Monday, 25 June 2012

BRAHMACHARYA: VOWS & MARRIAGE KEY POINTS


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For a fascinating Question and Answer on Brahmacharya, please go to February 2014

First, some definitions:


Brahmacharya, the restraint of the senses especially with regards to sexuality, is mentioned in many famous Vedic texts, most especially in Patanjali's seminal Yoga Sutras, and has come to assume a subtly different meaning from its original intention. 

Brahmacharya has now become synonymous with sexual continence and celibacy, but in fact was considered as the first of the broad stages of life in ideal Vedic culture, lasting roughly until marriage at the age of 25. 

So, the Brahmachari in days gone by would ideally have studied at the Gurukula, the school of the Guru, and lived in continence and simplicity, imbibing the vibrations of the gUru and thus providing the strong pillar for society. As Patanjali puts it, the maintenance of brahmacharya gives one Virya, vigour or enthusiasm, a sort of inner golden fire that would in any age is so necessary to deal with the subsequent challenges of life.

Living brahmacharya in a forest steeped in the beneficial atmosphere of a Sage and an ashram is one thing: a supreme blessing if this chance falls to you. 

But what about those out in this crazy modern world? Is it possible, desirable to be a brahmacharya if, say, you are in a marriage or relationship, or single? If so, why does society so firmly seem to tell us otherwise? 

I hope these key points might be of help to you, if you are caught in a dilemma where your spirit wants to head one way, but your body, tendencies, relatives, worldly connections urge you another:

1) BRAHMACHARYA IS UNPARALLELED SO GIVE IT A GO!
This experience of maintaining continence - and that involves no genital manipulation at all, no fantasies, a sort of determined erasure of your sexual history - brings you something surprising. Many men especially have a sort of image of sexual needs as "an overfull pot that needs to emptied" otherwise life gets uncomfortable, like a constant itch. 

This is far from the biological truth of the matter. The "Overfull pot" tends not be physical but mental, and anything mental need not rule your life.

If you maintain brahmacharya, some very wonderful inner state dawns in you. This was alluded to at some length by the great Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna, but there's also a very helpful booklet by Swami Sivananda. Brahmacharya gives you an inner golden glow like a wonderful comforting gentle fire. It truly is a state of peace from cravings and is not a negative state; on the contrary brahmacharya helps you truly come alive in the most intimate and wonderfully joyful way.

But remember that the other point is that what you are seeking is the state which brahmacharya can reveal: serenity, peace, and the dawn of love in your life. And great sober clarity.

The other real gift of brahmacharya is the far greater ability to focus and channel will-power. The power of our individual will determines our success in life. When will-power is pure, it becomes laser-sharp and very effective.

2) MEDITATION IS THE KEY TO MAINTAINING BRAHMACHARYA
You need to "cool the mind", to be able to still the mental agitations which can so trouble an adult of either sex. The only tool that really works in my experience is meditation, which means silent, eyes closed meditation, not just japa or recitation of a mantra. When the mind is withdrawn, its control becomes easy. Without meditation, it can be a big struggle to free yourself from the agitating world of fantasies and wishes.

Having said that, a word of caution:

If you enthusiastically dive into extra spiritual practices, and you are used to a regular marital relationship, you can find yourself drawn into stocked up fires of desires and thoughts: energy gets activated such that at times you can feel like you are sitting on a powder keg. And you desperately feel you need some relief at this point. Be careful, here. Notice what is going on with you. Unusual agitation in the particular parts of the body which are to do with this area is a sure sign that you are on fire.

Your choice about what to do with this, but don't make your life a total guilty misery by wanting to be a great sannyasin, but doing just the opposite! Accept that is a force overwhelms you, why that's your teacher... and it will not always be that way, so don't whip yourself with self-blame. If you cannot maintain Brahmacharya, do not worry. Let timer pass.

