Four Ashrams of Vedic life were based on an individual’s Karma and Dharma. Every doctrine of ancient India, carved out by the ancient saints, is based on scientific and rational reasoning.
However, to put them to use, they needed to be socially embedded. Hence methods like the Ashram system were included in the Vedic society.
The average life of an Indian was considered to be 100 years. Based on this, there were four ashrams of Vedic life- Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, and Sannyasa. The goal of each stage or ashram was to fulfill the ideals on which these stages were divided.
According to the four ashrams of life, a man is expected to lead his life in 4 stages:
This stage is the first one, and it begins at the age of 20 and extends up to 25 years. In this stage, a man leads the life of a student and practices celibacy. The motto of this phase is to train a man to discipline himself.
At this point, man needs to pay heed to his social and family life. This phase begins at 25 and lasts till 60 years. Grihastha is a crucial stage in one’s life where man must balance familial and social duties. He is married and manages his household and, at the same time, looks after the needs of the world outside. He has to discharge the duties of a son, brother, husband, father, and community member.
This is the step to Partial renunciation. This stage ushers in a man’s life at 50 and lasts till he is 74. His children are grown up, and he slowly moves away from the material ties. It is his age for retirement, and he starts walking on a path that will lead him to the Divine.
Sanyasa: The last stage in his life comes when he completely snaps off his worldly ties. This phase begins at 74 and lasts till he dies. He is completely free from the emotional attachments. He becomes an ascetic.
In Sanskrit, Brahma means ‘higher awareness,’ and acharya means ‘to stay in. In a discourse on brahmacharya, Anandmurti Gurumaa—the new-age teacher said to have attained enlightenment at age 6 in Amritsar—says brahmacharya is commonly understood as complete control over libido.
In Vedic times, relationships between men and women conducted in righteousness and dharma were seen as ‘yagna’—offering oblations to a sacred fire. Unlike Catholicism, the Vedas do not consider sex a sin.
In yoga and tantra, brahmacharya means perfection in retaining the Bindu—the core and being in a constant, positive state and not merely sexual abstention—it’s a means to create strength, power, heat vitality, resistance, and endurance.
The Gurumaa points out that Lord Krishna had many consorts yet was known as the eternal brahmacharya, while the celibate Hanuman abjured all contact with women.
Holistic development of the personality is why the Vedas ask men to wait until maturity to understand and integrate sexual experiences into life. Between the ages of eight and twenty-five, one immersed in Vedic studies is known as a brahmachari.
After marriage, he has sex with his wife but is still considered a brahmachari. Then at age 50, the individual adopts the principle of Hari Om Tat Sat—or celibacy.
Tantric sex, a widely misunderstood practice, has three purposes. Those who seek superconsciousness through sex are considered yogis, those who do it for pleasure are humans, and those who have sex to have children are considered animals.
The sannyasin says that many find it difficult to be a brahmachari because “sexual abstention definitely affects the quality and structure of awareness.”
Those who cling to celibacy become riven with guilt if they breach the rule, even once. Brahmacharya should be understood both physiologically and psychologically. Hormones influence libido.
For the would-be brahmachari, awareness is the key—what sparks off the brain to release hormones? The libidinal experience has to be observed from beginning to end.
How does it affect the state of mind? Gurumaa recounts meeting someone years ago who had stayed unmarried. All he could think of was sex. “He was constantly fighting with himself. So one must live the life of a householder correctly; that is the first way to brahmacharya,” says the sannyasin.
With a dispassionate mind, the brahmachari merges with the supreme consciousness.
The tantric attitude of sex as passionlessness, reverential, and worshipful to the Supreme can be achieved only by gaining mastery over yogic kriyas, kumbhaka—breath control; uddiyana—the abdominal lock in hatha yoga and vajroli—the thunderbolt pose that awakens and redirects sexual energy— ajroli, sahajoli, and amaroli specifically sublimate sexual energy into Ojas (vitality) and kundalini shakti.
Without this, brahmacharya is mere self-deception.
Swami Vivekananda’s views on Brahmacharya
According to Swami Vivekananda, those who strictly follow Brahmacharya, they remember things quickly, that is, after reading it once. But you don’t have to keep yourself physically away from work.
If you have lustful thoughts going on in your mind and you are following celibacy forcefully, then doing so can cause harm instead of benefit. Celibacy requires that a person, first of all, keep his senses under control.
There is no self-restraint even in keeping. He is a complete slave of sex and a puppet in its hands. He reproduces like rabbits and gives birth to innumerable children to increase the number of monks in the world.
Lions, elephants, bulls and other powerful animals have more self-control than humans. Lions mate only once a year.
Man only violates the laws of nature. As a result, he suffers from countless diseases. He told himself in this matter that in the absence of animals, a flower is not a flower. In the absence of water, a stream is not a stream,
Similarly, in the absence of celibacy, a man is not a man. Food, sleep, fear and sex – these are common to both animals and humans. Religion-conscience and thought-power only show the uniqueness of man from animals.
Attainment of knowledge and thought is possible only by preservation of semen. If these specific qualities are not available in a person
has been brought down even below the level of Just like a king is not a king in the absence of treasury, subjects and army: the fragrance should be counted in reality only in the animal itself. Now Kama, which is the source of all pleasures in this world,
ends, then all worldly bonds, whose shelter is the mind, end. Even the most virtuous poison is no poison compared to sex. The former contaminates a body.