Many of you may already be familiar with the principles of Brahmacharya, which is also known as Celibacy, Semen Retention, Seed Retention, and Sperm Retention. These terms refer to the same ancient practice of Brahmacharya, and throughout this book, the author uses them interchangeably to avoid confusion. If you are a beginner, this chapter will provide a solid introduction to the basics of Brahmacharya.
Even if you are an experienced practitioner, it is still recommended to revisit the fundamental principles of this practice. In this chapter, we will explore the fundamentals of semen retention, which will serve as a strong foundation for the rest of the book. This will help you to gain a deeper understanding of how to apply the principles of Brahmacharya to your life.
To achieve success in life, it’s crucial to revisit the basics and determine what you truly want, who you are, and what you hope to accomplish with the knowledge and guidance provided in this book.
Exploring the Basics of Brahmacharya
The word ‘Brahmacharya’ is derived from Sanskrit and is composed of two words, ‘Brahman’ and ‘Charyathey iti’. The word ‘Brahman’ refers to the Almighty and ‘Charyathey iti’ means to surrender and perform actions according to the wishes of the Lord, with the ultimate goal of self-realization. A person who practices this is called a ‘Brahmachari’, regardless of their marital status.
The concept of abstaining from sexual activity in thoughts, words, and deeds is a byproduct of Brahmacharya that leads to this surrender, but it is not the definition of Brahmacharya itself. In a practical sense, Brahmacharya refers to a state of the body, mind, and consciousness where a person is free from sexual thoughts, actions, and attitudes, not necessarily just for recreation, but to reach a state of ‘Ananda’ or bliss.
For married individuals, sexual activity is considered appropriate when it serves the following purposes:
- To produce desired offspring.
- To build a strong and healthy marital bond during the initial period of marriage.
In essence, Brahmacharya is a state of being that promotes inner peace and spiritual growth, leading to a life of happiness and fulfillment.
As married couples progress through their union, they are naturally programmed to rely less on sexual activity and shift towards more meaningful connections, such as kindness, love, understanding, companionship, and togetherness. Meanwhile, single Brahmacharis are expected to abstain from all forms of sexuality, while householders or Grihastas are only allowed sexual contact with their spouse for the purpose of procreation, not recreation. A householder who wishes to embrace the path of Brahmacharya should strive to cultivate this state of mind and behavior in their marriage, thereby reaping the same benefits as a single Brahmachari in their journey towards self-realization.
Brahmacharya, or spiritual continence, is a critical component of Yama. It entails surrendering one’s ego and following the will of the Almighty. Simply put, Brahmacharya means celibacy. In broader terms, it involves acting on a spiritual plane. The practice of Brahmacharya has been known to increase longevity, luster, strength, vigor, knowledge, beauty, fame, piety, and devotion to truth.
The practice of Brahmacharya brings numerous benefits, including good health, inner strength, peace of mind, fortitude, and a longer lifespan. It helps conserve physical and mental energy and enhances memory, willpower, clear thinking, concentration, and the ability to grasp philosophical subjects. It also bestows physical strength, vigor, vitality, courage, boldness, and character. For those who practice Brahmacharya, divine knowledge comes effortlessly, and their words carry meaning and authority, leaving a lasting impact on those who hear them.
Conversely, those who do not practice Brahmacharya remain trapped in illusion. Brahmacharya is crucial in spiritual growth. When one becomes disenchanted with their sexual life, it marks the start of their spiritual journey. Without embracing Brahmacharya, it is impossible to understand the spiritual realm.
The vow of Brahmacharya, as described in the Yajnavalkya Smriti, requires one to abstain from all forms of sexual indulgence in their thoughts, words, and actions at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances.
As per Sridhara Swami’s commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Brahmacharya is composed of eight essential aspects that should be followed:
- Avoid harboring lustful thoughts about women.
- Refrain from engaging in discussions about sexual matters.
