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Thread: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

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    Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~

    Namaste,
    The last three posts offered ideas on ahiṁsā, satya and aparigraha¹. I thought to continue the discussion within the 5 yamas called out by Patañjali.

    This post is about brahmacarya. One immediately thinks celibacy. That can be a component , yet lets take a look brahma+carya.

    We know that Brahma as the creator, the creative impulse of all + carya is conduct. So , both put together, it is the conduct of Brahma, the source, Brahman. The path that leads to Brahman.

    We can also look at this another way. This carya is also a carriage, a chariot. The notion is then a carriage that brings one to the source of Creation, Brahman. Some also look at the word ācārya or a teacher 'knowing or teaching the rules'. The rules then that connect the sadhu to Brahman. That is why it (brahmacarya) has been considered 'a student' as one of the āśramas or halting places, stages of life¹.

    Many have been taught that brahmacharya is continence, perhaps this is one facet. Yet there are many who believe too much attention has been placed on the word being ONLY celibacy. Let me explain.

    These additional dimensions are notions from the Chāndogya Upaniṣad¹. Continence (or the practice thereof) brings the fruit of tapas and is equal to yajña, worship. Yet the knower of truth that practices self-control ( another form of brahmacharya) attains the same benefits as Vedic rituals.

    This ritual is sattrāyaṇa - sat ( truth) + trāṇa (safety or protection), another form of continence and self control. Some say sat is Being + trāṇa, or the benefits of protection in every way. So, one is protected by Being-Truth, in every way through this yajña and can also be accomplished by [and therefore equal to dispensing] self-control.

    Now, what is of great interest is the observance of silence, maunam is also = to brahmacharya. Why so? it is the silencing of the senses. Now what is the Supreme silence? Contact with Atman. And when can this be done? Sitting quietly, transcending during meditation. Hence, meditation is silence and is = to brahmacharya = yajña. Hence, being in and practicing silence is of great value.

    Why is this relevant?
    Because Patañjali's instructions are part-and-parcel, to establish silence within the sadhu. This silence is samādhi. That is the connection.
    Patañjali is quite wise, as his instructions all along the chapters are complimentary in themselves; That is, to bring about the condition of samādhi, which is called out as part of the 8 limbs (aśṭaka+aṅga=aśṭāṅga), of yoga in Chapter 2, sutra 29. It is establishing this samādhi, that brings about yoga or union with the Divine, and unfolding kevala (pure , uncompounded , unmingled; the absolute unity of spirit, enlightenment).

    What else may be considered here?
    Anāśakāyana or that of fasting. It too is the silencing of the senses. It is said that if one can control the tongue, one can master one's self. This anāśakāyana = self contol= brahmacharya=yajña and all the benefits one can gain from this.

    What else? vanaprastha, some say aranyāyana or that of forest dwelling, really living alone or seclusion. This is the silencing of the senses ( social intercourse) and one gains great benefit. This too is = to self control = brahmacharya=yajña . This can be done at home too during meditation. There is only one, you, going inward and becoming one with turiya, 'giving up' duality for one.

    Hence - self control is = to yajña=sattrāyaṇa=brahmacharya (and can be performed while at home). Is it strenuous tapas? Only you can be the judge of that.

    What then are beneficial things that blossom from this brahmacarya that Patañjali calls out?

    Chapt 2, sutra 38: brahmacarya-pratisthayam virya-labah
    brahmacarya - as discussed above i.e. brahma+carya
    pratisthayam - to stand firm , be based or rest on, be established , thrive , prosper
    virya - valour , strength , power , energy; splendour , lustre
    labah - obtaining , getting , attaining , acquisition , gain , profit

    Three Views
    Version 1
    When brahmacarya is established (pratisthayam), power (virya) is aquired (labah).

    Version 2
    The fruit of being established (pratisthayam) in brahmacarya in mind, action and words is that your word becomes true (virya-labah)

    Version 3
    Having become steady in resting one's awareness continuously (pratisthayam) as being joined in awareness to one's origin and creative force (brahmacharya), then strength, vigor, and vitality are themselves strengthened (virya-labah).

    And what additions do we have from the wise?
    Ramana Maharshi -
    Brahmacarya is ‘Living in Brahman’. It has no connection with celibacy as commonly understood. A real brahmacari, that is one who lives in Brahman, finds bliss in Brahman which is the same as the (true) Self. Why then should you look for other sources of happiness? In fact, the emergence from (leaving behind or forgetting) the Self has been the cause of all misery.

