Of all the methods and techniques to improve concentation, memory, courage, and positivity, Abstinence – Brahmacharya is the novel most and greatest technique, if you have some faith in spirituality. Though it looks like a spiritual belief, Ayurveda also approves of benefits of abstinence.
- Abstinence means Brahmacharya in Sanskrit. Abstinence refers to refraining one’s mind and body in indulgence of sex and sex related matters.
- At the outset, it appears as if it covers only physical aspect. But it also covers the mental aspect.
- If you indulge in sex, there is lack of abstinence at the same time, if you imagine about having sex, then also there is lack of abstinence.
- Lack of abstinence is there if one thinks, sees, hears, chats, touches, indulgence with a desire of sex, there is lack of abstinence.
- It is almost near to impossible for common people to practice abstinence at the highest level but it is possible to follow abstinence at certain levels based on one’s own capacity and comfort.
Benefits of abstinence: Why abstinence?
- Brahmacharya is told as one among the three pillars of life. (other two are – food and sleep).
- Ayurveda details: The Ojas – the essence of immunity is told as byproduct of Shukra (the hormones, semen and other components of sex). Hence, preserving Shukra leads to improvement in immunity.
- Swamy Vivekananda was able to memorize whatever he used to glance, in a book. By reading a few lines of a paragraph, he used to get the meaning of the rest of the paragraph. He used to say that if one practices absolute abstinence for a period of 12 years, continuous, a special Nadi (nerve power) called Medha Nadi (Medha = intelligence) develops in one’s brain, which leads to tremendous memory and concentration.
- Abstinence leads to multi-fold improvement in concentration, memory and courage.
- For students, teenagers and children, abstinence is highly recommended.
- Abstinence leads to character building.
- Abstinence imbibes reliability, strength in character and trust worthiness.
- Abstinence is the fuel for spiritual journey. No spirituality without abstinence.
How to practice abstinence
- At the outset, it looks almost impossible to follow absolute abstinence. It depends upon one’s mind strength, practice and perseverance.
- If not full abstinence, teenagers can at least resolve to avoid sexual activities at least till a particular point of time in their lives.
- For married people, abstinence can be practiced at any available occasions, as in case of pregnancy, menstrual periods, being distant to each other etc.
- Keeping oneself away from stimulations such as TV, wrong company etc helps follow abstinence.
- Pranayama helps to keep the mind cool, calm and concentrated.
So, follow abstinence and be abstinent up to your capacity and till the time your mind is capable and enjoy its benefits.
Tips to maintain Brahmacharya
• Waking up early in the morning – Brahmi Muhurtha
• Restricted sleep of 6 – 7 hours
• Eating only for 2 – 3 times a day,
• Avoiding munching
• Avoiding excess of tea, coffee
• Avoiding alcohol, smoking,
• Avoiding excess spicy salty foods
• Controlling anger
• Avoiding junk foods
• Having better control over sense organs
• Having better control over mind
• Improving on focus concentration
• Pranayama and Yoga regularly – Control over breath = control over mind
• Love and compassion towards all
• Guru – able spiritual leader to walk you hand in hand, in the right path.
• Satsanga – company of holy people – mutual encouragement, healthy competition
Does night fall break the Brahmacharya?
Night fall is the common term, used for nocturnal emission, wherein the semen that is collected inside, overflows while the person is sleeping. This does not break Brahmacharya.
If retention of semen was the only criteria for celibacy, then a simple vasectomy operation would have made everyone to follow this noble path. But what actually matters, in following Brahmacharya is purity of heart and mind. Nothing else.
Brahmacharya – Basic need for spiritual journey
Spirituality = Yearning towards higher mental status / Deity.
Spirituality is the journey of control of sense organs and directing all physical and mental strength to take mind to higher planes.
Lack of Brahmacharya
• Physical attraction = mind gets more and more attached to the body.
• Mind is made to concentrate more on physical aspects such as appearance, looks
• Lack of control over sense organs
• Lack of control over mind.
• Worsening of anger, frustration, etc
Concept of 7 tissues of Ayurveda
Ayurveda explains that there are seven body tissues.
• Rasa, Rakta Mamsa, Meda, Asthi, Majja Shukra.
• Food – > Digestion
• Essence part of food –(Rasa Dhatu)
• Rasa nourishes Rakta (Blood)
• Rakta Nourishes Mamsa (muscles).
• Mamsa nourishes Meda (Fat)
• Meda -> Asthi (bone tissue)
• Asthi -> Majja (marrow)
• Majja -> Shukra (reproductive system).
Essence part (fruitful part) of seven body tissues = Ojas.
• Ojas is responsible for overall health, energy and liveliness. It is both a mental and physical factor. It is responsible for – Health maintenance and health promotion – Fight disease – prevent disease
• Ojus is the essence part of all the body tissues. Read more about ojas
Brahmacharya is a way to improve Ojas:
• Increased Ojas = Good mental strength (memory, concentration) = better meditation and spiritual gains
• Increased Ojas = Good physical strength – improved immunity, longevity, freedom from diseases, prolonged life expectancy.
