Some while back, I put together some notes (a collection of quotes and a brief, informal bibliography) on the curious early Christian phenomenon of the Subintroductae for my friend Stephen O’Leary of USC — I thought they might be of interest in the case of Michael Travesser (see the second quote below) — and a little while later on Stephen’s suggestion, I made a shorter compilation of quotes regarding Mahatma Gandhi’s somewhat similar practice.
Recently another friend, William Benzon, has written a post about bundling, which in my view is a related phenomenon — and wishing to be able to point him to these materials, I decided to post them here…
> To The Pure All Things Are Pure
I had already gone to bed, and she made her way into my house and came into my bedroom. She told me that God had put it upon her heart very strongly to come and lie naked with me. I considered this for a time, and then asked the young lady to ask her parents if it was alright for her to do that. She went and asked her parents and came into my room again a couple of nights later after I had gone to bed, on July 31st. I asked once more if she had spoken with her parents and she told me then that her dad said that he trusted me. I took that to mean that he trusted me to do the right thing with her and not to violate her. So she took off her clothing and I held her, and placed my hand on her heart, and we spoke for awhile…
> Michael Trevasser, Lord Our Righteousness Church, Wayne and His Naked Virgins
For when physical affections are destroyed and tyrannical desire extinguished, then no hindrance will any longer stand in the way of men and women being together, because all evil suspicion will be cleared away and all who have entered into the kingdom of heaven can lead the politeia of the angels and the spiritual powers.
> St John Chrysostom, Adversus eos nqui apud se habent subintroductas virgins, 13, in Migne, PG [Patrologiae, Graeca], vol 47, 514, quoted in David M. Scholer, Women in Early Christianity: A Collection of Scholarly Essays, Taylor & Francis, 1993.
It seems that there was in the first full rush of the Church, an attempt, encouraged by the Apostles, to ‘sublimate’. But the experimenters did not call it that. The energy of the effort was in and towards the crucified and Glorified Redeemer, towards a work of exchange and substitution, a union on earth and in heaven with the love which was now understood to be capable of loving and being loved. In some cases it failed. But we know nothing – most unfortunately – of the cases in which it did not fail, and that there were such cases seems clear from St Paul’s quite simple acceptance of the idea. By the time of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in the 3rd Century, the ecclesiastical authorities were more doubtful. The women, sub-introductae as they were called – apparently slept with their companions without intercourse; Cyprian does not exactly disbelieve them, but he discourages the practice. And the synod of Elvira (305) and the Council of Nicea (325) forbade it altogether. The great experiment had to be abandoned because of Scandal.
Tolstoy put the crude objection in the Kreutzer Sonata, and Cyprian more or less agreed. “But then excuse me, why do they go to bed together?” Both wise men were justified as against a great deal of sentimental lust and sensual hypocricy. But even Cyprian and Tolstoy did not understand all the methods of the blessed spirit in Christendom. The prohibition was natural. Yet it seems a pity that the Church, which realised once that she was founded on a Scandal, not only to the world, but to the soul, should be so nervously alive to scandals. It was one of the earliest triumphs of “the weaker brethren,” those innocent sheep who by mere volume of imbecility have trampled over many delicate flowers in Christendom.
> Charles Williams, The Descent of the Dove: A Short History of the Holy Spirit in the Church,
But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
> 1 Corinthians 7:36, 37
Individual saints, such as St. Scothine, St. Mel, St. Kentigern, the Anglo-Saxon St. Aldhelm and Robert of Abrissel, all recognized as saints by the very Church which condemned syneisactism, lived in consortio mulierum. Moreover, the fact that St. Patrick condemned the practice probably bespeaks its existence, and the great chastity of the Celtic saints certainly is not inconsistent with their living with women. Although Achelis overstates his case in saying that the early Celtic Church was characterized by the practice of syneisactism, the number of stories of the saints, clergy, and lay ascetics living with the virgines clearly demonstrates that the practice cannot have been as foreign to Celtic Christianity as is often presented.
> Roger E. Reynolds, Virgines Subintroductae in Celtic Christianity, The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Oct., 1968), pp. 547-p 549.
Cyprian of Carthage offers a startling analogy calculated to frighten such couples into submitting to (his) episcopal authority: if a human husband saw his wife reclining next to another man, would he not take his sword in hand? What then will Christ think when he sees his dedicated virgin lying with another? Christ will use the “spiritual sword” of divine punishment against her on the Day of Judgment, Cyprian concludes.