Meditation on the space between the eyebrows is what is meant here... and meditate intensely at times of great lust on something you revere, picture it between your eyebrows. It should help calm the fires.


3) YOU CAN BE A BRAHMACHARI IN A RELATIONSHIP!
Most married couples as they grow older will find themselves naturally turning to brahmacharya, if their relationship lasts over many years and has been physically satisfactory. It is no big deal when you get a little older. More rarely, couples can negotiate for a period of mutual brahmacharya. This is only achievable if it creates no discord and upset - and my advice is simply to try this for short periods and see how you get on. IE two weeks, three weeks then four weeks and so on.

If you do try, carefully note what happens when you make the attempt. These may seem stupid questions to ask yourself, but nevertheless go ahead and ask away. Only you and God need know the replies!

Typical questions to ask:
What time of the day is most difficult in terms of lust?
Is having sex a way to feel good and more of a man/woman? If so, why?
What is more important to you ... the numbing down of sexual fantasy, or sharing the experience with others?
Why do brahmacharya? What is your motivation?

Disaster happens if you determine on brahmacharya secretly and are not open in your aspirations. But let me assure you that a marriage or a relationship can benefit immeasurably from voluntary continence. All it takes is a clearly agreed period; mutual negotiations; mutual encouragement. It should also not be an excuse hiding other problems - such as lack of mutual attraction or even disgust.

Be very very clear about this, don't make it a big drama. If the relationship needs the comforts of intimacy, keep things as they are. There is absolutely no shame at all from staying a full householder. You are not a monk, you are out in the world. Do not torment yourself with a new inner tyrant forcing you to do things gfor which you are not ready.


4) VOWS
Are vows necessary? If you are lucky enough to belong to a spiritual school that supports these vows and bears witness to them, then vows are good. But when it is You and You alone, such vows can easily get trampled and cast aside,and when that happens all you are left with is considerable shame and upset. My experience is: stay away from vows until you have managed to be a brahmachari for a year. And be aware that when such vows are uttered, the shadow side of your personality will go all out to drag you down and break the vows. In terms of sexuality, you will be tiptoing past sleeping lions and tigers... so be very careful about over-rigid promises.

Here's something I aim to recite every day for brahmacharya which I find useful, because I remember it is a gift to God:

"From me alone
To Thee alone"

Very simple to say, but that sums it up .

Here is a September 2013 statement from the Catholic Pope which is interesting, because it reminds us about the positive aspect of vows. In this Catholic context, vows are only made by Priests and members of religious orders, but its a nice quote:

"Religious men and women are prophets. They are those who have chosen a following of Jesus that imitates his life in obedience to the Father, poverty, community life and chastity. In this sense, the vows cannot end up being caricatures; otherwise, for example, community life becomes hell, and chastity becomes a way of life for unfruitful bachelors. The vow of chastity must be a vow of fruitfulness."

5) UNDERSTAND YOUR OWN SEXUALITY
In this modern age there is no excuse for not really learning things that over the past 2,000 years have tended to be overlooked, such as the role sexuality plays in life expression. It is NOT as some western psychologists would put it, the be-all and end-all of life, but it does express a very basic and powerful energy and you must be aware of how this energy can pop up in unexpected places. Brahmacharya is a golden state, yes, but you cannot really relax your guard in the initial stages. Unexpressed life energy can easily turn to cruelty an subtle sadism in spiritual life,to bullying or to arrogance as well. Brahmacharya must be accompanied by humility and modesty or it is better not undertaken at all.


6) REMEMBER THE PHYSIOLOGY OF SEX
The Sexual act,be it through intercourse or masturbation, produces powerful pleasure chemicals in the brain, endorphins, which are what gives you that "high". This in turn can keep the body alive, tonicked, according to judicious use as suggested by Chinese Taoist practice.

So if you are drawn to brahmacharya, it may be a good, sane idea to realistically and wisely plan for some OTHER activity that will give you pleasure, unless you are that rare soul who can live in the world with no pleasure at all. Be very creative about this.

