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Retention Of Semen Benefits In Ayurveda – Overcoming Lust

Ayurveda tells us that the food we eat gets converted into sapta dhatus, the seven major constitutive elements of the human body: chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, and semen. Of these, semen is considered the essence of essences. Retention of semen creates the eighth dhatu, ojas, in our body. Ojas acts as the spiritual force that shapes our personality. For this reason, it has been said: Retention of semen is life; its loss is death; therefore, endeavor to conserve semen with great care.

To be successful, brahmacharya must involve the control of all sense organs. This implies its practice in thought, word, and deed — at mental, intellectual, and physical levels. But, it is the mind that creates the mould called the body with the purpose of experiencing the results of past actions stored in it as samskaras and vasanas, desires. Therefore, it is important to understand the nature of the mind for proper practice of brahmacharya.

The intellect and mind of non-illumined souls have impure samskaras. In consequence, their perceptions, conclusions, and thoughts are often erroneous, and this leads them into harmful acts. Impure intellects lack proper discernment. Similarly, a mind full of unhealthy impressions carried forward from previous lives is unsteady and tends to think perversely. Such minds and intellects have little control over the senses. The senses, in turn, keep pouring all varieties of information into the mind, making it fickler. This further confuses the intellect. In this way a vicious cycle is created.

What is the main cause of all this? It is avidya, ignorance, which manifests as kama, desire. And desire leads to selfish action. For all practical purposes avidya is nothing but the body-idea or sexidea. The word ‘kama’, though meaning desire in general, has come to be particularly identified with lust. This is because, of all desires, the sexual is the most powerful, the forerunner of other negative states like anger and delusion, and is particularly difficult to transcend.

Sri Krishna points out the substratum of desire: ‘The organs, mind, and intellect are said to be its abode. This one [kama] diversely deludes the embodied being veiling knowledge with the help of these.’ (Bhagavad Gita, 3.40). The sense organs, which are linked to the mind, run after objects of desire. The mind enjoys sense objects through the sense organs. But even when the sense organs are not working, mind has the capacity to imagine, calling back from memory — either in waking or in dream state — the input provided by the sense organs, with the aim of vicariously enjoying sense objects. Therefore, both sense organs and mind are seats of desire. But what does Sri Krishna mean when he says that the buddhi, intellect, is also the seat of desire and anger?

Intellect is that function of the mind which arrives at firm conclusions and decisions which later take the form of beliefs and convictions which prompt our thoughts and actions. …When one, through experience, reason or by false belief, is convinced that indulging in sex is good, that it conduces to health, peace and happiness, that it is the only true goal of life and that there is nothing wrong in fulfilling one’s lustful desires by whichever means, then lust is firmly established in its deepest, surest seat in the intellect. (Editorial, ‘Brahmacharya’, The Vedanta Kesari, 87/6 (June 2000), 214–15.)

Source – excerpts from article titled ‘Brahmacharya and Its Practice’ by Swami Yukteshananda published in Prabuddha Bharata January 2010 issue.