Bhartrihari says: “For food, I have what begging brings and that too tasteless and once a day; for bed, the earth; and for attendant, the body itself; for dress, I have worn out blanket made up of hundred patches; still alas! lust does not leave me.”
A gentleman who had given up smoking, drinking, though married, wants to practice Brahmacharya. His wife has no objection, but he himself finds hard this discipline, especially the trouble seems to be in the control of sight. “The street is my chief enemy,” he said to me recently. This means that the eyes are attracted to well-dressed ladies. An aspirant says: “While I practiced vigorously Pranayama, Japa and meditation, my mind was not polluted even if I saw half-nude young ladies. But when I left the practice I was not able to control my sight and I was attracted by well-dressed ladies in the streets and half-nude pictures that are pasted in front of picture houses. The sea beach and Mall Road are my enemies.”
Jerome writes to the virgin Eustochium about his struggle for abstinence and the power of lust: “Oh, how many times when in the desert, in the vast solitude which, burnt by heat of the sun, offers but a horrible dwelling to monks, I imagined among the delights of Rome: I was alone. My limbs were covered by a wretched sack, and my skin as black as an Ethiopian’s. Every day I wept and groaned, and if I was unwillingly overcome by sleep, my lean body lay on the bare earth. I say nothing of my food and drink, for in the desert even invalids had no drink but cold water. Well, I who out of fear of hell had condemned myself to this prison, companion of scorpions and wild beasts, often seemed in imagination among a band of girls. My face was pale with fasting; my mind within my frigid body was burning with desire; the fire of lust would still flame up in a body that already seemed to be dead.” Such is the power of lust.
There is no hope for you to have Self-realisation or knowledge of the Self if you are not well established in Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is the master-key to open the realms of eternal bliss. Brahmacharya is the very foundation of Yoga. Just as a house that is built on a rotten foundation will surely fall down, so also you will fall down from your meditation if you have laid no proper foundation, viz., the attainment of perfect Brahmacharya. You may meditate for a period of twelve years and yet you will have no success in Samadhi if you have not destroyed the subtle lust or the craving-seed that lingers in the innermost recess of your heart. You will have to search out carefully this dire enemy—lust, that lies hidden in the various corners of your heart. Just as the fox hides itself in the bush, so also this lust hides itself in the substratum and corners of the mind. You can detect its presence only if you are vigilant. Intense self-examination is very necessary. Just as powerful enemies can be conquered only if you attack them from all sides, so also you can keep the powerful senses under control if you attack them from all sides, from within and without, from above and from beneath.
You must not labour under the delusion that you have eradicated the lust completely by adjusting the diet a bit, by practicing Pranayama and by doing a little Japa, and that you have nothing more to do. Temptation or Mara may overcome you at any moment. Eternal vigilance and rigorous Sadhana are very essential. You cannot attain perfect Brahmacharya by limited effort. Just as a machine gun is necessary to kill a powerful enemy, so also constant, rigorous, powerful Sadhana is necessary to annihilate this powerful enemy, lust. You must not be puffed up with pride for your little achievement in celibacy. If you are put to test you will hopelessly fail. You must be ever conscious of your shortcomings and you must constantly strive to get rid of them. Highest effort is necessary. Then only you will have sanguine success in this direction.
It is easy to tame a wild tiger or a lion or an elephant. It is easy to play with the cobra. It is easy to walk over the fire. It is easy to devour fire and drink the waters of ocean. It is easy to uproot the Himalayas. It is easy to get victory in the battlefield. But it is difficult to eradicate lust. But you need not despair even a bit. Have faith in God, in His Name and in His grace. Lust cannot be completely rooted out of the mind except by the grace of the Lord. You are bound to succeed if you have faith in Him. You can destroy lust in the twinkling of an eye. The Lord makes a dumb man to speak and a lame man to ascend a steep hill. Mere human effort alone will not suffice. The Divine Grace is needed. God helps those who help themselves. If you do total self-surrender, Mother Herself does the Sadhana. Regular meditation and Japa of Mantra, Sattvic diet, Satsanga, practice of Pranayama, Sirsha and Sarvanga Asanas, study of religious books, Vichara or enquiry into the nature of Atman or ‘who am I,’ seclusion for three months on the banks of any holy river, will entirely annihilate lust, however powerful the old Samskaras and Vasanas may be. Positive always overcomes negative. You need not be discouraged at any rate. Plunge yourself seriously in meditation, kill Mara and come out victorious in the struggle. Shine as a brilliant Yogi. Thou art ever pure Atman. Feel this, O Visvaranjan!