    Swami Venkatesananda -
    Brahmacharya literally means when the whole inner consciousness flows constantly toward truth, towards what is, towards God, Brahman. That is difficult! And so some holy ones restricted the meaning. They asked; 'What is it that distracts a person's attention most?' The opposite sex [polarity]. so they interpreted brahmacharya to mean continence, chastity. This is no doubt one of the constituents of brahmacharya, but brahmacharya means much more than that. Brahmacharya is also part of the search for truth. It means that the mind is always moving in the infinite (Brahman), towards the infinite, constantly looking for Brahman. That itself again is meditation.
    When the question, 'what is truth, what is this?' is burning in one's heart, it is then that both truthfulness and brahmacharya are possible. It is said that the yogi who is devoted to truth becomes completely silent; every time he wants to say something, there is the thought, 'How do I know this is true?' This happens also with brahmacharya in the sense of chastity. When your mind, heart, and whole being are constantly absorbed in this search for truth, towards enlightenment, then craving does not arise and continence happens [spontaneously]. On the other hand, suppressing all these emotions is dangerous, because it is violence, it is untruth, and there is no brahmacharya there.


    pranams

    1.Words used
    • Aparigraha is to back-away from and release (from the behavior of, since it is a yama) of grasping, binding and seizing. Therefore apaigraha is a most descriptive term for the absence of hoarding.
    • Satya सत्य is true , real , actual , genuine , sincere , honest , truthful , faithful , pure , virtuous , Reality. We know there are two levels or experiences of this. One is the spoken word, the truthful word, some call this honesty.
    • Ahiṁsā अहिंसा we know as non-injury. Some call this non-violence.
    References from Chāndogya Upaniṣad , Canto 8.5
    1.What people call sacrifice (yajña some write yajna or yagna), that is really abstinence (brahmacharya). For he who knows, obtains that (world of Brahman, which others obtain by sacrifice), by means of abstinence.
    What people call sacrifice (iṣṭa), that is really abstinence, for by abstinence, having searched or performing iṣṭas he obtains the Self or ātmā. [ This iṣṭa is a particular type of yajña where ghee and food or anna are the main offerings into agni ]
    2. What people call sacrifice (sattrāyaṇa), that is really abstinence, for by abstinence he obtains from the Sat (the true), the safety or protection (trāṇana) of the Self.
    What people call the vow of silence (mauna), that is really abstinence, for he who by abstinence has found out the Self, and meditates (manute) on it.
    3. What people call fasting (anāśakāyana), that is really abstinence, for that Self does not perish (na naśyati), which we find out by abstinence.
    4. What people call a hermit (aranyāyana - or going into a forest becoming a hermit) , that is really abstinence. Arah and nyah are two oceans in the world of Brahman, in the third heaven; and there is the lake Airanimadiya, and the Asvattha tree, showering down Soma, and the city of Brahman (Hiranyagarbha) Aparagita, and the golden Prabhuvimita (the hall built by Prabhu, Brahman).
    5. Now that world of Brahman belongs to those who find the oceans of araḥ and nyaḥ in the world of Brahman by means of abstinence; for them there is freedom in all the worlds.
    • Brahmacarya ब्रह्मचर्य - the conventional view: state of an unmarried religious student; a state of continence and chastity
    • Yajña यज्ञ from yaj यज् - to offer, present , grant , yield , bestow; to sacrifice with a view or intent; to invite to sacrifice
    • Āśrama - a halting place; level; the four stages in life Brahmacarya, grhastha (house dweller), vanaprasrha ( retired , some call forest dweller) and sannyasa (the renunciate)
    • samādhi समाधि - union , a whole , aggregate; intense absorption; pure consciousness, bhuma, fullness.
    Swami Venkatesananda -The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with Commentary by Swami Venkatesananda pp 198 -199, The Divine Life Society
    Ramana Maharshi - looking for the origin documents of this quote
    Last edited by yajvan; 09 May 2008 at 04:47 PM. Reason: spelling correction
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    A small addition to Ur post:
    Initially brahmacharya was primarily understood as a study of Veda, which was the main duty of brahmacharins.

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    Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~
    Quote Originally Posted by Arjuna View Post
    A small addition to Ur post:
    Initially brahmacharya was primarily understood as a study of Veda, which was the main duty of brahmacharins.
    Namaste Arjuna,
    yes, and a good addition you recommend. I did truncated the notion by saying
    (brahmacarya) has been considered 'a student'


    ...the student and study of the veda, as one vehicle to assist the brahmacari to comprehend Brahman.

    thank you again.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Question Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    By the way, do U know where yama/niyama sets initially came from? Patanjali lists 5 yamas and 5 niyamas, but Yoga-sutra is just one of 6 darshana-shAstras, which cannot be obligatory to every Hindu. Later texts seem to copy/paste from Patanjali. Obviously at least some of yamas/niyamas go back to Vedas & early Upanishads, but i am asking about the set as a whole. In fact Patanjali must be either borrowing it from external source or compiling from several, since for example Ishvara-pranidhana's incorporation is clearly artificial and is not based on Patanjali's own darshana.

