The power of semen is a fundamental concept in Indian wrestling, Bharatiya kushti, where Pahalwans (wrestlers) dedicate themselves to preserving and enriching semen through celibacy. In fact, according to a leading exponent of modern Brahmacharya, a key element of Hindu religious thought, “celibacy is the paramount means by which a wrestler establishes his character. He is a disciple of celibacy.”
One of the most interesting aspects of traditional wrestling in India is the concept of Brahmacharya. Indian spiritual traditions believe that retaining semen transforms the fluid into spiritual energy. This is a central concept in Ayurveda, and losing semen is thought to result in losing one’s strength. Wrestlers take this belief very seriously, avoiding thinking about women, looking at women, or thinking about sex in any way whatsoever. They even eat sattvic food that doesn’t inflame sexual desire, such as avoiding garlic or onions.
Brahmacharya, or celibacy, is commonly expressed as “keeping a tight langota,” which is the sort of Indian underwear wrestlers use. Some of the best wrestlers in India have never married, and the idea that to lose one’s sperm or semen is to lose one’s strength is deeply ingrained in Indian wrestling culture.
Wrestlers are devoted to seeking selflessness, which they believe will permit them knowledge of pure truth. They are a kind of Brahmachari, ascetic, righteous, and extraordinarily healthy men. However, even more than other Brahmachari, wrestlers are deeply concerned about losing semen, which Hindus believe contains the essence of life. Even the loss of a slight dribble during involuntary nocturnal emissions alarms wrestlers.
Semen is fundamental to their athletic vocation, and they shudder at the thought of losing one drop, which they equate to sixty drops of blood. It is not just one more fluid, but rather a distillate of blood, marrow, bone, and other bodily substances, and incorporates within itself the very nature of human existence. In India, it is said, “A person should guard his semen just as a jeweler guards his most valuable diamonds.” Another elaborates with similar imagery: “We emphasize Brahmacharya – never to lose one’s semen. It is the essence of power; the essence of strength; the essence of endurance; the essence of beauty.”
Overall, the power of semen and the concept of Brahmacharya are deeply ingrained in Indian wrestling culture, where wrestlers take their celibacy and self-control very seriously as a way of life.
According to one Indian proverb, “Brahmacharya gives something special to the lips, a special light to the body, a shine to the eyes, and something special to the cheeks.” The wrestlers of India take this idea to heart, as they follow an elaborate system to retain and manage their semen, which they believe is critical to their strength and endurance. Because they are large and strong, they are thought to have a correspondingly larger store of semen.
To preserve their semen, wrestlers wear a langot, which is a tight G-string that holds their genitalia between their legs. They avoid anything that might trigger sexual desire, such as looking at or thinking about women. They surround themselves with like-minded men and avoid daydreaming, as this can easily lead to circumstances that deplete semen.
Masturbation is strictly forbidden, as is any unbidden nocturnal emission. Wrestlers even follow specific practices to avoid wet dreams, such as washing their feet in warm water before bed, reflecting on the Supreme Being, and urinating when they feel the urge.
A wrestler’s diet is also crucial, as they need to do more than conserve their semen; they must also recharge and enrich it. Milk is at the heart of their nutritional regimen, and the stereotype of a wrestler is a burly man who can guzzle a bucketful of milk. Men believe that drinking milk intensifies their virility, and Hindu myths describe milk, especially cow’s milk, as an ideal liquid. As they drink, they assume they are adding to their body’s reservoir of semen.
Ghee, clarified butter, is another important source of semen, and wrestlers believe it produces strong semen that fuels their physical, moral, and spiritual strength. According to one wrestler, “Just like ghee fuels the dias [lamps] of religious worship, so does semen fuel the fire of one’s own body.” Faith in the supreme deity underlies every spiritual success, so wrestlers chant and pray to reinforce their willpower and dedication to Brahmacharya.
The wrestlers of India take Brahmacharya seriously as a way of life. They are dedicated to preserving their semen and believe that it provides strength, endurance, and spiritual power. Their lifestyle is highly structured, with strict dietary and behavioral guidelines to follow. While their practices may seem extreme to some, they believe that the rewards of Brahmacharya are well worth the effort.
The Pahalwans, or wrestlers, have a comprehensive approach to maintaining celibacy and retaining their vital energy. In addition to wearing a langot, a tight G-string that trusses their genitalia up between their legs, they also follow a strict lifestyle that includes avoiding sexual thoughts, staying away from women, and confining their fellowship to like-minded men. Austerities, such as celibacy, chanting, and praying, are also practiced to maintain spiritual success.
The Pahalwans follow a disciplined diet, with milk at the heart of their nutritional regimen. Almonds smashed into a thick paste and mixed with milk and honey provide a fine pick-me-up after practice, while hashish is sometimes consumed to calm or erode passion. The wrestlers eat only lightly spiced food, avoid pickles and chutneys that stimulate sensuality, and abstain entirely from tobacco and alcohol, which is antithetical to semen.
The importance of retaining semen through celibacy is clear to the Pahalwans, who are motivated by the belief that Brahmacharya can transform even the frailest and sickliest boy into a champion. The actual wrestling takes place in an akhara, a simple gymnasium with an earthen pit for wrestling, a floor for exercise, a well, and a temple or shrine to Lord Hanuman, a celibate god. The akharas are free to all men except outcasts and Muslims, and women are forbidden to enter.
The manager or owner of the akhara serves as a teacher who instructs his disciples in wrestling and devises a total life program for each one, including exercises, food, and rest. He also provides spiritual guidance to the wrestlers.
The Pahalwans’ lifestyle is built around the goal of retaining their vital energy through celibacy and discipline. Their diet, exercise regimen, and spiritual practices are carefully crafted to support this goal, with a focus on maintaining physical, moral, and spiritual strength.
Pahalwans view themselves as exceptional individuals who push their bodies to their limits. Before independence, wrestling was a significant avenue for nationalist ideology. Today, it has evolved into both a physical activity with rules similar to Olympic wrestling and a spiritual quest for men dedicated to physical strength, celibacy, duty, obedience, honesty, and humility. Religion plays a pervasive role, with akharas (gymnasiums) often featuring shrines or temples on site. Pahalwans are even likened to the Hindu deity Lord Hanuman, who fought against demonic adversaries.
Unlike wrestlers who live on-site, pahalwans live at home and attend school or work. Ideally, pahalwans rise at 3 a.m., though most wake up around 4:30 or 5 a.m. They begin their day with a glass of water and lime juice, followed by ablutions in the forest or jungle and careful defecation, which helps maintain total control over semen. By 9 a.m., the pahalwan arrives at the spacious and airy akhara, where they work out, wrestle, and perform various exercises before leaving for their other daily responsibilities. While the ideal scenario would be to rest, eat, and sleep for the remainder of the day, this is often impossible in practice.
The pahalwan’s lifestyle is both austere and intricate, intricately interwoven with mainstream Indian life. Its foundation is the powerful wrestler’s celibacy, which strives not only to retain semen but to generate it through carefully structured diets.
To achieve the strictest celibacy, a pahalwan must observe the regulations forbidding sensual thoughts, autoeroticism, and wet dreams. They must also exercise and engage in wrestling matches daily, following the regimented daily life under the guidance of a wrestling guru, and enjoy the companionship of other pahalwans or Brahmachari. With all of these components, the strictest celibacy can be achieved, resulting in the augmentation and enrichment of semen, which represents the living essence of human existence.