- Monastic Life - Practice of Brahmacharya - Chapter One: The Present-Day Degradation

Chapter One: The Present-Day Degradation

Swami Sivananda youngThere is a great illusion in front of man. It troubles him in the form of woman. There is a great illusion in front of woman. It troubles her in the form of man.

Go wherever you like–Amsterdam, London or New York. Analyze this world of phenomenal experience. You will find only two things–sex and ego.

The sex instinct is the greatest urge in human life. Sex energy or lust is the most deep-rooted instinct in man. Sex energy entirely fills the mind, intellect, prana, senses and the whole body. It is the oldest of the factors that have gone into the constitution of the human being.

A man has a thousand and one desires. But the central strong desire is the sexual desire. The fundamental desire is the urge for a mate. All hang on this central basic desire. The desire for money, the desire for a son, the desire for property, the desire for houses, the desire for cattle and other desires come later on.

Because the whole creation of this universe is to be kept up, God has made the sexual desire very, very powerful. Otherwise, many jivanmuktas would have cropped up quite easily, just as graduates from universities. It is easy to get university qualifications. It demands a little money, memory, intelligence and a little strain. But it is an uphill climb to obliterate the sexual impulse. He who has completely eradicated lust and is established in mental brahmacharya is Brahman or God Himself.

This world is nothing but sex and ego. Ego is the chief thing. It is the basis. Sex hangs on the ego. If the ego is destroyed by vichara or enquiry of “Who am I?” the sex idea takes to its heels by itself. Man, master of his destiny, has lost his divine glory and has become a slave, a tool, in the hands of sex and ego on account of ignorance. Sex and ego are the products of avidya or nescience. The dawn of knowledge of the Self annihilates these two enemies of atman, the two dacoits who are plundering the helpless, ignorant, little, false jiva, the illusory “I.”

Man has degraded himself to a great degree by becoming the puppet of passion. Alas! He has become an imitative machine. He has lost his power of discrimination. He has sunk into the most abject form of slavery. What a sad state! What a lamentable plight indeed! If he wishes to regain his lost divine state and Brahmic glory, his whole being must be transformed, his sex desire must be completely transmuted by sublime divine thoughts and regular meditation. Transmutation of the sex desire is a very potent, efficacious and satisfactory way to realize eternal bliss.

The world is immersed in sex

Passion reigns supreme in all parts of the world. The minds of people are filled with sexual thoughts. The world is immersed in sex. The whole world is under a tremendous sexual intoxication. All are deluded and move in the world with perverted intellects. No thought of God. No talk of God. It is all fashion, restaurants, hotels, dinners, dances, races and cinema. Their life ends in eating, drinking and procreating. That is all.

Men are swayed by lust. They lose their sense of righteousness, and of time and place. They never discriminate between right and wrong. They lose all sense of shame.

Read the history of the crimes–robbery, rapes, kidnapping, assaults, murders–that come up for trial before the courts. Lust is at the root of all this. It may be lust for money or lust for carnal pleasure. Lust ruins life, luster, strength, vitality, memory, wealth, fame, holiness, peace, wisdom and devotion.

Man, with his boasted intellect, has to learn lessons from birds and animals. Even animals have more self-control than men. It is only the so-called man who has degraded himself so much by indulgence. At the heat of sexual excitement, he repeats the same ignoble act again and again. He has not a bit of self-control. He is an absolute slave to passion. He is a puppet in the hands of passion. Like rabbits he procreates and brings forth countless children to swell up the numbers of beggars in the world. Lions, elephants, bulls and other powerful animals have better self-control than men. Lions cohabit only once in a year. After conception, the female animals will never allow the male animals to approach them till the young ones are weaned and they themselves become healthy and strong. Man only violates the laws of nature and consequently suffers from innumerable diseases. He has degenerated to a level far lower than that of animals in this respect.

As a king is no king without a treasury, subjects and an army, as a flower is no flower without fragrance, as a river is no river without water, so also, a man is no man without brahmacharya. Ahara, nidra, bhaya and maithuna–food, sleep, fear and copulation–are common to both animals and men. That which differentiates a man from an animal is dharma, viveka and vichara shakti. Jnana and vichara can be secured only by the preservation of virya. If a man has not got these qualifications, he should really be reckoned as a veritable animal only.

If lust, which is the source of all enjoyments in this world, ceases, then all worldly bondage, which has its substratum in the mind, will cease. Even the most virulent poison is no poison when compared to lust. The former defiles one body only, whereas the latter adulterates many bodies in successive births. You are a slave of passions and desires, emotions and attractions. When are you going to rise up from this miserable state? Those persons, who, in spite of the knowledge of the non-existence of happiness, both in the past and in the present, in the baneful objects of the world, do yet entangle themselves in them with their thoughts clinging to them, deserve the appellation of an ass, if not a worse one. If you do not possess viveka, if you do not try your best for salvation, if you spend your lifetime in eating, drinking and sleeping, you are a horizontal being only, having to learn some lessons from those animals, which possess far more self-restraint.

The sexual degradation that has overtaken mankind today is due directly to the fact that people have assumed that there is a natural “sexual instinct” in human beings. It is not so. The natural instinct is the procreative one. If men and women restrict sexual indulgence to mere procreation, then that itself is observance of brahmacharya. As this is found to be impossible in the vast majority of cases, total abstinence is enjoined on those who seek the higher values of life. As far as the sadhaka of burning mumukshutva is concerned, celibacy is a sine qua non, as he cannot afford to waste his vital energy at all.