Often the sex urge if frustrated and blocked up can turn next to the oral satisfaction of food... and you pile on weight. Best idea is to set up goals, and give due space in your life to something that gives you peaceful joy. Gardening? Painting? Music? Friendships? Something... but think about this.

The link below gives you a wonderful series of affirmations to clear up your subconscious. You need headphones for the full effects, but try this out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3J_O2q2BOM&feature=related

7) DON'T BOAST ABOUT IT TO OTHERS
There's a wonderful quote by that great Yogi Jesus (apologies if that offends anyone) about saying your prayers in secret, not out in public "and your father will reward you in secret" - the point being don't make a great public spectacle of yourself about how holy you are.

There's a salutory lesson to draw from the strange history of the Hare Krishna Isckon organisation. Their Guru started off by marrying every couple in a bid to get some stability, but that went wrong, so he emphasised that brahmacharya was better. There then rapidly grew up a ridiculous heirarchy of the "good" ie the brahmacharis, looking down on "the bad" ie the householder couples. The movement ran into severe difficulties because these immature young brahmacharis proved to be bad leaders and unfit to hold responsibilities. They talked the talk, they did not walk the walk.

8) DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP IF YOU KEEP LAPSING
Trying to maintain brahmacharya in a world increasingly addicted to lustful expression is a heroic endeavour. You are human. You may get overcome, time and time again. What normally happens after that is either a bout of enormous self-blame and self-recrimination, or you project your negative feelings on to the other: your partner, your parents, or whatever scapegoat you may find. Just accept that, as the great Yogananda said, "a wrestler only becomes great by being knocked over again and again", and that old Hindu proverb "drop by drop the pot gets filled". It will all come right in the end.

Just get up off the ground then, and remember the many things that you a long time to learn - how to walk, how to read and write, how to be an adult etc etc.

9) ENJOY THE TUSSLE!
The sexual instinct is like a sort of itch, but its also very deeply a teaching instrument for all of us. What is really going on with this blind urge? What is the rush towards? Pleasurable union. And what is the ultimate expression of union? Blissful union. And where do you find that? Blissful union and interpenetration is the central mystery of the entire cosmos, the union of Shakti with Shiva. So you have a ringside seat to observe some of the fundamental truths of our manifested and unmanifested reality. Fantastic! Also you get to see how the world of Maya is so wonderfully glued together by this instinct for procreation, this squelchy, undignified, messy, raptuorous, animalistic set of behaviours. That's how Mother Shakti hooks us all... amazing really.

With brahmacharya you are NOT just joylessly denying yourself legitimate fun. You are redirecting your energy, you are offering a gift, you are staying sober. Dhira is a useful sanskrit word, you could call it steadiness or sobreity, with Adhira being the opposite... as soon as a cause for agitation appears, you will be the victim... in other words business as usual.

10) PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK ONCE IN A WHILE
If you want to try brahmacharya, and your partner is willing... congratulate yourselves. Your light will penetrate the highest heavens. They will see this light, the gods and goddesses. It is a rare light in this world, in this age, in this fallen culture. So, well done!

11) BRAHMACHARYA FOR WOMEN
Having being intimately around women and spiritual practice for much of my life, and asked many female devotees what's it actually like to observe brahmacharya or approach the subject, this is what they tell me and please, if you are a female sadhaka... don't shoot me down in flames!

Women naturally take to brahmacharya far more easily than a man, and their capacity for exalted states of consciousness is actually far greater than for most men, given the exquisite sensitivity of a woman's physical make up. A woman's back, for example, has been scientifically proven to be around 8 times more sensitive than a man's back! So, the senses are refined, and on a subtle level this means a greater ability to apprehend the subtle ladders of spiritual ascent.

