A Yogic Attitude to Sex

By Johannes Aagaard

The considerable interest aroused by the various schools of meditation is due partly to their claim to be able to free people from stress and tension, but partly also to their particular attitude towards sexuality. There is a connection between yoga and sex that is very hard to understand fully. This connection can appear – as in “Skandinavisk Yoga og Meditationskole” – in a clearly tantric technique, through which sexuality is used as a means of meditation. Or the connection can express itself through, e.g. the Hare Krishna movement’s puritanical and ascetic relationship to sexuality as such (Swami Prabhupada).

The guru who has aroused most interest in Denmark with regard to this connection is Swami Narayananda, from Gylling, Jutland, and this is because of the claims made by twenty or more female disciples of his – both former and present – that at the same time as he was strictly insisting that his disciples must abstain from every sexual activity he was in fact sexually active with them. Narayananda has accused the girls of lying, but an investigation of the allegations has made his claim impossible to accept. Girl after girl has given a substantially identical account.

It is therefore interesting to try and understand the connection between Swami Narayananda’s theory and his practice.

1. Narayananda’s Teaching About Brahmacharya

Swami Narayananda himself recognises that sexuality – or rather the conquering of sexuality – is the decisive factor in his school: “I have my own message. I have kicked all that away (he means the systems of the classical Hindu schools). I do not like it. I only give precise facts, which no-one can lay a finger on. The other yogis patch things up. They are not talking about Brahmacharya. That is the most important thing of all. It is a challenge to the whole world. Brahmacharya is necessary for all, both “householders” and monks.” L).

Narayananda’s whole literary output has as its central point the necessity of Brahmacharya. He himself describes in his book “Brahmacharya, its Necessity and Practice for Boys and Girls” (published 1960) how in 1940 he had a decisive experience: He is meditating in a park, when he notices a group of half-naked scruffy urchins between the ages of 7 and 10. He feels sorry for them in their bedraggled state, until he realises that what they are settling down to begin doing is to masturbate – he grabs a stick and runs after them, shouting “You fellows, what are you doing here? Wait, I shall punish you for your silly misdoings, etc.”

One’s surprise is partly at N’s reaction to these scruffy youngsters, using the only free means of enjoyment they possessed in an attempt to warm themselves up, on a day N. himself describes as “a very cold winter day”. No less surprising, however, is the fact that twenty years later N finds it possible to describe his behaviour as a very human and natural reaction – indeed it is he who quotes the insensitive, unthinking words he shouted after the poor youths.

The fact is however that this small incident, which could possibly have occasioned the birth of a social reformer, instead pushed N’s mind in a neurotically sexual direction, and played its part in some traumatic experiences in the young monk’s later life.

At any rate, the incident gave N a sleepless night: his mind was full of thoughts like these: “O Mother India! O hallowed land of the Rishis! The birthplace of Brahmacharya where does the coming generation stand?” And what of the whole world? What is its future, when its young people are sinking so low? Out of these thoughts came N’s first book: “The way of Peace, Power and Long Life” published in 1945. 2)

His aim is clearly expressed in the foreword to “Brahmacharya”: “It is hoped that this booklet will meet the real want of the nation and the world at large, and teachers, parents and students will imbibe its noble ideas and revive Brahmacharya Ashrama to save the nation and the whole world from a terrible catastrophe.” 3)

There seems to have been a certain lack of proportion in the young swami, who from the beginning saw himself as saviour of a lost world. The perdition from which he wants to save people is the practice of sexuality, and the message which will save them from it is the message of Brahmacharya. N has of course more than this to say, but there is every reason to take him at his word, and to be quite clear that it is Brahmacharya which is his essential mission to “nation and world”.

To make any sense of this account of his preaching of Brahmacharya we must at the outset look carefully to the presuppositions which lie behind it. These are connected with the relationship he had with his mother. This is not unique – it seems to be a continually recurring characteristic of neo-Hinduism. N prefaces his first book with a long quotation from Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, which takes as its starting-point the fact that “Samsara” (=”the world”) consists of two elements – “Kamini” (=”light”) and “Kanchara’. (=”gold”). In particular it is desire, or lust, which Ramakrishna concentrates on. He of course is writing to men, and refers to the number of “troubles and tribulations, worries and anxieties” a modern man has because of his relationship to woman. “How much humiliation he undergoes for her sake? He sells his body. He sells his mind… He is made to dance like a monkey”. 4)

Alone, man is strong, but marriage makes him a slave, empties him of “power of mind” and “power of concentration”. “All the maladies, all the troubles, and almost all the diseases are owing to the loss of Brahmacharya”. His conclusion is short and clear – “Woman is verily the Maya”. 5)

One must therefore never “believe a woman”. One must mistrust a woman, purely and simply because she is a woman, even if she is a “great devotee”. It is quite clearly the sexual difference that matters, and nothing else. Ramakrishna describes how he allowed his young 14 or 15 year old bride sleep by his side without it giving him sexual feelings. His explanation is interesting, right down to the details of his wording: “I look upon every woman as my own mother. I see the form of my Divine Mother in every woman, either chaste or unchaste”. 6)

His own mother and the Divine Mother are one and the same – or at any rate merge into one for him. And this “mother-awareness” stands in opposition to his “woman-awareness”( insofar as this is marked by lust and sexual desire. He therefore conquers his desire with the help of his mother-awareness, and he increases the strength of his mother-awareness by projecting it on to the divine.

