It is beyond all doubt that a life of Celibacy is glorious and marvelous. At the same time, a life of moderation in the household life is equally good and helpful for spiritual growth. Both have their own advantages. You must have great strength to tread the path either way.
A long time ago, the human society was divided into four sections – the community of traders was involved in financial transactions, the community of Teachers was there to teach the code of conduct to the society, the community of warriors was there to ensure law and order and the fourth community of helpers was there to serve the society. This division is practically extinct now. Everyone is a trader with greed for accumulation of wealth by hook or by crook, by begging, borrowing or stealing. Almost all teachers and warriors have also become traders. There is no real teachers and warriors in these days. They want money anyhow. They do not attempt to practice the duties of their respective section. This is the fundamental cause for the downfall of man. If the householder discharges strictly the duties of his stage of life, if he is an ideal householder, there is no necessity for taking renunciation. The swelling up in the number of renouncing persons at the present moment is due to the failure of the householders in the discharge of their duties. The life of an ideal householder is as much difficult and rigid as that of an ideal celibate or the path of Karma Yoga is as much difficult and rigid as that of renunciation.
If a man leads a life of celibacy even in his householder’s life and has copulation occasionally for the sake of progeny only, he can bring forth healthy, intelligent, strong, beautiful and self-sacrificing children. The ascetics and savants of ancient cultures, when married, used to follow this excellent rule very carefully and also used to teach, by practice and precept, how to lead the life of a celibate even as a householder. Our ancestors indeed followed the ascetics in creating progeny for the defence of the motherland and for other ennobling works of the nation. Those who have read Srimad Bhagavata know the lives of Devahuti, daughter of Manu, and her husband Kardama Rishi. Kapila Muni, founder of the Sankhya philosophy, was born of Devahuti after Kardama Rishi visited her once to give her a son. Parasara visited Matsyagandhi to bring forth Sri Vyasa, founder of the Vedanta philosophy.
Great saints of yore were married, but they did not lead the life of passion and lust. Their life as householder was a life of duty only. If it is not possible for you to emulate them to the very letter, you will have to keep their lives before you as landmarks, as an ideal for emulating, and you must tread the path of Truth. Household is not a life of lust and loose living. It is a strict life of selfless service, of Duties, pure and simple, of charity, goodness, kindness, self-help, and all that is good and all that is helpful to humanity. If you can live such a life, the life of a household is as good as the life of a celibate.
What is Celibacy in married life?
Lead a well-regulated, moderate married life. Even as a householder you can be a celibate, by sticking to the principles of your duties, by moderation and regular prayers to God. Marriage should not in any way lead you downwards in your spiritual path. You should keep the spiritual fire ever blazing. You should make your wife also understand the real glory of a spiritual life. If both of you observe Celibacy for sometime and then avoid excesses, she will give birth to robust children who will be the pride of the country. Conserved energy can be used for higher spiritual purposes. Prevention of frequent maternity will preserve your wife’s health too.
Celibacy in family is absolute moderation in sexual intercourse. Householders are allowed to visit their wives once in a month at the proper time without the idea of sexual enjoyment just to get progeny to keep up the line. This is also Celibacy. They are also celibates.Householders should ask their wives also to observe fasts and to do meditation and other practices, which will enable them to keep up this Celibacy. They should train their wives also in the study of the religious books and in diet regulation.
If you want to practice Celibacy, think and feel that your wife is your sister. Destroy the idea of husband and wife and develop the idea of brother and sister. You both will develop pure and strong love, because the impurity of lust will be removed. Talk to your wife always on spiritual matters. Narrate to her religious stories. Sit with her on holidays and read some religious book. Gradually her mind will be changed. She will take interest and delight in spiritual practices. Put this into practice if you want to get rid of the miseries of materialist world and enjoy the eternal bliss of the Soul.
Young men of the present day take their wives always with them when they go out. This practice creates a strong habit in men for having the company of women at all times. A little separation brings a great deal of pain and suffering. Many get a shock when they lose their wives. Further, it becomes very difficult for them to take a vow of celibacy even for a month. Try to be away from your partners in life as much as you can. Talk little with them. Be serious. Do not laugh or joke with them. Go along for an evening walk.
When the wife becomes the mother
As soon as a son is born to you, your wife becomes your mother, because you yourself are born as the son. A son is nothing but the energy of the father. Change the mental attitude. Serve your wife as the World Mother. Start spiritual practice. Destroy passion. Every morning, as soon as you get up from bed, touch your wife’s feet and prostrate before her taking her for the World Mother. Do not feel ashamed. This practice will remove the idea of ‘wife’ from your mind. If you cannot do the prostration physically, at least do it mentally.
