Yoga of Maharishi Patanjali – The Joy of Brahmacharya
Bramacharya is the fourth Yama, described by Maharishi Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras. The literal definition of the root words, brahma and acarya, is “brahmic behavior.” In fact, Bramacharya is also the first Asrama (stage of life for a Brahman), when a student lives a life of celibacy and purity, while studying the Vedas.
In the words of Swami Sivananda: “Celibacy is to a Yogi what electricity is to an electric bulb. Without celibacy, no spiritual progress is possible. It is a potent weapon, and protect, to wage war against the internal evil forces of lust, anger, and greed. It serves as a gateway for the bliss beyond, and opens the door of liberation.”
How does this apply to the general population, who are not Brahman? How can the average Yoga practitioner live a pure life? Quite simply, Brahmacharya is the path of moderation. There is no need to embrace extremes.
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, described the “Middle Way,” as the middle path between an ascetic lifestyle and one that is concentrated on the world as we know it. Again, this is moderation in our thoughts, words, actions, and non-actions.
You can apply this to relationships, diet, work, religion, and everything else in life. If we consider diet, you may be amused by the findings. current Yogis and Yoginis have, in some situations, banned coffee. Coffee contains caffeine and, consequently, it must be “bad” because our senses are over stimulated.
After a lecture about the spiritual and physical “evils” of coffee, a number of Yoga teacher interns decided to give up their morning cup of coffee. They were truly going by a form of chemical withdrawal the following day. By lunch time, some of them had left to get a coffee, and they said they felt better during the afternoon Yoga session.
To be honest, some of us can give up coffee without much effort, while others will get a headache without coffee, and this is a reaction to physical dependence of caffeine. So, where do we stand on a cup of decaffeinated coffee? Is giving up coffee going to get you a pass to heaven?
So far, we have only discussed moderation in drinking coffee, but let’s expand our thoughts to another subject. If we use our lives in worship, but have poor relationships with others, there is something missing. The people around us are worthy of our attention, and we nevertheless live on Earth.
When you consider extremes, look at our history and the role fundamentalism has played in holding humankind back from progress. The path of moderation is complete of tolerance for those who do not live like us. A Yogic lifestyle requires moderation, and consequently, avoidance of extremes.
© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications