- 1. Universal Sexuality
- 2. The sex life of an animal, man and a progressed seeker or a saint
- 3. Why is sexual desire the most powerful among all desires?
- 4. Types of sexual desire
- 5. Benefits of acquiring control over sexual desire
- 6. Methods of acquiring control over sexual desire
- 6.1 According to the Path of Action (Karmayoga)
- 6.2 According to the Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga)
- 6.3 According to the Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga)
- 6.4 According to the technique of autosuggestion
- 6.5 Following Righteousness (Dharma)
- 6.6 Satsang (holy company)
- 6.7 The Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)
- 6.8 Realisation of God (Ishvarsakshatkar)
- 7. ‘Seminal loss means death’
- 8. Progress
Control Over Sexual Desire
Generally that what is referred to as intercourse is the external union. This chapter is in relation to this union. The real union however, is that of the embodied soul (jiva) with The Supreme God (Shiva); it is the internal union.
A. Sexual intercourse (sambhog): In ‘samyak bhogayati (सम्यक् भोगयति)’, samyak (सम्यक्) means maintaining a balance and bhog [bhagaha (भग:)] means radiance. Thus sexual intercourse (sambhog) means that by means of which one maintains an equilibrium and acquires the experience of radiance. Sexual intercourse is thus any act performed with the motive of creation. The process of preparing a medicine (rasayan) by combining two chemicals is also called sambhog.
B. An universal sacrificial fire (vishvayadnya): A sacrificial fire (yadnya) is any process through which something is generated after offering an oblation in it. Sexual intercourse is the sacrificial fire of universal creation. The process of universal creation started through the vishvayadnya of the completely nude Earth and God and it still continues. Since sexual intercourse is a symbol of creation it is considered to be pure. In the universe, sexual intercourse goes on everywhere, continuously. The union (sambhog) of the air in a room and the rotating fan produces the offspring, breeze. The introduction of sacrificial offerings of radiance in the form of semen from the penis into the sacrificial pot of the fire (in the form) of the vagina is sambhog (sexual intercourse). Since there is generation of progeny from it, the vagina is called mahabhagoshtha or mahabhag and the uterus is called the garbha region (garbhalok).
A. ‘There is a vast difference in sexual attitudes between man and other animals. In animals, intercourse occurs only during the fertile period (rutukal) and never during pregnancy, hence untimely ejaculation does not occur, and physical fitness never fails. The Supreme God created the Vedas in the same way as a father aware of the lamentable state of man arising from this relationship, wholeheartedly preaches essential knowledge to his son.’(1)
B. Since there is only physical union, intercourse in animals is in an unevolved state. In man however, it is evolved since along with the physical body there is union of the mind as well. Only this kind of intercourse has the right to be called ‘human intercourse’. Intercourse with a prostitute or without union of minds, is intercourse between animals.
C. When a progressed seeker or a saint has sexual intercourse, along with the body and mind the embodied soul (jiva) too is involved in it. There the emotion is that of surrender. Hence in that intercourse one may experience Bliss (Brahmanand). (Surrender is the preparedness to forget one’s existence, as otherwise each one struggles for one’s independent existence.) An embodied soul whose spiritual practice has been arrested (an evolved soul) enters the product of conception of such an intercourse.
The table given below compares sexual desire and other desires. From this one will realise why sexual desire is the most powerful of all desires.
|Other desires||Sexual desire|
|1. The sense organ||Mostly, only one sense
organ fulfills a desire
e.g. desire to eat a
jalebi (an Indian sweet)
is satisfied by the
|Most of the sense
organs are involved in
the fulfillment of this
desire e.g. the eyes,
ears, tongue, lips,
(skin), nose, etc.
|2. Unfulfillment||Less often||Most often|
|3. Causes of unfulfillment|
| A. Dependence on another
person for fulfillment of
|B. Social inhibitions||Absent e.g. a jalebi can
be eaten anywhere
|Present e.g. one
cannot have sex
| C. Opportunities for
The analysis of happiness experienced at orgasm is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 1B – Spirituality’ under ‘Happiness and Bliss’.