His mother demands everything of him. She is his all. There is no room for other women. They are all – without exception – Maya, or manifestations of the world’s deceit, and if one follows them it leads to sexual activity, which leads in turn to the circle of existence – Samsara. “For every sexual intercourse one has to take a new birth in this world.” 7)

Behind this attitude lies partly something concrete – a neurotic relationship with his mother, a simple case of mother-fixation, which prevents him from having a free relationship with other women. It is partly also perhaps a cultural phenomenon, pointed out by several authors – a form of matriarchalism in Indian culture, which puts the older woman, the mother, in a position of complete dominance.

In understanding N’s relationship to Ramakrishna, it is important to realise that the similarities between them are not confined to their teachings, but may be found as well in their presuppositions. N, too, has a problematical relationship with his mother. Born in 1902, he lost his father in 1912, “which gave him a very rude shock”. 8)

For a guru, the early death of either father or mother is an experience which has a vitally important part to play in his development. 9)

So it was that the 10-year-old boy grew up in the care of a widow. There is no mention of brothers or sisters. His youth is described in the clichés found in legends about heroes. 10)

In 1929, at the age of 27, he became a monk (sannyasi), now for the first time leaving home. It was a long time to have lived with his mother.

First he joined the Ramakrishna Mission, and it is significant that this basic experience meant so much to him, even though he only kept up this close contact for three to four years. After 1936 he broke away from the Mission completely. 11)

He practised the stricter forms of meditation and penance, and attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi at the end of February 1933, on the night when Siva is worshipped through the night in most parts of India. It is for this reason that he is influenced, first and foremost, by Sivaism. 12)

After his attainment of Nirvikalpa Samadhi his mother died in 1934. Of this he writes: “I read the letter and communicated the news to the Brahmachari (the other holy men) without any feeling whatever (my underlining). I was absolutely unconcerned and my mind was unperturbed. By then, life and death has lost all value for me: both were equal to me.” 13)

He writes of this as one section in a whole series of stories describing how the mind determines everything: and his conclusion is that he did in fact reach absolute freedom, even in relation to his mother.

There is however more to say on this point, for this freedom in relation to his earthly mother was achieved by N by transferring his mother-fixation to “Divine Mother”. It is absolutely vital if one is to understand him and his school, to understand the dominant role played by the divine mother, or maternal deity. In N’s writings the following sentence often recurs: “Worship the Almighty Mother Kundalini Shakti in the Muladhara Chakra”. 14)

This worship of the mother-goddess is the central point in the form of tantra of which N is an exponent – Kundalini Yoga. The aim of this tantric form of meditation is to move power from the central point between the opening of the anus and the genitalia via a whole series of other “centres” up to the crown of the head, where the feminine power is joined by the masculine God, Shiva.

The awakening of this power, Shakti, occurs with the following words: “Wake up, Mother: Arise Mother: And reach your goal at this very moment.” 15)

It is not my task in this context to describe the technique and philosophy of the raising of the Kundalini. But of decisive importance is the fact that if the Mother is to awaken and rise up, all sexual activity must cease. Any relationship to a woman other than Divine Mother will affect the Divine Mother, make her passive, and paralyse her. There is an absolutely exclusive choice – either the beloved mother, or the desired woman. The two cannot co-exist. The choice must be made.

For N the choice is not a hard one. “The child is the father of man, and the mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom. What an influence the mother has over the child! What an amount of faith the child has in the mother’s words! …Every word and every act of the mother has a definite mark in the young brain… as such the child’s future entirely depends upon the mother …”16)

He commits himself completely to his mother. She controls him and must control him… “The father is a hundred times more valuable than the teacher, but the mother is a thousand times more than the father.” 17)

It is therefore hardly surprising that N understands God as a mother. In his most important book “The Primal Power in Man or the Kundalini Shakti”, published in 1950 18), it emerges clearly that his God is female. In fact it is the Shakti aspect which completely absorbs his attention, and this is female-oriented. Shakti is the active, female counterpart to Shiva. This Shakti is called Bhujangi, i.e. snake, but the snake also is here understood as female, as in Kundalini. Among other characteristic names Ishwara is important, which means “Sovereign Lady”. 19) Kundalini Shakti is the mother of all energy, the energy of the sun, the moon, and fire, whether this energy functions in makrocosm or egative. 20).

In contrast to Shakti, Shiva plays a distinctly self-effacing role. He sits and waits up there in the crown of the head. When she is united with him, liberation occurs, but she is the active element, and needs to be awakened into activity by means of invocation and technical exercises.

