[Advaita-l] Vairagyam and Sannyasi - The Value of Brahmacharya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Mar 19 06:45:37 CDT 2010

 श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः

The Yoga sutras of Maharishi Patanjali offer a good deal of teaching on
Vairagya. Vairagya is defined as dispassion towards things seen, like
various objects of pleasure and unseen, like things learnt from Shastras
like heaven etc.

दृष्टानुश्रविक-विषय-वितृष्णस्य वशीकारसज्ञा वैराग्यम्

Drishta-anushravika-vishaya-vitrushnasya Vashikaara Sanjnaa Vairagyam (1-15)

Dispassion in seen and unseen objects, by recognizing the defects in them

.तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्ण्यम्

Tatparam Purushakhyatherguna-vaithrushnyam (1-16)

When the seeker by diligent practice is able to comprehend the SELF, will be
completely contented, then he gets dispassion even in the qualities of seen
and unseen things. Then the Vairagya is said to be Supreme. Thus this
Vairagya is said to be the Acme of Knowledge.

The first limb, anga, of the Ashta-anga Yoga Sutras is Yama, restraint. This
consists of Ahimsa = Non-injury, Satyam = Truthfulness, Asteyam = Abstinence
from theft, Brahmacharyam = Continence, and Aparigraha =Non-acceptance of
possessions. It will be pertinent to note that the role of Vairagya is a
sine qua non for the successful practice of each of the above.*

*It would be worthwhile to learn from real-life incidents the great
importance true practitioners of Yoga accorded to Vairagya:*

(Below are two extracts from the book 'Exalting Elucidations' of Sri
Abhinava Vidyateertha Swamigal, the 35th Jagadguru (1954 – 1989) of Sri
Sharada Peetham, Sringeri)

When Acharyal was touring in North India for the first time, a highly
influential and scholarly monk decided to test His sense-control. So, he
arranged for a belle to try to tempt Acharyal.

She entered the room where Acharyal was giving darsana just as the last of
the devotees were leaving and remained till she alone was left. However,
when she observed Acharyal, she was so overwhelmed by His patent purity that
she became disconcerted. Acharyal compassionately asked her, “Mother, what
is it?” At this, the girl  simply broke down. She was about to confess and
seek Acharyal’s pardon when the monk who had sent her himself entered. He
told Acharyal, “I knew that You are a scholar par excellence. However, I
wanted to ascertain whether You are also a master of the organ of taste and
are free from fondness for valuables. So, some time back, I sent you tasty
dishes and jewels through people. However, You turned down the offers. I
finally wished to examine Your brahmacharya and, hence, sent this beauty to
try to tempt You. I now realize that You are so pure and self-controlled
that You are beyond temptation. I truly acknowledge Your greatness and pay
obeisance to You.”

[Sri A. Ramaswamy]

Acharyal told me (the author of the Book) the following in 1987:

When I was about twenty years of age, two Bairàgi-s, who lived on the banks
of the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh, came to Sringeri. They wanted to have
Paramacharyal’s (HH Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati SwaminaH) darsana and seek
some clarifications from Him. As He was in antarmukha, seclusion, at that
time, they were unable to approach Him. They met Me. One of them looked weak
and somewhat effeminate, while the other had powerful muscles and resembled
a wrestler.

In the course of his conversation with Me, the first one hesitatingly said,
“I have been leading a life of renunciation but am not free from sexual
desire. While I never  misbehaved with any woman, bad thoughts troubled me
off and on. This was the situation till a few months ago, when I met a Baba
and posed my problem to him. He gave me a large packet of medicinal powder
and said that if I consumed a little of it every day, I would obtain relief.
I have been sincerely following his advice. My desires have largely
vanished. I think that I have gained a great spiritual benefit. However, my
muscular strength has come down and my chest has become a little like that
of a female. My companion is in need of help to deal with lust. He is
hesitant to take the Baba’s medicine because he fears that his muscles will
become weak. He wanted to ask Guruji whether in the interest of spiritual
growth, he should overcome his hesitation and resort to the medicine. I
wanted to ask Guruji if I should continue with this medicine or whether
Guruji would give me some other medicine without the side effects. We have,
however, not had the good fortune of being able to talk to Him. Would You
like to keep and use some of the medicine that I have? I can replenish my
stock from the Baba who gave it to Me.” I declined his offer.

The second person asked Me, “You are young. Are You not troubled by
sexual thoughts?”
I answered that I was not. At this, both of them asked, almost in unison,
“Will You please help us and tell us what we should do?” I answered, “Do not
use the medicine. You cannot gain any spiritual benefit by checking the
sexual instinct through It. Kings employed eunuchs in their harems because
they were confident that the eunuchs would not be tempted and misbehave with
the women. However, none regards those eunuchs as great celibates. None
deems that they ecame spiritually great on account of castration. On the
other hand, all of us regard sage Shuka as established in continence and as
spiritually great. His body was intact but he was so free from desire that
even damsels in the nude did not care to cover themselves when he passed
them. A dumb person does not lie but he is not looked up to as one who never
lies. A person who is unconscious is not revered as a Yogin just because he
is free from all thoughts of the world. Incapacity does not confer spiritual
benefit. The medicine with you temporarily and partially reduces you to the
state of a eunuch. It is, as far as gaining spiritual benefit is concerned,
no better than castration. I shall provide you a medicine that will enable
you to be rid of lust and to gain spiritual benefit.”

Then, I asked them to go to Sharadamba’s temple, spend half an hour gazing
at Her with devotion and to pray to Her with faith to rid them of lust. They
returned after half an hour. I told them, “In the Durga-saptashati it is
said that all women are the Divine  Mother’s forms. Whenever you are tempted
by the sight of a woman or think of a female

with desire, immediately think of the gracious Divine Mother. Feel that it
is She who is in  the form of all women. Also implore Her now and then from
the bottom of your heart to  free you from lust.” “Need not contempt for
women to be cultivated to combat lust?” asked the muscular Bairagi. I
replied: “No. Just as desire is bad for your mind, so is hatred. Both likes
and dislikes are impurities that agitate the mind. The scriptures speak  of
seeing the defects in an object just to neutralize a pre-existing attachment
born of the notion that the object is pleasurable. The aim is definitely not
to generate hatred. Shuka certainly did not hate or look down upon any
woman. He looked upon everything as the Supreme Brahman” The Bairagi-s left
Sringeri shortly thereafter.

They returned after about a year. This time, both the Bairagi-s looked
healthy and  muscular. On seeing Me, they joyfully said, “Swamiji, Your
medicine is very effective and has no side effects.” I clarified that it was
not My medicine and that what were working were Sharadambà’s grace and their
dedicated efforts. During this trip, they had the great good fortune of
getting Paramacharyal’s darshana and blessings.

[Sri R.M. Umesh]

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