A quote from the Yogavasishtha (5.52.21) says
कुरङ्गालिपतङ्गेभमीनास्त्वेकैकशो हता: ।
सर्वैर्युक्तैरनर्थैस्तु व्याप्तस्याज्ञ कुत: सुखम् ।
Meaning: (Sage Uddalak preaches to Adnyachitta) sense objects such as words, speech, etc. are so disastrous that those embodied souls attached to a particular object like the deer, bumble-bee, kite, elephant and fish get destroyed. Then is it astonishing that man who gets engrossed in all these five objects is wrought with tragedy? How will he be happy?
Since man has intense sexual desire the Manusmruti (2.215) says
मात्रा स्वस्रा दुहित्रा वा न विविक्तासनो भवेत् ।
बलवानिन्द्रियग्रामो विव्दांसमपि कर्षति ।।
Meaning: A man should never sleep on the same bed or sit on the same seat along with his mother, sister or daughter because attraction of the sense organs is so strong that it could drive even a great scholar towards them.
Good: Good sexual desire is not bad, instead is laudable, as it is necessary for procreation. Hence, the deity of sexual desire is called a deity, Kamadev and not an enemy.
Bad: Sexual desire in illicit relationships, rape, etc. is bad.
One will agree that it is necessary to gain control over bad sexual desire but it will puzzle one as to why one should acquire control over good sexual desire. It is answered as follows:
A. The table below shows the percentage of obstacles various sexual acts pose to spiritual practice.
|Sexual act||Obstacle in spiritual
|1. Thinking about a woman / man||0.5|
|2. Masturbation after a sexual thought||2|
|3. Exhibiting sex organs to others||5|
|4. Reciprocal masturbation||10|
|5. Intercourse due to other’s wish (parechcha)||30|
|6. Intercourse due to one’s own wish (svechcha)||100*|
* 100% obstacle means loss of five turns of chanting of a mala (rosary) done with spiritual emotion (bhav).
B. Whatever be the motive of the sexual desire, the impression that ‘fulfillment of sexual desire means happiness’ develops in the subconscious mind and to be able to experience that happiness again and again, sexual desire gets aroused. Thus it hinders the speed of traversing from happiness to Bliss, that is spiritual progress.
C. By avoiding sexual pleasure not only is one able to control sexual desire but also the energy and time required for it is prevented from being wasted. This energy and time can be utilised benevolently, to make spiritual progress. The energy utilised in sexual intercourse is greater than in any other physical activity. Even modern science has proved this.
D. If short lasting happiness is experienced continuously then there will be no time left to devote to the study (spiritual practice) of everlasting happiness (Bliss). If one restricts the experiencing of object pleasure then one gets time for the study (spiritual practice) of unlimited happiness (Bliss). To achieve this while experiencing happiness within the limits of Righteousness (Dharma), one should remain more and more bound by limitations.
E. Even a drop of semen ejaculated has the potential to create an embodied soul (jiva) laden with divine consciousness (chaitanya). So, instead of ejaculating it if it is retained in the body then imagine how much divine consciousness the body will acquire.
F. सुगंधो योगिनो देहे जायते बिंदुधारणात् ।।
यावद् बिंदु: स्थिरो देहे तावत्कालभयं कुत: ।।१।।
एवं संरक्षयेद् बिंदुं मृत्युं जयति योगवित् ।।
मरणं बिंदुपातेन जीवनं बिंदुधारणात् ।।२।। – योगप्रदीपिका
Meaning: If the semen remains constant then strength of the body builds up, steadiness is achieved and there is no fear of life. Hence yogis conserve semen and win over death. Seminal loss means death and its conservation is the best possible way of attaining immortality.
‘Once Baba asked Shrikrushna, “Supposing I get attracted to a woman and the outcome is bad then is it my fault? O Lord, is it not You who have given me that desire?” Shrikrushna responded, “Yes, the fault is yours. Though the bad thought entered your mind you did not make use of the good intellect bestowed upon you. This is your fault”.’(2)
Some people feel that desire may decline after its fulfillment. For example one day if one devours jalebis till one is fed up, then from that day onwards one will never feel like eating jalebis again. However, the possibility of this occurrence is just one in one lakh. Hence, saying that one will acquire control over sexual desire by experiencing sexual pleasure is unreasonable. Therefore –
न जातु काम: कामानामुपभोगेन शाम्यति ।
हविषा कृष्णवर्त्मेव भूय एवाभिवर्धते ।। – श्रीमद्भागवत ९.१९.१४
According to this quote, from Shrimadbhagvat (9:19:14) if one continues to obtain gratification instead of the desire decreasing, it keeps increasing just like a fire which burns even more brilliantly after pouring clarified butter (ghee) into it.
