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The whole material creation is moving under the principle of sex life. In modern civilization, sex life is the focal point for all activities. (SB 1.1.1)
One cannot enter into the kingdom of God unless one is perfectly cleared of all sins. The material sins are products of our desires to lord it over material nature. It is very difficult to get rid of such desires. Women and wealth are very difficult problems for the devotee making progress on the path back to Godhead. Many stalwarts in the devotional line fell victim to these allurements and thus retreated from the path of liberation. But when one is helped by the Lord Himself, the whole process becomes as easy as anything by the divine grace of the Lord.
To become restless in the contact of women and wealth is not an astonishment, because every living being is associated with such things from remote time, practically immemorial, and it takes time to recover from this foreign nature. But if one is engaged in hearing the glories of the Lord, gradually he realizes his real position. By the grace of God such a devotee gets sufficient strength to defend himself from the state of disturbances, and gradually all disturbing elements are eliminated from his mind. (SB 1.2.17)
In the system of varnashrama-dharma, which is the beginning of actual human life, small boys after five years of age are sent to become brahmacaris at the guru’s ashrama, where these things are systematically taught to boys, be they kings sons or sons of ordinary citizens. The training was compulsory, not only to create good citizens of the state, but also to prepare the boy’s future life for spiritual realization. The irresponsible life of sense enjoyment was unknown to children of the followers of the varnashrama system. Without being self-controlled, without being disciplined and without being fully obedient, no one can become successful in following the instructions of the spiritual master, and without doing so, no one is able to go back to Godhead. (SB 1.5.24)
The main purpose of varnashrama-dharma is to awaken knowledge and detachment. The brahmacari-ashrama is the training ground for the prospective candidates. In this ashrama it is instructed that this material world is not actually the home of the living being. The conditioned souls under material bondage are prisoners of matter, and therefore self-realization is the ultimate aim of life. The whole system of varnashrama-dharma is a means to detachment. One who fails to assimilate this spirit of detachment is allowed to enter into family life with the same spirit of detachment. Therefore, one who attains detachment may at once adopt the fourth order, namely, renounced, and thus live on charity only, not to accumulate wealth, but just to keep body and soul together for ultimate realization. Household life is for one who is attached, and the vanaprastha and sannyasa orders of life are for those who are detached from material life. The brahmacari-ashrama is especially meant for training both the attached and detached. (SB 1.9.26)
It is essential that one practice self-control by celibacy without the least desire for sex indulgence. For a man desiring to improve the condition of his existence, sex indulgence is considered suicidal, or even worse. Therefore, to live apart from family life means to become self-controlled in regard to all sense desires, especially sex desires. (SB 2.1.16)
The grossest type of anartha which binds the conditioned soul in material existence is sex desire, and this sex desire gradually develops in the union of the male and female. When the male and female are united, the sex desire is further aggravated by the accumulation of buildings, children, friends, relatives and wealth. When all these are acquired, the conditioned soul becomes overwhelmed by such entanglements, and the false sense of egoism, or the sense of “myself” and “mine” becomes prominent, and the sex desire expands to various political, social, altruistic, philanthropic and many other unwanted engagements, resembling the foam of the sea waves, which becomes very prominent at one time and at the next moment vanishes as quickly as a cloud in the sky. The conditioned soul is encircled by such products, as well as products of sex desire, which is summarized in three headings, namely profit, adoration and distinction. All conditioned souls are mad after these different forms of sex desire, and one shall see for himself how much he has been freed from such material hankerings based primarily on the sex desire. As a person feels his hunger satisfied after eating each morsel of foodstuff, he must similarly be able to see the degree to which he has been freed from sex desire. The sex desire is diminished along with its various forms by the process of bhakti-yoga because bhakti-yoga automatically, by the grace of the Lord, effectively results in knowledge and renunciation, even if the devotee is not materially very well educated. Knowledge means knowing things as they are, and if by deliberation it is found that there are things which are at all unnecessary, naturally the person who has acquired knowledge leaves aside such unwanted things. When the conditioned soul finds by culture of knowledge that material necessities are unwanted things, he becomes detached from such unwanted things. This stage of knowledge is called vairagya or detachment from unwanted things. We have previously discussed that the transcendentalist is required to be self-sufficient and should not beg from the rich blind persons to fulfill the bare necessities of life. Shukadeva Gosvami has suggested some alternatives for the bare necessities of life, namely the problem of eating, sleeping and shelter, but he has not suggested any alternative for sex satisfaction. One who has the sex desire still with him should not all try to accept the renounced order of life. For one who has not attained to this stage, there is no question of a renounced order of life. So by the gradual process of devotional service under the guidance of a proper spiritual master, and following the principles of the Bhagavatam, one must be able to at least to control the gross sex desire before one accepts the renounced order of life factually.