The gratification of every worldly desire is sinful; the flesh should be the abject slave of the spirit intent upon divine things. Man was created for a life of spiritual communion with God, but he yielded to the seduction of evil demons who availed themselves of the sensuous side of his nature to draw him away from the contemplation of the divine and lead him to the earthly life. Moral goodness, therefore, consists in renouncing all sensuous pleasures, in separating from the world through discrimination and dispassion, in living solely after the spirit, in imitating the perfection and purity of God. Sensuality is inconsistent with wisdom and holiness. The great business of life is to avoid impurity.

Spiritual Sadhana is the answer to sex attraction

Real culture is the establishment of perfect physical and mental brahmacharya. Real culture is the realization of the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul through direct experience. For a passionate worldly-minded man, the terms Self-realization, God, Self, vairagya, renunciation, death and burial ground are very revolting and terrifying, because he is attached to objects. The terms singing, dancing, talks about women and so on are very pleasing.

The attraction for objects will gradually vanish if one begins to think seriously of the unreal nature of the world. People are burnt by the fire of lust. All measures that are calculated to eradicate this dire disease should be initiated and put through. All people should be made fully conversant with the different methods that will help them to root out the dire enemy, lust. If they fail in one method, they should take recourse to another. Lust is a brutal instinct in unregenerated men. One should be ashamed to repeat again and again the sensual acts when one is fully aware that the goal of life is Self-realization through the attainment of purity and the practice of constant meditation. An objector may say that these topics should not be dealt with openly, but should rather be talked about secretly. This is wrong. What is the use of hiding things? Hiding a thing is a sin.

In these days of modern culture and new civilization, in this era of scientific advancement, these lines may not be relished by some people. They may remark that some of the terms are jarring, revolting, offending and indecent and will not suit the people of refined tastes. They are entirely mistaken. These lines will produce a very deep impression in the minds of thirsting aspirants who are longing for liberation. Their minds will be entirely changed. There is no real spiritual culture amongst the people of modern society. Etiquette is mere show. Everywhere you can see much show, hypocrisy, pretended politeness, meaningless formalities and conventions. Nothing emanates from the core of the heart. People lack sincerity and integrity. The utterances of the Mahavakyas of the sages and the valuable teachings of the scriptures will not produce any impression in the minds of passionate, worldly-minded persons. They will be like seeds thrown in rocky soil. They will be like pearls thrown before swine.

If one clearly understands the serious damage that comes through an impure life and determines to attain the goal of life by leading a pure life, he must keep his mind busily engaged in divine thoughts, concentration, meditation, study and service of humanity.

Lack of spiritual sadhana is the main cause for all sexual attractions. Mere theoretical abstention from sensuality will not bring you good results. You must mercilessly cut off all formalities in social life and lead a pious life freed from the business of bodily existence. Leniency to internal lower tendencies will land you in the region of suffering. Excuse will be of no use in this respect. You must be sincere in your quest for the sublime life of spirituality. Half-heartedness will leave you in your old state of misery.

Wake up, friends, from this mire of illusory samsara now. Passion has wrought great havoc in you as you are drowned in avidya. How many millions of fathers, mothers, wives and sons you have had in previous births! This body is full of impurities. What a shame it is to embrace this filthy body! It is mere foolishness only. Give up moha for this body. Also, give up identification with this body by meditating upon the glory of the shuddha atman. Give up worship of the body. Worshippers of the body are asuras and rakshasas.

Brahmacharya–the need of the hour

My dear brothers and sisters! Remember that you are not this perishable body of flesh and bones. You are the immortal, all pervading, Satchitananda atman. You are the atman. You are living truth. You are Brahman. You are absolute consciousness. You can attain this supreme state only by leading a life of true brahmacharya. The spirit of brahmacharya must pervade your entire life and all your actions.

People talk of brahmacharya, but practical men are rare indeed. A life of continence is really beset with difficulties. But the path becomes smooth for a man of iron determination, patience and perseverance. We want real, practical men in the field, men who are practical brahmacharis, men who can impress people by their ideal lives, noble character and spiritual strength. Mere idle talk is of no use whatsoever. We have had enough of idle talkers in the field and on the platforms. Let some practical men come forward and lead the youngsters by their exemplary, lives and spiritual aura. Let me remind you once more! Example is better than precept.

The future well-being of the country rests entirely on the youth. It is the duty of the sannyasins, saints, teachers, professors and parents to reintroduce the life of celibacy in youngsters. I pray that the educational authorities and the elders will pay their special attention to this vital subject of brahmacharya for the uplift of the future generation. Training of the youth means nation-building.

The future well-being of India rests entirely on brahmacharya and brahmacharya alone. It is the duty of sannyasins and yogis to train students in brahmacharya and disseminate the knowledge of the atman far and wide. They can do a lot in improving the situation as they are whole-time men. They should come out of their caves and kutirs for lokasangraha.

If our motherland wants to rise high in the scale of nations, her children, both male and female, should study the important subject of brahmacharya in all its bearings, understand its supreme importance and observe the great vrata strictly.

In conclusion, I fervently pray, with folded hands, that you all should sincerely struggle hard to control passion–the enemy of peace and prosperity–by sadhana. A true brahmachari is the real mighty emperor of this world. My silent adorations to all brahmacharins! Glory unto them!

May you be seated firm as Mount Meru in your satchidananda swarupa without any impure, lustful thought! May God bless the aspirants with strength and energy for maintaining brahmacharya! May you, with a pure, stainless mind, unintermittently be in the cognition of your atmic reality! May you, without worldly desires and ambition, rest in That which ever is in the midst of the enjoyer and the enjoyed!

May the divine splendor shine in your face! May the divine flame grow brighter in you all! May the divine power and peace abide in you for ever! Om Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!

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Chapters for Practice of Brahmacharya

Introduction: Practice of Brahmacharya

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