- Monastic Life - Practice of Brahmacharya - Chapter Sixteen: Some Powerful Aids to the Practice of Celibacy

Chapter Sixteen: Some Powerful Aids to the Practice of Celibacy

Swami Sivananda youngYou cannot have perfect celibacy unless you follow the auxiliaries. You have to take particular care about your diet and the company that you keep. Anything that brings impure thoughts into the mind is bad company. Oh aspirants! Fly away from the company of worldly-minded persons. Get away from the bustle of cities and tumultuousness of the world. Those who talk of worldly affairs will quickly pollute you. You mind may waver and begin to wander. You will have a downfall.

Do not make friendship with undesirable people. What you need is a complete change of your vision, your attitude towards the other sex. Behold the Divine Mother in every woman and consider every woman as your own mother.

Control of the palate

First, dietary control. There is an intimate connection between self-control and control of the palate or tongue. He who has controlled the tongue has already controlled all the other organs.

Do not overload your stomach at night. The night meals should be very light.

Avoid bad company

Obscene pictures, vulgar words, and novels which deal with sex excite passion and produce ignoble, mean, undesirable sentiments in the heart. Whereas, the sight of a good picture of Lord Krishna or Lord Rama or Lord Jesus and hearing of the sublime songs in praise of God induce noble sentiments and sincere devotion in the heart, produce a divine thrill and tears of joy and love, and elevate the mind. Do you see clearly the difference now?

Remember, friend, that there is nothing so utterly ruinous to the soul as evil company. Aspirants should shun ruthlessly all sorts of evil company. They should not listen to conversation concerning women and sensual subjects, because the mind gets easily excited. It will begin to imitate what it hears. Desires will crop up. Attachment will also come in.

Do not witness vulgar sensuous scenes wherever it may be. Do not indulge in seeing naked pictures. All these tend to increase passion and deplete virya. You should strictly avoid these.

Those who are in the habit of reading novels that deal with passion and love cannot remain even for a single second without novel-reading. They always want their nerves to be tickled with some sensational feelings. Reading such novels fills the mind with base, lustful thoughts and excites passion. It is a great enemy of peace. They taint the mind. Do not read those magazines which excite your lower instincts.

Immoral songs produce a very bad, deep impression in the mind. Aspirants should run away from places where such songs are sung.

Strive your best to divert your mind and eyes from external objects that prompt sexual desires. Give up the sort of reading, conversation, imagination and associations that are likely to stimulate the sexual desire. Do not converse with those who are eager to convey irritating news and disturb your mental poise. Live with spiritual advanced men and stop reading all books except those that are directly spiritual.

When thoughts of lust arise in the mind, do not wrestle with them. The best method is to ignore them. If you are not successful in doing so, be in the company of someone who is superior to you spiritually, who is more advanced than you spiritually. If you go into seclusion, the mind will chase you and drown you in sensual thoughts. You will lose your balance. Be careful. The sensual thoughts will pass away with a little vigilance.

Watch the thoughts

An evil thought enters the mind and there comes an erection of the indriya. Is this not a marvel? Because this occurs very often, it does not appear to you as a miracle or a marvel. You have ignored this vital point on account of your ignorance.

Mind is a great electrical battery. It is a large dynamo indeed. It is a powerhouse. The nerves are insulated wires to transmit the electric currents, nerve impulses, to various organs, tissues and the extremities, hands, legs and feet.

There occurs a vibration of thought in the mind owing to the vibration of psychic prana. This force of thought is transmitted with a tremendous lightning speed along the nerves to the organs. The physical body is a fleshy mould prepared by the mind in accordance with the samskaras and vasanas for its own experience and enjoyment. The mind sways the organs of an undisciplined passionate man who has boisterous rebellious indriyas. But it becomes an obedient faithful servant of a trained, developed yogi.

An ever-vigilant brahmachari should always watch his thoughts very carefully. He should never allow even a single bad thought to enter the gate of the mental factory. If his mind is ever fixed on his Dhyeya or Lakshya or object of meditation, there is no room for the entry of an evil thought. Even if an evil thought has entered the trapdoor of the mind, he should not allow the mind to assume a mental state with this idea. If he falls a victim, the thought-current will be transmitted to the physical body. Burning of the indriyas and the physical nervous system will follow. This is a serious condition.

