Disclaimer and warning:
I would suggest that the readers please keep in mind the purpose of this article throughout the length of this article is helping one realize supreme Reality, and not just superficial social or economical plane. It is directed to a spiritual aspirant and not common persons.
Brahmacharya literally means “going after Brahman (Supreme Reality, or God).
In another context, brahmacharya is the virtue of celibacy when unmarried and fidelity when married.It represents a virtuous lifestyle that also includes simple living, meditation and other behaviours.
In the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist monastic traditions, brahmacharya implies, among other things, the mandatory renunciation of sex and marriage. It is considered necessary for a monk’s spiritual practice. Western notions of the religious life as practised in monastic settings mirror these characteristics.
So, it is clear, that Brahmacharya is not just celibacy, but it is a method or a tool to attain God, which includes sexual regulation, and complete abstinence in case of monks.
Now, what does Lord Swaminarayan say about Brahmacharya?
Lord Swaminarayan has mainly focussed on the celibacy aspect of Brahmacharya, as it is the need of the hour, and it is an eternal undisputed reality that one requires Brahmacharya to realize God.
Brahmacharya has two aspects, one is the beginner level, which requires serious regulations and discipline, which can be defined as the vow of Brahmacharya. The second is the complete Brahmacharya, which is the state if attainment, where there is no conscious need of discipline, but the discipline stays on its own due to the accomplished state of the spiritual seeker.
- Brahmacharya for Householders :
- For unmarried persons:
These are the people who are not married because of their young age or any other reason but also are not monks. Hence they remain uncategorized and are usually unaware of their duties.
They are to stay aloof from opposite sex at all time and try to avoid unnecessary contact with the opposite sex.
It is common to assume the majority of such a category of people are students or working population who is not yet married. Well even for them, it is advised t stay aloof from the opposite sex at all times. This includes both boy and girls, no one is exempted. We all know that these are the years when students end up in relationships and ruin their life, emotionally, career-wise, and no need speak about spiritually, spirituality is a matter of discussion when one is serious or even interested in it. In these years people just want to have fun. But if you trust God, and want to have a better future, try to stay aloof from the opposite sex.
- Stay away from such inputs by entertainment media, meaning, no romantic movies, books, or TV series, then I guess pornography is out of the question too.
- Make sure your mind is not filled with thoughts of an imaginary person with whom you romance, nor an imaginary romance with a real person.
- Try avoiding the exchange of phone numbers and hanging out outside college/school hours. Meeting in seclusion is a BIG NO-NO!
- Trust your parents and listen to them.
- Do not have many friends, and try not to listen to your friends who are in relationships, their words are intoxicating, just as the real relationship is.
- Read spiritual books and associate with saintly people, and try to talk to your elders about the consequences of your actions.
- Read spiritual books again, so that you are constantly reminded of your duties.
- Have busy schedule with developing good hobbies, like learning a musical instrument or reading good inspirational non-fiction books.
- Know that education is your primary objective, so romancing and hanging will not assist you in achieving your Goal.
- A practical approach can be sought out, if you really want to follow your discipline, you will find your ways to stay aloof from the opposite sex.
“More than anything else, devotion to God and knowledge and association of true saints, and the grace of true saints and God will help you overcome lust. Having other hobbies will divert your mind, but devotion for God and prayers will purify your mind!”
Both boys and girls need to follow these rules for a blunder-free student life, or else the ill-consequences are waiting for you, even if you do not want it.
- For married persons :
For a grihastha male, Brahm-chãrya constitutes avoiding all women except his wife, abstaining from sexual relations with his wife on days of vrat, and engaging in sexual relations with her only during the appropriate times. [Gadhadã I – 34].
Similarly, the wife, she should develop the sentiment of brotherhood, fatherhood, or a son for all the other males except her husband.
Moreover as per the Shikshaptri, do not stay in seclusion with your daughter, sister or mother unless there is no other choice.
Married people also deserve and have a responsibility to become liberated, and Brahmacharya is criteria for them too, it is not that they have an exemption to it. It is a notion that householders are free from Brahmacharya, but no. Their rules may be different, but they have to be an ideal devotee to attain God. God is not partial towards householder or Monks. Both of them have to be ideal in their disciplines.
