Brahmacharya, as said earlier, means control of the senses-the eye, ear, tongue and skin. In a limited sense, it means practice of celibacy.
Swami Sivananda, the great Master, was one of two saints who wrote a whole volume on practice of Brahmacharya. Our Master's book is more comprehensive than that of the other saint. We will explain the subject from his writings.
He states that from the food we eat, chyle is produced; from chyle the body produces blood and flesh; from flesh fat is made; from fat, bones; from bones, marrow; and finally, from marrow, the semen or vital force is produced.
When a couple get married, the semen or vital force from the male unites with the vital force of the female and this goes to produce a child.
Here we need to always keep in mind the following most important points:
1. Firstly, the vital force is the most precious substance in the human body, as it is the last thing that comes out of the food we eat.
2. Secondly, God has laid the law that the semen must only be used after one gets married and not before that.
3. Thirdly, after getting married, the semen must not be used for getting pleasure but for producing a child.
Saints and sages of the past and present, who married, and many pious and holy people even today follow this important rule. They thus lead a rich and glorious life of perfect purity, peace, happiness and bliss.
Since the semen is such a precious substance in the body, should you not try your best to preserve it? If you really want progress in life, if you wish to have happiness and good health, to move towards God, you will have to practise Brahmacharya, since without it much progress cannot be made.
How to Take Care of the Semen
1. Firstly, do not join evil company that will bring bad thoughts in your mind, like thoughts of love and sex. As students, all Spiritual Darlings should keep themselves busy with their study and games, and also with their daily prayer and physical exercise. Sex and love should not occupy the mind during student days as they will disturb one's studies and affect the health.
2. If Spiritual Darlings wish to become true heroes and heroines, then they must restrict TV viewing, or if possible, give it up completely. Undesirable scenes on TV cause great harm to the body and mind. Research today indicates clearly what great harm such scenes cause in children and even in adults. Saints tell us that evil forces work through the medium of TV. Therefore, if you sit before it for prolonged periods or see undesirable scenes, you will be affected without doubt. Kindly remember that viewing undesirable scenes on TV and then sitting for your morning or evening prayer will not be pleasing to God or to your Guru. Also, sitting for your prayer after viewing such TV scenes will disturb your mind, and again, this will not be pleasing to God.
3. Partake of foods that are pure and nourishing. Vegetarian foods will be very helpful in the practice of Brahmacharya. Too much of spicy foods, sweets and sugar will make practice of Brahmacharya difficult. All Spiritual Darlings should co-operate with parents at home in the matter of the right diet and not cause friction. The main thing with regard to eating habits is to offer the food to God before one eats. In this way the food becomes sanctified and purified and goes to build up a pure body and mind. Always remember this important point.
4. Keep away from all smoking, alcohol and drugs. They will ruin the body and mind and make you do rash and foolish things.
5. Be careful not to accept eatables from any of your friends at school and other places as such foods might contain drugs put into it by drug peddlers. Follow this rule strictly.
6. Do not go to parties where there is disco music, vulgar dancing and dating. All this will ruin you. You might think that you are strong, but when tempted, you may fall hopelessly. Even great Rishis like Narada and Vishwamitra were tempted and fell prey to lust. So beware!
7. Select your parties carefully. In a city you know that certain streets are not safe in which to move about, so you avoid them. In a similar manner you must avoid those parties which will lead you away from God and the path of virtue, and make you to develop undesirable habits. There is no harm in attending parties provided you make your selection carefully.
8. All Spiritual Darlings should henceforth make it a habit of celebrating their birthday with a grand Satsang. This will be a novel and beautiful way of having a party. It will ennoble and uplift everyone. Boys and girls who do not know about prayer and Satsang should be invited to such a party.
9. During holidays, never go to places of gambling, drinking and dancing. This will pollute your mind and lead you away from God. Ask your parents to take you to places where you can view natural scenes like mountains, rivers, waterfalls and landscapes. Visit nature reserves and admire the beauty of flowers, animals and birds in natural surroundings.