So purification means getting free gradually from sex desire. (SB 2.2.12)
From the Lord’s genitals originate water, semen, generatives, rains and the procreators. His genitals are the cause of a pleasure that counteracts the distress of begetting.
The genitals and the pleasure of begetting counteract the distresses of family encumbrances. One would cease to generate altogether if there were not by the grace of the Lord, a coating, a pleasure-giving substance, on the surface of the generative organs. This substance gives a pleasure so intense that it counteracts fully the distress of family encumbrances. A person is so captivated by this pleasure-giving substance that he is not satisfied by begetting a single child, but increases the number of children, with great risk in regard to maintaining them, simply for this pleasure-giving substance. This pleasure-giving substance is not false, however, because it originates from the transcendental body of the Lord. In other words, the pleasure-giving substance is a reality, but it has taken on an aspect of pervertedness on account of material contamination. In this material world, sex life is the cause of many distresses on account of material contact. Therefore, the sex life in the material world should not be encouraged beyond the necessity. (SB 2.6.8 Text & Purport)
The spiritual world, which consists of three fourths of the Lord’s energy, is situated beyond this material world, and it is especially meant for those who will never be reborn. Others, who are attached to family life and who do not strictly follow celibacy vows, must live within the three material worlds.
The climax of the system of varnashrama-dharma or sanatana-dharma is clearly expressed here in this particular verse of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. The highest benefit that can be awarded to a human being is to train him to be detached from sex life, particularly because it is only due to sex indulgence that the conditioned life of material existence continues birth after birth. Human civilization in which there is no control of sex life is a fourth-class civilization because in such an atmosphere there is no liberation of the soul encaged in the material body. Birth, death, old age and disease are related to the material body, and they have nothing to do with the spirit soul. But as long as the bodily attachment for sensual enjoyment is encouraged, the individual spirit soul is forced to continue the repetition of birth and death on account of the material body, which is compared to garments, subjected to the law of deterioration.
In order to award the highest benefit of human life, the varnashrama system trains the follower to adopt the vow of celibacy beginning from the order of brahmacari. The brahmacari life is for students who are educated to follow strictly the vow of celibacy. Youngsters who have had no taste of sex life can easily follow the vow of celibacy, and once fixed in the principle of such a life, one can very easily continue to the highest perfectional stage, attaining the kingdom of the three-fourths energy of the Lord. It is already explained that in the cosmos of three-fourths energy of the Lord there is neither death nor fear, and one is full of the blissful life of happiness and knowledge. A householder attached to family life can easily give up such a life of sex indulgence if he has been trained in the principles of the life of a brahmacari. A householder is recommended to quit home at the end of fifty years (pancashordhvam vanam vrajet) and live a life in the forest; then, being fully detached from family affection, he may accept the order of renunciation as a sannyasi fully engaged in the service of the Lard. Any form of religious principles in which the followers are trained to pursue the vow of celibacy is good for the human being because only those who are trained in that way can end the miserable life of material existence. The principles of nirvana, as recommended by Lord Buddha, are also meant for ending the miserable life of material existence. And this process, in the highest degree, is recommended here in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, with clear perception of ideal perfection, although basically there is no difference between the process of Buddhists, Shankarites and Vaishnavites. For promotion to the highest status of perfection, namely freedom from birth and death, anxiety and fearfulness, not one of these processes allows the follower to break the vow of celibacy.
