What Is Brahmacharya?
Sadhguru demystifies brahmacharya, revealing why monkhood is important, and what makes it an integral part of every spiritual path.
|A Taste of the Divine
|Why Brahmacharya Is Important
|Why Brahmacharis Are Necessary
|Crossing the Physical Dimension
|What Does the Path of Brahmacharya Involve?
|Admitting Your Madness
People may think a brahmachari is making a great sacrifice and is being denied life. But it is not so at all. If someone is a brahmachari only by dress, it is true that life is torture. But for a person who is truly walking the path of the divine, the petty pleasures that the world offers will become totally meaningless. Once you enjoy the inner pleasures of your being, the external pleasures become totally meaningless.
For example, let’s say someone wants to climb Mount Everest. He prepares for years, probably for a lifetime, and then he is in the harshest climate, denying himself every pleasure of life, of comfort, family, society, and everything that people normally want to have. But do you really believe he is denying himself? Or is he making another possibility, which you can never imagine, real in his life? Anyone who has created anything worthwhile in their lives have naturally denied themselves a lot of simple pleasures that other people are having. Maybe you are not eating well, sleeping well, taking your afternoon nap, sitting with your wife or husband, or having dinner with the family. But you deny yourself everything because you want to create something. That is true with every person who has created something worthwhile in their life. The same is true with brahmacharya. A brahmachari is on the path of the ultimate. Because of that, their attention is not diverted to other things that people think are valuable.
A Taste of the Divine
My work as a Guru is just to give you a taste of that ultimate, so that your life goes into a tizzy and you want to go for it. You have had a taste, and now you cannot stop. You want to know the power, the beauty and the joy of it. Brahmacharis are people who have had a taste of that, and now they want all of it. They do not care whether they eat or not. They do not care whether they drink, smoke, and enjoy other simple physical pleasures that other people are addicted to. They have had a taste of the ultimate, and now they want it all. They will not settle for anything less.
If people sleep through their life in the name of comfort and security, they are wasting their life. They must go all the way. This is not my desire; it is their desire also. Today you have a desire to fulfill something, but if that happens, you want the next one, and the next one, and the next one. If you carefully look at your desiring process, you will see that you are not willing to settle for anything limited. There is something within you which does not like boundaries. There is something within you which is always longing for the ultimate. It is not my idea or philosophy that you should seek the ultimate. You are seeking the ultimate in unconscious ways anyway. If you seek in unconscious ways, you will always remain frustrated and the chances of finding it are remote. It is better to seek what you want in a conscious and focused way. Brahmacharis are those people who are seeking what you are seeking, but they are seeking it one hundred percent consciously.
In that sense, everyone should become a brahmachari – not necessarily in terms of lifestyle, but internally. Everyone should be on the path of the divine. Brahmacharya does not just mean celibacy. That is just one of the aspects that have been taken up as a supportive system. To become a brahmachari means you are ecstatic by your own nature. You can be married and still be a brahmachari. It is possible because you are joyful by your own nature instead of trying to extract joy from your husband or wife. This is how it should be. The whole world should be brahmacharis. Everyone should be joyful by their own nature. If two people come together, it should be a sharing of joy, not extraction of joy from each other.
Why Brahmacharya Is Important
If one is just seeking realization at the end of his life, it could be taken care of in many different ways. I can fix a date with you for that day! But if one wants to explore, but become a useful instrument in making it happen to many other people, then brahmacharya becomes significant. Brahmacharies are an investment for the future, to keep spirituality in its pristine purity and transmit it from generation to generation. A small, core group of people are needed. They are initiated in a particular way which turns their energies in a completely different direction. Everyone need not take that step, nor will we take everyone because it is not necessary, and neither can they put in the sadhana that it demands.
All of us have eaten mangoes, but how many of us have planted mango trees, made them grow, and then eaten mangoes? Most people have eaten mangoes because someone else planted the mango trees. In every society, out of a thousand people, at least ten people have to take care to plant mango trees. Similarly, a few people have to take the path of brahmacharya. People who are willing to dedicate themselves to others’ wellbeing are needed in society. If there is no one thinking about others’ wellbeing, that society is definitely heading for ruin. That is what has happened to society right now. There are very few people thinking of everyone's wellbeing.
