The Paramount Significance of Brahmacharya By Swami Chidananda Saraswati
Swami Chidananda Saraswati was an Indian spiritual teacher, yogi, and sage. He was the president of the Divine Life Society, a spiritual organization founded by his guru, Sri Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, and was known for his teachings on the ancient Indian scriptures, yoga, and spirituality. He was a respected spiritual leader and was regarded as one of the foremost authorities on the teachings of yoga, Vedanta, and the Bhagavad Gita.
The Four Great Purusharthas – Right Efforts
Our ancestors have defined four essential values that every human being should strive to attain. These values are referred to as the Purushartha Chathushtaya, meaning “right exertion or effort.” The first and foremost of these values is ethics or morality, referred to as Dharma. Our ancestors emphasized that our thoughts, words, and actions should be ethical, pure, and moral, in line with the law of ethics and morality. This is because following this law ensures our highest good, happiness, and welfare. The law of cause and effect, also known as the Law of Karma, states that our actions have consequences. Hence, if our actions are moral and ethical, the result is happiness and wellbeing, but if not, we reap the consequences of bitterness.
Adhering to the ethical standards in life will bring us happiness and inner peace, despite facing difficulties and troubles from others. Our ancestors placed great importance on ethics as they wanted to secure the greatest benefit and good of the individual soul. By following ethical values, one gains immense inner strength, like the Pandavas who faced numerous difficulties but remained steadfast in their adherence to virtue and never broke down. Dharma upholds those who follow it, and those who don’t, fall.
The second value is Artha, the economic value or money, which is inevitable and necessary for our survival in this world. The ancestors emphasized that our efforts to earn a living should be based on Dharma, and that any professional or business activities should also be in line with ethical values.
The third value is the desire nature of man, arising from his many longings, desires, ambitions, and plans. Our ancestors recognized that man is a vital being with a psychological personality and provided a place for this vital value in the Purusharthas. Unlike other animals that only have the instinct to survive, man has desires that go beyond food and shelter.
The fourth and final value is Moksha, which refers to spiritual liberation and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Our ancestors believed that attaining Moksha was the ultimate goal of life, and that the other three values were steps towards this goal.
The Purushartha Chathushtaya, the four great values defined by our ancestors, are the right efforts towards attaining the ultimate goal of spiritual liberation, and they must be pursued in the right order, starting with ethics and morality as the foundation. By following these values, we can lead a life of happiness, inner peace, and fulfillment, and ultimately attain spiritual liberation.
The Two-Fold Significance of Dharma
Dharma is the foundation and basis for all human striving, as it must always accompany and infill one’s thoughts, words, and actions in all aspects of life, including professional and social activities. The importance of following Dharma can be understood in two ways. Firstly, adhering to Dharma leads to happiness, while neglecting it leads to sorrow. This applies not only to morality and ethics, but also to one’s economic and vital values.
Secondly, and more significantly, following Dharma leads to the attainment of the highest spiritual value, which is God-realization and liberation. This is the ultimate purpose of life and what makes it worth living. Having this goal in mind provides the strength and direction needed to overcome life’s difficulties and attain divine consciousness.
In summary, Dharma is crucial as it provides a stable foundation for one’s worldly pursuits and a path towards spiritual enlightenment. When Dharma animates and pervades one’s entire life, spiritual pursuits become rapidly fruitful and lead to the ultimate goal of Moksha and divine consciousness. This is the great ideal of Bharatavarsha and it is inevitable to strive for it.
The Importance of Energy Conservation in a Spiritual Life:
In the context of Purushartha Chathushtaya, the four values to be attained, it is essential to have strength and energy. Any action or effort requires energy, and this energy can only be harnessed if it is conserved. If energy is wasted, it becomes a continuous cycle of debt.
Think of it as saving money to start a business or build a home. If you consistently spend more than you earn, you will never have enough savings to reach your goals. Similarly, conservation of energy is crucial for success in any pursuit. This is the central principle of Brahmacharya, which emphasizes the wise use of energy to attain desired outcomes.
Energy can be drained through various means such as excessive talking, worry, anger, overeating, and engaging in harmful habits like smoking and drinking. These practices not only waste physical energy but also emotional energy. Thus, sense-control through Samyama is an integral part of Brahmacharya.
One of the most concentrated forms of energy is the sexual energy, which is the quintessence of all physical energy. When conserved wisely, this energy can be transformed into various forms and aid in intellectual pursuits, research, meditation, and more. There are also practices such as yoga, pranayama, and emotions, which aid in this transformation.
Therefore, conserving energy, particularly sexual energy, has been given significant importance in spiritual life across all religions.
