What is the real concept of brahmacharya as per vedas or Hindu scriptures ?

  • Is it about remaining bachelor or about celibate?

  • Or is it abstaining from inter course?

  • Or controlling desires?

  • Or striving for Brahman?

Vedas authority would be more desirous.

One of the reference I found this- but unable to understand this completely.

Now what people call yajña(sacrifice) is really Brahmacharya, for only by means of Brahmacharya does the knower attain that world (of Brahman). And what people call Ishta (worship) is really Brahmacharya, for only worshipping by means of Brahmacarya does one attain the Atman (the liberated Self). Now, what people call the Sattrayana (sacrificial session) is really Brahmacharya, for only by means of Brahmacharya does one obtain one's salvation from Sat (Being). And what people call the Mauna (vow of silence) is really Brahmacharya for only through Brahmacharya does one understand the Atman and then meditate. Now, what people call a Anasakayana (vow of fasting) is really Brahmacharya, for this Atman never perishes which one attains by means of Brahmacharya. And what people call the Aranyayana (life of a hermit) is really Brahmacharya, for the world of Brahman belongs to those who by means of Brahmacharya attain the seas Ara and Nya in the world of Brahman. For them there is freedom in all the worlds.

— Chandogya Upanishad, VIII.5.1 - VIII.5.4

  • If semen discharge is sin then how did Krishna became father of Samba ? Lahiri Mahahsaya was another example of highest yogi who was a householder. For progeny there is need of intercourse which cannot be denied. Yajnavalkaya had two wives yet he was a brahmachari. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:30
  • "For progeny there is need of intercourse" this is more of an exception than the rule in Hindu mythology :-) @Rakesh Joshi
    – S K
    Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 16:13
  • The Brahmacharya definition is also contextual in accordance to your state of Ashrama. Like for student complete abstence from word, taught and deed regarding any sexual activity, for a house holder its only ones own wife.. no other. for vanaprashtha again complete absence from sexual interaction even with wife. for sanyas again back to student life..
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 9:00

4 Answers 4



Brahmacarya as the name signifies, relates to brahman. The word ‘brahma’ derives its meaning from the root bRhmi “bRhmi dhAtvarthagocaraM vastu” (बृह्मि धात्वर्थगोचरं वस्तु) . The more famous term “brhatvAt bRhmaNatvAcca brahma ityucyate budhaiH” (बृहत्वात् बृह्मणत्वाच्च बृह्म इत्युच्यते बुधैः) neatly explains brahma - Meaning, “In view of its vastness of size or extent and in view of its expansiveness, it is called as brahman by the wise”. The brahman is so called because of its inherent ability to expand. It will thus be known that brahman is nothing but the form of supra-conscious shakti (paracit shakti) that is the cause of this creation. viewed in this context, the real meaning of the word “brahmacarya” would be the religious anuShThAna-s or practices related to shiva-shakti or the experience of brahman in the turIya state or more appropriately, the anusaMdhAna of shiva-shakti.

Besides the above, the vedas are also collectively known as brahma. This can be inferred from the words of shiva in bRhannIlatantra

ekovedaH caturdhAbhUt yajussAma RgAdayaH | vedo brahmeti sAkShAdvai jAneham naganandinI || It is thus very clear from the above that the vedas were one and later branched out into four as Rgveda, yajurveda, sAmaveda & atharvaNaveda later.

The fact that the word brahma refers to the vedas and vice-versa can be inferred from innumerable mantras of the vedas

“yena devA apunata| tena divyena brahmaNA | idaM brahma punImahe|” (Y.V)

“mahimAnamagnervihitasya brahmaNA” (A.V. 18-4-8)

“gAtrANi te brahmaNA kalpayAmi” (A.V. 18-4-52)

The above verses are but a few examples which reveal that brahma is the name for vedas. And hence, veda- adhyayana or learning of the vedas is called “brahmacarya”. Since control of the senses is laid down as a condition for the learning of the vedas, what is popularly known as “CELIBACY” in english has now come to be termed as brahmacarya and the true import of the word “brahmacarya” and its true meaning has been completely obscured.

Today people simply know brahmacarya as abstinence or celibacy ! One should know that true brahmacarya is actually being in marital life. In the grihasthAshrama, the couple involving in conjugal bliss after being totally devoted to each other is known as brahmacarya.