The big difference in terms of barriers is the natural cycle of a woman. Whereas a man can feel especially lustful 24/7 pretty much, for a woman this is generally not so, but the times just before ovulation, just before menstruation, just after menstruation can produce a temporary hormonal mix that can upset the equanimity of the female seeker - but its all good. The kind of gross mental fantasies that bedevil men are not so overwhelming for most women. But the woman's body, too, has urges... which also can be cleverly harnessed for the inward journey.

So... generally nature gives the female an easy time, especially if a woman is a mother, has children already, and is beginning to settle down in life. One problem, though, may be an instinctive need for company, for attention and for validation that makes a solitary life difficult - perhaps more difficult than for a man. Another challenge: the deep rooted biological urge not just to reproduce, but to have a comfortable home, security on all levels.

In a marriage, though, the woman can be the inspiration, the guide, the shining star in a celibate relationship. So many men also haven't a clue when it comes to opening the heart or keeping the heart open. But the path of bhakti, the gorgeous pastel lights of true devotion - these fit extremely well with a woman's make-up. I'm one of those who see that the beauty of women never fades, all are the expressions of aspects of the divine Mother, the dear one. Remember how beautiful the great bengali saint Anandamayi Ma looked throughout her life, radiating a timeless vibration of compassion, playfulness, deep dignity and integrity.

Perhaps the greatest blessing of being a woman is the fate of being called to a deep connection with God in whatever form: no surprise that the preponderance of modern Catholic women saints have been young women, who have a truly extraordinary purity and light shining from them.

The clue to both men and women's ability to be a brahmachari is patience, endurance, repeated endeavour. But if there is one thing that makes a human being truly beautiful, ever-youthful, it is conscious and good-humoured brahmacharya.

There is a whole interview Q&A on Brahmacharya in FEBRUARY 2014 posting, so if you are interested, read that... many tips on Brahmacharya


HERE'S A GREAT RESOURCE FROM  SWAMI KRIPALVANANDA'S WRITINGS:

Yoga and Celibacy 

I. Yoga

Yoga is known as Brahmavidya (knowledge of the supreme spirit). This great knowledge
is ancient and extremely difficult to attain. For its accomplishment, many lifetimes are
required. If it were evaluated objectively, it would be defined as the supreme religion, the
global religion, the universal religion, the human religion or the eternal religion. It is true
that India is the land of its origin, but the entire world has equal claim to it. For its
accomplishment, the grace of a guru versed in yoga is necessary. This yoga is included in
the six philosophies.

Two approaches are prominent in the world: that of knowledge and that of action. Thus
yoga, too, can be of two types: jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge) and karma yoga (yoga of
action). Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion to God) is included in both jnana and karma yoga,
because knowledge and action are useless without devotion.

There cannot be different types of yoga. But there are differences in the natures of
different sadhakas, differences of background, differences of methods used for spiritual
practice; differences in fitness for practice, and many other differences. For this reason,
multiplicity may be seen in yoga. The meaning of yoga is samadhi.

As wakefulness, dream, and sleep are three states of mind, so also is samadhi a state of
mind. This fourth state is not experienced by everyone; it can be experienced only by an
advanced yogi. There are two intrinsic divisions of yoga: sakama (with desire) and
niskama (without desire). Sakama yoga is known as 'social religion' or religion for the
masses, and niskama yoga is known as 'individual religion' or the religion of liberation.
Among the various religions of the world, only the branch of social religion is available.

But among Indian religions, both the above religions are available. This is the distinctive
feature of Indian religions. By observance of social religion, the individual, the family,
the society, and the nation are elevated. This religion is universally practicable.
Individual religion is the religion of enlightened persons only. The basis of social religion
is individual religion. At different times, according to the prevailing circumstances of the
society, external changes are made, but the basic principles remain the same.

II. Importance of Celibacy 

In yoga terminology, non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and nonpossessiveness
are called 'yamas' (moral restraints) and purity, contentment, self-study, worship of God,
and austerity are called 'niyamas' (moral observances). Restraints and
observances (yama-niyama) are the strong-hold of yoga or religion. Without them, the
preservation of yoga or religion is impossible.