10. Games and sports are a must for all Spiritual Darlings. If you are always occupied in trying to keep the body healthy, you will not want to spoil it by taking to bad habits.
11. Boys and girls should never mix intimately and freely. There is no harm in them moving with each other. This cannot always be avoided, but if the boy or girl is God-fearing and respectful, then he or she will know the limit.
12. If boys and girls meet in private, if they hold each other's hands, then there is every danger that the vow of Brahmacharya will be broken. So be careful and humble and do not allow yourself to be tempted.
13. Marriage today is fraught with tremendous problems. The only safe and best way to tackle it is to seek the guidance of God. All Spiritual Darlings should earnestly pray to the all-merciful Lord and to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, to lead them to the right partner, who will be loyal to them till the end of life. God will without doubt answer such earnest prayer and lead one to a life-partner who will bring happiness to the entire household. Trust in God and our Master and you will be safe.
14. Spiritual Darlings should also get the guidance of their parents when selecting their life-partners. With the blessings of one's parents married life cannot but be a great success.
15. Remember also that the vows taken during the marriage ceremony are very sacred. If they are violated, one will have to go through immense pain and suffering. Scriptures like the Garuda Purana give graphic descriptions of the punishment that awaits such a one in hell after death.
16. Understand clearly the working of the great law of cause and effect. We all see the relentless operation of this law in nature and in our daily life. As you sow, so shall you reap. None can escape this granite law of God. If you do evil actions, you will reap pain and sorrow. If you do virtuous actions, you will have joy and happiness. Ignorant people do evil actions in private, thinking that no one knows. But the omniscient Lord, the silent witness of all our thoughts, words and actions always knows everything, and His law of Karma will bring the reaction sooner or later. A life of sense pleasure is sweet in the beginning, but ends in pain, sorrow and suffering. A life in search of higher values and ideals, a spiritual life dedicated to God, is often like poison in the beginning, but ends in unbroken peace and bliss.
17. Spiritual Darlings should always try to keep themselves fully occupied in some useful community service. They should request their parents to make them participate in the activities of some service institutions. Serving the poor and the sick, cheering the aged, doing acts of charity will bring great peace and happiness in their lives. If they give love and happiness to all those around them, they will also receive love and happiness in return. Academic skills, brilliant passes in exams and degrees will bring popularity, name and fame and provide you with comforts, luxuries and your daily bread and butter, but the peace that your soul craves for can only be had by seeking God, by leading a pure, virtuous life and by serving others. True selfless service of humanity is really worship of God.
Effects of Loss of Semen
Here is what happens if you lose much of the semen or vital force:
1. You will weaken your memory power. You will not be able to remember your school lessons well. This is the first disaster you will have to face if you waste this precious vital force.
2. Your mind will become weak. You will not be strong enough to say no to bad habits. You will become a slave. The end result will be misery, pain, sorrow and suffering.
3. Wastage of the vital force is the main cause of illnesses. Your health will be affected. Your body will not be able to fight off diseases easily. You will feel weak and listless.
4. Your nervous system will suffer, because the semen nourishes the nerves. You will get irritable easily and will lose control of yourself quickly. You will become a prey to fear.
5. You will not be able to face problems bravely, as your mind and will-power will be weak. You will even want to take your life because you are not able to deal with your problems.
6. You will have a fickle mind. You will not be able to concentrate properly on your work at school or at home. You will take up a task and soon give it up. Like a monkey, your mind will jump from one thing to another. You will feel restless and suffer from depression.
7. There will be no lustre on your face. This lustre is called Brahma Tejas by the Yogis. You will not be able to attract others due to the absence of Brahma Tejas.
8. If you engage in pre-marital sex or such other evil habits, your conscience will always trouble you. You will have no peace of mind. If you deceive your parents or are disloyal to your friends, sooner or later you, too, will be let down or deceived. Also, you cannot expect a successful married life. The great law of cause and effect will operate with scientific precision.
