Wednesday, February 23, 2011

21st Century and Brahmacharya

By U. Mahesh Prabhu
Brahmacharya or spotless chastity is the best of all penances; a celibate of such spotless chastity is not a human being, but a god indeed… To the celibate who conserves the semen with great efforts, what is there unattainable in this world? By the power of the composure of the semen, one will become just like me.’ – Sri Adishankarachya
On 30th of December 2007, I happened to meet a very charismatic personality, at RSS Office in Bangalore, who was somewhere in his 80s. His name was Sooryanarayan Rao. He was not just elderly, but was also one of the most respected Swayamsevak of Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It was one of the finest moments of life having spent conversing with this extraordinary persona.
Of the several important things, I happened to ask him a very important question: ‘How difficult do you think is it to adhere to Brahmacharya in the modern times?’ His answer, rather instantaneously, was ‘Absolutely difficult!’ He further added ‘you see almost all the Medias, with their advertisements, are filled with exoticism because of which you are tempted every moment, owing which it becomes increasingly difficult to be a Brahmachari.
His answer was pestering me, rather strongly. I was keen to find out in detail as to why be it so. What is the point of being a Brahmachari? After all what is the benefit? Why should a lad of 21st century be following it? Isn’t that a bygone concept? The answer I had, on reading those several ancient texts, was very much interesting as well as fascinating.
Brahmacharya is a divine word. It is not mere ‘bachelorhood’, as it has been considered, by many, today. It is the sum and substance of Yoga. It is absolute freedom from sexual thoughts and desires. It is the vow of celibacy that is also controlling of all the senses in thought, word and deed. It seeks strict abstinence, not merely from sexual intercourse but also, from auto-erotic manifestations, from masturbation, from homosexual acts and from all perverse sexual practices. It also seeks further involvement from indulgence in erotic imagination and voluptuous reverie. In a narrow sense Brahmacharya may be celibacy but in broader understanding it is absolute control of all the senses. It is the door of Nirvana (or liberation) or perfection.
Celibacy, for a Yogi, is power. ‘Without it no spiritual progress can be possible’ says the Vedas. It is a potent weapon, as well as armor, to wage a war against the internal evil forces of ‘lust, anger and greed’. It serves as a gateway for the bliss of beyond, and opens the door of liberation. It contributes a perennial joy and uninterrupted bliss.
Legend has it that once a student of Dhanvantari, Deity of Medicine, approached him, after finishing his full course of Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of medicine) and asked ‘Oh lord, kindly let me know the secret of health now.’
Dhanvantari’s reply was ‘This seminal energy is verily the Atman. The secret of health lies in preservation of this vital force. He who wastes this vital and precious energy cannot have physical, mental, moral and spiritual development.’
He continued further ‘Veerya (seminal energy) is God in emotion it is, also, dynamic will. Veerya is soul-force.Veerya is the essence of life, thought, intelligence and consciousness. Always remember this. The vital energy which supports your life, which is Prana (life-force), which shines in your sparkling eyes, which beams in your shining cheeks, is a great treasure to you. It is quintessence of blood. From food, Chyle is manufactured; out of Chyle comes blood, out of blood comes flesh, out of flesh comes fat, out of fat comes marrow, out of marrow comes semen. Semen is the last essence. It is the essence of essences. Just as sugar pervades sugar-cane and butter pervades milk, so also semen pervades the whole. It exists in a subtle form throughout the body. It is withdrawn and elaborated in a gross form in the sexual organs under the influence of sexual will and excitement. ’
It is said that: When a man is excited by passion, the Prana is set in motion. The vital air or Prana moves the internal sap or semen and is thus (the semen) is put into motion. It falls downwards, just as the clouds burst into the rain water; just as the fruits, flowers, and leaves of the tree drop down by the force of the blowing winds. Once theVeerya is lost Prana gets unsteady. It is agitated. The body and mind refuse to work energetically. There is physical and mental lethargy. Exhaustion and weakness are experienced. You have to take recourse to milk, fruits and others to make good the loss of energy. But these articles, says Ayurveda, can ‘never repair the losses.’ Bad memory, premature old age, impotence, various sorts of eye diseases and nervous diseases are attributed to the heavy loss of vital fluid.
Those who have lost much of their semen become easily irritated. They lose their balance of mind quickly. Little things upset them. Those who have not observed the vow of celibacy become slaves of anger, laziness and fear. If you do not have your sense under control, you venture to do foolish actions which even children will not dare to do.