Wise yogis have described these restraints and observances as the great universal codes
of conduct. The principles of these restraints and observances form the greatest part of
social religion.

Celibacy is of prime importance in social religion. If it is abandoned and only the
remaining codes of conduct are accepted, social reliigion will he dead and insentient. The
character of the individual, the family, the society, and the nation is based on social
religion.

In ancient India, four ashramas (orders or periods of religious life) were established.
Three of these ashramas (the ashrama of the celibate student, the retired householder
sadhaka and the ascetic were carried on in the forest. Only the ashrama of the
householder was practiced in the city. Besides the ashramas of the householder, in all
other orders, celibacy was predominant. There were limitations in the life of the
householder, too, by which partial celibacy was achieved.

By observing this arrangement, it is understood that in the building of character, there is
no means equal to celibacy. The yoga in which there is no place for celibacy and yet is
called yoga is mere ignorance. The antonym of the term 'bhoga' is yoga, and the synonym
of yoga is celibacy.

Among the yoga scriptures, there is an independent scripture named 'Bindu yoga' (yoga
of semen). Thus the importance of celibacy is easily seen. Bhoga is descent while yoga is
ascent. There is ascent (sublimation) of semen in yoga and descent (ejaculation) of semen
in bhoga. In spite of being a knowledgeable person, one who does not know the
importance of celibacy is a fool.

Without celibacy, the personality of an individual does not develop in the least.
Maharishi Patanjali has stated in his Yoga Aphorisms: "After becoming an urdhvareta (a
yogi who has accomplished perpetual sublimation of semen) through yoga, a yogi
becomes all-powerful. That yogi alone can realize the supreme truth. Since through
celibacy the impossible becomes possible, the gain of fame, wealth, and other material
things is assured to the celibate. At one place Lord Siva said to Goddess Parvatiji, "O
Parvati, what is there on this earth which cannot be accomplished if one has control over
his sexual fluid?" That is, all powers reside at the divine feet of the enlightened
urdhvareta.

Only a yogi, through the practice of yoga, can become urdhvareta. The divinity of deities,
too, is dependent on celibacy. "Deities have conquered death through the penance of
celibacy ". Where even death is overcome, what power do poor diseases have to enter the
body of the urdhvareta saint?

III. Aim of Celibacy 

Lord Krsna stated in the Bhagavad Gita, "'Partha, I am the eternal seed of all individual
souls. That is, I myself am the supreme truth (Brahma), everybody's soul, semen, and the
cause of the entire universe. That is why the sage s practiced the exceedingly difficult
worship of celibacy."

The true importance of semen is known only to a yogi. That is why the great yogi
Goraksanatha, chanting in praise of semen, has said, "As a fair lady grieves due to
2separation from her beloved, so does an ascetic grieve due to his separation from his
semen". Eminent yogic scriptures say, "As long as there is death there is birth, and as
long as there is birth there is death." Birth is inevitable; one has no power to stop it. But
there is a possibility of restricting death.

Ancient yoga science has proved that the cause of death is the descent of bindu (semen)
and the source of immortality is the sublimation (ascent) of semen. If death is one end to
life, eternity should be the other. If there is a cause of death, a human being may possess
an ability to eradicate that cause. When a machine stops due to some defect, a mechanic
can reactivate it. Similarly, if the body machine ceases due to some defect, a perfect yogi
can reactivate it.

Svetasvatar Upanisad is extremely ancient. In it, it is said, "Disease, old age, and death
cannot enter the body of a yogi who has attained the body purified by yoga fire". On
achieving sabija samadhi, the yogi acquires the divine body purified by yogic fire. This
divine body itself is the external manifestation of a true yogi.