Kundalini Shakti is also called Prana Shakti, and as such is “the Mother of all the forces in the body” 21). The capital M is no accident. The word “Mother” is used not merely metaphorically, but to describe the actual cause.

Therefore “Pray. Pray with a travail heart unto the All Mighty Mother Kundalini Shakti, to save you from all pit-falls and dangers, and to lead you unto the final Goal safely.” 22)

Little by little, however, N comes round to talking of God as “It”. It is the way he eventually conceives of God – the “Advaitic” conception –of God as The One, neither light nor dark, neither life nor death, neither she nor he, but IT.

“A Thing called God”, “The Thing in Itself”, and “That One Thing” are formulae often used by N. “Thing” always has a capital T, and is considered a precise way of expressing the supra-personal character of God. 23)

This, the ultimate reality of God, N calls “it” 24) , for God is what is left when all names and forms are removed from the universe. In this sense God is only received “via egative” – through denial. God is not a particular.

2. Sex as Maya

The divine mother represents reality, while all other women are manifestations of Maya, as already mentioned. Even the idea of sex “is nothing but the idle fancy of the mind and the senses due to ignorance. It is a great delusion.” 25)

Once one succumbs to Maya, one can never attain liberation. A person who does not live in celibacy can never think rightly about God. Such a person can never live rightly, and one cannot worship God. “With a sexual life God-realization is quite impossible.” 26)

Sexual activity, then, is opposed to one’s relationship to the divine. Awareness of God and awareness of sex are mutually exclusive. But in addition sexual activity is downright dangerous and destructive, according to N.

“Every sexual enjoyment drains the whole system. It brings convulsions in the whole body. It throws the whole body and mind into chaos. Sexual enjoyment weakens the mind, dulls the intellect, weakens the mind, weakens the will-power and shatters physical health.” This is the norm – and if one is very active sexually, one will suffer from incurable illnesses, and indescribable misery. There follows early decline and death. 27}

“The loss of bodily strength and mental vigour in one act of sexual indulgence equals that suffered in twenty-four hours of deep study or seventy-two hours of hard physical labour. What a colossal loss it is!” 28)

Brahmacharya therefore includes the injunction that one must not on any account “touch the body of one’s opposite sex with a lustful motive and not to kiss or embrace one’s opposite sex.” 29)

“Never kiss or embrace anybody. Nay, not even a person of the same sex… Avoid looking at the person of the opposite sex… Never talk with a person of your opposite sex in a lonely and secluded place…”30)

All sexual instinct and sexual activity must cease. This is demanded by Divine Mother. And what mother says is always right. For this reason Brahmacharya is of absolute necessity. It is for this reason also that “wet dreams” are so great a problem. 31)

This phenomenon, in reality nothing more nor less than a matter of the nocturnal emission of semen, plays a very important role in N’s system. This is easy to understand. It is one thing to achieve something by means of the nervous system, directed by the will. But what is to be done about one’s nervous system working quite independently and evading the control of the will by making us act in our dreams in a way that is against our will? The only solution is to try and subjugate the independent nervous system as well, so that this also will obey the will of the divine mother.

Besides this elevated aim, which leads on in its turn to the development of both the theory and the technique of Kundalini itself, there are meanwhile also a whole mass of “useful” methods one can use on the way. The uselessness of these methods only serves to underline the banality of the problem.

Taking a cup of cold water, for instance, will help you very much to observe Brahmacharya and will save you from wet-dreams. 32)

One must try to have a good digestion: constipation “often brings “wet-dreams””. 33)

Wet-dreams produce loss of semen, and this in itself is a great problem as we shall see later. To avoid the risk of any loss of semen, “every emotional feeling” must be avoided. With every emotional feeling there occurs “a minute tickling of seminal fluid from the storage”, while violent emotional feelings cause the emission of semen not only in dreams, but waking as well.” 34)

Cold showers play a large part in preventing wet dreams, and N’s advice here is very detailed. 35)

His most refined regulation, and probably the one that is most dangerous to one’s health, is his frequent injunction to use a “Coupinum” – a loincloth. All disciples must use one. Anyone who suffers from wet dreams must use it day and night. 36) It is also recommended that the loincloth be soaked in ice-cold water, and similarly cold baths lasting for up to half an hour are said to help. 37)

Fear of wet dreams also determines a disciple’s eating habits. Tea, coffee, wine and spirits, and smoking, must be avoided, together with all hot meals and spices. 38) And one must also of course avoid seeing people naked. The observation of all sexual activity, including that of animals, birds, reptiles, and, yes even the sex-life of insects, must be avoided completely. 39)

Only consciousness of God can drive out unclean thoughts. One must therefore always think of God. “Try to make the Lord your all in all. Eat for Rim. Drink for Rim. Sleep for Rim. Nay! let the very heartbeats be for Him and Him alone”. 40)

One must therefore often isolate oneself from others, in order to meditate and fast – the latter however only in a mild form. The moon also should be avoided, for there is a connection between moonlight and sexual instincts. 41)

Despite all measures – so much N admits – nevertheless wet dreams occur from time to time. “One cannot avoid it in the beginning.” But they will and they must stop, if the correct measures are taken, and if one is sufficiently determined. If they do occur one must fast as a penance. 42)

In “Brahmacharya” (1960 p.84) he repeats that even those who keep Brahmacharya can have wet dreams. He attempts to minimise the very problem which he has helped to create. At any rate one must not go to the doctor with the problem. 43) All the same, N continues to repeat vociferously that so long as one works away with asanas and pranayama one can easily control wet dreams. In this way – and only in this way – one can become a “superman”! 44)

N regards loss of semen as a very serious matter.

