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Brahmacharya (pronounced / br m t rj /; Devanagari: under the tutelage of Brahman) is one of the four stages of life (ashramas) in traditional Indian civilisation as outlined in the Manusm ti. It refers to an educational period of 14±20 years which starts before the age of puberty. During this time the traditional vedic sciences are studied along with the religious texts contained within the Vedas and Upanishads. This stage of life was characterised by the practice of strict celibacy. Among the sramanic traditions, Brahmacharya is the term used for the practice of self-imposed celibacy that is generally considered an essential prerequisite for spiritual practice. A Brahmachari is a male and brahmacharini a female. These characteristics correspond to Western notions of the religious life as practised in monastic settings but in the Brahma Kumaris and Prajapita Brahma Kumaris religion, it is practised by married couples and householders too.

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1 Derivation 2 Usage 3 Yoga 4 Diet and brahmacharya 5 Modern brahmacharis 6 Other interpretations of brahmacharya 7 Swami Vivekananda on Brahmacharya 8 See also 9 Notes

So the word brahmacharya indicates a lifestyle adopted to enable one to attain the ultimate reality. (As opposed to Brahm . a "virtuous" way of life. Hindu scriptures prescribe such practice for householders prior to important religious rites. morality and continence dedicated to learning all aspects of "dharma" that is the "principles righteous living". the deity in the Hindu triad responsible for creation). which means "to follow". the household of the Guru). such as yagnas. in this life-stage. supreme God-head. often in the forests. Vanaprastha. 2. Traditionally. This stage of life is preceded by the child's Upanayanam. such as vrats. At it's most basic level. the absolute. This is often translated as activity. with the firm hope of God realization and the perfect divine happiness. by eight types of sexual contact. One common usage denotes the practice of brahmacharya. charya. or renunciates. However. Brahmacharya is the stage when the young child leads a student life (ideally in the Gurukula. or celibacy. Thus. mode of behaviour. within the Vedic ashram system. a ceremony in which the child is considered to take a second birth. and finally Sannyasa. who often take a life-long vow of brahmacharya. prescribed by Manusmriti for the dvija castes in the Hindu system of life. brahmacharya means abstinence from sexual intercourse. Hindu scriptures state that the practice of brahmacharya promotes mental and spiritual purity.y y 10 References 11 External links [edit] Derivation The word brahmacharya stems literally from two components: 1. . [edit] Usage The term brahmacharya has a number of uses. the practice of brahmacharya is more sustained for most sadhus. Brahma. Brahmacharya. which indicates the practice of sexual continence or celibacy. until ultimately the practitioner experiences complete absence of sexual desire despite the most alluring stimuli. Brahmacharya ashram is the life-stage that occupies the first 20 or 25 years of life. Another common usage denotes the life-stage of brahmacharya.[4] Brahmacharya is the first of the four phases of human life. eternal. with a spiritual teacher under whom he practiced a life of strict celibacy. and it is encouraged for anyone wishing to attain spiritual realization. the brahmach ri (celibate) student went to live. (shortened from brahman). Grihastha. brahmacharya includes greater physical and mental sexual discipline. Ancient Hindu culture divides the human lifespan into 100 years. At more subtle levels. namely. so that their life becomes centered on surrender to Guru and God. or observances.

