Brahmacharya literally means that mode of life which lead to the realization of God. That realization is impossible without practicing self-restraint. Self-restraint means restraint of all the senses. But ordinarily brahmacharya is understood to mean control of sexual organs and prevention of seminal discharge through complete control over the sexual instinct and the sexual organs. This becomes natural for the man who exercises self-restraint all round. It is only when observance of brahmacharya becomes natural to one that he or she derives the greatest benefit from it. Such a person should be free from anger and kindhearted passion. The so called brahmacharis, that one generally comes across, behaves as if their one occupation in life was the display of bad temper.
One notices that these people disregard
the ordinary rules of brahmacharya and merely aim at and expect to
prevent seminal discharges. They fail to achieve their object. Some of
them become almost insane while others betray a sickly appearance. They
are unable to prevent the discharge and if they succeed in restraining
themselves from sexual intercourse, they think that they have attained
all that was needed. Now mere abstention from sexual intercourse cannot
be termed brahmacharya. So long as the desire for intercourse is there,
one cannot be said to have attained brahmacharya. Only he who has burnt
away sexual desire in its entirely may be said to have attained control
over his sexual organs. The absence of seminal discharges is a
straightforward result of brahmacharya, but is not all. There is
something very striking about a full-fledged brahmachari. His speech,
his thought, and his action, all bespeak possession of vital force.
Such a brahmachari do not flee from the
company of women. He may not hanker after it nor may he avoid it even
when it means rendering of necessary survive. For him the distinction
between men and women almost disappears. No one should distort my words
and use them as an argument in favor of licentiousness. What I mean to
say is that, a man whose sexual desire has been burnt up ceases to make
a distinction between men and women. It must be so. His conception of
beauty alters. He will not look at the external form. He or she whose
character is beautiful will be beautiful in his eyes. Therefore, the
sight of women called beautiful will not ruffle or exited him. Even his
sexual organs will begin to look different. In other words, such a man
has so controlled his sexual instinct that he never gets erections. He
does not become impotent for lack of the necessary secretions of sexual
glands. But these secretions in his case are sublimated into a vital
force pervading his whole being. It is said that an important man is not
free form sexual desire. Some of my correspondents belonging to this
group tell me that they desire erection but they fail to get it and yet
have seminal discharges. Such men have either become impotent or are on
the way to become so for loss of the necessary secretions. This is a
pitiable state. But the cultivated impotency of the man, whose sexual
desire has been burnt up and whose sexual secretion are are being
converted into vital force, is wholly different. It is to be desired by
everybody. It is true that such a brahmachari is rare to find.
I took the vow of brahmacharya in 1906. In
other words, my efforts to become a perfect brahmachari started 36 years
ago. I cannot say I have attained the full brahmacharya of my
definition, but in my opinion I have made substantial progress towards
it. If God wills it, I might attain even perfection in this life.
Anyway, there is no relaxation of efforts nor is there any despondence
in me. I do not consider 36 years too long a period for effort. The
richer the prize, the richer the effort must be. Meanwhile, my ideas
regarding the necessity for brahmacharya have become stronger. Some of
my experiments have not reached a stage when they might be placed before
the public with advantage. I hope to do so some day if they succeed to
my satisfaction. Success might make the attainment of brahmacharya
But the brahmacharya on which I wish to
lay emphasis in this chapter is limited to the conservation of sexual
secretions. The glorious fruit of perfect brahmacharya is not to be had
from the observance of this limited brahmacharya. But no one can reach
perfect brahmacharya without reaching the limited variety.
And maintenance of perfect health should
be considered almost an utter impossibility without the brahmacharya
leading to the conservation of the sexual secretions. To countenance
wastage of a secretion which has the power of creating another human
being is, to say the least, an indication of gross ignorance. A firm
grasp of the fact that semen is meant to be used only for procreation
and not for self-indulgence, leaves no room whatsoever for indulging in
animal passion. Assimilation of the knowledge that the vital fluid is
never meant for waste should restrain men and women from becoming crazy
over sexual intercourse. Marriage will then come to have a different
significance and the way it is treated at present will appear
disgusting. Marriage ought to signify a union of heart between two
partners. A married couple is worthy of being considered dared
brahmacharis if they never think of sexual intercourse except for the
purposes of procreation. Such an intercourse is not possible unless both
parties desire it. It will never be restored to in order to satisfy
passion without the desire for a child. after intercourse which has been
performer as a matter of duty, the desire to repeat the process should
What I am saying may not be taken as copy
book wisdom. The reader should know that I am writing this after a long
personal experience. I know that what I am writing is contrary to the
common practice. But in order to make progress we have often to go
beyond the limits of common experience. Great discoveries have been
possible only as a result of challenging the common experience or
commonly held beliefs. The invention of the simple match stick was
challenged to the common experience and the discovery of electricity
confounded all preconceived notions.
What is true of physical thing is equally
true of things spiritual. In the early days there was no such thing as
marriage. Men and women, as in the case of animals, mated promiscuously.
Self-restraint was unknown. Some advanced men went beyond the rut of
common practice and discover the law of self-restraint. It is our duty
to investigate the hidden possibilities of the law of self-restraint.
Therefore, when I say it the duty of every man and woman to take the
marital relations to the state indicated by me it is not to be dismissed
as utterly impracticable. If human life is molded as it ought to be,
conservation of vital fluid can become a natural thing for everyone.
