What if a person broke the vow of brahmacharya by indulging in sexual activity like masturbation? Is there a punishment? Something a person would do to clear the sexual sins?
First of all what i will be posting will apply only to a Dvija Brahmachari whose being initiated into Veda study.
For a Brahmachari wasting manhood is an offence to start with, whether its voluntary or otherwise.
Manu Smriti 2.180. Let him always sleep alone, let him never waste his manhood; for he who voluntarily wastes his manhood, breaks his vow.
If its involuntary then the prayaschitta (atonement) is rather simple.
Manu Smriti 2.181. A twice-born student, who has involuntarily wasted his manly strength during sleep, must bathe, worship the sun, and afterwards thrice mutter the Rik-verse (which begins), ’Again let my strength return to me.’
Also, breaking a vow falls under UpapAtakas or minor sins that lead to jAtibhrahmsa or loss of caste.
Manu Smriti 11.61. Defiling a damsel, usury, breaking a vow, selling a tank, a garden, one’s wife, or child,.. (are all) minor offences, causing loss of caste (Upapataka).
Atonement for voluntary discharge of seminal fluid for a Brahmachari is as given below:
Manu Smriti 11.117. Twice-born men who have committed (other) minor offences (Upapataka), except a student who has broken his vow (Avakirnin), may perform, in order to purify themselves, the same penance or also a lunar penance.
Manu Smriti 11.118. But a student who has broken his vow shall offer at night on a crossway to Nirriti a one-eyed ass, according to the rule of the Pakayagnas.
Nirrti is a demonness, who also is one the 10 Dikpalas (guardians of directions) and she guards the southwest direction.
And, the punishment for discharging semen by a householder, other than in intercourse, is as follows:
- If a householder willingly causes the discharge of his virile seed otherwise than in sexual intercourse, he should recite the Gayathri verse one thousand times, and should perform three Pranayamas. (ParAshara Smriti 12-63)
Note that the above verse is not related to a Brahmachari (student) but is applicable to a householder, but since its related to masturbation, i included it in my answer.
Another general atonement measure for all sins is the recitation of the Gayatri mantra. So if you have got the Gayatri mantra upadesam you can easily use this method to your benefit.
One, by reciting the Gayatri, for ten thousand times, is freed from all sins
Usana Smriti's last chapter
NOTE - All the prayaschitta measures mentioned above can be performed only by those who have been initiated into VEda study. That is by those who have Gayatri mantra initiation. The only prayaschitta that can be performed without Vedic initiation is the pranayama (without using mantra).