Marriage is all about fidelity and loyalty, and it not just on the woman’s part, even men have to take this aspect of marriage seriously. If there is complete trust between the two partners, the marriage life is smooth and you set a good example for your kids. The social and sentimental benefits of a loyal partner are there for sure, but moreover, it helps one in their spiritual life too, if both of you can take a vow to be loyal for the sake of spirituality, it can bear fruits beyond compare. God appreciates integrity, and being loyal in marriage takes serious integrity. Take the example of Ram and Sita, how they loved each other in spite of difficulties, and just see what they received, they are eternally together.
How can one regulate and practice Brahmacharya in Gruhasthashram?
- Taking certain vows during Ekadashi, chaturmaas and other holy days.
- After reaching a certain age, one can refrain from sexual life completely.
- Having little or no association of stranger on unnecessary contact with opposite sex helps a lot.
- The subtle aspects are to realize and have one common goal that one has to achieve ultimate redemption. This will fuel the desire for both the partners to observe Brahmacharya.
- For Monks :
It is to preserve and safeguard their spiritual journey. The most distracting of all forces of Maya for a male aspirant is female and similarly, for a female aspirant, a male is the most distracting force. For tyãgis, eight types of Brahm-chãrya have
been prescribed, which prevent them from associating with the opposite gender in the following ways:
Smaranam – Thinking about, contemplating about or remembering the opposite sex which is seen/read or heard about.
Keertanam – Talking or listening about qualities or faults of the opposite sex, describing their body/beauty etc, or talking vulgar or offensive talk is called keertanam.
Keli – Playing Holi, chess etc games or frolicking with or playing mischief and flirting with
Prekshanam – Intentionally looking at, or lustfully looking at.
Guhyabhãshanam – privately conversing with
Sankalp – Reading romantic or vulgar books, or watching such films or photos and then fantasizing about it.
Adhyavasãya – Planning to acquire some lady which one wishes to attain.
Kriyã – intercourse with
This prevents them from ending up like Asharam Bapu, or Ram Rahim baba or other such idiots. The Tyagi is sure to fall from his spiritual path as well as be slandered in this world if one associated with women. This is not something new by Lord Swaminarayan, he actually revived Brahmacharya for Tyagis.
More can be found in dharmamrut(Dharmas of Saints) (Download)
In Vachanamrut. Lord Swaminarayan refers to Brahmacharya on many occasions. The basic idea to observe Brahmacharya is “Out of mind, out of sight.”
One has to first purify their inputs, one cannot observe Brahmacharya while bombarding oneself with movies Tv shows and similar entertainment, or even such songs or books.
Then along with these disciplines, one has to also be devoted to God. One has to perform bhakti, read spiritual scriptures, and listen to spiritual lectures to nourish one’s devotion.
Trying various yogic methods like asanas and pranayama are helpful, but fruitless if we do not purify our inputs. Various hobbies and productive activities will just divert your mind for the time being, but devotion to God will purify your mind, making it a permanent solution.
Lord Swaminarayan glorified Brahmacharya, he promoted Brahmacharya in each and every one of his discourses. He separated the assemblies for men and women (Refer: Lord Swaminarayan’s firm stand on separate assemblies for men and women: Harbai and Vaalbai.) because of the same reason. One cannot observe Brahmacharya in the company and association of the opposite sex, even if one thinks of the opposite sex, one fails in Brahmacharya, then what to speak of association in person!
How does lust develop?
Association with opposite sex causes lust to develop.
People often say that it is okay to have platonic relationships with the opposite sex. We can be Just friends with them. What is wrong in that?
The theory of lust is, it develops with association. It is just a matter of time that one will develop lust as time progresses. You might cover it up with a sweet word called love, but it is lust because if it would have been love, it would make you a better person and it would be singular and eternal. We usually have multiple partners, maybe over time, but since we keep on changing them, therefore it is not love.
It is not that we can associate but without lustful intentions, but with association, lustful intentions will germinate and cause a lapse in discipline.
Association with the opposite is like a triggered time bomb and it runs faster in seclusion. Therefore it is just a matter of time that one might develop lust for anyone of the opposite sex. Hence unnecessary association is to be avoided at all times.
Secondly, association can happen to any of the five senses, and mentally too at a more subtle level.
So it is not just in person association, it is watching, hearing about, thinking(fantasizing) about, touching and fondly talking about the opposite sex will develop lust.
That is why having no(in case of saints) or cautiously less or utmost necessary(in case of non-saints) association with the opposite sex is the key to have a lust-free life.