By Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh
My dear brothers! The vital energy, the virya that supports your life, which is the prana of pranas, which shines in your sparkling eyes, which beams in your shining cheeks, is a great treasure for you. Remember this point well. Virya is the quintessence of blood. One drop of semen is manufactured out of forty drops of blood. Mark here how valuable this fluid is!
A tree draws the essence or rasa from the earth. This essence is circulated throughout the tree, its twigs, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. The shining colors and life in the leaves, flowers and fruits are due to this rasa. Similarly, the virya that is manufactured by the cells of the testes out of blood gives color and vitality to the human body and its different organs.
According to Ayurveda, semen is the last dhatu that is formed out of food. Out of food is manufactured chyle. Out of chyle comes blood. Out of blood comes flesh. Out of flesh comes fat. Out of fat comes bone. Out of bone comes marrow. Out of marrow comes semen. These are the sapta dhatus or the seven dhatus that support this life and body. Mark here how precious is semen! It is the last essence. It is the Essence of essences. The virya comes out of the very marrow that lies concealed inside the bones.
There are three divisions in each dhatu. Semen nourishes the physical body, the heart and the intellect. Only that man who uses the physical body, the heart and the intellect can have perfect brahmacharya. A wrestler who uses his physical body only, but keeps the intellect and the heart undeveloped, cannot expect to have full brahmacharya. He can have brahmacharya of the body only, but not of the mind and the heart. The semen that belongs to the heart and the mind will certainly flow out. If an aspirant does only japa and meditation, if he does not develop the heart, and if he does not practice physical exercise, he will have only mental brahmacharya. The portion of the semen, which goes to nourish the heart and the body, will flow out. But an advanced yogi who dives deep in meditation will have full brahmacharya even if he does not take physical exercise.
Semen is the quintessence of food or blood. One drop of semen in manufactured out of forty drops of blood according to modern medical science. According to Ayurveda, it is elaborated out of eighty drops of blood. The two testes or seeds that are located in the scrotal bag are called secretory glands. The cells of these testes have been endowed with the peculiar property of secreting semen from the blood. Just as bees collect honey in the honeycomb drop by drop, so also, the cells of the testes collect semen drop by drop from the blood. Then this fluid is taken by the two ducts or tubes to the vesiculae seminalis. Under excitement, it is thrown out by special ducts, called ejaculatory ducts, into the urethra where it is mixed with the prostatic juice.
Semen is found in a subtle state in all the cells of the body. Just as sugar is all-pervading in the sugar-cane, butter in milk, so also, semen is pervading the whole body. Just as the butter milk is thin after the butter is removed, so also, semen is thinned by its wastage. The more the wastage of semen the more is the weakness. In the yoga shastras it is said:
Maranam Bindu Patanat,
Jivanam Bindu Rakshanat.
Falling of semen brings death; preservation of semen gives life. Semen is the real vitality in men. It is the hidden treasure in man. It imparts Brahmatejas to the face and strength to the intellect.
Modern medical opinion
Eminent European medical men also support the statement of the yogins of India. Dr. Nicole says: “It is a medical and physiological fact that the best blood in the body goes to form the elements of reproduction in both the sexes. In a pure and orderly life, this matter is reabsorbed. It goes back into circulation ready to form the finest brain, nerve and muscular tissues. This vital fluid of man carried back and diffused through his system makes him manly, strong, brave and heroic. If wasted, it leaves him effeminate, weak and physically debilitated and prone to sexual irritation and disordered function, a wretched nervous system, epilepsy, and various other diseases and death. The suspension of the use of the generative organs is attended with a notable increase of bodily and mental and spiritual vigor.”
If the spermatic secretion in men is continuous, it must either be expelled or be reabsorbed. As a result of the most patient and persevering scientific investigations, it has been found that whenever the seminal secretions are conserved and thereby reabsorbed into the system, it goes towards enriching the blood and strengthening the brain. Dr. Dio Louis thinks that the conservation of this element is essential to strength of body, vigor of mind and keenness of intellect. Another writer, Dr. E. P. Miller, says: “All waste of spermatic secretions, whether voluntary or involuntary, is a direct waste of the life force. It is almost universally conceded that the choicest element of the blood enters into the composition of the spermatic secretion. If these conclusions are correct, then it follows that a chaste life is essential to man’s well-being.”
Mind, Prana and Virya
Mind, prana and virya are the three links of one chain. They are the three pillars of the edifice of the jivatman. Destroy one pillar–mind, prana or virya–and the whole building will fall to pieces.
Mind, prana and virya are one. By controlling the mind, you can control prana and semen. By controlling prana you can control the mind and semen. By controlling semen, you can control the mind and prana.
Mind, prana and virya are under the one sambandha or connection or circuit. If the mind is controlled, prana and virya are controlled automatically. He who suspends or restrains prana restrains also the working of the mind and the movement of the virya. Again, if the virya is controlled, and if it is made to flow upwards into the brain by pure thoughts, the mind and the prana are automatically controlled.
The mind is set in motion or rendered active by two things–the vibration of prana and the vasanas or subtle desires. Where the mind is absorbed, there the prana is restrained; and where the prana is fixed, there the mind also is absorbed. Mind and prana are intimate companions, like a man and his shadow. If the mind and the prana are not restrained, all the organs of sensation and action keep actively engaged in their respective functions.
When a man is excited by passion, the prana is set in motion. Then the whole body obeys the dictate of the mind just as a soldier obeys the command of his commander. The vital air or prana moves the internal sap or semen. The semen is put into motion. It falls downwards, just as the clouds burst into rain water, just as the fruits, flowers and leaves of the trees drop down by the force of the blowing winds.
If the virya is lost, prana gets unsteady. Prana is agitated. The man becomes nervous. Then the mind also cannot work properly. The man becomes fickle-minded. There is mental weakness.
If the prana is rendered steady, the mind also becomes steady. If the virya is steady, the mind also is steady. If the virya is steady, the mind also is steady. If the drishti or vision is steady, the mind also becomes steady. Therefore, control the prana, the virya and the drishti.
God is Rasa. Rasa is virya, the vital fluid or semen. You can get eternal bliss by the attainment of rasa or virya alone.
Grasp fully the importance and value of this vital essence of life. Virya is all power. Virya is all money. Virya is God. Virya is God in motion. Virya is dynamic will. Virya is Atmabala. Virya is God’s Vibhuti. The Lord says in the Gita: Paurusham Nrishu. “I am the seed or virility in men.” Virya is the essence of life, thought, intelligence and consciousness. Therefore, preserve this vital fluid very, very carefully, my dear readers!
Brahmacharya: The Benefit of Control and Continence
Next chapter: Chapter Seven–the Meaning of Brahmacharya