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    Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~~
    Quote Originally Posted by Arjuna View Post
    By the way, do U know where yama/niyama sets initially came from? Patanjali lists 5 yamas and 5 niyamas, but Yoga-sutra is just one of 6 darshana-shAstras, which cannot be obligatory to every Hindu. Later texts seem to copy/paste from Patanjali. Obviously at least some of yamas/niyamas go back to Vedas & early Upanishads, but i am asking about the set as a whole. In fact Patanjali must be either borrowing it from external source or compiling from several, since for example Ishvara-pranidhana's incorporation is clearly artificial and is not based on Patanjali's own darshana.
    Namaste Arjuna
    I am sure these restraints can be found elsewhere, as I see them reading the Mahabharata also.

    Its also interesting to note that yama = restraints. Śani is also known as Yama. We know Śani is the karaka of discipline, restraint, and the like. So we find this yama principle in jyotish. Some also discuss Yama as the one that brings and manages death. What more would one want with the restraints then to bring 'death' to the behaviors we do not need ( hoarding, telling falsehoods, etc) for the sadhu.

    I am making this idea part of my post on asteya, or stealing, and will post tomorrow, Saturday, owned by Śani.

    pranams
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Here i asked my question from the historical point of view. Just interesting to know the initial textual source of mentioned concept. I in fact don't know if it was developed by Patanjali or simply borrowed by him readymade from somewhere (early parts of Mahabharata? Pashupata texts? Buddhist sorces?).

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    Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjuna View Post
    Here i asked my question from the historical point of view. Just interesting to know the initial textual source of mentioned concept. I in fact don't know if it was developed by Patanjali or simply borrowed by him readymade from somewhere (early parts of Mahabharata? Pashupata texts? Buddhist sorces?).
    Namaste Arjuna,

    Now I comprehend your question... that is, is Patañjali the original author of yama and niyama. This I cannot answer with any degree of certainty. I find multiple dates for his work; as we know the rsi's are timeless and have not been much for dates.
    Yet as I see it, the wisdom is profound and practical. My teacher has also reminded us of the adage, there is nothing new under the sun.

    And I would be of the opinion that if we had the opportunity to talk to Patañjali-muni, he would not yammer one bit on suggesting that yama & niyama has always been within the fabric consciousness available to others that wished to write about it. That he found it useful and apropos to apply it to his yoga-sutras. I would also bet that the agamas call these same notions out. Why so? The Netra Tantra¹ calls out Pranayama (one of the 8 limbs Patañjali mentions) Perhaps you can offer a few for us to view?

    I will keep my eyes open for other works; the one that comes to mind that I can point yet mentioned in a previous post i.e. nothing new, is the Mahabharata , that calls out many, if not more vratas¹.

    Yet the beauty of Patañjali's work is how it integrates so well into the 4 chapters of his work, and how it applies so nicely to ones spiritual pursuits.

    pranams

    1. Netra Tantra 8.12-13
    vrata व्रत - will , command , law , ordinance , rule ; any vow or firm purpose , resolve
    Last edited by yajvan; 10 May 2008 at 03:48 PM. Reason: added definition of vrata
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Arrow Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Netra-tantra has all 8 limbs but interpret them in a different way. The system of Yogangas seemingly goes back to early Shaiva texts from where it was borrowed by Buddhists and by Patanjali. And probably the original system was Shadanga, while Ashtanga was developed on its base. But yeah, dates are unsure, so we cannot say anything with 100% certainty.

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    Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    Hari Om
    ~~~~~
    Yet as I see it, the wisdom is profound and practical. My teacher has also reminded us of the adage, there is nothing new under the sun.

    Namaste Yajvan Ji,

    How true. This is the simple truth which can quench all thirst yet mind does not seem to concur.


    Ecclesiastes 1

    1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
    2Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
    3What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
    4One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
    5The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
    6The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
    7All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
    8All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
    9The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

    Om
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: Yama and Niyama:Brahmacarya

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~

    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    Namaste Arjuna,

    Now I comprehend your question... that is, is Patañjali the original author of yama and niyama.

    I will keep my eyes open for other works; the one that comes to mind that I can point yet mentioned in a previous post i.e. nothing new, is the Mahabharata , that calls out many, if not more vratas¹.
    Namaste,

    Other locations for the 8 limbs…

    Sandilya Upanishad ( Named after the rsi asking the question to Atharvan) Sandilya questioned Atharvan thus: "Please tell me about the eight Angas (parts) of Yoga which is the means of attaining to Atman
    http://www.celextel.org/108upanishads/sandilya.html


    Varāha ( some spell Varuha ) Upanishad Canto 4 ( varāha is Visnu appearing in the form of a boar, or varāha) The great sage Ribhu performed penance for twelve Deva (divine) years. At the end of the time, the Lord appeared before him in the form of a boar. He said: "Rise, rise and choose your boon". The sage got up and having prostrated himself before him said: "O Lord, I will not, in my dream, wish of thee those things that are desired by the worldly. All the Vedas, Shastras, Itihasas and all the hosts of other sciences, as well as Brahma and all the other Devas, speak of emancipation as resulting from a knowledge of thy nature. So impart to me that science of Brahman which treats of thy nature."
    http://www.celextel.org/108upanishads/varaha.html?page=3


    pranams
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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