g.Dharma comprised personal responsibilities towards himself. cold or hot) salt according to taste . In the Hindu scheme of life. based on economical (low-cost) products and healthy (allowing the body to perform at its best capabilities. nature and devotion to God. The diet. besides being an adherent of simple living and nonresistance. later named the "Gandhi-diet" meant a diet which was environmentally acceptable. shirsasana) can help one to achieve Brahmacharya interpreted as celibacy or strict control of sexual desires. According to the Yoga Sutras.g. the end-result or fruit of Brahmacharya practised to perfection is unbounded energy or vitality. celibacy for spiritual aspirants etc. earth. one of the most known brahmacharis. spices and cooked foods. marital fidelity." which can be understood as being applicable as appropriate in different contexts (e. family. humanity and God which included the environment. in more extreme terms (complete celibacy) or in more specific terms in relation to preserving and sublimating male sexual energy rather than losing it through ejaculation. Many yogic techniques. constantly reevaluating and improving it for himself. such as meditation and asanas (e. In yoga.[5] [edit] Yoga The word brahmacharya is also understood broadly in yoga as "sexual continence.[citation needed] [edit] Diet and brahmacharya Brahmacharya is also observed to contain one's sensual desires for food and taste. the term brahmacharya tends to take on a connotation of disciplining the use of and preserving sexual energy. which are said to cultivate the taste buds and pleasure senses of the mind. The diet. when the chela starts his/her studies. consisted of [6][7] : y y y y y y y y y y y 1 litre of cow's milk (or goat's? quote needed) 170 g cereals 85 g leafy vegetables 140 g other vegetables 30 g raw vegetables 40 g ghee 60 g butter and 40 g jaggery or sugar fruits according to one's taste and purse 2 sour limes (juice taken with vegetables or in water..). thus keeping digestion in mind). the brahmacharya life-stage starts between the ages of five and eight. also devoted himself to creating what he believed to be a perfect diet. the foundational commitments for the practice of yoga. on which he worked for 35 years. Brahmacharya is discussed in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as one of the 5 Yamas. society. Most brahmacharis prescribe to avoiding the consumption of meat. Gandhi. as well as materialism.

such as: y y y y generally striving for excellence in all domains of activity and relationship pursuing 'virtue' however defined. the Gandhi diet is again becoming more popular. well conceived and sustainable values (that is. Today. "The chaste brain has tremendous energy and gigantic will power. and experts as Dr.P. or moksha in mind when they pursue strictly disciplined lifestyles. Brahmacharya understood in this sense is similar to the classical Greek concept of arete (excellence) clearing underlying personality conflicts and centering oneself and ones spiritual journey in clear.[9] Many brahmacharis have the final goal of nirvana. with a Body Mass Index of 17. [edit] Other interpretations of brahmacharya Brahmacharya can also be interpreted more generally in a variety of ways. Continence gives wonderful control over mankind. Mahatma Gandhi." . from my brain. P. as it were.The spiritual leaders of men have been very continent and this is what gave them power.7.) in relation to other people generally.[8] The effect of certain food components in stimulating sexual desire may be attributed to their role in sex hormone synthesis. According to tradition. with the sole object of realising God I have practiced that kind of Brahmacharya myself. the great Indian political and spiritual leader. Buddhist and Jain monks take the vow for life. Whole milk and milk products derived from cream (butter. ghee and cheese) are also said to stimulate sexual desire. despite being part of the Gandhi diet. Without chastity there can be no spiritual strength. [edit] Modern brahmacharis Most Hindu. had embraced the vow and lifestyle permanently at age 38. and so a screen has been removed. committing themselves to work of religious service and study. to become aware of more subtle energies and to take one's energies or 'vibration' higher [edit] Swami Vivekananda on Brahmacharya [9] 1." 2. Bose [6] state the diet to be very healthy and to fit perfectly with the (USDA) food-pyramid.Gandhi also kept his weight low. thinking of Brahmacharya as an ongoing practice of 'clearing' analogous to resolving personality complexes and conflicts in psychotherapy) refining one's 'energies' (prana/chi/aura etc. Swami Vivekananda attributed his success and magnificent personality to his perfect observance of brahmacharya. "That power comes to him who observes unbroken Brahmacharya for a period of twelve years. certain foods such as garlic and onion are said to induce sexual desire.

word and deed always and in all conditions is what is called Brahmacharya. they will be able to mix on an equal footing with worldly men without any harm. The Brahmacharin must be pure in thought. But in the beginning 12 years." 5. Chastity in thought. one should keep oneself strictly aloof from the least association with the opposite sex as far as possible." 4. "Every boy should be trained to practice absolute Brahmacharya and then. word and deed. "Obedience to the Guru without questioning. "In order to attain to ideal Brahmacharya one has in the beginning to observe strict rules regarding chastity. "Brahmacharya should be like a burning fire within the veins!" 6. and then alone faith and Shraddha will come. Unchaste imagination is as bad as unchaste action. and strict observance of Brahmacharya this is . For minimum 12 years.3. if they do not keep themself within the barriers of strict rules. they will all go wrong. When spiritual aspirants are established in the ideal of Sannyasa and brahmacharya.