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Is Hindu Brahmacharya or Celibacy a Hypocrisy?

Talk about Brahmacharya and the first thing that comes to mind is sex. A Brahmachari abstains from all types of sexual intercourse. Brahmacharya is search of Brahman – the Supreme Being that pervades in all animate and inanimate. Is the path to Brahman only open to Bramacharis. Will the knowledge of Brahman be denied to a person who has had sex or erotic imagination?

But one the greatest sanyasins in the Santana Dharma (Hinduism) tradition Yajnavalkaya had two wives – Gargi and Maitri.

Take a list of all the great sages of Santana Dharma and one will find that most of them were married and had a family life. Some indulged in sexual intercourse to produce heirs. In fact ‘Tatvamasi’ the core Hindu philosophy was taught by Sage Uddalaka to his son. On a careful analysis of the Hindu scriptures – mainly the Upanishads, the Puranas and the epics – one will realize that married life or indulging in sex was never an impediment in knowing Brahman.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna mentions about King Janaka as a person who has attained self realization (Chapter 3, Verse 20). King Janaka was not a Brahmachari. There are numerous other instances in Hindu Scriptures of householders imparting the knowledge of Brahman. The great Sanatana Dharma tradition never denied family life to Sages.

Then how did this misconception arise that Sanyasins should be Brahmacahris. We should thank Buddha for that chiefly. By leaving his wife, Buddha created this misconception which was later adapted by Hindu saints including Sri Shankaracharya.

"Brahmacharya or spotless chastity is the best of all penances; a celibate of such spotless chastity is not a human being, but god... To the celibate who conserves the semen with great efforts, what is there unattainable in this world ? By the power of the composure of the semen, one will become just like Myself." (Sri Shankaracharya)

At one point of time Hinduism was almost devoured by Buddhism. Although Hinduism revived due to its inner strength, certain aspects of Buddhism like celibacy were adapted into it by the sages.

It is also interesting to note that the entire concept of Brahmacharya is male dominated. The female is left out to a greater extent. The sexual urges of a woman is sidelined when setting the guidelines for Brahmacharya. Can anyone think about a world without Shakti?

All this concept of Brahmacharya is nothing but running away from reality and most of the times a show to cheat people and at other times resulting from ignorance. Sexual urge is a natural urge just like hunger. All the frustrations and wrong doing is the result of purposefully stopping that natural urge. And the end result is perversion.

There is nothing to attain by acting against natural urges. All we need to do is to remove the dust that is covering the Brahman present in us. And the best cleaning agent is knowledge which is readily available to all.