my thoughts, words and deeds in my public life and I will definitely approve of such judgement.
There have been people like Tesla, Newton and many more people who practised celibacy. Napolean Hill who wrote a book “Think and grow rich” was assigned this task by none other than Andrew Carnegie and interviewed thousands of most creative geniuses of his time like Edison, Carnegie, Ford, etc. He included various principles of becoming successful in life by doing case-studies of these geniuses for 20 years (yes sir, it was actually 20 years’ effort before that book was written). And he included one whole chapter in his book titled “Sex sublimation” where he stressed the fact that without sublimating sex energy, one cannot grow to full intellectual potential. He cited examples that geniuses realize the importance of celibacy in 20s and 30s and start being more firm in the practice of celibacy from 30s and start growing amazingly in their career. He gave the example of Henry Ford whose success story began in early 40s. That book was authorized by no one less than Andrew Carnegie (who was the richest industrialist of his time) and he himself supported every principle enunciated in that book as he was the official mentor of Napolean Hill for that book-project.
Based on these reasoning, it is fair to conclude that many geniuses practise celibacy to a great extent and that one can easily find the benefits of celibacy through personal experiments. Just practise full physical and mental celibacy for 1 year and then compare the level of your achievements with the previous year – you will yourself understand whether brahmacharya/celibacy helps in developing mental powers or not. Like a person of scientific temperament, first experiment, then analyse and only then conclude anything. Enough practical tips have been given in my post “Greatly inspiring brahmacharya quotes” to enable anyone to practise brahmacharya for as long as one genuinely wills.
With this I close my arguments.
Warm regards,

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