In Sanskrit, brahman literally means growth, expansion, evolution, development. Brahman also means absolute, divine, Supreme spirit, Universal spirit, sacred study and related to sacred knowledge. Acharya can mean student or follower. One meaning of brahmacharya is a student of the mystery of existence, or somebody who honors the absolute and follows supreme wisdom. One more meaning of the word brahmacharya is celibacy. In the context of the Yoga Sutras, as we have seen already in this chapter, Patañjali has pointed out that avidya is not knowing the difference between our essence and the aspect of ourselves that is temporary (2.5). In addition, in 2.17, it is stated explicitly that the cause of suffering is conflating what can be perceived with the pure awareness that makes perception possible. This pure awareness underlies all that is. This thread continues in the previous yamas and is emphasized once again here.
It can be argued that life itself is the manifestation of the absolute expressed in endless multiplicity and diversity in a continuous process of unpredictable change. Life is the greatest mystery as well as the greatest teacher. Consequently, it seems appropriate to think of brahmacharya as cultivating curiosity for life, as well as, honoring it with reverence and wonderment. Choosing to see brahmacharya in this light ignites the spark of curiosity that enables you to learn from life’s constant teachings. Consequently, instead of thinking that you can predict the future accurately, you can observe how life moves gradually and gracefully, like the gentle blooming of a delicate flower. This attitude helps release the strain of trying to subdue the world around you, helping you see that every day, at every single moment there are teachers all around you offering you lessons, setting you up to remove your misconceptions, misidentifications and limitations. Brahmacharya is an invitation to become one with the life force all around you.
You can ask yourself, how am I cultivating life affirming thoughts, attitudes, actions and interactions? You may also observe how you are honoring the uniqueness of each moment by asking yourself, Am I participating wholeheartedly in this unique moment? Are you cherishing the uniqueness of each breath you are taking? Are you awake to the miracle of life in everything that surrounds you, including what you like as well as what you dislike? One mantra that can guide your brahmacharya practice: I HONOR LIFE’S PERFECTION.
As usual, one more way of exploring the meaning of this sutra is by chanting it.
You can choose to chant it in its traditional form with some of the words coming together:
2.30 ahiṃsāsatyāsteya brahmacaryāparigrahāḥ yamāḥ
अहिंसासत्यास्तेय ब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहाः यमाः ॥३०॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually:
If you prefer, you may listen to the podcast: