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What to do when a vow of controlled (self-imposed) brahmacharya has been broken? The vow is not actually a vow of celibacy (as in the case of a Sannyasin). Here the aspirant controlled himself by this vow for a month by thinking about Lord Shiva.

Now what kind of punishment must the aspirant undergo for the breakage of such a self-imposed vow?

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    The spilling of seed is not good for a sannyasin under any circumstance. For a householder, the dispersal of seed should be done according to scriptural guidelines, in other words, there should be no spilling of seed outside relations with a wife. – Swami Vishwananda Aug 14 '15 at 10:35
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    There is no punishment. The Lord knows all. He knows you (whoever it is) tried your best. Keep trying and don't give up. The Lord loves you beyond measure and simply restart your vow with greater zeal than before. No one can reach the destination in one go (unless they were incarnations or if Lord specially wills it). Swami Vivekananda, Buddha, everyone had to go through several lives of austerity to achieve what they did. If one can simply get rid of lust in one month, then everyone would be liberated by now. Continue trying hard. Great job, all the best! – Sai Aug 14 '15 at 14:11
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    I don't know whether anything is written in books about this or not but what I feel in such matters is that one should think that will his action do any bad on others. If not then that action is not punishable. if you are into an extra marital relation and breaking trust of your wife then its bad else its nothing. – Aby Aug 14 '15 at 14:25
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    Relate your case with one who decides not to eat spicy/junk food (which harms body) & after following for sometime he eats once. Now will that mean that his body has not been benefitted within the time he has not eaten junk or will he die in that one day because of eating now?He will still be atleast better than the situation if he had eaten junk daily and his body will now be strong to atleast not getting harmed easily. Apply the same principle in your life too. The days you have not masturbated, you have gained something (whether material or spiritual) but you don't loose it all at once. – Aby Aug 14 '15 at 14:31
  • @iammilind You changed the Qn tile and Yogi changed the body, now someone reading the Qn for the first time has to wonder what was OP really asking. I think we should revert the question to its original form however offensive it may look! – sv. Mar 16 '16 at 2:00
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Gita Chapter 2 Verse 47 divided:

(1) You have a right to perform action
(2) Not the fruits of action
(3) Don't be the cause of the fruits (generated from action)
(4) Never be attached to inaction

If the vow is broken, then think of it as God's grace or will. Whatever comes on way, be it punishment, just accept it.
In your perspective:

  1. Your duty is to give up masturbation as per intuition. Whatever smaller amount of time, you can control that desire, it's worth.
  2. Suppose you broke that vow even after convincingly trying hard, then don't credit on yourself; Continue towards what you decided
  3. Again if the vow gets broken early/late, just leave those fruits on god and keep trying
  4. Don't demoralize yourself not to continue your perseverance

Just act based on natural intuition (thoughts from your conscience) and don't worry about its fruits. Disallow self from any kind of harm.


In my personal opinion, taking a "vow" is an unnatural thing, because it binds you. One should make certain action/inaction in practice. Usually a "vow" attaches one with the material world. But as all "attachments" are ought to be broken, all the "vows" are also meant to be broken.

BG 6.24 — That yoga (with god) to be practiced without deviation; All Sankalpa (vows) born out of desires should be given up completely; All senses from all sides should be regulated by mind.

Krishna broke the vow of raising weapons during Kurukshetra war when he decided to kill the indefeasible Bhishma.
Arjuna also broke a vow (upon Krishna's advice) by Not killing Yudhishtira. The vow can be found here:

Arjuna, casting his eyes on Yudhishthira, and breathing like an angry snake, said unto Govinda, "I would cut off the head of that man who would tell me 'Give thy Gandiva to another person." Even this is my secret vow. Those words have been spoken by this king, O thou of immeasurable prowess, in thy presence, O Govinda! I dare not forgive them. I will for that slay this king who himself fears the slightest falling from virtue. Slaying this best of men, I will keep my vow. It is for this that I have drawn the sword, O delighter of the Yadus. Even I, slaying Yudhishthira, will pay off my debt to truth.

This is not to suggest, "make & break" a vows. Rather, it's better to be away from them. If it has to be taken in unavoidable circumstances, then one should also be ready to break it in unavoidable circumstances. Let your conscience define: avoidable vs unavoidable.

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    That Gita verse isn't talking about duty based on intuition, it's talking about the Kartavyas or the duties prescribed by the Vedas. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 14 '15 at 8:49
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    great answer sir! the way to happiness is by understanding that the Lord is the controller of the movable and the immovable. The vow was neither fulfilled nor broken by anyone, it is simply the Lord's will. All the best – Sai Aug 14 '15 at 14:04
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Isn't the whole point of Sharanagati the notion that one is simply powerless to reach God by practising any kind of austerities and simply surrendering to Him? So how can it be that you surrender but still make a difference between those actions that are in line with vedas and those that aren't. The moment you have surrendered there should not be such demarcation isn't it? I'm just trying to understand your point of view here. I do not intend it to be offensive. Thanks – Sai Aug 14 '15 at 14:15
  • @Sai Good questions! "Isn't the whole point of Sharanagati the notion that one is simply powerless to reach God by practising any kind of austerities and simply surrendering to Him?" First of all, to clarify, Sharanagati involves acknowledging that you personally aren't capable of reaching Moksha on your own, not necessarily that no one is, although this is a dispute between the two subsects. (Vadakalais believe that it's possible to attain Moksha through other means, in particular Bhakti Yoga, but Sharanagati is easier, whereas Thenkalais believe that Sharanagati is the only way to Moksha.) – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 14 '15 at 15:23
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    @Sai "So how can it be that you surrender but still make a difference between those actions that are in line with vedas and those that aren't. The moment you have surrendered there should not be such demarcation isn't it?" Yeah, once you've done Sharanagati, you'll get Moksha regardless of what actions you do. But the two sub-sects have different views on performing Vedic dharmas after Sharanagati. Vadakalais believe that you still have to do your Vedic dharma after Sharanagati, and if you don't then Vishnu will punish you within this birth but he'll still grant you Moksha anyway. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 14 '15 at 15:33
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There's no need to "punish" oneself for breaking a vow. Here's some advice from the book, The Mind and its Control by Swami Budhananda:

Control of the mind is a very interesting inner game. If you have a sportsman's attitude you will thoroughly enjoy it, even while apparently losing. In the playing, this game takes a great deal of skill, alertness, sense of humour, goodness of heart, sense of strategy, patience and some heroic flair which makes it possible not to get disheartened in the face of a hundred failures.

If we are over-ambitious irrespective of our capacities, if we are jealous of others' prosperity, or if we are self-righteous, we shall not easily control our minds.

If we have a feeling of guilt, we shall not be able to control our minds. Therefore we must erase all guilt from within us. To repent for sins committed and ask God's help for strength of will so that they may not be repeated, that is all that is needed to be free from guilt.

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    Note that the passage also says you should repent for the sins committed. Hindu scripture gives very detailed instructions about Prayaschitta for different sorts of sins. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 15 '16 at 17:31
  • But yes, having repented for the sin there's no point in feeling guilt. It's better to feel resolve that you won't commit the sin in future rather than feeling guilt for what you've already done. Also, the best thing to do is Sharanagati, or complete surrender to Sriman Narayana. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 15 '16 at 17:33
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Are you referring to something like this? – sv. Mar 16 '16 at 2:26
  • Yeah, those are examples of the sorts of Prayaschitta activities that are prescribed for different sins. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 16 '16 at 2:28
  • @KeshavSrinivasan "(for adultery)...beg at seven houses...this should be the livelihood for six months..." Does anyone follow them these days? Are they relevant in the present day? – sv. Mar 16 '16 at 3:48
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If you had made a promise then you should try to keep it by any means.If its a vow to God ,done ritualistically, then not doing as promised is even a greater sin as per our scriptures.

Please refer to description of sins and the related Hells (Narakas) found on this page in Sri Devi Bhagavatam.

On that page you will find descriptions of what happens if one makes false promise under various circumstances.

Quoting from the above link:

Now if anybody makes a false promise or swears falsely, taking the Tûlasî leaf in his hands, if anybody makes a false promise, taking the Ganges water, S’âlagrâma stone, or any other images of God in his hand; if anybody swears falsely, placing his right palm on the palm of another; if anybody swears falsely, being in a temple or touching a Brâhmana or a cow; if anybody acts against his friends or others, if he be treacherous or if he gives a false evidence; then all these persons go to Jvâlâ Mukha hell, and remain there for fourteen Indra’s life periods, chastised and beaten by My messengers and feeling pain as if one’s body is being burnt by red hot coal. One who gives a false evidence, with the Tûlasî (holy basil) in his hand becomes a Chândâla for seven births; one who makes a false promise with the Ganges water in his hand, becomes a Mlechcha for five births; one who swears falsely while touching the S’âlagrâma stone, becomes a worm of the faeces for seven births; one who swears falsely, touching the image of the God, becomes a worm in a Brâhmin’s house for seven births; one who gives a false evidence touching with the right hand, becomes a serpent for seven births.

Also refer to this page and please read what is written regarding taking a sankalpa(vow) before chanting any Mantra.

Quoting from that page:

If you have taken a vow to do X number of japas in Y number of days – jolly well do as vowed! No short cuts and no excuses. This is one failure for which the Gods make you pay! So think and calculate carefully (use a calculator please!) and keep an emergency cushion, before you take a vow!!

So,in short,making a vow and not fulfilling it is NOT something good and more so if its done in a ritualistic manner(like taking vows touching Holy objects,or while taking Holy water in hand or making vows with the appropriate hand mudra(the sankalpa mudra)).

But having said that,don't worry.In our Sasthras there is a remedy for every problem.There are prayaschittas for every sin.

Prayaschittas:

Prayaschitta is done for the destruction of sin. In the Code of Manu you will find various kinds of Prayaschitta for the destruction of various kinds of sins, such as the murder of a Brahmin, killing of a cow, drinking alcohol or taking forbidden foods, adultery, etc. Prayaschitta is of two kinds, viz., 1. Extraordinary (Asaadharana) and 2. Ordinary (Saadharana)..... Complete fasting on Ekadasi and Pradosha days destroys many sins. Every one of you should practise this. Bathing in the Ganga, Japa and ordinary pilgrimage constitute ordinary Prayaschitta for the destruction of small sins.

The above prayaschitta measures are taken from this page.

  • From narada purana--The most holy of tirthas is the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. Someone who bathes there attains perpetual good health, prospers, lives to a ripe old age and is pardoned all his sins. Even the gods and the sages are fond of the waters at this sacred confluence.In fact, the Ganga is so sacred that even if one just thinks of her, all pain is relieved and all sins are pardoned. Along the banks of the Ganga is a remarkable tirtha known as Prayaga. Brahma himself peformed a yajna there. You can bathe in the waters of all the tirthas if you so desire. – Rickross Mar 14 '16 at 6:56
  • *But the punya (store of merit) that you will acquire from this is only a sixteenth of the punya you will acquire from touching a few drops of water from the Ganga.There are some other rivers also in which the Ganga is always present. Their names are Godavari, Sarasvati, Kalindi, Kaveri, Krishna, Reva, Vahuda, Tungabhadra, Bhimarathi, Vetravati, Tamraparni and Shatadru. – Rickross Mar 14 '16 at 6:57

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