- Stay away from spending time with women.
- Avoid looking at women with a lustful gaze.
- Refrain from having intimate conversations with women.
- Resist the urge to engage in sexual intercourse.
- Avoid participating in any form of sexual activity.
- Steer clear of any thoughts of sexual pleasure involving women.
In a world where sex is constantly in the spotlight, the importance of adhering to these principles becomes all the more apparent.
The origin of sexual desire can be traced back to God. In the spiritual realm, Krishna and his consorts engage in love pastimes with each other spontaneously, this is referred to as adirasa, the original and pure form of sexual attraction. This adirasa is untainted by material contamination and is as different from worldly sexual attraction as gold is from iron.
The principles of Brahmacharya involve understanding that sexual desire and pleasure are divine creations that bring life when used properly. Celibacy is not an accurate term for Brahmacharya, as it implies repression of sex. While Brahmacharya is a transcendence of sex, one has grown beyond the toys of the past.
Lord Vyasa describes Brahmacharya in his commentary on the Yoga Sutra, stating that Brahmacharya involves the process of Samyama (binding, integration) on the secret sexual organ through dharana (fixed attention), dhyana, and samadhi. This practice is known as niskama karma yoga and is the true meaning of Brahmacharya.
This divine knowledge is considered the mother of all knowledge and is considered a mystery. After solving this mystery, there is no other knowledge left to be revealed. Many practitioners try hard to practice Brahmacharya, but it is unattainable for ordinary people and is considered the ultimate form of austerity. One who has mastered Brahmacharya is not considered human but rather a deity.
At puberty, one is consumed by the fire of the senses, but with the guidance of Saktipata, the downward path can open up. This path must be closed and the divine energy must be made ascendant, a task as difficult as making the river Ganges ascend to heaven. Total renunciation is necessary for the yogi to traverse this difficult path.
Brahmacharya has two forms, the primary form is for celibate students, hermits, and renunciants, while the secondary form is for householders (married individuals).
According to the teachings of ancient wisdom, the husband and wife should engage in sexual activity for procreation sixteen days after the start of menstruation, excluding holy days. This practice is known as Brahmacharya for householders.
Maharshi Patanjali highlights the significance of Brahmacharya in his Yoga Sutra, stating that “on being firmly established in Brahmacharya, vigor is gained” (Yoga Sutra, Sadhanapada, Sutra 38). The mastery of sexual energy leads to an increase in power and the ability to achieve ultimate truth. Fame, money, and material goods are said to come automatically to the individual who becomes steadfast in celibacy.
Lord Krishna also emphasizes the importance of sexual energy in the Srimad Bhagavadgita, declaring that “Know me to be the primeval seed of all existence, O Partha” (Bhagavadgita, 7:10). Lord Shiva states that he is the bindu (ovum), and the Durga Saptasati states that the goddess of power, Durga, resides in all beings as divine energy.
The great saints observed celibacy as a means of attaining God, and as the Bhagavad Gita states, “One who desires to reach his goal observes Brahmacharya” (Bhagavadgita, 8:11). Yogi Raja Goraksanatha also highlights the importance of sexual fluids, stating that the loss of sexual energy leads to death, but the sublimation of sexual energy rejuvenates.
Therefore, it can be concluded that an understanding of the importance of Brahmacharya is crucial for personal development and spiritual growth. As Maharshi Patanjali says, “If one does not understand the importance of Brahmacharya, he is a fool, even though he may be a learned man.
When it comes to practicing Brahmacharya (Semen Retention), it’s important to keep it confidential. Brahmacharya is a sacred and virtuous way of life that should be treated with reverence and kept between you and the divine. Boasting or discussing Brahmacharya with others is a sign of foolishness and can ultimately lead to its downfall.