The householders and persons who have deliberately broken the vow of celibacy cannot enter into the kingdom of deathlessness. The pious householders or the fallen yogis or the fallen transcendentalists can be promoted to the higher planets within the material world (one fourth of the energy of the Lord), but they will fail to enter into the kingdom of deathlessness. Abrihad-vratas are those who have broken the vow of celibacy. The vanaprasthas, or those retired from family life, and the sannyasis, or renounced persons, cannot break the vow of celibacy if they want success in the process. The brahmacaris, vanaprasthas and sannyasis do not intend to take rebirth (apraja), nor are they meant for secretly indulging in sex life. Such a fall down by the spiritualist may be compensated by another chance for human life in good families of learned brahmanas or of rich merchants for another term of elevation, but the best thing is to attain the highest perfection of deathlessness as soon as the human form of life is attained; otherwise the whole policy of human life will prove to be a total failure. Lord Chaitanya was very strict in advising His followers in this matter of celibacy. For a transcendentalist, therefore, who at all wants to be promoted to the kingdom beyond material miseries, it is worse than suicide to deliberately indulge in sex life, especially in the renounced order of life. Sex life in the renounced order of life is the most perverted form of religious life, and such a misguided person can only be saved if, by chance, he meets a pure devotee. (SB 2.6.20 Text & Purport)
To exhibit His personal ways of austerity and penance, He appeared in twin forms as Narayana and Nara in the womb of Murti, the wife of Dharma and the daughter of Daksha. Celestial beauties, the companions of Cupid, went to try to break His vows, but they were unsuccessful, for they saw that many beauties like them were emanating from Him, the Personality of Godhead.
The Lord, being the source of everything that be, is the origin of all austerities and penances also. Great vows of austerity are undertaken by sages to achieve success in self-realization. Human life is meant for such tapasya, with the great vow of celibacy, or brahmacarya. In the rigid life of tapasya, there is no place for the association of women. And because human life is meant for tapasya for self-realization, factual human civilization, as conceived by the system of sanatana-dharma or the school of four castes and four orders of life, prescribes rigid dissociation from woman in three stages of life. In the order of gradual cultural development, one’s life may be divided into four divisions: celibacy, household life, retirement and renunciation. During the first stage of life, up to twenty-five years of age, a man may be trained as a brahmacari under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master just to understand that woman is the real binding force in material existence. If one wants to get freedom from the material bondage of conditional life, he must get free from the attraction for the form of a woman. Woman, or the fair sex, is the enchanting principle for the living entities, and the male form, especially in the human being, is meant for self-realization. The whole world is moving under the spell of womanly attraction, and as soon as a man becomes united with a woman, he at once becomes a victim of material bondage under a tight knot. The desires for lording it over the material world, under the intoxication of a false sense of lordship, specifically begin just after the man’s unification with a woman. The desires for acquiring a house, possessing land, having children and becoming prominent in society, the affection for community and the place of birth, and the hankering for wealth, which are all like phantasmagoria or illusory dreams, encumber a human being, and he is thus impeded in his progress toward self-realization, the real aim of life. The brahmacari, or a boy from the age of five years, especially from the higher castes, namely from the scholarly parents (the brahmanas), the administrative parents (the kshatriyas), or the mercantile or productive parents (the vaishyas), is trained until twenty-five years of age under the care of a bona fide guru or teacher, and under strict observance of discipline he comes to understand the values of life along with taking specific training for a livelihood. The brahmacari is then allowed to go home and enter householder life and get married to a suitable woman. But there are many brahmacaris who do not go home to become householders but continue the life of naishthika-brahmacaris, without any connection with women. They accept the order of sannyasa, or the renounced order of life, knowing well that combination with women is an unnecessary burden that checks self-realization. Since sex desire is very strong at a certain stage of life, the guru may allow the brahmacari to marry; this license is given to a brahmacari who is unable to continue the way of naishthika-brahmacarya, and such discriminations are possible for the bona fide guru. A program of so-called family planning is needed. The householder who associates with woman under scriptural restrictions after a thorough training of brahmacarya cannot be a householder like cats and dogs. Such a householder, after fifty years of age, would retire from the association of women as a vanaprastha to be trained to live alone without the association of woman. When the practice is complete, the same retired householder becomes a sannyasi, strictly separate from woman, even from his married wife. Studying the whole scheme of disassociation from women, it appears that a woman is a stumbling block for self-realization. (SB 2.7.6 Text & Purport)
