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Who Are the Ideal Householder Yogis?

Q: Someone told me that the Indian scriptures say if householder yogis only engage in sexual relations at night they are actually brahmacharis. Is this so?

I have come across this in some “scriptural” books myself more than once. Nevertheless, this statement is not only false, it is foul. Do not believe it. I have read the dharma shastras on the rules for the grihasta life and they are far more stringent I can assure you.

But since you mention “householder yogis,” let me assure you that all such talk is usually just empty air. Three men are held up as examples of “householder yogis” to the world: Sri Ramakrishna, his disciple Durgacharan Nag and Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya. Let us look at their examples, which are holy indeed.

Sri RamakrishnaSri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna was first of all a monk, a member of the Puri branch of the Swami Order. Ramakrishna was his monastic name.

His family and the owner of the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple decided that celibacy had made his brain overheated and that if his brahmacharya would be broken then he would be “normal.” So first of all, the owner of the temple took him to a house of prostitution in Calcutta and left him there until “it” would be done. When he went back he found Sri Ramakrishna seated in samadhi while being worshipped by the prostitutes who upbraided him for daring to attempt defilement of such a holy man.

His family had gotten him married for the same nefarious purpose, but the bride was a child at the time. So after the Calcutta failure it was decided to send Sarada Devi, his now-adult wife, to live with him in the temple and end his brahmacharya. What they did not know was her exalted spiritual status.

One night he asked her: “Have you come here to bring my mind down to the lower planes?” “Why would I?” she replied, and they lived together in unbroken virginity. He worshipped her as Kali and she worshipped him as Kali. After his mahasamadhi she carried on his work as a supreme jnani and yogeshwari. Read their biographies and their spiritual discourses, especially The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and decide who in India or America are really householder yogis.

Durgacharan Nag, householder yogiDurgacharan Nag

Durgacharan Nag declared to his parents that he wished to never marry, but they lied to him and told him that he need not break his virginity–just get married and live with his wife in celibacy. Being a pure soul and of impeccable honesty he could not conceive of the real intentions of his mother and father.

So he married and through the years endured the complaining, haranguing and demanding of his parents and his wife that he break brahmacharya and have children. But he held firm and left this world still a brahmachari. Swami Vivekananda said that he had travelled throughout India and the world and had never met anyone the spiritual equal of Nag Mahasaya.

Lahiri Mahasaya, householder yogiLahiri Mahasaya

Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya was secularly employed, married and had children when he met his guru, Mahavatar Babaji, in the Himalayas. There he became a yogi, and from that time onward lived in perpetual celibacy with his wife.

For twenty-five years afterward he worked in a government office, returning to his home to spend the entire night in deep meditation, and most of the days when the office was closed. After his retirement he spent night and day in his small room where he received disciples and spiritual inquirers.

You can read in Chapter Thirty-One of Autobiography of a Yogi about his wife complaining to him regarding this “neglect” of his family. One of his children died while he was discoursing on spiritual subjects with his visitors. When the wailing from the upper floor announced the death, someone asked if they should leave. “They are doing their work and we are doing ours,” was his calm remark, and continued his teaching. Such are the ways of a true householder yogi.

Two more

Bhagabati Charan Ghosh, householder yogiGyana Prabha Ghosh-Yogananda's mother, householder yogiAs I say, these three are continually cited by those who have no intention of following their actual example. And I can add two more: the parents of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Regarding these two great yogi-saints, Yoganandaji wrote: “Early in their married life, my parents became disciples of a great master, Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares. This contact strengthened Father’s naturally ascetical temperament. Mother made a remarkable admission to my eldest sister Roma: ‘Your father and myself live together as man and wife only once a year, for the purpose of having children.’” That Yogananda would reveal this to the world shows how important he thought this information would be to serious married yogis.

How outrageous that these virgin and celibate holy men and woman would be the excuse for “yogis” to live a selfish and materially-conscious married life the same as any desire-controlled ignoramuses who live for their own interests and gain. They are not yogis but bhogis, those who live for their own enjoyment and self-satisfaction.

Further Reading:

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