“Every drop of this semen is very holy and every drop of it is sacred and valuable for the upkeep of mental and physical health of a person.” 45) “Brahmacharya” (1960 p.24) is even more drastic. The loss is “irreparable… it drains the system and ruins the mental and physical health of a person.” 46) The point is that as well as semen being lost there is also a serious loss of Kundalini Shakti. N is not entirely consistent over whether this loss occurs because of semen-loss, or simply happens at the same time. But the fact is clear enough, whichever is the case. One loses sexual energy with sexual activity and sexual energy is “a great power of the body… the supreme strength in the human body.” 48)

He attributes such great significance to sexual power that he can assert that when sex-energy is under control “mind and Prana” are also under control. This point of view makes sense if one sees sexuality as the strongest expression of the power of the independent nervous system. Success in subduing the sexual instinct is the most important step of all. If one can shift (the consciousness of) sexual power from the anus and genitals to higher centres, “the whole angle of vision of this world” shifts as well. “The great hankering after and attachment to the senses and to their objects vanish greatly. The desire for and attachment to food and sleep, subside greatly”… One does not need so much sleep. The secretion of semen stops. The genitals shrink, and one cannot function sexually any more. 50) But the assumption behind this development is that one has been able to raise power to the heart “centre” and beyond.

Loss of semen is of course no less harmful when it happens inside marriage. N recognises that marriage is necessary for the procreation of children. But even within marriage one must aim to avoid the waste of semen. If married couples live together “without restraint according to their whims and fancies they will be committing the worst sort of immorality.” 52)

N refers to the fact that it is prescribed in Shastras that married couples must only sleep together from the fourth to the fifteenth day after the beginning of menstruation, and in addition it must be avoided on certain days. Even this regulated form of cohabitation must cease when one has two children. The relationship must thus resemble one’s relationship with mother or father respectively, and so genuine sexual cohabitation is over and done with. Otherwise, there occurs “an act of debauchery”.

He goes so far as to insist that married couples who do not observe this rationing of sex “always bring forth defective and immoral children.” 53)

But if one keeps to these rules, then one can live in Brahmacharya even within marriage, for mutual attraction is converted into mental energy in order to attain Moksha. 54)

Loss of semen is as serious, as this for N because the semen has to be converted into “Ojas Shakti“, which is the greatest mental energy 55) of all. This “sublimation” cannot happen if one loses the semen. 56)

But if one keeps one’s semen the development occurs of a special nerve (nadi), called Medha Nadi, on the side of the body corresponding to Sushuma Nadi, which is situated in the spine. This Medha Nadhi does not function with ordinary people. But it can be developed by holding on to one’s semen, and it will then function in such a way that the semen is continually “dried up and converted into Ojas Shakti”. 57)

There are great advantages in having this nerve activated, for it is by this means that the sixth sense is discovered, “and one can know the event of the past, present and future”. 58)

This process can only take place with the help of “long, steady practice of this Pranayama”. This is a vital key to understanding the deeper meaning behind breathing exercises. 59)

The deeper purpose behind both Pranayama and Asanas is to develop such a degree of control over one’s body’s independent processes, that even the production of semen is controlled by the will. 60)

3. The Crises in India and Denmark

In India in 1950 N had to undergo a serious crisis caused by what he describes as persecutions. “Many hooligans took advantage of his piousness and created all sorts of troubles for him. They even brought charges of inhuman scandals against him.” 61)

The first real description of these trials occurs in his last actual book “The End of Philosophy” published 1962. 62)

He had taken care of some Pakistan refugees, and was working with them on a joint publishing enterprise. Two of the refugees were sisters. He was then accused of living an immoral life with these young women (i.e. “debauchery”). The accusations resulted in the departure of many of his former sympathisers.

The culmination was a number of accusations that he had made one of the girls pregnant, and that she had had an abortion. In reply, N accused the doctor of having produced evidence originating from his own wife’s recent confinement. N writes that the critics “tore my prestige to pieces … but I stood firm on Truth like the high Himalayan peaks without the least resistance from my side … I treated these vulgar people like flies, mosquitoes and scorpions … I kept quiet and offered absolutely passive resistance.” 63)

These sentences are interesting, in view of N’s use of the same tactics after similar attacks in Denmark in 1974. N describes in page 227f. the terrible consequences of these accusations for his accusers. They experienced appalling sufferings.

