An aspirant writes: “I would like to know whether the same theory regarding the formation of virya and loss of the same holds good in the case of women also. Are they actually affected to the same extent as men?” The question is an important and pertinent one. Yes, indulgence in the sexual act is exhausting to the female system and a drain upon the vitality as in man. The nervous strain it imposes on the system is very great indeed.
The female gonads, the ovaries corresponding to the testes in the males, produce, develop and mature precious, vital force like semen. This is the ovum. Though the woman does not actually lose this out of her body, as in the case of semen in man, yet, due to the sexual act, it leaves the ovaries and is taken up in the process of conception to form the embryo. And one knows only too well what a strain and drain on strength child-bearing is to a woman. Repeated depletion of this force and the strain of childbirth makes wrecks of healthy ladies, and works havoc with their strength, beauty and grace as well as their youth and mental power. Eyes lose the luster and sparkle that are indicative of the inner forces.
The intense sensuous excitement of the act shatters the nervous system and causes debility too. Their system being more delicate and high-strung, females are often more affected than men.
Women should preserve their precious vital force. The ovum and the hormones secreted by the ovaries are very essential for the maximum physical and mental well-being of women.
Women also should observe the vow of celibacy. They also can remain as naishtihika brahmacharinis like Mirabai and devote themselves to the service and devotion of God. Or they can do Brahma-vichara like Gargi and Sulabha. They will be styled as Brahma-Vicharinis, enquirers of Brahman, if they adopt this path.
Brahmacharinis–ancient and modern
In olden days, there were brahmacharinis in India. They were Brahmavadinis; they discoursed on Brahman. They did not wish to lead the life of grihastha-dharminis devoted to a householder’s duties. They served the Rishis and sages in their hermitages and did Brahma-vichara or enquiry of Brahman. King Janasruti placed his daughter at the service of Rishi Raikva. You will find this in the Chhandogya Upanishad.
Sulabha was a very learned lady. She was born in a royal family. She was a brahmacharini. She was instructed in the religion of emancipation. She observed the practice of asceticism. She was firm in the practices that belonged to the mode of life she led. She was steady in her vows. She never uttered a word without reflecting on its propriety. She was a yogini. She led the life of a sannyasini. She appeared before Janaka in his court and had a great discussion with him on Brahma-vidya or the Science of the Self.
Gargi was also a brahmacharini. She also was a highly cultured lady. She also had a lengthy discussion with Yajnavalkya on Brahma-vidya. The dialogue between them is found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
In Europe also there were many women who were celibate and who dedicated their lives entirely to severe austerity, prayer and meditation. They had their own hermitages. In India, even at the present moment, there are educated women who lead the life of brahmacharinis. They do not wish to marry. This is due to the force of good samskaras of previous births. They give education to the girls in schools. They give free tuition privately to poor girls and train them in sewing and other household works. They study religious books and practice meditation in the morning and in the evening. They conduct satsanga classes and Kirtan among women. They train girls in the practice of Asanas and pranayama. They give discourses on the Gita and the Upanishads. They deliver lectures on religious subjects in English, Sanskrit and Hindi. During holidays and on important occasions, they hold religious conferences for ladies on a grand scale for mass spiritual awakening.
Sometimes they visit nearby villages and distribute medicines freely to the poor. They are equipped with the knowledge of first-aid, homeopathy, allopathy and the bio-chemical system of medicine. They are trained in nursing the sick. There is a highly educated brahmacharini, who is well-versed in Sanskrit, English and Hindi, who is the head of an institution for girls. She maintains a free private school also for poor girls at her own expense. This is a very noble service indeed.
Such girls and women are really a blessing to India. They lead a life of purity and self-sacrifice. They enjoy bliss, prosperity and renown here and will also attain the immortal abode of supreme peace hereafter. India is in need of more brahmacharinis of this description who can dedicate their lives to service, meditation and prayer.
Chapters for Practice of Brahmacharya
More Monastic Life articles
Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary
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