As soon as a child is born, man must give up lust. He must observe celibacy. He must treat his wife as his own mother. When once this thought is brought foremost in the mind, how can he, even when the child dies, change his mental outlook and think of his wife with a lustful look? This is a great practice for the householder. If a child is not born, it is not advisable to marry a second wife. Both husband and wife may then pursue the spiritual path jointly, observing celibacy.
Living a life of spiritual partnership
Says Manu: “The first-born child is born of your pious duty and the rest of lust. The sexual act for mere pleasure is not justifiable”. Thirsty aspirants who are treading the path of Self-realization, who are householders above forty years of age, should give up contact with their partners in life. Because, a sexual contact revives all bad ideas and gives them a new lease of life. Marriage should now be considered a God-ordained holy alliance of two souls for the complete divinization of their nature and for realizing the goal of life—God-realization—through a well-ordered life. The husband and the wife should, from now on, observe perfect physical Celibacy, if they want rapid spiritual progress and Self-realization in this very birth. There are no half-way measures in the spiritual path.
How long do you want to remain as a passionate householder? Is it till the end of life? Is there not a nobler mission in life than eating, sleeping and procreating? Do you not want to enjoy the eternal bliss of the Self? You have tasted enough of the mundane pleasures. You have passed the stage of a householder. Now get ready for the stage of celibacy and mental renunciation while remaining in the world. Color your heart first. This will be a noble life indeed. Prepare yourself. Discipline the mind. Real celibacy is mental non-attachment. Real celibacy is destruction of sensual pleasures, ‘I-ness’, ‘mine-ness’, selfishness and love for children, body, wife and property. You need not retire into the Himalayan caves. Attain the above state of mind. Live in the world with family and children amidst peace and plenty. Be in the world, but be out of the world. Give up worldliness. This is real celibacy. This is what I really want. Then you will become a King of kings.
A good wife, a worthy jewel, is the materialization of the Lord’s infinite grace for one and all. Harmony in every walk of life is a rare gift of the Lord to a couple. Each partner should be to the other a true companion in every sense of the term. Family life is a safe rung in the ladder of evolution to Godhead. Follow the scriptural laws and enjoy infinite bliss. True union can be established on the spiritual basis. Both of you should aspire to realize the common goal of life—God-realization. When the couples who live around you vie with one another in materialism, and in their individual capacity, to drag each other down, both of you should compete with each other in advancing rapidly in spiritual practice.
An aspirant writes: “I would like to know whether the same theory regarding the formation of semen and loss of the same holds good in the case of women also. Are they actually affected to the same extent as men?” The question is an important and pertinent one. Yes, indulgence in the sexual act is exhausting to the female system and a drain upon the vitality as in man. The nervous strain it imposes on the system is very great indeed.
The female gonads, the ovaries corresponding to the testes in the males, produce, develop and mature precious, vital force like semen. This is the ovum. Though the woman does not actually lose this out of her body, as in the case of semen in man, yet, due to the sexual act, it leaves the ovaries and is taken up in the process of conception to form the embryo. And one knows only too well what a strain and drain on strength child-bearing is to a woman. Repeated depletion of this force and the strain of childbirth make wrecks of healthy ladies, and works havoc with their strength, beauty and grace as well as their youth and mental power. Eyes lose the luster and sparkle that are indicative of the inner forces.
The intense sensuous excitement of the act shatters the nervous system and causes debility too. Their system being more delicate and high-strung, females are often more affected than men. Women should preserve their precious vital force. The ovum and the hormones secreted by the ovaries are very essential for the maximum physical and mental well-being of women. Women also should observe the vow of celibacy
Householders among women should observe the vow of chastity. They also can practice Yoga. They should do vigorous prayer daily in their houses. Through meditation, they can easily destroy passion, because by nature they are devotional. Many women of yore had done miraculous deeds and shown to the world the power of chastity. Nalayini, by the power of chastity, stopped the rising of the sun to save her husbands’s life. Anasuya turned the Trimurtis—Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara—into babies when they wanted Nirvana Bhiksha. It is through the power of chastity only that she was able to turn the great deities into babies. Savitri brought back the life of Satyavan, her husband, from the noose of Yama, by her chastity. Such is the power of chastity or Celibacy. Women who lead an ideal householder’s life with chastity can also become like Anasuya, Nalayini or Savitri.
This way, man and woman, both can observe celibacy. Be Happy – you can be celibate even if you are household and wish to live a family life.