> Elizabeth A. Clark, The Celibate Bridegroom and His Virginal Brides: Metaphor and the Marriage of Jesus in Early Christian Ascetic Exegesis, Church History 77:1, March 2008, 1 – 25.
VIRGINS ‘WITHOUT LICENCE’ – THE ‘SUBINTRODUCTAE’
Some took steps to make the daunting path easier to follow. The virgin who sinned with her ‘attendant’ may well have been one of a breed that aroused much ire and contention in the more severe Fathers: that of the virgins subintroductae or agapetae. These women set up a virginal lifestyle, lived in conjunction and cohabitation with a member of the opposite sex in what amounted to a partnership: ‘the cohabitation of the sexes under the condition of strict continence, a couple sharing the same house, often the same room, and sometimes the same bed, yet conducting themselves as brother and sister’ (Bailey 1959:33) – a situation understandably open to suspicion. These virgins have been accredited by historians of their phenomenon with ‘the earnest desire to keep [the vow of continence]‘ (Achelis 1926:177) – but were all too frequently not so accredited at the time.
The advantages of such a system, if sincerely practised, are evident. Lone women shrinking from the rigours of fending for themselves could have, as well as a companion, an agent to carry out their business, thereby avoiding the need for the going abroad so much complained of in virgins. Frequently one of the pair would be better off and provide for the less fortunate partner, thus acquiring merit and making life easier for a fellow Christian. They could assist each other in material ways, inspire each other, and, ideally, avoid the pitfalls open to those who became tired or deceived or lonely through isolation in their struggle. [ … ]
The suspicions to which these partnerships laid themselves open are obvious; Chrysostom, though conceding that many of them were sincere in their beliefs and had retained their bodily purity, nonetheless was convinced that only sexual desire, however unacknowledged, could so permanently bind a man to a woman, for ‘why else would a man put up with the faults of a woman?
> Gillian Cloke, This Female Man of God: Women and Spiritual Power in the Patristic Age, AD 350-450, Routledge, 1995
AGAPETAE (agapetai, beloved).
In the first century of the Christian era, the Agapetae were virgins who consecrated themselves to God with a vow of chastity and associated with laymen. In the beginning this community of spiritual life and mutual support, which was based on St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (ix, 5), was holy and edifying. But later it resulted in abuses and scandals, so that councils of the fourth century forbade it. The origin of this association was very probably that these virgins, who did not live in community, required laymen to look after their material interest., and they naturally chose those who, like themselves, had takes a vow of chastity. St. Jerome asked indignantly (Ep., xxii, ad Eustochium) after it had degenerated, Unde in ecclesias Agapetarum pestis introit? A letter St. Cyprian shows that abuses of this kind developed in Africa and in the East (Ep., iv., Ed. Hartel). The Council of Ancyra, in 314, forbade virgins consecrated to God to live thus with men as sisters. This did not correct the practice entirely, for St. Jerome arraigns Syrian monks for living in cities with Christian virgins. The Agapetae are sometimes confounded with the subintroductae, or woman who lived with clerics without marriage, a class against which the third canon of the Council of Nice (325) was directed.
The word Agapetae was also the name of a branch of the Gnostics in 395, whose tenet was that the relations of the sexes were purified of impropriety if the mind was pure. They taught that one should perjure himself rather than reveal the secrets of his sect.
> A’Becket, J.J. (1907). Agapetae, The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved October 4, 2008 from New Advent.