Says yAjJavalkya in his smRti on the time favourable for conception

ShoDashartunishA strINAM tasmin yugmAsu saMvishet | brahmacAryeva parvANyAdyAshcatasrashca varjayet ||

“ Of the first sixteen nights from the onset of periods in woman, intercourse should be had with them in the even nights avoiding parva-s (amAvAsya & other parva like saMkrAnti) and the first four nights. By doing so, he will verily be a brahmacAri”

While commenting on the above verse, vijJAneshvara observes that the fruit of brahmacarya is attaining of brahmaloka. Hence, the observance of brahmacarya by couple in their marital life is not a bar for intercourse with the wife had with the purpose of obtaining progeny :-

“…….. yatra brahmacaryaM coditaM tatra gacchatopi na brahmacaryaskhalanadoShaH….”

It is therefore amply clear from the above that brahmacarya has nothing to do with abstinence or celibacy and the union of the husband with his wife is indeed what is known as brahmacarya as it is aimed at begetting progeny. It is in this context that lord Krishna though a much married man, is a nityabrahmacArI and not as sought to be conveyed / confused by the sanyAsimata-s

परमादेवता पत्नी संपूज्या गृहमेधिना सदा पत्न्याः शरीरे तु वर्तन्ते सर्वदेवताः paramAdevatA patnI saMpUjyA gRhamedhinA sadA patnyAH sharIre tu vartante sarvadevatAH

तथैवाग्निर्गार्हपत्यो ब्रह्मरूपं च वर्तते तस्मात् पत्या सदा पूज्या सेति वेदेषु निश्चयः tathaivAgnirgArhapatyo brahmarUpaM ca vartate tasmAt patyA sadA pUjyA seti vedeShu nishcayaH

यस्तु पत्नीं सुसंपूज्य गार्हपत्यमुपासते सभुक्त्वा सकलान् कामान् ब्रह्मलोके महीयते yastu patnIM susaMpUjya gArhapatyamupAsate sabhuktvA sakalAn kAmAn brahmaloke mahIyate

Wife is the supreme deity required to be worshipped by the husband who is a gRhamedhin i.e. worshipper of the gArhapatyAgni. In the body of the wife reside all the devatA-s. Likewise, the gArhapatyAgni which is verily brahmarUpa also resides in her body. Hence, she should be worshipped always by the husband. Thus declare the veda-s. Hence whosoever worships his wife & and gArhapatya, attains all one can aspire for in this world and is worshipped in brahmaloka after his death.

--'Yajnavalkaya smriti

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 13:17
  • Can you add source for last paragraph?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 12:17
  • @TheDestroyer updated Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 15:41
  • Very well compiled answer. +1
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 3:32

Swami Vivekananda on Practice of Brahmacharya for 12 Years (Brahman is more than Celibacy)

Swamiji: What do you say? Ask me anything you like from these ten volumes, and I will answer you all.

The disciple asked in wonder, "Have you read all these books?" Swamiji: Why should I ask you to question me otherwise?

Being examined, Swamiji not only reproduced the sense, but at places the very language of the difficult topics selected from each volume. The disciple, astonished, put aside the books, saying, "This is not within human power!"

Swamiji: Do you see, simply by the observance of strict Brahmacharya (continence) all learning can be mastered in a very short time -- one has an unfailing memory of what one hears or knows but once. It is owing to this want of continence that everything is on the brink of ruin in our country.

Disciple: Whatever you may say,sir, the manifestation of such superhuman power cannot be the result of mere Brahmacharya, something else there must be.

Swamiji did not say anything in reply.

Ramkrishna Paramhans on Brahmcharya/celibacy

Sri Ramakrishna was uncompromising on the need for celibacy for God-realization. He used to tell devotees, “To be able to realize God, one must practise absolute continence. Sages like Sukadeva are examples of an ‘urdhvareta’ (a person of unbroken and complete continence). Their chastity was absolutely unbroken.A man practising unbroken brahmacharya for twelve years develops a special power. He grows a new inner nerve called the nerve of memory. Through that nerve he remembers all, he understands all.When a man succeeds in the conservation of his sexual energy, his intellect reflects the image of Brahman. The man who carries this image of Brahman in his heart is able to accomplish everything – he will succeed wonderfully in whatever action he engages himself.