Twenty-four years later, in Denmark, there occurred an equally violent crisis of confidence in Swami Narayananda’s ashram. A group which included Anne Lise Dressler, for many years president of Yoga Trust, denounced Narayananda, partly because some of the girls in the group had themselves often been used as objects of the guru’s sexual activities, and. partly because the men and the other women in the group reacted strongly to the many pieces of evidence which had gradually come to light from the women involved in these sexual activities.

The movement is officially called “Yoga Trust“, and therefore the obvious name for the opposition is the “Anti-Trust“. This last group consists mainly of some disciples who were closest to the Swami over the years: some others of his closest disciples, however, have remained loyal.

As well as Trust and Anti-Trust, there is however a third group of disciples who do “believe” in the guru, but at the same time have to some extent detached themselves from him and from the Trust itself.

Faced with the considerable amount of evidence from women accusing the Swami of teaching one thing and practising another, he and the Trust have reacted with the same tactics the Swami used in India, i.e. with passive turning away from the world. Individual loyal disciples have taken up the argument in the Press against all the criticisms, and the Danish daily newspaper “Information” has been particularly co-operative in explaining away the accusations.

The Trust as such has not at any point denied the criticism, but has isolated itself and its members. The Anti-Trust has been solemnly and publicly banned, and all disciples who have so much as talked with the critics have been expelled by the Association. The same is true even of the members of the associated Abinaya-Alliance.

In July 1974 Anne Lise Dressler contacted the present writer and supplied a whole lot of material for a university-based research into the Yoga Trust. At the same time a good number of former disciples supplied oral information about their experiences with the movement. We have in this way collected a very large amount of written material, as well as many tape-recordings. It is not necessary to go into details in this article concerning the sexual activity involved, but certain aspects need to be made clear in order to understand just what it was that happened.

While the Swami was touching the girls sexually, or lying with them (no actual intercourse took place), he warned them against feeling sexual pleasure. This caused violent stress in the girls. He never explained the purpose of this practice; but some of them, who worked in his Kutir (house) and knew that it happened with others also, discussed with each other what the purpose could be, and concluded that it was some kind of “initiation”, i.e. dedication. In any case, by the very nature of the case they experienced these activities as a strengthening of the concentration on the guru; but at the same time most of the girls interviewed (though not all) declared that they felt disgust and fear.

The girls’ horror increased considerably when the guru not only demanded that they should not talk about his activity, but threatened them, if they should do so. The threats consisted partly of “eternal damnation”, and partly of giving birth to mentally ill children, or alternatively of becoming insane themselves, or of committing suicide, if they failed to keep their mouth shut… Not all the women he has had “sex-play” with have broken with him. We have also interviewed some of the “believers”, and it is typical of the movement that, although they reproach the guru for failing to explain the purpose of it beforehand, they are quite sure that there is a form of dedication involved with it.

There are examples of Swami Narayananda provoking these sexual practices a long time ahead, partly by his choice of Indian names for the girls, a phenomenon we cannot go into here, and partly by the instructions he gave in letters, through which in some cases he has separated married couples.

No impartial observer can possibly doubt the accuracy of the women’s claim to have been the objects of sexual activity under the compulsion of the Guru’s religious authority. The women in question have made their statements with many details and concrete facts, to a great extent independently of one another. They have nothing to gain by doing this – in fact the reason they have talked has often been that some of their friends who have done the same have been accused of lying. Most of them have tried to find excuses and explanations to justify what is for them an incomprehensible activity.

If the question be raised – why did they even so very frequently agree to the sex “games” (though there were a few who broke with the guru there and then, and left the camp in anger), and why did they – especially in 1971 – come to experience them daily? – the answer surely lies in the fact that they had already experienced the guru as an erotic and sexually arousing element in their meditation. The Kundalini method of meditation, which was practised at Gylling, but since then has decreased significantly, contains strong sexual impulses, and is in fact in itself an internal “coitus non interruptus”. The fact that the guru himself became the physical replacement for the guru as internal stimulus would not have made such a great difference, if only that same guru had not so energetically asserted the necessity of total sexual abstinence in the form of Brahmacharya.

4. Can the contradiction between theory and practice be explained?

The difficulty in understanding N’s activity is not only the superficial one that he does not practise what he preaches. That is too human to require an explanation. It is however this contradiction that has given rise to the opposition at Gylling and split his movement in two, and the reason the opposition wanted the contradiction explained was to “expose the old man”.

This is not the job of a university, and there was for this reason from the beginning a tension between the opposition on the one hand, and, on the other, the group from Århus University involved in the research. The two groups worked together for some time to bring the facts of the case to light, but they did not have the same aim, and their paths very quickly divided. The opposition tried to “expose the guru” by means of a Press campaign, and he survived the “exposure” – as we had forecast he would.

It was clear from the beginning that our task was quite different. It was not to expose, but to try and find out what really went on at Gylling. There was not only a contradiction between theory and practice, word and action; there was also an indirect connection between word and action. The system N uses as the basis of his teaching of Brahmacharya is probably simply the tantric system, which by its nature aims at the exact opposite of Brahmacharya – though in a hidden way.