CHAPTER XV: THE MORES CAN MAKE ANYTHING RIGHT AND PREVENT
CONDEMNATION OF ANYTHING
576. Bundling. One of the most extraordinary instances of what the mores can do to legitimize a custom which, when rationally judged, seems inconsistent with the most elementary requirements of the sex taboo, is bundling. In Latin Europe generally, especially amongst the upper classes, it is not allowed that a young man and a young woman shall be alone together even by day, and the freer usage in England, and still more in the United States, is regarded as improper and contrary to good manners. In the latter countries two young people, if alone together, do not think of transgressing the rules of propriety as set by custom in the society. Such was the case also with night visits. Although the custom was free, and although better taste and judgment have abolished it, yet it was defined and regulated, and was never a proof of licentious manners. It is found amongst uncivilized people, but is hardly to be regarded as a survival in higher civilization. Christians, in the third and fourth centuries, practiced it, even without the limiting conditions which were set in the Middle Ages. Having determined to renounce sex, as an evil, they sought to test themselves by extreme temptation. It was a test or proof of the power of moral rule over natural impulse. “It was a widely spread custom in both the east and the west of the Roman empire to live with virgins. Distinguished persons, including one of the greatest bishops of the empire, who was also one of the greatest theologians, joined in the custom. Public opinion in the church judged them lightly, although unfavorably.” “After the church took on the episcopal constitution, it persecuted and drove out the subintroductae. They were regarded as a survival from the old church which was disapproved. The custom that virgins dwelt in the house with men arose in the oldest period of the Christian church.” “They did not think of any evil as to be apprehended.” “In fact, we have only a little clear evidence that the living together did not correspond in the long run to the assumptions on which it was based.” The custom was abolished in the sixth century. “Spiritual marriage” was connected with the monastic profession and both were due to the ascetic tendency of the time. “From the time when we can clearly find monastic associations in existence, we find hermits living in comradeship with nuns.” We are led back to Jewish associations. The custom is older than Christianity. The custom at Corinth was but imitation of Jewish “God worshipers” or “Praying women.” The Therapeuts had such companions. Their houses of worship were arranged to separate the sexes. Their dances sometimes lasted all night. In the Middle Ages several sects who renounced marriage introduced tests of great temptation. Individuals also, believing that they were carrying on the war between “the flesh” and “the spirit” subjected themselves to similar tests. These are not properly cases in the mores, but they illustrate the intervention of sectarian doctrines or views to traverse the efforts to satisfy interests, and so to disturb the mores.
577. Two forms of bundling. Two cases are to be distinguished: (1) night visits as a mode of wooing; (2) extreme intimacy between two persons who are under the sex taboo (one or both being married, or one or both vowed to celibacy), and who nevertheless observe the taboo.
578. Mediæval bundling. The custom in the second form became common in the woman cult of the twelfth century and it spread all over Europe. As the vassal attended his lord to his bedchamber, so the knight his lady. The woman cult was an aggregation of poses and pretenses to enact a comedy of love, but not to satisfy erotic passion. The custom spread to the peasant classes in later centuries, and it extended to the Netherlands, 527Scandinavia, Switzerland, England, Scotland, and Wales, but it took rather the first form in the lower classes and in the process of time. In building houses in Holland the windows were built conveniently for this custom. “In 1666-1667 every house on the island of Texel had an opening under the window where the lover could enter so as to sit on the bed and spend the night making love to the daughter of the house.” The custom was called queesten. Parents encouraged it. A girl who had no queester was not esteemed. Rarely did any harm occur. If so, the man was mobbed and wounded or killed. The custom can be traced in North Holland down to the eighteenth century. This was the customary mode of wooing in the low countries and Scandinavia. In spite of the disapproval of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities, the custom continued just as round dances continue now, in spite of the disapproval of many parents, because a girl who should refuse to conform to current usage would be left out of the social movement. The lover was always one who would be accepted as a husband. If he exceeded the limits set by custom he was very hardly dealt with by the people of the village. The custom is reported from the Schwarzwald as late as 1780. It was there the regular method of wooing for classes who had to work all day. The lover was required to enter by the dormer window. Even still the custom is said to exist amongst the peasants of Germany, but it is restricted to one night in the month or in the year. Krasinski describes kissing games customary amongst the Unitarians of the Ukrain. He says that they are a Greek custom and he connects them with bundling.
579. Poverty and wooing. Amongst peasants there was little opportunity for the young people to become acquainted. When the cold season came they could not woo out of doors. The young women could not be protected by careful rules which would prevent wooing. They had to take risks and to take care of themselves. Poverty was the explanation of this custom in all civilized countries, although there was always in it an element of frolic and fun.
580. Night wooing in North American colonies. All the emigrants to North America were familiar with the custom. In the seventeenth century, in the colonies, the houses were small, poorly warmed, and inconvenient, allowing little privacy. No doubt this is the reason why the custom took new life in the colonies. Burnaby says that it was the custom amongst the lower classes of Massachusetts that a pair who contemplated marriage spent the night together in bed partly dressed. If they did not like each other they might not marry, unless the woman became pregnant. The custom was called “tarrying.” It was due to poverty again. Modern inhabitants of tenement houses are constrained in their customs by the same limitation, and the effect is seen in their folkways. The custom of bundling had a wide range of variety. Two people sitting side by side might cover themselves with the same robe, or lie on the bed together for warmth. Peters defended the custom, which, he said, “prevails amongst all classes to the great honor of the country, its religion, and ladies.” The older women resented the attempts of the ministers to preach against the custom. Sofas were introduced as an alternative. The country people thought the sofa less proper. In the middle of the eighteenth century the decline in social manners, which was attributed to the wars, caused the custom to produce more evil results. Also the greater wealth, larger houses, and better social arrangements changed the conditions and there was less need for the custom. It fell under social disapproval and was thrown out of the folkways. Stiles says that “it died hard” after the revolution. In 1788 a ballad in an almanac brought the custom into popular ridicule. Stiles quotes the case of Seger vs. Slingerland, in which the judge, in a case of seduction, held that parents who allowed bundling, although it was the custom, could not recover.