The practice of celibacy is not attended with any danger or disease, or undesirable results such as the various sorts of ‘complex’ wrongly attributed by the Western Psychologists. They have no practical knowledge of subject on hand. They have a wrong and ill-informed imagination that the ungratified sex-energy assumes the various forms of ‘complex’ such as touch-phobia. The complex, even if found, 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 of 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, vigor, and vitality. It renovates the system or constitution, rebuilds the cells and tissues, energizes digestion, and gives power to face the difficulties in the daily battle of life. One who has perfect control over the sexual energy attains power unobtainable by another means.
It is also said that: If a man leads a life of celibacy, even in his householder’s life and has copulation occasionally only for the sake of progeny, he can bring forth healthy, intelligent, strong, beautiful, self-sacrificing children. The ascetics and saviors of ancient India, when married, used to follow this excellent rule very carefully for this purpose, and also used to teach by example and practice how to lead a life of Brahmachari even as a householder.
It is worth repeating that a true celibate possesses tremendous energy, a clear brain, gigantic will-power, bold understanding, retentive memory and good power of enquiry.
Many people talk of celibacy; but practical men are rare. A life of continence is really beset with difficulties. It is easy to tame a tiger, a lion, or an elephant. It is easy to play with a cobra. It is easy to walk over the fire. It is easy to uproot the Himalayas. It is easy to get victory in the battlefield. But, it is absolutely difficult to eradicate lust from ones bodies, rightly depicted to me by Sooryanarayan Rao.
To attain such Brahmacharya mere human effort will not suffice. The divine grace is needed. Lust cannot be completely uprooted from the mind except by the grace of the Lord. God helps those who help themselves.
Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, says that ‘Lack of spiritual Sadhana is the main cause of all sexual attractions. Mere theoretical abstention from sensuality seldom brings good results. Mercilessly cut off all formalities in social life and lead a pious life. Leniency to internal power tendencies will land you in region of sufferings. Excuse will not be of use in this respect. You must be sincere in your purpose for the sublime of spirituality. Half-heartedness will leave you in your old state of misery.’
Being a Celibate, or Brahmachari, is not that simple. To be one you should not even think of the opposite sex, as per one school of thought. Looking at the opposite sex, it says, will create desire to talk to them. Talking will create a desire to touch them. Eventually you will have an impure mind and will fall victim. Therefore never look at the opposite sex. Never talk intimately and do not be familiar with them. This school of thought also asks you to have your look perfectly chaste and pure.
Lord Jesus says ‘If you have a lustful look, you have already committed adultery in the heart.’ Lustful look, lustful thinking, wet-dreams, are all failures or breaks in celibacy. You have to be chaste in your look and also talk. You need to see mother in all the women besides reminiscing the Almighty – all the times.
The reactions of subduing one’s internal desires are not to be ignored. The senses that are put under restraint for some months, or for 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 celibacy for one or two years, become more passionate and waste the energy considerably in the end, some people become incorrigible, moral wrecks also.
You must not labor under the delusion that you have eradicated lust completely by adjusting the diet a bit, by practicing some Pranayama, and by doing little meditation and that you have nothing more to do. Temptation may overcome you at any moment. Eternal vigilance and rigorous Sadhana are very essential. You may be able to stop copulation for months and years, but there should not be any sexual craving or attraction for the opposite sex.
The state of mental celibacy must be kept up even amidst temptations and sickness. Then only you are safe. The senses begin to revolt during times of ailment and also when you come in contact with sense-objects.
Also you must not puff with pride for your little achievement in celibacy. If you are put to test, you will hopelessly fail. You must be ever conscious of your shortcomings and you must constantly strive to get rid of them. The highest effort is necessary. Then, and only then, can you have sanguine success in this direction.
Considering this, I have to agree as to what Sooryanarayan Rao had said – of the challenges in practicingBrahmacharya. But still, according to me, it is worth a sincere effort.
Before I forget let me share with you the wonderful suggestion given to me by Sri Rao ‘To be committed to the values to Brahmacharya you need to have forth yourself a divine mission that can ever keep you vigilant.’
Author is Editor-In-Chief of Aseemaa: Journal for National Resurgence

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