The sexual glands are all the time
secreting the semen. This secretion should be utilized for enhancing
one's mental, physical and spiritual energy. He, who would learn to
utilize it thus, will find that he requires very little food to keep his
body in a fit condition. And yet he will be as capable as any of
undertaking physical labour. Mental exertion will not tire him easily
nor will he show the ordinary signs of old age. Just as a ripe fruit or
an old leaves falls off naturally, so will such a brahmachari when his
times comes pass away with all his faculties intact. Although with the
passage of time the effects of the natural wear and tear must be
manifest in his body, his intellects instead of showing signs of decay
should show progressive clarity. If all this is correct, the real key to
health lies in the conservancy of vital energy.
I gave here the rules for the conservation
of vital force I know them.
1. Sexual desire has its root in one's
thought. Therefore, complete control over through is necessary. The way
to achieve it is this. Never let your mind remain ideal. Keep it filled
with good and useful ideas. In other words keep thinking of whatever
duty you have on hand. There need be no worry about it, but think out
haw can you become an expert in your department and then put your
thoughts into action. There should be no waste of thoughts. Japa
(repetition of God's name) is a great support when ideal thoughts haunt
you. Contemplate God in the form you have pictured Him unless you know
Him as formless. While japa is going on, no other thoughts should be
allowed to enter one's mind. This is the ideal state. But if one cannot
reach it and all sorts of uninvited thoughts invade one's mind, one
should not become disheartened. Namajapa should be continued faithfully
and in the confidence that ultimate victory is bound to follow.
2. As with our thoughts, so with our
reading and talking. These should be healthy and clean. Erotic
literature should be avoided. Idle, incidence talk leads to indecent
action. It is obvious that one who do not wish to feed his animal
passions will avoid occupations which tend to include them.
3. Like the mind, the body must also be
kept well and usefully occupied, so that the fatigue of the day may lead
to refreshing dreamless sleep. As far as possible, work should be in
open. Those who for some reason or the other, cannot undertake physical
labour, should make it a point to take regular exercise. In my opinion,
a brisk walk in the open is the best form of exercise. During the walk
the mouth should be closed and breathing should be done through the
nose. Sitting or walking, the body must be held erect. To sit or stand
otherwise is a size of laziness and laziness is the enemy of
self-restraint. Yogic exercises-asanas-are also useful. This much I can
say from my personal experience that one who keeps his hands and feet,
eyes and ears, healthily occupied does not have much difficulty in
controlling the animal appetite. Everyone can test this for himself.
4. A Sanskrit text say that a man becomes
what he eats. A glutton who exercises no restraint in eating is a salve
to his animal passions. One who has not been able to control his palate,
will never be able to control the other senses. If this is true, it is
clear that one should take just enough food for the requirements of the
body and no more. The diet should be healthy and well-balanced. The body
was never meant to be treated as a refuse bin holding the foods that the
palate demands. Food is meant to sustain the body. His body has been
given to man as a means of self-realization. Self-realization means
realization of God. A person who has made this realization the object of
his or her life, will never become a salve to the animal passion.
5. Man should look upon every woman as his
mother, sister or daughter. No one ever entertains impure thoughts with
regard to his mother, sister or daughter. Similarly, women should look
upon every man as her father, brother or son.
I have given more hints than these in my
other writing, but they are all contained in the five given above.
Anyone who observes them should find it easy to overcome what has been
called the greatest of all passions. A person, who has real desire for
brahmacharya, will not give up the effort because he or she regards the
observance of these rules as impossible or at least within the reaches
of one in a million. The effort is a joy in itself. To put it in another
way, the joy of possessing perfect health is not to be compared with any
other, and perfect health is unattainable by slaves. Slavery of one's
animality is perhaps the worst of all.
A few words about contraceptives will not
be out of place here. The practice of preventing progeny, by means of
artificial methods, is not a new thing. In the past such methods were
practiced secretly and they were crude. Modern society have given them
respectable place and made improvements. They have been given a
philanthropic grab. The advocates of contraceptives say that sexual
desire is a natural instinct-some call it a blessing. They therefore say
that it is not suppress the desire even if it were possible. Birth
control by means of self-restraint is, in their opinion, difficult to
practice. If a substitute for self-restraint is not prescribed, the
health of innumerable is bound to suffer through frequent pregnancies.
They add that if births are not regulated, over population will ensue;
individual families will be pauperized and their children will be ill
fed, ill clothed and ill educated. Therefore, they argue, it is the duty
of scientists to devise harmless and effective methods of birth control.
This argument has failed to convince me. The use of contraceptives is
likely to produce evils of which we have no conception. But the worse
danger is that the use of contraceptives bids fair to kill the desire
for self-restraint. In my opinion it is too heavy a price to pay for any
possible immediate gain. But this is not the place to argue my point.
Those who would like to pursue this subject further should procure the
booklet called Self-Restraint v. Self Indulgence read the digest what I
have said therein and then do as their heads and heart may dedicate.
Those who have not the desire or the leisure to read booklet will, if
they follow my advice, avoid contraceptive as poison. They should try
their best to exercise self-restraint. They should take up such
activities as would keep their bodies and minds fully occupied and give
a suitable outlet to their energy. It is necessary to have some healthy
recreation when one is tired by physical labour. There should not be a
single moment of idleness for the devil to creep in. In this way, true
conjugal love will be established and directed into healthy channels.
Both the partners will make a progressive rise in their moral height.
The joy of true renunciation, once they come to know it, will prevent
them from turning to animal enjoyment. Self-deception is the greatest
stabling block. Instead of controlling the mind, the fountain of all
animals desire, men and women involve themselves in the vain endeavor to
avoid the physical act. If there is a determination to control the
thought and the action, victory is sure to follow. Man must understand
that woman is his companion and helpmate in life and not the means of
satisfying his carnal desire. There must be a clear perception that the
purpose of human creation was wholly different from that of the
satisfaction of the animal wants.