Literally viryam means virility, `that which characterizes a true man` and the sense includes heroism and effective power. “The Self cannot be attained by one who is without strength” by one who excited, by one whose meditation-austerity is without renunciation. But of the knower who strives with these aids (strength, absence of excitment, and meditation based on renunciation) the self enters ”into Brahman.”
Viryam is created by performing the Yogic practices with Shraddha or faith, and this means a special attitude to life which is called Brahmacharya or the “path to Brahman”. By Brahmacharya the energies of body and mind are controlled and focused on the one end, and by this focusing is produced in the personality a new fount of power and courage.
If we compare individuality impelled by natural drives to an unstarted car on a steep slope, we see that it can run downhill more or less vigorously according to the slope. It can be steered by the driver to some extent, but only within the limits that it must continue to run in the main downhill. Those who are endowed with vigorous natural energy can outstrip their fellows, but only while the slope lasts, and only in one general direction. When it comes to mounting the hill, they are all equally hopeless. The car can be swung round and will climb a little until the momentum is lost, after which it must revert to the original direction.
Brahmacharya is comparable to an attempt to start the engine and it means to engage the energies of body and mind so that the natural free running is substantially checked, though not so much as to make the mechanism stop. The energy appears to be lost, but in fact it has been directed within to turn over the engine, so to say. When the engine has been started, the car can travel uphill or downhill at will of the driver, and is not dominated (though still affected) by the slopes. Brahmacharya is to engage the intellect in study of Yoga, the feelings in devotion, the body in unselfish service of others, and the will in quest for Reality though deeper and .deeper meditation. Then a new energy, called by Shri Shankara the “youthful life” springs up and the Brahmachari finds he has power and courage to face obstacles, which before seemed like impassable rocks.
Brahmacharya means to redirect the sex energy into universal compassion, into artistic creation, and especially into devotion to a form of God or to a God-realised saint; the will to power is redirected into enthusiasm for Yogic practice and into obtaining control over the instruments of body and mind; curiosity is focused into a determined search for experience of truth. The death-wish is converted into its real basis, a desire for transcendence.
In the Yogic psychology these processes do not mean artificially forcing what is natural into an unnatural channel; the true nature of man is universal and divine. Restriction of universal love and power and knowledge to seek satisfaction through experiences of the limited body and mind (which are inherently incapable of giving it) was artificial. Brahmacharya means returning the energies to their proper channels, and those who practise it properly are blessed with a vigour and inspiration based on inner serenity. Their energy is not restless, but rises from inner calm when circumstances demand, and falls back into it again when the need is over.
When the impulses to feeling and action express their true source` namely the desire for universality leading to God-realisation, there is reduction of internal friction, and this itself marks a great release of energy. We can see such increase of available energy on a small scale when people concentrate their interest and will on any objective which they regard as great and noble so much that their individuality offers itself in service. Even fanatical nationalists sometimes display remarkable power and serenity, but because their goal is the limited good of one section they often fall into despair of soul. The super-patriots of certain nations in recent years have been examples.
The rush of energy which accompanies spiritual concentration, on the other hand, is subject to no inner clouds. Kumarajiva, Dharmaraksha, and many other Buddhist monks of India scaled the Himalayas to cross to China to bring the doctrine to the Chinese; once there they learned Chinese so perfectly that their translations of the Sanskrit sutras into this most difficult language were as highly esteemed for style as for content. Such an achievement was greatly admired by the ruling classes of China, whose main intellectual and artistic interests were literary, and it was perhaps a big factor in the adoption of Buddhism.
Truly Viryam is the great cause of success in Yoga. Dr. Shastri says that there is only one class of aspirant who fails and that is the coward. Viryam is courage and enthusiasm and when these are directed rightly unknown powers begin to stir in the soul, which make further steps on the path easy. Patanjali says: “To the keenly intense, success is near”.
© Trevor Leggett