The bad thought should be nipped in the bud by supplanting them with counter, divine thoughts. It should not be allowed to penetrate the physical body. If your will is strong, the evil thought can be driven out at once. Vigorous prayer, vichara, atmic contemplation, saguna meditation and satsanga can nip the evil thoughts in the bud at the threshold of the mental factory. The combat will be keen in the beginning. When you become purer and purer, when your will-power develops, when you develop more sattwa or purity and when you have a habitual meditative mood, you will be established in physical and mental brahmacharya. Understand the power of thought and utilize it profitably. Understand the ways of the mind. Learn how to use the pure will. Become a vigilant, dexterous watchman of your thoughts. Curb them before they raise their heads out of the mind through skill and wisdom.

It is the mind that really does all actions. A desire arises in your mind and then you think. Then you proceed to act. The determination of the mind is put into action. First there is sankalpa or thought and then comes action. Therefore, do not allow the sexual thoughts to enter the mind.

That which is thought of is spoken by the tongue. That which the tongue speaks of, the organs of action do. That is the reason why it is said in the Vedas: “Let my mind think of auspicious things.” Entertain sublime divine thoughts. The old evil sexual thought will gradually vanish, just as the old nail in a plank goes away by inserting over it a new nail.

Seek Satsanga or good company

The glory of satsanga or association with the wise saints, yogins, sannyasins and mahatmas is indescribable. The glory and power of satsanga is described in various ways in the Bhagavata, the Ramayana and other scriptures. Even a moment’s company with wise people is quite sufficient to overhaul the old vicious samskaras of worldly-minded people. The magnetic aura, the spiritual vibrations and the powerful thought-currents of developed adepts produce a tremendous influence on the minds of worldlings. The personal contact of mahatmas is a blessing in reality for worldly persons. Service of saints purifies the minds of passionate men rapidly. Satsanga elevates the mind to magnanimous heights. Just as a single matchstick burns huge bundles of cotton in a few seconds, so also, the company of saints burns all ignorance, all thoughts and samskaras of passion and evil actions within a short time. This is the reason why Shankara and others have spoken so highly of satsanga in all their books.

If you cannot get good satsanga in your own place, you can visit places of pilgrimage like Rishikesh, Benares, Nasik, Prayag and Haridwar. Study of books written by realized persons will also be tantamount to satsanga. The only potent specific for inducing burning vairagya and desire for liberation is satsanga.

Cultivate Viveka and Vairagya

One should try to get viveka or discrimination between the real Self and the unreal impure body. The aspirant should point out to the mind the defects of a sexual life, namely, loss of energy, enervation of the senses, disease, birth and death, attachment and various sorts of miseries. These ideas should be hammered into the mind repeatedly. The aspirant should always think of the ever-pure immortal Atman and the glory of the spiritual life, namely, the attainment of immortality, eternal bliss and supreme peace. Gradually the mind will be weaned from looking at a woman, however beautiful she might be. The mind will shudder to look at a woman with an evil thought. Ladies also should undergo the above practices to get themselves established in purity.

A viveki does not note any difference between a male and a female. The same tattvas–passion, anger, greed and moha–that are present in a man are found in the female also. It is only a lustful man who is filled with burning passion that finds imaginary differences. The differences are all mental creations or kalpita bheda.

Nothing can tempt you in this world if you develop vairagya, if you subdue your indriyas, and if you shun the unreal, impermanent sensual enjoyments and pleasures of this fleeting world as dung, as poison. You will have no attraction for women and other earthly objects. Lust will be unable to take hold of you. You will have eternal peace and infinite bliss.

Constantly remember: “Through the grace of God, I am becoming purer and purer, every day. Pleasures come but not to stay. Mortal flesh is only clay. Everything will pass away. Brahmacharya is the only way.” Develop viveka and vairagya.

Aspirants should study Bhartrihari’s Vairagya Satakam and other works on vairagya. [Including Sivananda’s How to Get Vairagya–editor.] This will induce vairagya in the mind. Remembrance of death and the pains of samsara also will help you to a considerable extent. It will not be out of place here to draw the reader’s attention to some Buddhist monks who always keep a human skull with them. This is to cause vairagya in them and to remind them of the impermanent and perishable nature of human life.

A philosopher once kept in his hands the skull of a lady and began to philosophize thus: “O skull! Some time back you tempted me with your shiny skin and rosy cheeks. Now, where are your charms? Where are those honeyed lips and lotus-like eyes now?” Thus he developed intense vairagya. If you analyze the different parts of the human body and keep a picture of flesh and bones before your mind’s eye, you will have no attachment at all for your body or the body of a female. Why not try this method?

A note of clarification

Brahmacharya should be practiced by both men and women. Women also can keep a mental picture of the component parts of the body of a male in order to create in themselves disgust for the physical body of a male and to develop vairagya.