IV. The Form of Celibacy and its Two-Fold Practice: 

Sage Vyasaji in Yogadarshana has defined celibacy in this way, "To abandon the
pleasure gained through the sexual organs by restraint is defined as celibacy". The
restraint of the sexual organs is defined as nishkam karma yoga (yoga of action without
expectation of fruits). It is also known as Brahmavidya (knowledge of the supreme
spirit). Through its performance, the yogi becomes urdhvareta. This knowledge is
esoteric, ancient, and the source of all knowledge. After it is attained, nothing remains to
be known.

Thousands of sadhakas, aware of the importance of celibacy, attempt to practice it, but
they are unable to maintain the celibacy necessary for the attainment of Brahmavidya
(knowledge of the supreme spirit truth). That is why in scripture it is said, "Celibacy
alone is the supreme penance. Of course, other penances are also penances, but they are
all inferior. That urdhvareta saint who has done penance over the restraint of the sexual
organ is not a human being but a god."

A. Celibacy of a Brahmachari

In our body, there are two types of glands: endocrine and exocrine. The secretion of
the ductless endocrine glands is absorbed by the lymphatics and veins. In this manner,
the secretion absorbed by the blood is distributed to the entire body. In the second
type of gland, the secretion of the ductal exocrine glands is distributed to different
parts of the body. During childhood the testes of a boy and ovaries of a girl secrete
these fluids as they are absorbed by the blood.

On the advent of youth, the sexual energy in the bodies of young men and women
becomes active and agitates them. Finally, there is discharge. Once there is discharge,
the path of decent is opened up for ever. To carry out the formidable task of
restraining and sublimating this energy is as difficult as making a river flow back to
its source high in the mountains.

To be a celibate is one thing, and to become urdhvareta is another. The celibacy of a
celibate student, a retired householder sadhaka and an ascetic is ordinary celibacy,
but the yogi's celibacy is extraordinary. Those practicing ordinary celibacy seek
refuge in ordinary (willful) yoga with yama and niyama. The yogi, practicing
extraordinary celibacy, seeks refuge in sahaja yoga (spontaneous yoga) also with
yama and niyama.

Some very important rules for practicing celibacy: One should not have lustful
thoughts about the opposite sex, nor should one enter into discussions about him or
her because these discussions agitate the mind. One should not amuse oneself with
him or her. One should not talk with him or her in solitude. One should not want to
use him or her for sexual purposes or possesses him or her in a sexual way. One
should not engage in sexual intercourse.

B. Scientific Methods for the Preservation of Celibacy for the Common
Sadhaka. 

(1.) Yoga Technique 

If for any reason there is a thought of sexual desire, the eyes should be fixed between
the eyebrows. This will pacify this undesired awakening. With the strengthening of
apana vayu, the sexual organ awakens and the mind becomes troubled. As the mind is
absorbed into this passion, the apana vayu and the sexual organ become unrestrained.
In this situation, one should seek refuge in prana in order to restrain the momentum of
apana.

This refuge in prana may be attained by fixing the eyes between the eyebrows. On
attaining this refuge, the apana is weakened and the awakening of the sexual organ is
subdued. Frequent concentration of the eyes between the eyebrows alters the
momentum of the vayu and due to this change in momentum; the direction of the
mind is also altered.

Just as one may stop the turning of the wheel of a machine by pressing a switch, so
the activated sexual urge of the body-machine may be restrained by fixing the eyes
between the eyebrows frequently. This urge will invariably be restrained by this yogic
technique. To abstemious sadhakas, this technique is a divine treasure.

(2.) Ordinary Techniques 

(a) If there is a thought of sexual desire in the mind, it can be pacified
simply by drinking a glass of cold water and engaging the mind in good
thoughts.

(b) At that time the sex drive is restrained by fixing the mind on the idea
of a mother, sister, daughter, deity, or holy idol of revered Sadguru.
However, it is to be kept in mind here that this device will succeed only if
there is extreme reverence for the person one has in mind.

(c) By abandoning solitude, too, sexual desire may be subdued.