But if tantrism’s relationship to sexuality is really the exact opposite of Brahmacharya, how can it be explained that N can found his teaching on a tantric system? This is the real problem. And it is not easy to resolve. It is this problem – ignored by the opposition at Gylling – that has taken us so long. From the start they have refused to believe that for many years they themselves have been “tantric”, and have practised tantric exercises.

However, certain formulations can be found in N’s exposition of the tantric system which suggest that he recognises himself the indirect relationship between the tantric basis on the one hand, and on the other the practice which developed in connection with it. These formulations are adequate evidence that both he and his disciples – perhaps both without realising it – have used techniques which work directly against their aim.

N writes e.g.: “Sexual enjoyment is the most powerful sense enjoyment and sex energy is the most important energy of the body and mind. The union of Shiva and Shakti i.e. God and His Creative Power in the gross form is sexual enjoyment, while the union of Shiva and Shakti in their causal form is the bliss of Samadhi. Bliss of Samadhi or Brahmananda is an uninterrupted state of sexual bliss, as it were, without the sense and its object” 64) (my underlining).

Unless sexual energy is converted into spiritual energy (Ojas Shakti) and sexual enjoyment into spiritual bliss, one cannot attain spiritual en1ightenment. It is for this reason that Brahmacharya – perfect Brahmacharya – is an absolute necessity for God-realisation. 65)

There are two problems here: firstly, in his method of meditation N takes the place of Shiva, and so when the sexual power, Kundalini Shakti is to be aroused and raised to meet with the guru himself, he quite clearly takes on a function in relationship to the sexuality dwelling within his disciples. Their sexual energy strives upwards to him. It follows inevitably from this that sexual desire and sexual energy from the disciples are bound up with the guru himself.

Secondly, the formulations contain the possibility that “perfect Brahmacharya” can include within it the kind of sexuality that does not lead to loss of semen, and thus to pollution, nor to normal orgasm. It is only with loss of semen and orgasm that sexual energy is “wasted”, so that it cannot be converted into Ojas. The above quotations in fact presuppose that there is a parallel development between “the gross form” and the “causal form”. One does not move from the first to the second by doing away with the first, but by converting it, by transforming it, by sublimating it. Therefore it is not surprising that N describes Samadhi as “an uninterrupted state of sexual bliss”, a coitus non interruptus so to speak. The state of sexual arousal is prolonged and maintained in its highest form, without declining again after orgasm. According to verbally transmitted information N has himself called Samadhi “brain orgasm”. A better expression would be “spiritual orgasm”.

So this “spiritual illumination” does not happen by means of the repression and removal of sexual activity, 66), but presupposes sexual activity of a particular kind. “So until and unless the sex energy is converted into spiritual energy (Ojas Shakti or great mental power) and sex pleasure into spiritual bliss, there cannot be any spiritual illumination” 67). Not only sexual energy, but even the enjoyment of sex is necessary as material for transformation!

The object is quite distinctly not that sexual energy and sexual enjoyment must simply cease to exist. His exposition is characterised by words like “conserve”, “convert”, “control”, “check”, and “express in higher manifestations”. 68)

On this basis one can understand that N himself has worked at converting not only his sexual energy but also his sexual enjoyment into Ojas Shakti. This also happens in tantrism generally.

If it is this that is implied every time N talks and writes about Brahmacharya, then in reality he says the same on countless occasions, but always in such a way that only those in the know can understand what he means. Brahmacharya in this case is not lack of sexual activity or enjoyment, but is both of these set in a definite connection with one another, and with a distinct aim.

A closer examination reveals this to be the case. N writes thus: “The word “Brahmacharya” generally means abstention from sexual intercourse or abuse in thought, word, and deed. But it has a deeper and wider meaning also. To keep a thing as it is or to preserve a thing in its pristine purity is called Brahmacharya. As such there is the Brahmacharya of mind, Brahmacharya of desire or thought, Brahmacharya of speech, Brahmacharya of hearing, Brahmacharya of sight, Brahmacharya of palate, Brahmacharya of smell, Brahmacharya of act, etc. To make the mind free from all desires and thoughts to have perfect control over the mind in its pristine purity is called the Brahmacharya of Mind… To make every act as a worship and to do every bit of work without attachment and hankering after its fruits is called Brahmacharya of action”. 69)

Here then we see that one no more refrains from sexual activity than from hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, or touching. It is not what one does, but the way one does it, that matters. If he means what he says, it must follow that what he is saying indirectly to disciples who have ears to hear with is this – you are not to stop functioning sexually. You must merely do it as a way of worshipping God, without being bound to what you are doing, and without seeking to get anything out of it by way of result. You must do it as if you did not do it. 70)

Sexuality is equivalent in reality to “every physical and mental act, such as eating, drinking, walking, speaking, thinking, etc.” All of this also involves loss of Ojas Shakti. But of all physical and mental activity the greatest loss occurs with sexual “enjoyment”. 71)

This great loss does not have to be avoided by giving up sexual enjoyment any more than the other loss by giving up eating, drinking, walking, talking, and thinking. Brahmacharya means not giving up sexual pleasures, but their transformation, to function on a higher level.