Why Brahmacharis Are Necessary
Essentially, this human mechanism is a certain energy system. You can keep it with many openings and transact with the world in a certain way, or you can make this into a close-circuit system so that it becomes very integrated. A rocket goes up because it is firing only on one side. If it fires on all the sides, it is not going to go anywhere; it will just dissipate itself. Or it will go somewhere without direction and fall apart. What we are trying to make out of a brahmachari is just that they fire only on one side. One that fires only on one side is going to go straight up and there is a particular purpose to creating such a system.
When you have a close-circuit system like that, it becomes a powerful instrument. This instrument could be deployed in so many different ways. It is a weapon with which you can bomb the world with a spiritual process.
Monks have been there in every culture because wherever there was a genuine enlightened process, they always wanted some mechanisms to be wired in such a way that they were completely integrated systems, without any outside transaction. Those systems are needed if you want to shake the world in a certain way, create certain processes, and access certain things. If you want to put a satellite beyond the atmosphere, you need a rocket. If you want to just fly around in the atmosphere, an airplane will do. That is the difference. When you are planning and projecting to do something which is beyond certain limitations, brahmacharis become necessary.
If you get into a rocket, the idea is to break all existing limitations and go to another dimension. It needs an enormous amount of fuel. And as the rocket is going up, it is dropping weight. If it carried the same weight throughout, it would never have enough fuel to go all the way.
Let us say, you have to go to the office, you could do it in a TVS Moped. Or you could do it in a car, but you would need more fuel. Or you could do it in a helicopter which uses much more fuel. But now if you want to use a rocket, it consumes thousands of times more fuel before it even leaves the ground. But you do not use a rocket to go to your office. It is meant to break all the existing limitations and go to another dimension.
Similarly, to just go to office, come home, and crib about this and that every day, you need a certain level of energy. If you want to not just go to Brahman, but use Brahman as a walkway to the Divine, you need lots of energy. When you need that kind of energy, you need to look at what the most energy-dissipating processes in your life are. All those things need to be contained. And as you go, you must drop as much weight as you can.
There is a story in the Yogic lore that illustrates this. Parvati was a princess, but she wanted to marry Shiva. Shiva dismissed her and said, “Get some man. All you need is a man.” She said, “No, I want to woo you.” She knew that dressing up and flaunting herself in front of him is not going to work. She understood that it needs intensity of sadhana. So, she sat there. He looked at her and dismissed her, because her level of sadhana – “Aum Namah Shivaya” – does not mean a thing to him.
She realized, “He is laughing at me because I am concerned about my body, because I cover myself and eat food.” So, she gave up food. She only ate two leaves a day to sustain the body, and used another two leaves to cover herself. So, they call her “Dwiparna” – two leaves.
Shiva still looked unimpressed. Then Parvati dropped one leaf. She started eating only one leaf and, being a woman, used another one to cover herself. Then she was called “Ekaparna” – one leaf. He was still unimpressed. So, she stopped eating altogether and removed this one leaf she had covered herself with. She sat naked and without food, simply absorbed. Then she was called Aparna – without leaf. Nothing to cover, nothing to sustain, all cycles broken. This is brahmacharya.
Crossing the Physical Dimension
Brahmacharya means to power yourself in such a way that all cycles are broken – to such an extent that the biology and other things around you cannot hold you down. Everything that dissipates energy is broken. It is like the burning of fuel in a rocket – all energy that is being created is going in one direction. That is why it goes up the way it does. If the energy went in five different directions, the rocket would not go anywhere. It is the same with you. If everything becomes unidirectional, then you will go somewhere, but if it goes in five different destinations, it is obviously not interested in going anywhere.