(d) At that time a fine stream of cold water should be poured on the sexual
organ after urination. This will interfere with the sexual thoughts in the
mind and replace them with new thoughts. Thus the sexual desire will be
weakened and destroyed.

(e) A bath of cold water will also quieter the sexual desire.

(f) By standing in waist deep water or sitting in a tub filled with cold
water, one may destroy sexual desire.

(g) By performing fifteen to twenty anuloma-viloma pranayamas along
with the recitation of the Guru mantra, one may also pacify this desire.
Instead of anuloma-viloma, bhastrika pranayama may be practiced. In
anuloma-viloma, the energy of the incantation is increased, thus the mind
is strengthened and is not dominated by sexual desire.

(h) By studying Holy Scriptures, praying to the Lord, and chanting
mantra, the sexual desire is destroyed.

C. Celibacy of the Urdhvareta Yoga 

Without being an urdhvareta, the knowledge of the supreme truth (Brahma jnana)
cannot be attained. Hence Sri Bhagavan has said in the Bhagavad Gita, 'Kaunteya!
Unsatisfied desire is the restless foe of the jnani. Brahma jnana is concealed by it."
(Chapter 3, verse 39).

As an astonishing energy is generated by the steam in a machine, similarly an
extraordinary energy is generated by sublimating the sexual fluid in the body. As a
result of this process, the yogi acquires the divine body. The stage of yoga during
which the yogi acquires divine body is defined by the scriptures as sarupya mukti;
emancipation during which the seeker acquires the sought after form. After attaining
that liberation, i.e. after transcending that stage, the yogi attains sarstya mukti in the
fourth stage of yoga. In sarupya mukti, the yogi achieves a form identical with that of
Sri Hari (the Lord) and in sarstya mukti, he achieves all the powers of the Lord. In
this manner, the yogi resembles the Lord. This fourth stage of liberation is the
pinnacle of samkhya yoga, niskama karma yoga, and bhakti yoga.

Lord Siva and Lord Krsna are not bhogas. They are urdhvareta yogis. They are the
first propounders of Brahmavidya (knowledge of the supreme truth). What the
sadhaka should do first of all to become an urdhvareta is shown by Sri Krishna in the
Bhagavad Gita, "Thus O Bharatsrestha! First restrain the senses and decisively
abandon this evil lust which destroys knowledge and realization." (Chapter 3, verse
41).

Now He depicts the device by which this passion should be dispelled, "O Mahabaho!
In this way, consider this unconquerable enemy mightier than the intellect; abandon it
by restraining Atman with Atman."

In order to dispel desire, Bhagavan has directed Arjuna to restrain Atman with Atman.
This is an esoteric yoga practice. Here I interpret the term Atman as sukra (semen). In
Sanskrit the term Atman has many meanings. Among these are 'vital element' and
'essential element'. Sukra is both a life element and an essential element. Thus these
terms can be used in the place of Atman. This is also related to the dispelling of
passion. The second term Atman is used for the purified mind.

To restrain Atman with Atman is to restrain the discharge of semen by the purified
mind. The description of this method is as follows. In comparison to the battle of the
Mahabharata, the battle of sensual passion is extremely formidable. In Niskama
karma yoga (yoga of rewardless acts) the sadhaka has to produce semen in his testes
through siddhasana and sublimate it. Semen is produced in the testes when there
appears a powerful awakening in the penis.

When apana vayu forcibly attracts the semen on the inferior path, the unperturbed
sadhaka has to execute the exceedingly formidable task of elevating apana vayu with
the help of prana vayu. This task can be carried out only through a yoga device and
the grace of the guru. When the true form of niskama karma yoga was not
understood, the Vama Marga (the left handed path) prevailed in the Buddhist religion
and in the Siva, Vaisnava and Shakta branches of Sanatana Dharma.