A Lesser-Known Fact: Brahmacharya and Celibacy are Different
It’s important to note that Brahmacharya and celibacy are not synonymous. Celibacy simply means refraining from sexual activity, while Brahmacharya is a unique way of life that enables one to overcome the desire for sexual pleasure and attain the infinite bliss of the soul. The soul, in its true form, is Atman, and is characterized by unending bliss, far beyond the boundaries of sexuality. While celibacy is an important aspect of Brahmacharya, it is not a complete representation of the practice.
What is NoFap?
NoFap is a movement advocated by online communities that emphasizes the abstention from porn, masturbation, and orgasm, referred to as PMO. The group asserts that by giving up porn-related masturbation, one can overcome several negative health effects, such as porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), delayed ejaculation, and premature ejaculation. Committing to NoFap is said to result in numerous mental, psychological, physical, and sexual benefits. While NoFap alone does not embody the full practice of Brahmacharya, it can be considered an integral part of the contemporary approach to Brahmacharya.
What is Semen Retention?
The Modern Interpretation: Semen retention shares similarities with NoFap in that both promote abstaining from PMO (Porn, Masturbation, Orgasm), but semen retention goes further by advocating for the preservation of semen through avoiding ejaculation, even during sexual intercourse with a partner. This approach, known as Tantric Sex, will be discussed in later chapters.
Proponents of semen retention believe that by maintaining a long streak of retention, such as 90 days or more, one will experience improvements in sperm quality and spiritual energy, as well as other benefits that overlap with NoFap. However, it’s important to note that NoFap, celibacy, or semen retention alone cannot be considered as Brahmacharya, but should be viewed as part of the contemporary practice of Brahmacharya.
What is Physical Celibacy?
Physical celibacy, or simply abstaining from sexual activity or masturbation, provides limited long-term benefits, although it can improve one’s physical health to a certain extent in the short term. For celibacy to be truly effective, it must be transformed into a spiritually-based sexual continence known as Brahmacharya. Rather than suppressing sexual desires, one must overcome them by eliminating the root cause of ignorance.
It’s important to note that the terms “celibacy” and “Brahmacharya” have distinct meanings and are not synonymous. A celibate may physically refrain from sexual activity, but their thoughts may still revolve around sexual desires. This kind of celibacy does not foster spiritual growth or freedom from wet dreams or masturbation. Physical celibacy is a crucial aspect of Brahmacharya, but it is not the whole picture.
The Practice of Brahmacharya:
Brahmacharya refers to a state of complete freedom from sexual enjoyment and desires, both in thoughts, words, and actions, through constant devotion to God. It involves reverting to the pure nature of the soul, free from sexual impulses and cravings for sensory pleasures. A practitioner of Brahmacharya, or a Brahmachari, works towards overcoming their past sexual conditioning and desires through constant effort and mindfulness.
Suppressing sexual desires through physical means alone is not sufficient for practicing Brahmacharya. In fact, it can lead to physical and mental health problems. The goal of Brahmacharya is to prevent the birth of sexual urges at the mental level and not just suppress them. Through the practice of Brahmacharya, one gradually reverts their mind to the pure and sex-free nature of the soul.
A person who associates with negative influences such as alcohol, tobacco, parties, and discussions about sex or women is unlikely to achieve Brahmacharya. A Brahmachari, on the other hand, maintains a life of purity and avoids such company. While they may still interact with those who do not align with their values, they limit their interactions to what is necessary and maintain a polite and amicable demeanor.
Yogic practices like Pranayama and Asana are effective methods that help a person achieve purity and progress in Brahmacharya. These practices are timeless and will always be effective in promoting spiritual progress and evolution. Living a life of Brahmacharya and Yoga with devotion and love for God will make the path towards spiritual growth easier and free from obstacles.
A beginner Brahmachari(Practitioner) should be cautious of being in the company of those who do not align with their values, as it can be challenging to maintain purity. It’s important to limit interactions with friends in the initial stages and avoid discussions about sexuality. By leading a life of Brahmacharya with firm resolve and intention, one will eventually find support from those around them.