Mere condemning of lust is not sufficient to wean the mind from sexual craving. Remember this point well. Lust is potent. Lust is virulent. Lust is formidable. Lust is uncontrollable by persons of weak will. One should be aware also of the ways of Maya, which entangle him in her net or snare. A woman should be aware of the charms of a man which entice her and make her a prey to man and man should be aware of the charms of a woman which entice him and make him a prey to woman. A woman is a temptress for man and a man is a tempter for woman. Man also has much charm in him to entrap a woman. Man appears more beautiful in the eyes of a woman than a woman in the eyes of a man. Man also tries to entrap a woman by his dress, ties and bows, by his smile, outward show of affection, glances, gestures, flowery words, various ways of dressing his hair and other tricks.

Lust is a potent force, very difficult to be got rid of. That is the reason why the shastras and saints censure and condemn women in order to create dispassion and discrimination in men and wean them from lustful tendencies and aggressive attacks. Sri Shankara, Sri Dattatreya, Sri Rama, Sri Tulasidas have all criticized women not out of hatred, prejudice or dislike, but out of compassion for elevating people from the quagmire of samsara. Their criticism of women implies and includes criticism of man also. Their criticism aims at weaning the minds of worldly persons from sexual transgression and creating disgust for sexual pleasure, and dispassion for worldly objects. This is misunderstood by people.

The same scriptures and saints who censure women in one place praise them in another. They say, “Women should be honored. They are manifestations of shakti or the energy of the Lord. Only those who honor women can attain prosperity.” Therefore, O women! Try to know the heart of the scriptures and the saints and become wise.

The minds of young people are saturated with impure samskaras and vasanas owing to vicious company and the false modern civilization. Even the company or talk of a woman is quite sufficient to drag the mind into vicious thoughts. So, I have to place before the minds of the vast majority such a mental picture that the very company of women will do havoc. When I say that a woman is only a leather bag, I do not hate women in any way. It is only to produce disgust and induce vairagya. Really, a woman should be adored as Mother Shakti. She is the creatrix, generatrix and nourisher of the universe. She must be revered. In India, religion is preserved and maintained only through the devotional element in women. Devotion is a fundamental characteristic of Hindu ladies. Despise lust, but not women.

In the beginning, till you acquire vairagya and viveka, you must treat the company of woman as poison. When you obtain viveka and vairagya, then lust cannot take hold of you. You will see and realize, “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma. All is Brahman only.” You will have Atma-drishti. The sex idea will then vanish.

A vow is a great help

A vow of celibacy will give you sure protection against temptation. It is a strong weapon to attack lust. If you do not take a vow of celibacy, the mind will tempt you at any moment. You will have no strength to resist the temptation and you will become a sure victim. He who is weak and effeminate is afraid of taking the vow. He brings in various excuses and says, “Why should I be bound by a vow? My will is strong and powerful. I can resist any sort of temptation. I am doing Upasana. I am practicing will culture.” He repents in the long run. He has no control over the senses. That man only, in whom the subtle desire for the object to be renounced lurks in the corners of the mind, brings in such sort of excuses. You must have right understanding, discrimination and dispassion. Then only your renunciation will be lasting and permanent. If your renunciation is not the outcome of discrimination and dispassion, the mind will be simply waiting for an opportunity to get back the object that has been renounced.

If you are weak, take a vow of celibacy for a month and then extend it to three months. You will gain some strength now. You will be able to prolong the period to six months. Gradually you will be able to extend the vow to one or two or three years. Do vigorous japa and meditation daily. You will hate lust now. You will experience freedom and indescribable joy.

O Mohan, you have done an unpardonable crime in breaking the vow of celibacy. How can there be religion or spirituality where there is passion? You are an old man. Why should you repeat shamelessly that old ignoble act, bringing this excuse: “Old vasanas are powerful; circumstances are strong.” Nobody will hear your answer. You will have to curb your passion whenever it raises its hood. May Lord Shiva give you strength to control this dire enemy and to continue spiritual sadhana.

Will culture and auto-suggestion

If you can render your will pure, strong and irresistible by eliminating desires, by eradicating raga-dwesha, by reducing your wants and by practicing titiksha, passion will die. Will is a powerful enemy of passion.

Lust takes its origin from impure resolution. Indulgence strengthens it. When you resolutely turn away from it, it vanishes and dies.