If “perfection is attained there will be no fear of a fall and one can move freely, if necessary, among young and beautifully person’s of one’s opposite sex”. 72)

While “in the initial stages” one must avoid contact with people of the opposite sex, it is different later. “There is a time when one goes beyond danger, i.e. when one attains Samadhi, one can live, nay even sleep in solitude with the person on one’s opposite sex without the least sort of carnal desires and thoughts…” 73)

Sexual pleasures as commonly understood are “tabooed because it leads to the unity of Shiva and Shakti in their grossest form, while the Bliss of Samadhi brings it about in the causal form”. 74)

Sexual energy must be preserved, controlled, and converted “into its causal state” for only this higher form of sexual union between Shiva and Shakti is lasting. 75)

It is only with this deep idea of Brahmacharya in mente that N’s fantastic descriptions of a genuine Brahmacharya make sense: “A perfect Brahmachari moves freely with great power and is a perfect master of his mind and the sense and, consequently, of the universe. The whole universe bends its knees before the mighty power of Brahmacharya. 76)

A man can scarcely be reckoned a really genuine Brahmachari before he is also Brahma i.e. has been in Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Brahma. Such a person is “beyond all evils” and is therefore beyond karma. One can therefore say of him that he does not possess a body. N warns against taking this formulation too literally. It means that he is not attached to his body and can live freely in relation to it. This must not be used as an excuse for acting wrongfully and sinfully. That is “nothing short of monstrosity”. 77)

N mentions people who regard themselves as beyond sin, on the grounds that it is only the body that sins, while “athman” merely witnesses the sin. He condemns this position unequivocally. It leads, he says, to eternal damnation. 78)

A completely liberated person, who returns to the relative world from Nirvikalpa Samadhi, continues to lead a normal life, for he eats, walks, and talks like other men. N underlines, however, that he cannot “beget children, nor can he do any evil and sinful acts”.

The significance is clearly that such a “superman”, as N calls him, lives a normal life, but with the exception that he cannot become a father (because, as we know from the foregoing, his genitals have shrunk) and that he cannot commit evil and sin.

However, it is not implied that this superman has no sexual energy and does not get sexual enjoyment.

It must be this implication which is omitted, for only an implication of this kind can lie behind the statement that follows: “for it is the sex-energy that is being converted into spiritual energy. It is the sex-pleasure that is being converted into prolonged spiritual Bliss or Brahmananda after the attainment of Samadhi.” 79).

It follows from this that he cannot have normal sexual functions, for one can only have this according to N if Shakti has come no higher than the four lowest centre: From and together with the fifth centre there is no more of that kind of thing. “For then there will be no secretion and discharge of semen. The gross semen gets converted into Ojas Shakti.” Whatever he does is due not to the “cravings of his body and sense”, but is pure love. 80)

It is in this way possible to see a certain internal connection between N’s theory and his practice, but this connection is so subtle that precious few – if any – of his disciples have had any possibility of understanding it. Even Anne Lise Dressler, president of the Trust for many years, has not suspected any of these possible consequences of the system.

The explanation can therefore not serve as an excuse for Swami Narayananda. He has by means of his system and by his personal power dominated a considerable number of women (we know of 22 at least), with the result that they have entered into sexual relations with him, the purpose of which they had no possibility of knowing, and which left them bewildered and afraid. He has threatened them with all the world’s woes if they should talk about it to others, and when they did so he has used his authority to do everything he could to stamp them as immoral and liars, and has banished them from fellowship with their friends. It is absolutely deplorable that Indian philosophy and religion has to be presented in the West by gurus who so compromise the traditions of their country. We are not justified in assessing Indian tradition on the basis of what we learn from gurus of Swami Narayananda’s kind.

NB The question remains – are gurus of Narayananda’s kind right to rely on the special tantric traditions within Hinduism? This question can only be answered after painstaking investigations, which are in hand.