This section on Brahmacharya is specially prepared for the youth of today-the Spiritual Darlings of God. A great and wondrous duty lies with you. You should lead a pure and exemplary life. You should be loyal to God, to your religion, to your Guru, to your parents and to your teachers. You should courageously come forward and set the pace for the youth of today. This is true heroism. This is the real challenge before you. The path is arduous, difficult, toilsome and full of pitfalls and dangers. Are you prepared to take the plunge?
The saints of all religions, both of the past and of recent times, have always spoken about the glory of Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is a Sanskrit word. Its true meaning is control of the senses. In a limited sense Brahmacharya means celibacy, or control of the sex urge.
1. The sense of taste has to be controlled by not taking foods that make the mind restless. Onions, garlic, highly spiced dishes, too much sweets and sugar, too much tea and coffee, non-vegetarian foods-all these make the mind restless. Alcohol, drugs and smoking are bad as they cause great harm to the mind and body.
2. The eye must be controlled by seeing only that which is pure and good, like colourful flowers and birds, inspiring pictures of saints and sages, of heroes and heroines. Birds, animals, insects and reptiles, as well as natural scenes like mountains and landscapes delight the mind and soothe it. Vulgar dances, scenes of violence, love and sex on TV, and reading magazines that deal with violence, love and sex, pollute the mind and body and awaken base feelings in one.
3. Listening to classical music, devotional songs and chants at Satsang and in the temple, soothe the mind, elevate it and fill one with love and devotion to God. Listening to disco music, on the other hand, makes one restless and brings base feelings in the mind. Also strictly avoid drugs, smoking, places of gambling, and evil company where abusive words are used.
4. Girls should avoid using perfumes and other items that go to beautify the physical body. They should dress modestly and not put on such garments as will awaken carnal feelings in males. Artificial decoration of the body in this manner will make one think too much of the body, and when one falls ill, the suffering will be greater because of increased body consciousness. Remember that the physical body is a sacred abode or temple of God and should be kept pure, strong and healthy. In any case, in time to come it will be discarded when the soul departs from it.
The main aim of our one day monthly Yoga Camp is to teach children and adults how to lead a pure and moral life, a life that will enable them to meet all the challenges of this extremely stressful and modern life. Even this aim is perhaps not enough. The aim is realisation of God. According to our Hindu Dharma, this precious human birth is meant for the realisation of God and nothing short of it. This is the final goal the Divine Life Society tries to place before all devotees and those who attend the Yoga Camp. Needless to say, the ideals taught are the ideals set out by our Master in his books and his life.
Teaching our Spiritual Darlings and also adults the importance of observing Brahmacharya (celibacy in a limited sense), is a unique feature of Divine Life Society of South Africa. Perhaps the Divine Life Society is a pioneer in this respect. Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, was one of the few saints who wrote a whole volume on the practice of Brahmacharya.
At the Yoga Camp our Spiritual Darlings from Standard 4 upwards have to take the vow of Brahmacharya till such time as they get married. The vow must be observed in accordance with the teachings of our Master.
A beautiful and informative booklet has been specially prepared for the younger Spiritual Darlings, in which clear explanations are given of the importance of conserving the vital force, how to get about it, precautions to take, etc. Many children have remarked that they had never heard such instructions before. So they readily take the vow. Senior Spiritual Darlings and adults have their own textbooks in which the practice of Brahmacharya is dealt with more elaborately.
Brahmacharya for the Youth
Spiritual Darlings attending the Yoga Camp may not indulge in drug habits, smoking, etc. The males and females may not socialise. This is not at all difficult for them, as their daily spiritual practices and our Divine Master's teachings effectively guide them and give them strength to follow the right path.