Write down on a piece of paper, in bold letters, the word “Om Purity” six times. Keep the paper in your pocket. Read it several times during the course of the day. Fix it also in a prominent place in your house. Have the word image “Om Purity” clearly before the mind. Remember several times daily the brahmachari-saints and their powerful actions. Think over the multifarious advantages of a pure life of brahmacharya and the disadvantages and evils of an impure life. Never leave the practice. Be regular and systematic. Gradually you will become purer and purer and ultimately you will become an urdhvareta yogi. Be patient.

Daily feel: “Through the grace of God, I am becoming better and better, every day, in every way.” This is auto-suggestion. This is another effective method.

Change the Drishti or angle of vision

You should entertain the view of women as mother, Divine Mother (Ishwari), or the divine Self. Women also should entertain the view of men as father, Divine Father (Ishwara) or the divine Self.

Seeing a woman as your sister will not suffice. You may fail. Seeing a woman as a sister and a man as a brother will not help much in the eradication of sex attraction and impure thoughts. Such an attempt has deceived and deluded many. Pure love will degenerate at any moment into passion when one is careless and non-vigilant. Only seeing the opposite sex as a cobra will help the sadhakas to a very great extent! After cobra-bhav comes mother-bhav in man and father-bhav in women. Then lastly comes Atma-bhav in both. Real struggling aspirants only can realize this well, but not dry philosophers.

The cultivation of the Bhav is very difficult. You may fail to develop the Bhav that all women are your mothers and sisters one hundred and one times. It does not matter. Stick to your practice tenaciously. You are bound to succeed eventually. You will have to destroy the old mind and build a new mind. Nevertheless you will have to do it if you want to attain immortality and eternal bliss. You will surely succeed if you are fiery in your resolve and if you have an iron determination. The bhav will gradually manifest by constant practice. Soon you will be established in that bhav.

A man or a woman should practice self-analysis and self-examination. They should have a proper understanding of the ways in which lust operates and plays, and the things and emotions which excite passion and the manner in which one falls a victim to the other. Then only control of lust is possible.

The mind will again try to do some mischief inwardly. It is very diplomatic. It is very difficult to find out its ways and secret underground operations. It demands a subtle intellect, and careful repeated introspection and vigilant watch. Whenever the mental image of a woman crops up in your mind with evil thoughts, repeat Om mentally and vigorously. Gradually, old evil thoughts will die. Whenever you see any woman, repeat mentally this mantra. Your drishti or look will become chaste. All women are manifestations of the World Mother. Destroy the idea that a woman is an object of enjoyment and substitute the idea that she is an object of worship and a manifestation of Mother Durga or Kali.

Change the bhav, change the mental attitude. You will have heaven on earth. You will be established in brahmacharya. This is an important method for becoming a true brahmachari. See the Atman in all women. Reject all names and forms and take only the underlying essence, Sat-Chit-Ananda. All names and forms are unreal. They are unreal like shadows, water in a mirage and blueness in the sky.

For a scientist, a woman is a mass of electrons only. For a Vaiseshika philosopher of Rishi Kanada’s school of thought, she is a conglomeration of atoms. For a tiger, she is an object of prey. For a passionate husband, she is an object of enjoyment. For a crying child, she is an affectionate mother who gives milk, sweets and other indulgences. For a jealous sister-in-law or mother-in-law, she is an enemy. For a viveki or a vairagi, she is a combination of flesh, bone, urine, fecal matter, pus, perspiration, blood and phlegm. For a full-blown jnani, she is Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman.

Passion will arise when you think of the body of a female. When you are in the company of ladies, think of the one immortal pure Self or Atman that is hidden in the bodies of the ladies. Constantly make the endeavor. The sex idea will gradually vanish, and with it, the attraction and lust also. This is the most potent method to eradicate passion and the sex idea. Mentally repeat the formula, “There is one Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman.” This will lead to the annihilation of passion and to the Vedantic realization of unity or oneness also.

There is neither sex nor sexual vasana in Brahman. Brahman is nitya-shuddha, eternally pure: By constant thinking on that sexless Atman, you will be established in brahmacharya. This is the most powerful and effective method. This is the best kind of sadhana for those who know the right technique of vichara. But, only advanced students in the path of Jnana Yoga can rely on the method of Brahma vichara alone for the destruction of passion. For the vast majority of persons, a combined method is very congenial and healthy. When the enemies are very powerful, a combined method of staves, pistols, shot-guns, machine-guns, submarines, torpedoes, bombs and poisonous gases is used for the destruction of the enemies. So also, in the destruction of this powerful enemy, passion, a combined method is absolutely necessary.

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