what is Brahmacharya
Many are the keys to health, and they are all quite essential; but the one thing needful, above all others, is Brahmacharya. Of course, pure air, pure water, and wholesome food do contribute to health. But how can we be healthy if we expend all the health that we acquire? How can we help being paupers if we spend all the money that we earn? There can be no doubt that men and women can never be virile or strong unless they observe true Brahmacharya.
What do we mean by Brahmacharya? We mean by it that men and women should refrain from enjoying each other. That is to say, they should not touch each other with a carnal thought, they should not think of it even in their dreams. Their mutual glances should be free from all suggestion of carnality. The hidden strength that God has given us should be conserved by rigid self-discipline, and transmitted into energy and power,—not merely of body, but also of mind and soul.
Sexual relation overview
But what is the spectacle that we actually see around us? Men and women, old and young, without exception, are seen entangled in the coils of sensuality. Blinded by lust, they lose all sense of right and wrong. I have myself seen even boys and girls behaving like mad men under its fatal influence. I too have behaved likewise under similar influences, and it could not well be otherwise. For the sake of a momentary pleasure, we sacrifice in an instant all the stock of vitality that we have accumulated. The infatuation over, we find ourselves in a miserable condition. The next morning, we feel hopelessly weak and tired, and the mind refuses to do its work. Then, we try to remedy the mischief by taking all sorts of ‘nervine tonics’ and put ourselves under the doctor’s mercy for repairing the waste, and for recovering the capacity for enjoyment. So the days pass and the years, until at length old age comes upon us, and finds us utterly emasculated in body and in mind.
But the law of Nature is just the reverse of this. The older we grow, the keener should grow our intellect also; the longer we live, the greater should be our capacity to transmit the fruits of our accumulated experience to our fellowmen. And such is indeed the case with those who have been true Brahmacharies. They know no fear of death, and they do not forget good even in the hour of death; nor do they indulge in vain complaints. They die with a smile on their lips, and boldly face the day of judgment. They are the true men and women; and of them alone can it be said that they have conserved their health.
We hardly realise the fact that incontinence is the root-cause of all the vanity, anger, fear and jealousy in the world. If our mind is not under our control, if we behave once or more every day more foolishly than even little children, what sins may we not commit consciously or unconsciously? How can we pause to think of the consequences of our actions, however vile or sinful they may be?
But you may ask, “Who has ever seen a true Brahmachary in this sense? If all men should turn Brahmacharies, would not humanity be extinct, and the whole world go to rack and ruin?” We will leave aside the religious aspect of this question, and discuss it simply from the secular point of view. To my mind, these questions only bespeak our weakness and our cowardliness. We have not the strength of will to observe Brahmacharya, and, therefore, set about finding pretexts for evading our duty. The race of true Brahmacharies is by no means extinct; but, if they were to be had merely for the asking, of what value would Brahmacharya be? Thousands of hardy labourers have to go and dig deep into the bowels of the earth in search of diamonds, and at length they get perhaps merely a handful of them out of heaps and heaps of rock. How much greater, then, should be the labour involved in the discovery of the infinitely more precious diamond of a Brahmachary? If the observance of Brahmacharya should mean the ruin of the world, why should we regret it? Are we God that we should be so anxious about its future? He who created it will surely see to its preservation. It is none of our business to enquire if other people practise Brahmacharya or not. When we turn merchant or lawyer or doctor, do we ever pause to consider what the fate of the world would be if all men were to do likewise? The true Brahmachary will, in the long run, discover for himself answers to such questions.