There are stories in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, where if you try to kill one man, and one drop of his blood falls, one more guy comes up. If a hundred drops fall, a hundred guys come up. They are talking about a human being who has made himself so potent that every drop of his blood functions like semen. Every drop that falls can recreate another being. This is the significance of this dimension of life. If a single cell can make another human being, it must have immense potential. Something that is that potent could be transformed into great fuel if you want to shoot up and go beyond the physical dimension, which is a power by itself. If you want to cross the physical dimension, you need to engage your body in a completely different way.
What Does the Path of Brahmacharya Involve?
Question: What does the path of brahmacharya involve? And how can one know if one is capable of living like that?
Sadhguru: Brahmacharya means to be like the breeze – that is, you do not stick to anything. The breeze is going everywhere, but we do not know where it is coming from right now. Brahmacharya means simply being life – to live the way you were born – alone. Even if your mother happened to bear twins, you were still born alone. Brahmacharya means to be in a very close association with the Divine and to live like that.
Brahmacharya is not a great step. It is just to exist as life is. Marriage is a great step – you are trying to do something very big! At least, people believe so. Brahmacharya means you allowed your life to happen just as the Creator made you; you do not make anything out of it. There is no step. If you do not do anything, you are a brahmachari. The sadhana and other disciplines are only to help a brahmachari stay like that because once you pick up material from this planet, the qualities of this planet will enter you and try to rule you. One basic quality is inertia. Even to wake up in the morning, there is inertia. To be on the path of the Divine means not to give in to the way of the earth. Another quality of earth is compulsive movement. If you pick up a piece of this earth, you become like the earth. It tries to take you in circles. Cyclical movement is the basis of everything that you call as physical in the universe. If you move in a circle, however large the circle is, you always come back. Those who want to be on a straight path, for them, it is the path of the Divine, not the planetary trajectory. One takes brahmacharya as a path and a discipline instead of as a natural process, so that they do not get into the cyclical motion of life. They do not want to succumb to this.
If you are very conscious, brahmacharya involves nothing; it is very simple. You wake up every day in the morning like you were just born, and you go to sleep like you would die. In between, you do whatever is useful to everyone, because you have still not reached that place where you can exist without activity. You need to do something. The idea is that the activity should never be about you, because if it is, you will pile up entanglement. So, you constantly do activity which is not about you. You do so much activity that when you go to bed, you do not have a moment – you fall asleep like you are dead. Then you wake up before the birds and get busy. The rest will be taken care of by grace.
You need not do too much, because we invest a certain amount of energy to “manufacture” a brahmachari. Actually, it should not be necessary. If they simply did not do anything, they would be there, but the ways of the earth rule from within because after all, you cannot keep your body down. It has a huge karmic pile of memory, so it has its tendencies. These tendencies are not natural to your being, but this vehicle – the body – tends to go like this. Suppose you are driving a car which has a small alignment problem. You have to straighten it; otherwise it will keep pulling one way. The body also has an alignment problem. Once it bends or turns, it is just a question of time before it completes the circle.
But because it is taking a certain period of time and one’s awareness is not in any great place, every time you pass the same spot it looks like a new place. If you sit somewhere in the afternoon, the whole place looks in one way. If you sit there during sunset, it looks different. If you come at midnight, it looks different. You may think you have come to a different place every time, but it is just a question of time, season, and short memory.
Admitting Your Madness
What you have is a dis-aligned vehicle or a vehicle which is attuned to go in circular motion. Whether you are doing a twelve-year cycle or a three-month cycle, the difference is only a question of percentages of madness. If you are doing a three-month cycle, everyone can see that you are mad. If you are doing twelve-year cycles, people do not make out, but if you are sincere, you know you are crazy. The only thing is you can fool the world into thinking you are okay. You must sincerely look at yourself – do not worry about the social impact, you do not have to admit it to anyone – within yourself, are you not quite insane? I want you to sincerely look at this. If you are sincere and straight about yourself, you know you are quite off.
If you have become so much of a social being that how you look is all that matters to you and how you are does not matter, then you can go on for many lifetimes. If how you are matters to you, if your being – and not what someone thinks about you – has become very important for you, if it is not another person’s opinion which is crafting your life but the nature of your being, then you will naturally be on the path of the Divine.