Thus, after the purification of each nadi in the body, the body becomes steady and
perfectly straight naturally. Then the stage of pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
terminates and the stage of dharana (contemplation) begins. In this stage, the external
senses cooperate with dhyana and do not create any sort of hindrance. Due to this,
restraint of the mind becomes easy. In other words, after the steadying of the senses
the mind introverts naturally because the cause of the extroversion of the mind is the
wavering of the senses. The restraint of the senses is accomplished with the help of
prana and mind, thus with the eradication of the vacillation of the senses there
pervades a steadiness in prana and mind both.

Only after the accomplishment of this stage does samkhya yoga begin from the ajna chakra.
By niskama karma yoga, the
muladhara chakra, svadhistana chakra, manipura chakra, anahata chakra,
vishuddha chakra, and the brahma granthi, vishnu granthi and rudra granthi are
pierced.

Since these chakras are situated within the boundaries of the organs of action
(karmendriyas), this is called the field of niskama karma yoga. After the penetration
of the inferior chakras and granthis, the process of piercing the ajna chakra and
sahasradala chakra begin. These chakras are situated within the boundaries of the
perceptive senses (jnanendriya). This is known as the field of jnana yoga or
samhkhya yoga.

Now Sri Bhagavan depicts the deserving sadhaka who attains this extremely esoteric
and most eminent Brahmavidya: 'Seeking my refuge, one who strives 'to relinquish
old age and death realizes this Brahma, perfect spiritual knowledge and complete
actions."

This verse is worthy of intense contemplation. It means that only a yogi who becomes
urdhvareta and attains divine body is liberated from old age, death, and the bondage
of worldly life. Only such a yogi is a real perceiver of truth and an enlightened
person. In this verse the term 'old age' is of great, importance. One who is free from
death is also free from birth. Thus it is inappropriate here to accept the term 'birth death'
instead of 'old age-death.' To be freed from old age and death is to attain a
divine body purified by yogic fire.

During the period when the yogi reaches the stage of attaining divine body, citta is
purified. The common sign of the accomplishment of nirbija (without the seed of
desire) samadhi is the divine body. That samadhi is accomplished only when extreme
non-attachment arises in the yogi's inner self constituted of citta (mindstuff), buddhi
(intellect), mana (mind), and ahankara (ego). Thus it is clear that such a yogi feels no
desire for a mortal or immortal body. If he has such interest or desire we cannot say
that extreme non-attachment has been generated in his inner self. Such a yogi cannot
accomplish nirbija samadhi. The yogi desiring liberation does not meditate for the
acquisition of siddhis (miraculous powers); he is desirous only of liberation and that,
too, disappears after the generation of this extreme non-attachment. Thereafter,
becoming desireless and dauntless, he performs sadhana. This is the science of yoga.
In theory, even the Indian Tantras accept the possibility of divine body, and even the
Buddhist Tantras give importance to the principle of divine body. There are three
great principles of Buddhism, which occur in stages: sila (chastity), samadhi, and
prajna (knowledge). The first two stages mean the purification of the body as well as
the mind. As a result of the first two stages, prajna is attained.

The chronological order of these stages is: intellect arises from chastity and samadhi.
Until the body is perfectly purified, the ability to retain the intellect or absolute
knowledge is not attained. Pure knowledge can manifest only in a pure body. Physical
purification occurs through chastity and the purification of citta (mind stuff) occurs
through samadhi. Only when rajas and tamas (restlessness and inertia) are attenuated
through kriya yoga and sattvaguna (purity) is greatly strengthened is citta purified. In
the 18th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, rtambharaprajna (omniscience) is described
as sattvica buddhi (pure or sublime intellect). Looking at it from this angle, the terms
nadi shuddhi and citta shuddhi are synonymous. Sri Krsna advises his beloved
disciple thus "The yogi is deemed superior to the ascetic and the philosopher; he is
also greater than the ritualist. Therefore be a yogi, O Arjuna !" To be a yogi is to be
urdhvareta.