Brahmacharya

The 4th Yama (restraint) in the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga is Brahmacharya.

Brahmacharya means “to respect the creative power of sex and not abuse it by manipulating others sexually”.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 11.38 “Brahmacharya-pratishthayam virya-labbah” translates to “When one does not misuse sexual energy, one obtains enduring vitality resulting in good health”.

I came across a book that actually defines “Brahmacharya” as “Good Sex”. But in the book, it describes explicitly everything and anything but good sex.

Sex is the power that creates life. When sexual energy is used for exploitation or manipulation, it propels us into deeper separation and ignorance.

While we do hear of human sexual abuse on a regular basis in the newspaper, most of us are ignorant of the extensive sexual abuse of animals inflicted by humans. This has been  deeply ingrained in our culture, and takes the form of “animal husbandry” where breeding, genetic manipulation, castration, artificial insemination, forced pregnancy, routine rape and child abuse took place on a massive scale”.

“Animals on factory farms are not allowed to develop normal sexual relationships with others of their own species. All of the animals born in factory farms have come from mothers who are repeatedly raped by human farmhands and forced to become pregnant over and over again until their fertility wanes, at which point they are slaughtered and eaten”.

As described in the book on what happens to an average dairy cow on today’s farm: “She lives in a tiny stall with a concrete floor in an indoor ‘milk facility’. Not even a year old, she has just given birth to her first calf a few hours ago while being chained down. The chain makes it difficult for her to get close to her baby whom she is nursing – but not for long. Within hours, men come to take her baby, shouting abuses at her. She tries to turn her head to see what is happening, but the chain prevents her from moving. She cries out to her baby, who cries back. In a few minutes, she no longer hear and see her baby – for it is driven to a ‘veal facility’. She is left in her place, her milk dripping from her breasts. The milking machine moves in to clamps onto her nipples, sucking her and emptying her of the vital life force, for weeks to come, until she is ready to go through another cycle of being raped (artificially inseminated), give birth, separation, lactation and depression. She has to be pregnant or lactating to be able to produce milk. She is viewed as a milk machine, one of billions of cows confined in factory-farm concentration camps”.

I was filled with grief when I first read this article – the image of mother separating from the child within a few hours after such a special occasion. While the mother continues to suffer on the same floor, chain to the same chain and sexually manipulated by the same man, the babies head to the slaughter house. Grief turns to anger when it dawned upon me that this has been accepted as part of the culture (of ignorance, where we simply do not want to know). And finally, overwhelmed by guilt for being part of the contributing factor.

There are many untold sufferings that we have inflicted on others, none more so than to animals. The abuse of animals were described quite vividly in many videos and books that talks about humanity. Documentary-Movie such as “Earthlings” and book such as “Yoga & Vegetarianism by Sharon Gannon” (from which most of the accounts were shared here) should be watch by everyone to learn the truth.

Someone actually describes our treatment to animals as the holocausts of the biggest unimaginable proportions, that happens on a daily basis. It is even more frightening to know that most of us are comfortable with the actions even after knowing the truth.

So, before you make that order for coffee , with or without milk –  stop and think!

The harmless act of drinking milk may not just be a breached of the yama “Brahmacharya”, but more importantly an opportunity for us to practice compassion and conditional love. Yoga is more than the practice of asanas and prayanama, but the practice of being humane.

Our choice may be that just one moment of decision-making, but it can make a hell out of difference in making this a better world for all!

Namaste!