1) From a taperecording of a conversation with a disciple at Gylling.
2) The 1940 experiences are described in “Brahmacharya…” 1960 p. 5ff.
3) Op. cit. p.8.
4) “The Way to Peace, Power and Long Life” 1945, quoted from 1950 edition p. 1ff.
5) Op. cit. p.2.
6) Op. cit. p.3ff.
7) Op. cit. p.4.
8) “A Brief Life Sketch” p. 277ff in “The Primal Power…” 1950, quoted from 1960 edition. See also “Revelation” 1968 p. 275f.
9) A. Osborne: “Ramana Maharshi and the Way to the Self” 1973 p.9. Parahamsa Yogananda: “A Yogi’s Autobiography” 1965 p. 17ff.
10) As a 12-year-old boy he suffered from malaria for a whole year. The feverish experiences of this illness are not without significance for the understanding of the symbolic language of Hinduism. “The End of Philosophy”… 1962 p. 58f.
11) “Primal Power” p. 280, “Revelation” 1960 p.280f.
12) “Primal Power” p. 280, “Revelation” 1960 p. 280.
13) “The End of Philosophy”… 1962 p. 156.
14) “The Way to Peace, Power and Long Life” 1945, quoted from 1950 edition p. 132.
15) op cit p 34f. See also “The Primal Power in Man or The Kundalini Shakti” 1950, quoted from 1960 edition p 132.
16) “The Way to Peace”… 1950 p 168.
17) op cit p 171.
18) quoted from 1960 edition
19) op cit pp 78,83.
20) op cit p 83.
21) op cit p 120.
22) op cit p 154.
23) “The Ideal Life and Moksha” 1965, pp 118, 135, 140.
24) See “Ideal Life… ” 1965 p 132, with a whole succession of “it”s.
25) “The Way to Peace… ” 1950 p 132.
26) “The Way to Peace… ” 1950 pp 101-2.
27) “The Way to Peace… ” 1950 p 109. “The Mysteries of Man…” 1958 p 112f. “Mind, Its Source and Culture” 1958 p 112f.
28) “Brahmacharya… ” 1960 p 48.
29) “The Way to Peace… ” 1950 p 71.
30) op cit p 124f.
31) The phenomenon is mentioned in many places, e.g. “The Way to Peace… ” 1950, pp 113, 116, 123, 127, 128,184,186, 187, “The Primal Power… ” 1960 pp 158, 160, 164, 244, “Brahmacharya” 1960 pp 37, 84ff, “Mind, Its Source and Culture” 1958 p 110.
32) “The Way to Peace… ” 1950 p 71.
33) op cit p 116.
34) op cit p 123. Also “Revelation” 1968 p 96.
35) op cit p 127. “Brahmacharya… ” 1960 p 62, where a1so long walks are recommended.
36) op cit p 128.
37) op cit p 184. In “The Primal Power” 1960 it is stressed that the loin-cloth must be made cold every quarter of an hour or twenty minutes if it is to function effectively. It is also recommended here that one should use ice (“applying ice to the regions mentioned”). In this case “all mental diseases and brain disorders” can be healed.
The same orders are given in “Brahmacharya…” 1960 p 59, and in “The Secrets of Prana, Pranayama and Yoga-Asanas” 1967 p 97.
38) op cit p 128.
39) op cit p 129.
40) op cit p 131.
41) op cit p 131.
42) op cit pp 187 and 188.
43) op cit p 85.
44) “Brahmacharya…” .1960 p 91f.
45) “The Way to Peace…” 1950 p 164.
46) “The Mysteries of Man” 1965, p 661.
47) “The primal Power… ” 1960 p 89. In later writings it is the orgasm as such that is dangerous and uses energy. See e.g. “Brahmacharya” 1960 p 23f, where orgasm without loss of semen is injurious to energy. See also pp 80, 82. “Mind, Its Source and Cu1ture”, 1958 p 102 and especially p 90ff and p 107f.
48) “The Primal Power” p 124.
49) op cit p 124.
50) “A Practical Guide to Samadhi” 1966 p 146. “Mind, Its Source and Culture” 1958 p 102.
51) “The Primal Power… ” 1960 p 254.
52) “The Way to Peace… ” 1950 p 165.
53) “Mind, Its Source and Culture” 1958 p 62.
54) “The Ideal Life and Moksha” 1951, quoted from 1965 edition p 31f.
55) Ojas Shakti is not original to N, but is found at any rate in the writings of Vivekananda, v. “The Way to Peace” 1950 p 11.
56) “The Mysteries of Man… ” 1956, pp 661, 663. “Mind, Its Source and Culture” 1958, p 101f.
57) op cit p 188.
58) op cit p 188, V: also “The Ideal Life…” 1965 p 160ff.
59) “The Primal Power…” 1960 p 164. V. also description of the process p 244f. It prevents wet-dreams, but also presupposes Brahmacharya.
60) “Brahmacharya… ” p 85.
61) “The Primal Power…” 1960 p 284.
62) op cit p 214f.
63) op cit p 244f.
64) “Revelation” 1951 quoted from 1968 edition p 104f.
65) op cit p 105.
66) “The Mysteries…” 1965 pp 58, 664.
67) “Revelation…” 1968 p l15.
68) “The Mysterie”s of Man…” 1965, p 652ff “Sex Sublimation”: “Mind, its Source and Culture” 1968 p 111ff.
69) “Revelation… ” 1951, quoted from 1968 edition p 95f.
70) There is no doubt that it is this understanding which N’s colleague in Copenhagen, Swami Janakananda has detailed more directly and openly, in his pronouncedly tantric and sexually active yoga. .
71) “The Secrets of Mind Control” 1959 p 37.
72) op cit p 43.
73) “A Word to Sadhaka” 1955 p 3.
74) “A Practical Guide to Samadhi” 1966 p 245.
75) op cit p 145.
76) “Revelation” 1968 p 210.
77) op cit p 167.
78) op cit p 168.
79) “Revelation” 1968 p 171.
80) op cit p 171f

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