The various methods of acquiring control over sexual desire are given below.
A. Preventing arousal of sexual desire
द्रष्टा दृश्यवशात् बद्ध: ।
Meaning: Drashta (द्रष्टा) means the observer, drushyavashat (दृश्यवशात्) means because of the vision and baddhaha (बद्ध:) means being entrapped in bondage. Hence if a scene arousing sexual desire is present then the seeker will get entrapped in it. If not, then the possibility of sexual desire being aroused is less. However, usually one cannot have control over external scenes.
If a stimulus arousing sexual desire reaches the mind through the five senses, then there is a possibility of it being aroused. To prevent this from happening one should block one’s sense organs from receiving sexual stimuli. This itself is called pratyahar. It is well-known that Lakshman always looked at Sita’s feet. H.H. Gulavani Maharaj’s Guru, Swami Loknathtirtha, never looked at women. When speaking to women He would fix His gaze on the tip of His nose. There is a rule in the Swaminarayan sect that male seekers should not remain in the proximity of women; the reason for this is the same.
B. Decreasing sexual activity stepwise: In context to acquiring control over sexual desire, first let us understand the stages in sexual desire and their fulfillment. In adolescence, a boy gets sexual desire for different women. Later, when he falls in love or marries a girl, sexual desire for only one woman is aroused instead of for many, or sexual activity is performed with only one woman. In view of reducing sexual activity with one’s wife, the scriptures state that one should not indulge in sexual activity on various auspicious days. As activity decreases, automatically desire too decreases. It is for this very reason that after entering the stage of the retired householder (vanaprasthashram) from that of the married householder (gruhasthashram), sexual activity is completely forbidden.
C. Path of Deliberate Rigour (Hathayoga): Sexual desire is of two types – voluntary and involuntary. By acquiring progressive control over acts such as breathing and blinking by doing spiritual practices such as pranayam and tratak respectively, one can acquire control over involuntary sexual desire. As a result, one can also acquire control over voluntary sexual desire.
D. Observing celibacy (brahmacharya): Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य) is derived from two words Brahman (ब्रह्म), towards Brahman and charya (चर्य), to walk. Thus it means going (from happiness) towards Bliss, because Brahman is Blissful. In the literal sense celibacy is applicable to all seekers, but conventionally it refers to a seeker who does spiritual practice avoiding the experience of sexual pleasure, since adolescence.
When defining brahmacharya a quote states that ‘ब्रह्मचर्याणां
सर्वावस्थासु मनोवाक्कायकर्मभि: सर्वत्र मैथुनत्याग: ।’ meaning the sacrifice of intercourse in all states of the body, mind and speech is known as celibacy.
स्मरणं कीर्तनं केली श्रवणं गुह्यभाषणम् ।
संकल्पोऽध्यवसायश्च क्रियानिष्पत्ति एव च ।
एतद् मैथुनं अष्टांगं प्रवदन्ति मनैषिणा: ।
Meaning: 1. Thinking of a woman, 2. Description of her qualities, 3. Playing games with her, 4. Listening to her talk, 5. Speaking to her when alone, 6. Wishing to acquire her, 7. Trying to acquire her and 8. Actual intercourse are the eight types of sexual intercourse.
Hence a seeker should not indulge in any of the above activities. A seeker’s celibacy is destroyed by anyone of the above eight sexual acts. A married householder’s celibacy however is destroyed only by the actual sexual act. The more one progresses towards the sattva component the more are the restrictions.
‘A man should indulge in sexual activity for procreation only with his wife during the rutu period (on ten days excluding the first four days of menses), excluding the day and the three hours of the night (prahar), in his own home. With this behaviour celibacy is retained, steadiness develops and healthy and virtuous progeny is born.’ (3)
The holy texts state that a householder experiencing sexual pleasure only once a month can be considered a celibate.
