[Advaita-l] Meaning of Brahmacharya (was self realization)

Dr. Sanjay Verma sanjay1297 at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 12 03:31:26 CDT 2005

Namaste and Pranam,
The excerpt by Swami Sivananda below can be found at the following URL:


Brahmacharya literally means Achara or conduct that leads to the realization of Brahman

or one’s own Self. It means the control of semen, the study of the Vedas and contemplation on

God. The technical meaning of Brahmacharya is self-restraint, particularly mastery of perfect

control over the sexual organ or freedom from lust in thought, word and deed. Strict abstinence

is not merely from sexual intercourse, but also from auto-erotic manifestations, from homosexual

acts and from all perverse sexual practices. It must further involve a permanent abstention from

indulgence in erotic imagination and voluptuous reverie. All sorts of sex anomalies and evil

habits of various sorts like masturbation and sodomy must be completely eradicated. They bring

about a total breakdown of the nervous system and immense misery.

Brahmacharya is purity in thought, word and deed. It is celibacy and continence.

Brahmacharya is the vow of celibacy. The term ‘celibacy’ is from the Latin ‘caelebs’, meaning

unmarried or single, and signifies the state of living unmarried. But Brahmacharya is not mere

bachelorhood. It includes the control, not only of the sex or reproductive Indriya, but also of all

other Indriyas in thought, word and deed. This is the definition of Brahmacharya in a broad

sense of the term. The door to Nirvana or perfection is complete Brahmacharya. Complete

celibacy is the master-key to open the realms of Elysian bliss. The avenue to the abode of

supreme peace begins from Brahmacharya or purity.

Brahmacharya is absolute freedom from sexual desires and thoughts. A real Brahmachari

will not feel any difference in touching a woman, a piece of paper or a block of wood.

Brahmacharya is meant for both men and women. Bhishma, Hanuman, Lakshman, Mira Bai,

Sulabha and Gargi were all established in Brahmacharya.

Mere control of the animal passion will not constitute Brahmacharya. This is incomplete

Brahmacharya. You must control all the organs—the ears that want to hear lustful stories, the

lustful eye that wants to see objects that excite passion, the tongue that wants to taste exciting

things and the skin that wants to touch exciting objects.

To look lustfully is adultery of the eyes; to hear anything that excites passion is adultery

of the ears; to speak anything that excites passion is adultery of the tongue." p. 25


"Swami Jagadishananda of the Sri Ramakrishna Mission has also written a whole book on

Brahmacharya under the caption: The Creative Power of Continence. Another teacher who

became very well-known later on and who used to visit the, Scandinavian countries regularly, Sri

Swami Narayanananda Saraswati who had his Ashram on the Dehradun Road in Rishikesh, has

also written one or two knowledgeable books on the self-same subject." p. 121

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