Those who are serious about gaining release from material bondage should not be entangled in the false relationship of family bondage. (SB 3.12.5)
The human being is a social animal, and his unrestricted mixing with the fair sex leads to downfall. Such social freedom of man and woman, especially among the younger section, is certainly a great stumbling block on the path of spiritual progress. Material bondage is due only to sexual bondage, and therefore unrestricted association of man and woman is surely a great impediment. (SB 3.12.28)
During student life the brahmacaris were given full instructions about the importance of the human form of life. Thus the basic education was designed to encourage the student in becoming free from family encumbrances. Only students unable to accept such a vow in life were allowed to go home and marry a suitable wife. Otherwise, the student would remain a perfect brahmacari, observing complete abstinence from sex for his whole life. It all depended on the quality of the student’s training. (SB 3.12.42)
When a man or woman is afflicted by the lust of sex desire, it is to be understood as sinful contamination. (SB 3.14.16)
The three perfections of liberation are religiosity, economic development and sense gratification; for a conditioned soul, the wife is considered to be the source of liberation because she offers her service to the husband for his ultimate liberation. Conditional material existence is based on sense gratification, and if someone has the good fortune to get a good wife, he is helped by the wife in all respects. If one is disturbed in his conditional life, he becomes more and more entangled in material contamination. A faithful wife is supposed to co-operate with her husband in fulfilling all material desires so that he can then become comfortable and execute spiritual activities for the perfection of life. If, however, the husband is progressive in spiritual advancement, the wife undoubtedly shares in his activities, and thus both the wife and the husband profit in spiritual perfection. It is essential, therefore, that girls as well as boys be trained to discharge spiritual duties so that at the time of co-operation both will be benefited. The training of the boy is brahmacarya, and the training of the girl is chastity. A faithful wife and spiritually trained brahmacari are a good combination of advancement of the human mission. (SB 3.14.17)
Of the four orders of human society—the student or brahmacari order, the householder, or grihastha order, the retired or vanaprastha order, and the renounced, or sannyasa order—the householder is on the safe side. The bodily senses are considered plunderers of the fort of the body. The wife is supposed to be the commander of the fort, and therefore whenever there is an attack on the body by the senses, it is the wife who protects the body from being smashed. The sex demand is inevitable for everyone, but one who has a fixed wife is saved from the onslaught of the sense enemies. A man who possesses a good wife does not create a disturbance in society by corrupting virgin girls.
Without a fixed wife, a man becomes a debauchee of the first order and is a nuisance in society—unless he is a trained brahmacari, vanaprastha or sannyasi. Unless there is rigid and systematic training of the brahmacari by the expert spiritual master, and unless the student is obedient, it is sure that the so-called brahmacari will fall prey to the attack of sex. There are so many instances of fall down, even for great yogis like Vishvamitra. A grihastha is saved, however, because of his faithful wife. Sex life is the cause of material bondage, and therefore it is prohibited in three ashramas and is allowed only in the grihastha-ashrama. The grihastha is responsible for producing first-quality brahmacaris, vanaprasthas and sannyasis. (SB 3.14.20)
Sex life is the background of material existence. Here also it is repeated that demons are very fond of sex life. The more one is free from the desires for sex, the more he is promoted to the level of the demigods; the more one is inclined to enjoy sex, the more he is degraded to the level of demoniac life. (SB 3.20.23)
Brahmacarya (following the rules and regulations of celibacy) is required for perfection of self-realization and mystic power. (SB 3.21.4)