When performing purashcharan (reading of holy texts, chanting of a mantra) it is essential to observe celibacy. During the recitation of the Gayatri purashcharan, periodic reading (parayan) of the Shri Gurucharitra, etc. along with the one performing the purashcharan, his wife, priest and other close acquaintances too should observe celibacy.
E. Emulating saints: Since there is a possibility that a seeker’s mind may wander he should follow the above rules. Some people are puzzled as to why saints too behave in that way. The answer is as follows:
One of the objectives of a saint is to set a good example to to seekers and His devotees. If the Guru looks at women, then a seeker in the primary stage will think ‘the Guru does not practise what He preaches’. Such thoughts may reduce his faith in the Guru.
‘Question: Swami, why do You always look down?
Answer: I am looking at Lord Rama’s image within Me !’
To prevent arousal of sexual desire due to sensations from the five sense organs one should develop the attitude of reacting to every sensation as if it were a sensation in relation to God. For example if one hears a song of one pining for her lover (like ‘when will my eyes meet yours O beloved?’), one should think or imagine that one is pining for God. Desires are destroyed by devotion alone and not by mantras. Destruction means its conversion to spiritual love. One cannot decipher whether love is erotic or spiritual, hence even great people sometimes falter. Spiritual love means love for the woman / man, devoid of desire.
If one attempts to see God in every individual then sexual desire does not get aroused.
One should think that everything one sees is Brahman.
A. To prevent sexual thoughts from entering the mind the autosuggestions to be given are ‘I will continuously think only about spiritual practice, for example ‘whenever I am not talking to anyone or thinking about a useful task, I will start chanting……’.
B. Using ‘the psychofeedback technique’ the suggestions that may be used are as follows :
‘Whenever I get sexual thoughts I will become aware of them and will start thinking about spiritual practice’ can be given. Mostly the suggestion begins to take effect within three to four months.
If after three to four months there is still no effect with the above suggestion then give the following suggestion : ‘Whenever I get sexual thoughts I will become aware of them and pinch myself hard’. By using this technique, the usual impression that ‘sexual thoughts mean happiness’ is replaced by ‘sexual thoughts mean pain’ in the subconscious mind. Hence, sexual thoughts start decreasing.
C. To erase the association from the subconscious mind that sexual activity means happiness, the following suggestions can be given:
‘During sexual intercourse, specially during orgasm, thoughts about spiritual practice (e.g. chanting) will continue in my mind’. With such a suggestion when one does not derive happiness from sexual activity, eventually sexual thoughts start decreasing.
D. Imagery in a hypnotic trance : Using this technique of autosuggestion, one can give a suggestion like, ‘when walking on the road I was not distracted by beautiful women passing by or the exciting posters as I was thinking about spiritual practice or chanting’.
E. Thoughts regarding sexual activity : If one thinks about sexual activity with someone with whom it is impossible, then since the sexual act cannot be performed, naturally the gratification obtained at orgasm is not obtained. This facilitates reduction of sexual desire. To accomplish this, one can give suggestions like, ‘when masturbating instead of fantasizing that I am having sex with my spouse (lover), I will imagine that I am having sex with the woman / man I saw in the picture’. With such suggestions sexual desire for the spouse starts decreasing. Since it is impossible to indulge in sexual activity with the person in the picture, the overall sexual desire starts decreasing.
In brief, in most people, ‘in childhood there is no sexual desire -> later, sexual desire for many women / men develops -> more sexual desire for only one woman / man develops -> sexual activity is performed with only one woman / man. If one goes exactly in the reverse direction stepwise, that is sexual activity with only one woman / man -> more sexual desire for only one woman / man -> sexual desire for many women / men -> no sexual desire, then it is possible to acquire control over sexual desire. However, those who consider even thinking of another woman / man as sinful, should make use of other suggestions instead of these.
F. To increase the effectiveness of the other paths, the concepts from the respective path can be given as autosuggestions to impress them upon the mind. This facilitates their acceptance, for example :
According to the Path of Knowledge, to actually experience the concept that ‘everything that I see is Brahman’ this sentence should constantly be remembered as an autosuggestion.
To decrease the attraction for another’s body if the thought that ‘the body is just a mass of flesh, excreta and urine’ is impressed upon the mind through autosuggestions then sexual desire declines rapidly.