Sex Energy: A Manifestation of Para Shakti
Sex energy is a manifestation of the Divine. It is the dynamic expression of Brahman, also known as Para Shakti, Maha Shakti, Maha Maya, or Prakriti. This cosmic energy is responsible for the activity of countless universes, as well as the energy that powers the sun, planets, elements, growth of seeds, and animates all living beings. It is the same energy that is present in our body and enables our digestion, circulation, movement, and speech. Sex energy is a part of the one, indivisible cosmic power, and its utilization for reproduction is a sacred process that cooperates with the Creator.
In Indian culture, the conservation and conversion of sex energy into a subtler form for higher spiritual purposes is called Brahmacharya. This term encompasses an entire way of life that involves moderation in all activities and wise restraint of all senses. In the traditional system of Bharatiya Samskriti, total restraint of the sex energy was laid down in the Brahmacharya, Vanaprastha, and Sannyasa Ashramas, while moderation in its utilization was required in the Grihasthashrama for procreation. This concept of Brahmacharya gave rise to two great ideals: Pativrata Dharma and chastity or fidelity to one’s spouse.
In conclusion, sex energy is a manifestation of the divine, and its wise utilization and conservation can lead to higher spiritual development. Brahmacharya is a way of life that involves moderation and wise restraint, enabling individuals to move closer to Brahma-Jnana.
The Human Body as a Mansion:
It is important to emphasize that the body is like a mansion. Even the most magnificent mansion, adorned with marble and jewels, is useless unless it has basic necessities such as a kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. These necessities are essential for a person to live in the mansion. The food a person consumes contributes to their mind and body, and the waste must be eliminated, as waste is always foul-smelling. Similarly, in the human body, which is considered a “mansion of nine gates,” God has provided two exit points for the purpose of drainage and elimination of waste. Although these exit points also serve a reproductive function, it is only a rare, occasional occurrence in a small portion of one’s life. The primary function of these outlets is to drain impurities from the body. Understanding the body from this perspective, rather than giving it undue importance, can solve many problems. From a Vedantic viewpoint, the primary declaration of Vedanta is that the soul is eternal and unchanging, not the body. Hence, identifying oneself with just one aspect of the body is not in line with Vedanta teachings. A strong and genuine belief in Vedanta can provide a solution to these challenges.
The Path to Transcending Sexual Urges:
A key aspect of the concept of Brahmacharya is to have a clear purpose and direction in life. What is it that drives you? What is your ultimate goal? Do you have a burning passion to become the world’s greatest musician, the fastest runner or weightlifter at the Olympics? If you have an all-consuming ambition, other challenges will take a backseat. However, without such a direction in life, everything becomes difficult, including controlling sexual desires.
The solution to this problem is not to fight with it, but to rise above it. If you lack a strong urge to strive towards something, the sense-pleasures become an overpowering force in your life. But, if you have a more profound purpose, the senses do not hold any sway.
The way to transcend sexual desires is to develop a deep love for God, to be passionate about living an ethical and ideal life, and to cultivate intense Mumukshutva for self-liberation. When you have a strong aspiration towards something, other distractions become less important. To achieve mastery over the sense-pleasures, you must ignite within yourself a flame of higher aspiration.
Successful Brahmacharya requires total commitment to your purpose in life. Even renowned scientists are not troubled by these issues as they are fully absorbed in their research. They are not concerned with food, clothing, or hygiene because they are focused on something greater. This is how you can cultivate successful Brahmacharya – by giving yourself completely to what your heart truly desires.
The Concept of Voluntary Self-restraint:
There is a commonly held belief in Western cultures that sex is a natural urge and should be freely expressed. According to this idea, suppressing the sexual urge can lead to repression, and this repression can result in abnormality, neurosis, and various complexes. While this argument holds some truth, it only applies when suppression and repression are imposed by external factors such as social norms, family pressure, or personal inhibitions.
However, if one willingly and voluntarily chooses to engage in self-discipline and self-restraint for the purpose of attaining a higher goal, this is not considered suppression. In this scenario, there is no psychological tension as it is a voluntary decision, made with full willingness and enthusiasm. Every time one controls their sense-urges, they experience a sense of achievement and inner satisfaction, making the process positive, creative, and empowering.
Brahmacharya can be viewed as a means of conserving energy and preserving it for higher pursuits. The energy in a human being is a part of the cosmic energy, which manifests in various aspects, including the physical and biological (sex energy), mental and occult (Medhas), psychic (Kundalini Shakti), and highest (Atma Bal, Atma Shakti, radiance of the Atman).
Consider all these aspects and allow them to inspire further reflection and contemplation.