God(Brahman) is Omniscient(knower of everything, wisest of all) and a perfect Brahmchari is the one who never forgets, highly wise and is like an Omniscient God in flesh and is worshipped by people as avatar like many ancient sages.(like Hanuman)

Knower of Brahman alone is the true Brahmin, and only a true Brahmchari can know Brahman and is eligible to be called Brahmin, not by mere birth.

Jesus Christ, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Ramana Maharshi, Trailanga swami, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda were all perfect Brahmcharis and knower of Brahman in real sense.


The concept of Brahmacharya has been best described by Patanjali in the Yoga-Sutra:

Brahmacharya-prastisthaayam viryalaabhah (2.38)

When walking in the awareness of the highest reality (brahmacharya) is firmly established, then a great strength, capacity, or vitality (virya) is acquired.

brahmacharyya= walking in awareness of the highest reality, absolute reality, remembering the divine, practicing the presence of God; continenceratisthayam = having firmly established, being well grounded in virya = strength, vigor, vitality, courage labhah = is acquired, attained, gained Brahmacharya brings virya: By remembering the highest energy or force of reality, that energy is then not dissipated. As it is not dissipated, it is as if it is growing, acquired, attained, or gained. Thus, we appear to gain virya, which is strength, vigor, vitality, and courage. Actually, virya is an aspect of our subtler nature, which has been there all along.

Remembering comes first: Celibacy is sometimes considered to be the practice of brahmacharya. However, celibacy is not the cause, but the effect. The practice, or cause, is of constant remembering of the highest reality, absolute truth, the divine, or the presence of God. This remembrance is the cause, and the celibacy is the effect. Since the effect might be so visible when watching a spiritual person, we can accidentally reverse cause and effect, and try to practice mere restraint of sensual urges. Once again, the practice of brahmacharya is walking in the awareness of the highest reality, absolute reality, remembering the divine, or practicing the presence of God.

Cultivating opposites brings positive fruits: With each of the Yamas and Niyamas, cultivating opposites of our negative habits or conditionings brings positive fruits (2.33, 2.34).

In the case of mindfulness of higher truth, one might have the inclination to forget this, so as to pursue desires in the physical world or its mental counterpart in the inner world. In cultivating the opposite, or reminding oneself (2.33, 2.34) that such behaviors, words, or thinking will only bring personal misery and suffering, the ensuing letting go process allows a natural flow of energy that can be used in positive ways. Reference : http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-23545.htm

Swami Vivekananda defines brahmacharya as

Chastity in thought, word, and deed, always, and in all conditions, is what is called Brahmacharya.

He gave greatest importance to brahmacharya:

Every boy should be trained to practice absolute Brahmacharya, and then, and then only, faith — Shraddha — will come. (quotations from CW)

The Shiva-Samhita also says

No tapas tapa itiaahur brahmacharyam tapottamam/urdharetaa bhaved yas tu sa devahnsa na maanushah// meaning: no penance is true penance,Celibacy is the true penance.He who is 'urdharetaa' is a god, he is not a man.**

In Srimad-Bhagatam, Sri Bhagavan advises Uddhava to leave even the company of the married people in order to realise the Truth.Srimad-Bhagavatam is the pinaccle ofvall the Puranas that contains the essence of the Vedas.

I think its only the saints who have the eyes to see have understood the real meaning of brahmacharya and they unianimously agree in essence to what Swami Vivekananda has said in this regard.


brahmaiva satyam. In reality there is NO kaama / krOdha. Knowing this and living accordingly is the highest form of brahmacharya. It requires uttara meemaamsa / sanyaasa in mind (bhaavaadwaitam sadaa kuryaath, kriyaadwaitam na kurvayeth). Knowing He who is guiding .. having akartRtwa bhaava is the key for it.

some more points: According to our scriptures, praarabdha karma is the cause of incorrect behavior. When paapa is done the main result is not some hell but it is the tendency (preraNa is the word used - movement of body - (prachodayat)) to do it again. The only remedy for karma is to remove prakRti ahamkaara (the thought I am doing). Real ahamkaara (aham brahmosmi) is required. In fact it is the main helping factor. Unless the karma beeja (different from 3 types of karma) is removed - which only a sadguru (He who has proved the saastra vaakaya - gururviswam nachaanyOsti - by giving experience) can do, no amount of mere bhaava will help or rather will not stand against real world.

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    Welcome To Hinduism SE! Pls .Provide sources from authentic Hindu scriptures like Bhagavad Gita \Purana's in support of your statements in the answer.Your answer is more like a comment in its present state. Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 5:10

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