“If one is trained to protect his semen by observing celibacy, naturally he is not attracted by the beauty of a woman. If one can remain a brahmacari, he saves himself so much trouble in material existence. Material existence means enjoying the pleasure of sexual intercourse (yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham [SB 7.9.45]). If one is educated about sex life and is trained to protect his semen, he is saved from the danger of material existence.” [SB 8.12.35]

The topic of celibacy is not a very popular one in our present day promiscuous society. Publicity abounds inducing one to indulge as one pleases, even before marriage and even beyond the so-called antiquated thinking of sex only with the opposite sex. With the advent of the sexual revolution that trumpeted a new era of liberalism just a few decades ago, all norms and boundaries have been lifted and cleared. The motto of the day in regular parlors is “enjoy”, and this implies, enjoy without any inhibitions. And so it is that today the norm for young boys and girls is to indulge in unrestricted sex life even before they reach puberty. This is naturally creating all types of dangerous social discrepancies what to speak of causing health hazards for millions. It was not always so. When I stop and think about celibacy, I naturally analyze my own situation and I thank Lord Krishna for allowing me to remain a celibate for 60 years of this present life. Alas, if only it could have been 65.

As a young boy and a young adolescent, I was favored and protected being brought up in a very religious environment. Both of my parents were pious, my mother in particular being a stout Roman Catholic who attended church on a daily basis. Before taking our meals we would always offer our prayers to Lord Jesus. Before going to bed at night, we would thank the Lord for His blessings. All the family members would honor the yearly one-month lent period by fasting from certain foods and by daily listening to a radio broadcast entitled, in French, ‘Le chapelet en famille’, (chanting on beads with the family members). This program was aired daily on the radio in the evenings where for 15 minutes we would join a priest who would lead the chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names on the rosary. That was all before the advent of television that soon put an end to both the chanting practice and the radio program. As small children we would enact different plays, the most popular one being the “Sunday mass”. I would often play the role of the priest.

One day, during the end of my primary studies, an Oblate priest came to our school and talked about their plan to open a new minor seminary the following year in the French Province of Quebec. I was fascinated to hear about this and envisioned people living together in a large happy family atmosphere. Upon returning home that day I spoke to my mother and expressed my desire to join the seminary. We were a poor family and we didn’t know if this would be possible. We contacted the Oblate priest who made an appointment to visit our home. And so itwas that after the interview, he confirmed us that I could attend the minor seminary, Le Petit Seminaire St. Michel de Rouyn-Noranda.

During those formative years from my secondary studies up to university level, I lived with fellow seminarians in a boarding school atmosphere being surrounded and taught only by Oblate priests. Daily, in the early mornings, we attended spiritual practices and regularly followed retreats where we would take vows of silence, not to speak but only concentrate on reciting the holy rosary. In the classroom, we were following the ancient educational system called “le cour classique” (traditional classical course from France) which had Latin as part of its curriculum. The courses had eight levels which, as I later came to know from my exposure to the Vedic culture, corresponded to many of the traditional gurukula stages: 1) Element, 2) Syntaxe, 3) Methode, 4) Versification, 5) Belle-lettres, 6) Rherotique, 7, Philosophie I and 8) Philosophie II. The other four years of theology, had I continued my studies to become a priest, would have corresponded to the 12 years one normally studies in a gurukula or, as in ancient times, the amount of years needed to study one of the four Vedas.

We were 150 students during that first year in 1960 when I joined as a new intern seminarian. I had just turned 14. By the time I graduated, the number of original students has trickled down to only 8. At the end of the 6th level, I chose to continue my philosophy studies at another minor seminary in Montreal since the courses in Rouyn-Noranda ended at the “Rhetorique” level. It was in this city of Montreal that I remember attending what is known today as an interfaith dialogue that involved sharing our experiences about life with some students of public schools. The topic at hand was “celibacy” and the firm belief expressed by all those students was that it was impossible to live without sex life, especially in the teen years. I remember arguing the point very strongly as I was still a celibate student and remained so till the end of my formal studies at university and a little beyond. It was only after the age of 22 that I became misdirected due to bad association until I was fortunate to come in contact with the devotees of Lord Krishna.

Little did I know then that this method of study in a boarding school was one of the key pillars for training one to become a brahmana. Little did I know that being taught only by priests was also the Vedic standard of receiving traditional education. And little did I know that segregation of boys and girls was actually the standard educational system advocated in the ancient Vedic teachings that protected one from undesirable and unrestricted association.

After becoming a devotee of Krishna and reading the Srimad-Bhagavatam, only then did I come to read how important it is for young boys to retain their semen. Abstention from sex life is not simply a spiritual injunction; it is also intimately connected with physiological and psychological realities of life, most of which remain little or not at all known in present day society. I then became more and more thankful for having received such a sheltered upbringing in my youth.

Biologically, the early years of one’s life, the teen years between 13 and 19, help determine one’s longevity and health. During those critical years of growth, seminal retention or abstinence plays a primary role in the formation of strong tissues, both in terms of muscle and bone structure. The science of Ayurveda teaches one the benefits of celibate life and how the presence of semen, the seventh and most crucial of vital tissues or sapta dhatus, is most important to retain and direct upwards to help purify and solidify the brain tissues. It takes gallons of blood to replace one drop of semen. The retention of semen is directly connected with one’s oja or the personal aura or luster of an individual. Students who follow this practice of celibacy will naturally develop good health and strong memory. One who has practiced abstinence during one’s whole life, or at least who has been regulated in his sex life within married life (brahmacary grhastha) will tend to live a longer and healthier life. The sastras enjoin that for one who is a lifelong brahmacary, naistika brahmacary, the doors to the heavenly planet Satyaloka are open to him and he will be promoted to such an elevated position.

Not only are the benefits immense on the purely biological side, but psychologically, when one avoids becoming entangled in illicit sex, either outside or within married life, one’s power of concentration, retention and one’s determination become very very strong. One can more easily remain fixed on the primary goal of life, that of self-realization and thus make solid spiritual advancement.

The Vedic literatures remind us that the purpose of the human form of life is voluntary practice of austerity, especially in the matter of restraint from illicit sex life. Therefore, when one is a student, one should practice celibacy by controlling the mind and by controlling the senses as enjoined in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:

tapasa brahmacaryena samena ca damena ca

tyagena satya-saucabhyam yamena niyamena va

deha-vag-buddhijam dhira dharmajnah sraddhayanvitah

ksipanty agham mahad api venu-gulmam ivanalah [SB 6.1.13-14]

One who is thus fortunate to receive this type of training and education from an early age is favored by the Supreme Lord Krishna and becomes very strong physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually as well. The Vedic culture created such strong leaders who could give proper guidance and direction in society and thus the citizens would be happy under such qualified leadership. The Gurukula system and the Varnasrama College are the proper mediums to train individuals to become ideal leaders as desired by Srila Prabhupada. We can thus help foster a new generation of enlightened individuals who will help turn the tide of our present Kali Yuga and usher the predicted and much desired new era of Satya Yuga.

From: Volume: 03 Issue: April ’11 –May ’11 Of “Village Life”

One Comment

  1. Haribol! What a blessed life!

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