• Depleted Ojas = opposite of the above.
Celibacy – basic foundation of spirituality
• Upon this foundation,
– Spiritual practice
– Self analysis
– Self exploration
– Getting rid of anger, greed,
Ego etc are performed to
Achieve highest spiritual realms.
Brahmacharya for all
• Brahmacharya for spiritual seekers
• Brahmacharya for teenagers
• Brahmacharya for people in their 20s
• Brahmacharya for married people
• Brahmacharya for old people
• For good health of society with high levels of ethics.
• The level of practice across people may wary.
Importance of Brahmacharya during teenage
• Helps the teenager to set the line of discipline
• Improves memory, concentration, focus.
• Improves discretional and analytical strength
• Sets the high tone for the rest of his / her life
Importance of Brahmacharya during 20s.
• Helps to chose better partners
• Helps to chose relationships better
• Helps to define purpose of life, better.
• Improved memory, concentration, health and immunity.
Brahmacharya in married people
• Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa – Married people should once in a while seek solace in forests and do meditation for few days time, before returning to mundane life.
• In Hindu custom, it is advised to abstain from sex during festivities, special days such as no-moon day, etc.
Importance in married people
• Improves mutual relationship
• Helps to put love ahead of lust
• Brings more meaning to relationship
• Makes the sexual relationship all the more interesting – due to self induced rules.
Utility of Bramhacharya in Ayurvedic treatment
• Ayurveda advocates abstinence as a way of life up to one’s strength.
• Abstinence is advocated during chronic illness, during
– Snehakarma – oleation
– Panchakarma procedure,
– post- panchakarma period
– Rasayana – rejuvenating, anti aging treatment procedures. (Brahma Rasayana)
Purity, love for truth, self-control, devotion to sacred rituals and Brahmacharya, Freedom from passion, anger, greed, ego, ignorance, jealousy, dejection and intolerance are Satvik qualities (Charaka Samhita Shareera Sthana 4th chapter).
• ब्रह्मचर्य ज्ञान दान मैत्रीकारुण्र् हर्षोपेक्षा प्रशमपरश्च स्र्ाददति||२९|| One should keenly follow the path of Bramacharya, knowledge, charity, friendship, compassion, happiness, detachment and peace. Charaka Sutrasthana 8/29
• स्मृतिमेधार्ुरारोम्र्पुष्टीन्द्रिर्र्शोबलैैः ।अधधका मरदजरसो भर्ायरि स्त्रीर्षु संर्िाैः ॥ ७५ ॥ Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 7th chapter
• Good memory, intelligence, long life, health, nourishment, acuity of sense organs, reputation, strength and slow ageing accrue from disciplined (controlled) indulgence in the women.
• Charaka Samhita, Vimana Sthana, 3rd chapter – during an epidemic disease, one who follows Brahmacharya stands a good chance to withstand the spread of disease.
How Brahmacharya is broken?
• Darshana – looking at women with passionate resolve,
• Sparshan – touching,
• Keli – play,
• Kirtan – praising the qualities of the other sex,
• Guhya-Bhashan – talking in private,
• Sankalpa – determination,
• Adhyavasaya – nearing the other sex with the desire for gratification, intimacy
• Kriyanivritti – sexual act.
Herbs to maintain Brahmacharya
• Bitter and astringent
• Betel Nut -1 gram per day.
• Sandalwood powder – 1 gram per day, along with honey.
• Tulsi – Holy Basil – one leaf per day
• Haritaki – Chebulic myrobalan – Terminalia chebula – fruit rind – one teaspoon per day – for 2 months time, with water or honey.
Rasayana – rejuvenating, anti aging therapy to improve ojas:
• Ancient seers were able to pursue their religious studies, Tapas (Penance), Brahmacharya (celibacy), spiritual knowledge and meditation and also attained heaven.
• Therefore, persons desirous of attaining long life vitality and happiness should practice rejuvenation therapy with complete devotion according to the prescribed procedure.
Brahmacharya as prescription
• In the treatment of Rajayakshma (depleted body tissues, tuberculosis), Brahmacharya is advised. Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 8/187
Research on Brahmacharya
• Experiments on rats have shown that reduced fecundity increases their lifespan.
• In an experiment, castrated men in a mental hospital were shown to live many years more than the normal patients in same environment. Source
• An experiment on male japanese macaque has shown that each ejaculation is costly for the animal, even though this research only considered the calorific content of the ejaculation and not the cost of spermatogenesis itself.
Good books on Bramhacharya
• PRACTICE OF BRAHMACHARYA By SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA. Available for free download here
• Talks with Swami Vivekananda – • Available in amazon – 80 rupees