Visitors, some even from foreign countries, are struck by the remarkable sense of discipline in our Spiritual Darlings. Even during long satsang sessions of 2-3 hours they do not exhibit any sign of restlessness. If children are given alternatives like those at our Sivananda International Cultural Centre, they do not find it difficult to keep away from undesirable habits. There are a variety of facilities to develop the physical and mental capacities. Camp teachers treat all spiritual darlings with great love and understanding.
1. A Peace Centre which has a Shrine where those afflicted with the above-mentioned problems will learn to pray and turn to God for help. The Peace Centre is decorated with beautiful pictures of exotic birds, animals, scenic wonders with inspiring and uplifting sayings by Sri Swami Sivananda. Daily Ganga Arati and prayer service also takes place.
2. Counselling rooms where youth receive guidance on how to overcome bad habits.
3. A hall where regular Sunlit Path Programmes are conducted. The hall also serves as an indoor sports facility, giving youth the opportunity to play sport rather than take to bad habits.
4. A Computer Training Centre to teach computer literacy so that unemployed persons may acquire skills and earn a livelihood.
5. A Sewing School that teaches sewing skills so that unemployed persons can find employment in this field, or even start their own business.
6. Dining room & kitchen.
7. A Library with instructive and inspiring books.
8. Living quarters for resident supervisors.
9. An Alternate Health Remedies Clinic operates at the Centre.
10. Once a week, a programme is conducted for senior citizens.
Apart from the overcoming programmes, all activities at the Centre will be directed towards helping youth. Indoor sports, youth conferences, talks, plays, film shows, documentaries, etc. will be planned with this in mind.
The Centre is managed entirely by Divine Life Society of South Africa, in the same manner as the Sivananda Ghat is managed. Guidelines for the Centre's functioning were given by Pujya Swamiji as early as 2006. Strict levels of discipline and conduct are observed at the Centre, in keeping with the rules observed at the Society's Ashrams and at the Sivananda Ghat.
1. The Centre has trained devotees to counsel children on how to keep away from drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc. Instructors will also help youth and Spiritual Darlings deal with depression and suicidal tendencies which are very serious problems in areas such as Chatsworth.
2. They will receive extremely valuable literature written by Sri Swami Sivananda and Sri Swami Sahajananda that will guide them and teach them coping skills. The literature has universal appeal, and the teachings can be followed by adults and Spiritual Darlings of other faiths also, like Islam and Christianity.
3. The booklet, Bringing up Spiritual Darlings gives informative instructions to parents on how to guide and bring up their Spiritual Darlings. The term "Spiritual Darling" was used by the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, when he addressed children.
4. The booklet, Pathway to Peace & Happiness also contains valuable information on a variety of subjects, like the evils of gambling, liquor habits, how hostile forces create accidents, suicides, calamities, etc.
5. Pathway to Peace & Happiness is having a great impact on bereaved families who come to Sivananda Ghat, next to the Clare Estate Crematorium, to dispose of ashes of their beloved ones. Hundreds of people are turning to God by visiting the Ghat and reading the spiritual literature. A shrine of Christ is installed there because Christians are also resorting to cremation. Any number of tributes are being paid by those visiting the Ghat. They make their comments in writing, praising the Ghat for its divine, serene atmosphere. The comment invariably made is that the Ghat is "heaven on earth".
6. The most important instruction will be how they should turn to God for protection against bad habits, that God is their Friend, Mother and Father. Daily prayer will be highlighted and emphasised as the most important instruction.
7. Spiritual Darlings will be taught to maintain a diary to monitor their habits.Their diaries will be scrutinised once a fortnight or once a month and suitable awards given to them.
8. Maybe, once every six months or so, a graduation ceremony will be held where all the Spiritual Darlings who have maintained a spiritual diary and successfully overcome their bad habits will receive awards.
9. Spiritual Darlings who have overcome their bad habits and are fully trained will become ambassadors of the Centre and help to protect and advise other Spiritual Darlings on how to triumph over the bad habits mentioned above.
10. Instructions will be given about right diet for Spiritual Darlings and their parents to help combat their problems.