G. The following table shows how one can gain stepwise control over sexual desire. Going to the number, higher than the one applicable to oneself, by giving suggestions to oneself means completing one stage.
If the numbers 1, 16, 31 and 46 are applicable to one then one should give suggestions to oneself so as to achieve the motives under numbers 2, 17, 32 and 47. As a result, the frequency of those activities starts decreasing.
If it is not possible for one to reduce the frequency of the activities under numbers 1, 16, 31and 46 one should give auto-suggestions so as to achieve the motives under numbers 6, 21, 36 and 51. Hence even though the frequency of sexual activity does not decrease there is a qualitative improvement in the activity. For example, if instead of number 1 one is able to act according to number 6 then though the frequency of sexual activity is once or twice a week, it is only with one’s spouse instead of different women / men.
|1. Sexual intercourse|
|Own spouse (wife/husband)||6||7||8||9|
|2. Sexual desire|
|Own spouse (wife/husband)||21||22||23||24|
|3. Fantacy during masturbation|
|Own spouse (wife/husband)||36||37||38||39|
|4. Experiencing orgasm when
fantasizing about sex
|Own spouse (wife/husband)||51||52||53||54|
| Own spouse with someone
|Any women with any man||61||62||63||64|
|A nude woman/man||66||67||68||69|
|5. Noctural emissions|
| Ejaculation without being
aware of the dream
| Realising that ejaculation
had occurred, the next day
The general tendency of people is to behave well with one who makes them happy. Average people tend to call a person who behaves nicely with them, good. Keeping exactly this secret of the attitude of an average person in mind, the code of the married householder has been framed. Moreover this secret itself lays the foundation of the religious code of the married householder’s life. The furthest limit of worldly happiness is sex. Hence in the Ayurveda intercourse is called the seat of Bliss (Anandsthan). In other words, though in the Satyayug carrying forward the lineage was the motive behind intercourse, gradually with the successive yugs it began to decline and the objective that intercourse should concomittantly result in progeny came into being. Mentally one has to go from the Kaliyug to the Satyayug, that is one has to make spiritual progress. Hence one should remember that life is not meant for enjoying material objects but these objects are necessary only to facilitate the journey of life. This is the very basis of our culture.
For one who is unable to love platonically, sexual intercourse is a means of uniting with the mind, by gradually developing physical attachment. Man acquires intense worldly happiness from the woman he marries. So also, the woman. Thus the implied meaning of marriage is that the couple should love each other deeply. The quality of love is that, as one starts loving someone and along with it follows Righteousness and remains in the holy company of renunciants, gradually it acquires a dimension of love without expectations. Love slowly shifts from the body to the mind. This itself is called widening of the horizons of love. Hence for the one who is unable to renounce material objects all of a sudden, the method of reducing it stepwise, is marriage. As the physical attachment of the couple starts decreasing they are able to love their children proportionately more and more. That is, they wish for the well-being of their children. Welfare means the fulfillment of human birth! From this one will realise how wrong is the belief that by following Righteousness, man becomes detached and more and more inactive day by day. Holy texts of great sages who have realised God will themselves illustrate how vastly expansive Their love for others is, that is how much They love the world.
The holy text Navanath Bhaktisar gives an apologue of King Bhartruharinath. To see how much Queen Pingala loved him, the king falsely informed her that he was dead. Upon hearing this, she became a sati (entered the pyre). When Bhartruharinath came to know of it he was about to jump into the pyre when the others stopped him. Then for twelve years he remained in the crematorium waiting for Queen Pingala. What is amusing is that inspite of having twelve hundred queens, his love had shifted from the body to the mind. Pingala too became a sati as her love had shifted onto the psychological plane. The twelve hundred queens were only physically attached and hence they did not become satis. Since the king was fed up of physical love he did not want their bodies but he wanted Pingala. Later Gorakhnath released the king from the Great Illusion (Maya). One gets sattvik (sattva predominant) Bliss in another’s company only when attachment for the physical body is reduced.
By remaining in satsang, due to an increase in the sattva component, atleast during that period sexual thoughts do not enter the mind.
So long as there is duality there will be sexual desire. Only when one reaches non-duality does it end. To accomplish it, there is definitely no better path than the Guru’s grace.
