What is the purpose of religion?
If religion cannot bring man close to man, and man close to God, then ban it! We don’t want it. All temples, churches, mosques must be closed. All religious people must be asked to quit because they have not been able to bring man closer to man, and man closer to God. This is the only purpose of religion; there is no other purpose.
Colonialism is not the purpose of religion. I am definite about it, and if it was up to me, I would ban it. I do not have any tender core in my life about religions, even my own religion. I don’t like it, I don’t like Christianity, Islam or any religion! I don’t like any religious person, nor these Jagadshankaracharyas. They should teach only one thing: how I love you and how I love God – that’s all. Bring man closer to the visible man, and bring man closer to the invisible man. That is the one purpose of religion, nothing else.
What is tapasya?
Traditionally tapasya is understood as the practices saints used to do as austerities – walking barefoot, eating very little, having very few clothes to wear, sleeping on the floor. That is called austerity and penance, but tapasya is more than that.
Pranayama is also known as tapasya because it generates heat. The literal meaning of tapas is heat. When you heat the room, the heater can be called ‘tapasya’ because it heats. Similarly, when awakening takes place, heat increases in the body. When you do a lot of pranayama, it increases the heat in the body. Anything, which increases the heat in the body is tapasya. However, traditionally it means walking barefoot, having minimum possible clothing and eating the minimum possible. It is the austerity and penance of saints.
Could you tell us a little about brahmacharya in the context of tantra?
Brahmacharya literally means ‘roaming in highest, absolute consciousness’: Brahman means supreme consciousness, and charya means to roam. That is the literal meaning, but it has always been used for what you call celibacy or sexual abstention.
Abstention from the sexual act in thought, word and deed. Some people believe that abstention from the act itself constitutes brahmacharya. Others say that it is the desire, which you have to become free from, not the act alone. But there is a combination or interlinking between a desire and an action. Some say, that if someone has a desire and has not acted, he has already acted. Others say that those who have no desire but somehow have acted, have only acted.
In tantra, usually the whole affair takes place between husband and wife. If anyone just wants to do the tantric sex with anybody, in India it is not possible. If he wants to pick up somebody else, or if she wants to pick up somebody else other than their own husband or wife, in India it is impossible. And if it is possible it is not a tantric relationship; it can only be prostitution, it is so difficult. So everything happens between husband and wife.
The first element of brahmacharya is no ejaculation. Involvement in the act is not at all assessed, weighed or analysed, it is only the ejaculation which should not take place. The second element is that the female partner should not become pregnant. This is also part of brahmacharya. Therefore, she has to practise amaroli for at least one year prior to the actual involvement or act. The practice of amaroli is meant for this.
The third element is that the tantric act of maithuna, union between husband and wife, who are now two spiritual partners, should not be based on passion. If a man wants to have a sexual act with a girl he has to have passion, there must be a little attraction or the act cannot take place. In tantra they say no passion. Not only no passion, but your passionate temper has to cool down. There are many types of appliances, the most famous is the besmearing of bhasma, ashes, on the whole body of – Shiva and Shakti. There is also reference in many places to applying oil profusely. Not a little bit of oil, but so much that if you touch the body it is greasy. Applying bhasma and oil presents one to the other in a very non-passionate way. Whatever passion you may have, when you look at the person, it just cools down. This is also brahmacharya because your mind is calm and quiet. It is tranquil, not ruffled by passions, because the cause for passion is not there.
Another point is that this act has to take place only between two people who have practised sahjoli, vajroli, moolbandha, uddiyana, even nauli.
They have to know the breathing systems of inspiration and expiration. They absolutely synchronize their breathing as if they were one. The movements of the act and the breath have to synchronize with each other. They are more concerned with the counting and synchronizing of the breath.
The days are also suggested. You cannot practise on all days. For example, when a tragic death has taken place in the family where you are also a bit involved, you should not practise. Then there are many days when you should practise, the time and everything else is indicated. Sometimes it is in the middle of the night.
As a general explanation, in hatha yoga, they say you should be able to reverse the process of energy. Reversal of the process of energy takes place in vipareeta karani mudra, where you are not allowing the bindu or drop to go to mooladhara or yoni chakra. This is called holding the bindu, and holding the bindu means brahmacharya.
So we have two definitions of brahmacharya. One is the religious definition celibacy in thought, word and deed, but in tantra this is not there if you have your own partner, husband or wife, which is accepted socially according to the laws of the land or the traditions of the country. However, if you want to practise tantra in Iran, and you are searching for someone, you will be executed. If you search in India, they will say you have gone crazy, and ask, “What are you doing? What happened to you? Why don’t you get married and do what you like?” In the West it is possible but people have not gone deep into it at all. They have just equated brahmacharya with abstention and tantra with the sexual act. They have not talked about passionlessness.
Another point is one-pointedness. I will give you a very gross example. In the night or in the evening when it is dark and you want to read a book, you put on the light. You have switched on the light not because you want to look at the light, but in order to read. Your purpose is reading. Therefore, the purpose in the particular act is something else than the act itself.
The act is only a sort of putting the light on, because it has been found that out of all the practices of yoga and tantra, whether it is the hatha, raja, bhakti or jnana yoga or any other system of pratyahara, this is the most successful pratyahara act. In this you can remain engulfed in one state of consciousness without being disturbed by any other form of idea at least for ten to thirty minutes. You are able to confine your mind within a particular area where no other thought interferes; and this is the only practice. After this, there are other practices not as successful as this, like pranayama with which you control the mind.
Therefore, the practice of concentration must be at your beck and call. Concentration means to hold an idea in the mind. To hold an object or a feeling in the mind for a particular period of time. What experience are you having at this time? It may be dependent on the interaction between the senses and the idea or the senses and the object. Some experience is taking place, either it is a mild experience, a pleasant experience, a breaking experience, or an explosive experience; some experience is going on.
You experience that experience at your centre. Your centre has to be either bhrumadhya or anahata. It cannot be mooladhara, because the experience is taking place in mooladhara already, the gross centre of experience is mooladhara. You have to withdraw your mind – or you do not have to withdraw your mind because you have already practised dharana for a very long time prior to your practice of tantra. So you take your mind away to your centre and experience the experience which you are experiencing.