विषया विनिवर्तन्ते निराहारस्य देहिन: ।
रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते ।। – श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता (२.५९)
Meaning: A man who does not eat is liberated from all desires except the sexual desire. However after acquiring spiritual knowledge of The Supreme Brahman the attraction for all desires including sexual desire, disappears. – Shrimadbhagvadgita 2.59
Implied meaning: If man remains hungry, that is without food then one feels that his desire is dead, but this does not happen. Only since the body does not receive nourishment the desire appears to have died. Just as a tree dries up and appears lifeless if it does not receive sufficient water for many days and regains its freshness when the roots start receiving some water, so also if man remains without food then his sense organs become incapable of experiencing object pleasure. This however is not detachment. Once he starts eating again as earlier, the sense organs get attracted towards objects. Then ‘how to detach oneself from objects?’ ‘By eliminating the desire for them’, is the description given to express the purport. Then when will one be totally detached from objects ? It is answered as ‘with the realisation (sakshatkar) of The Supreme (Param) Brahman, the soul, the objects are destroyed totally and one acquires the realisation of God only with the Guru’s grace.
Swami Vivekanand, Swami Shivanand, etc. have expressed concepts like ‘seminal loss means death’. Without considering in whose context they were said, in India two to three generations have accepted these statements as established facts and this has caused considerable loss to them. Doctors all over the world unanimously emphasize that loss of semen during intercourse, masturbation or in nocturnal emissions does not cause any harm and research has proved that seminal ejaculation is harmless. Inspite of this being so, how could Swami Vivekanand or Swami Shivanand make wrong statements? This is a doubt which many young people harbour. If one tries to understand the context of this statement, it will be clear that neither the doctor nor the Swami is wrong.
Intended for whom?: This statement was not directed towards the average person. It was meant for seekers desirous of spiritual progress.
The intention behind the statement: The intention behind making the statement was to wipe off the existing impression or to prevent the development of the impression that ‘ejaculation means happiness’ in the subconscious mind of a seeker following the path of Yoga. Other examples of this are famous statements like ‘the mother is a goddess (मातृदेवो भव ।)’ along with ‘a woman is just a mass of blood and flesh’. Such statements are meant to create aversion that is ‘dislike in the mind’ according to psychology. Only seekers should contemplate on these statements in this context. Others should not even read them.
A. Control according to the spiritual level: The table below explains how the sexual life at various spiritual levels is. From that a seeker will realise how much control over sexual desire he has acquired.
|Amount of sexual
|Sexual thoughts and
through sexual activity %
(Rarely in the dream)
B. Urdhvaretas: Urdhva (ऊर्ध्व) means the zenith and retas (रेतस्) means semen. Urdhvaretas (ऊर्ध्वरेतस्) means the one whose semen flows upwards. In an average person semen flows downwards. He is called adhoretas. Contrary to this, the semen of evolved people specially those following the path of Yoga gets converted into oja (precursor of divine energy), hence they are called urdhvaretas. The oja circulates throughout the body. Since the oja has an effect on the physical body, their physical bodies appear radiant and lustrous. A similar lustre is seen on the bodies of eunuchs who have been castrated. (Some acts in Yoga teach how the excreted semen, urine, etc. is to be reabsorbed.)
As one becomes an urdhvaretas gradually the passage of seminal excretion becomes narrow. Though the passage becomes narrow, the sexual desire is not reduced. If one indulges in sexual activity under such circumstances, then when semen is ejaculated through the narrowed seminal passage instead of happiness one experiences pain. This facilitates further reduction of sexual desire.
‘Path of Deliberate Rigour (Hathayoga)’, published by Sanatan Sanstha.
Jivitvidya Athva Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Second edition, 1979. Author : Late Hari Ganesh Godbole. Publisher : Govind Yashvant Rane. G.Y. Rane Publishers, 2040 Sadashiv Peth, Tilak Road, Pune 400 030.
. Pg. 42 . Pg. 43
. Mumbaiche Shri Malangshahababa, Pg. 40, Author : Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale and and Dr. (Mrs.) Kunda Jayant Athavale, Publisher : Indian Society for Clinical Hypnosis and Research, 209, Sion Cosmopolitan Co-op. Hsg. Society, Sion (West), Mumbai 400 022.