529581. Reasons for bundling. A witness before the Royal Commission on the Marriage Laws, 1868, testified that night visiting was still common amongst the laboring classes in some parts of Scotland. “They have no other means of intercourse.” It was against custom for a lover to visit his sweetheart by day. As to the parents, “Their daughters must have husbands and there is no other way of courting.” This statement sums up the reasons for this custom which, not being a public custom, must have varied very much according to the character of individuals who used it. Attempts were always made to control it by sanctions in public opinion.
> William Graham Sumner, Folkways: A Study of Mores, Manners, Customs and Morals, Courier Dover Publications, 2002.
There is also evidence from a variety of sources for women living continently with their husbands in marriage, apparently without suspicion. However, when virgins lived with continent men, as they did in large numbers throughout the early church, the practice came to be challenged and condemned by church fathers and councils alike. The earliest condemnation of virgines subintroductae, as the women were called, came in 268 at the Council of Antioch and was followed by restrictive canons produced in 300 at Elvira, in 317 at Ancyra, and in 325 at Nicaea. Basil and Cyprian both wrote epistles against the practice, and Jerome mentions “those women who appear to be, but are not, virgins” several times. The author of the two pseudo-Clementine epistles to virgins, dating from the fourth century, also condemns subintroductae, as do Eusebius of Emesa, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzius. But none of these condemnations is as rhetorically rich as those produced by John Chrysostom in his two pastoral letters against the practice of cohabitation of virgins and continent brothers. All of these attempts to proscribe the practice reinforce the conclusion that it was a practice to which many virgins (and brothers) adhered. Whether virgins broke their vows of chastity in living with men, as some church leaders claimed, cannot be ascertained from the evidence. Yet it is clear that women found it a desirable arrangement in which they continued to participate at least well into the seventh century.
Hie evidence for the ages of women devoting their chastity to God varies, though many appear to have done so early in life. Palladius tells of Talis, a woman who followed the ascetic life for eighty years, of Taor, who was a virgin for sixty years, and another virgin, unnamed, who was ascetic for sixty years as well. Macrina was twelve when she decided to remain a virgin; Olympias was widowed at nineteen and refused to remarry; Blesilla, Paulas daughter and Eustochium s older sister, began her ascetic life at her widowhood at twenty; Melania the Elder, widowed at twenty-two, pursued asceticism, and her granddaughter, Melania the Younger, renounced the world at twenty, after seven years of marriage. Such early marriages and widowhoods were quite common in the Roman period, as marriage, within the aristocracy at least, was the standard method of sealing pacts between families and assuring that a legitimate heir existed for the passing on of property. The marriage often occurred between an older man and a young girl, sometimes younger than twelve.
Despite the fact that girls were considered ready for marriage at such a young age, they were by no means thought to be capable of making decisions for themselves, and the decision to renounce the world and to guard one’s virginity was not often met with encouragement from parents and other family members.
> Castelli: Women’s Sexuality in Early Christianity 81 [need to verify pages]
Elizabeth Castelli, “Virginity and Its Meaning for Women’s Sexuality in Early Christianity,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 2:1 (Spring 1986): esp. 86–88;
Elizabeth A. Clark, John Chrysostom and the “Subintroductae”, Church History, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Jun., 1977), pp. 171 – 185
Elizabeth A. Clark, The Celibate Bridegroom and His Virginal Brides: Metaphor and the Marriage of Jesus in Early Christian Ascetic Exegesis, Church History 77:1, March 2008, 1 – 25.
Roger E. Reynolds, Virgines Subintroductae in Celtic Christianity, The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Oct., 1968), pp. 547-566
Hans Achelis, Virgines Subintroductae: Ein Beitrag zum VII Kapitel des I. Korintherbriefs, Leipzig, 1902
Derrick Sherwin Bailey, The Man-Woman Relation in Christian Thought. London: Longmans, 1959 — may be the same as:
Derrich [sic] Sherwin Bailey, Sexual Relation in Christian Thought (New York, 1959)
Virginia Burrus, The Sex Lives of the Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.
Gillian Cloke, This Female Man of God: Women and Spiritual Power in the Patristic Age, AD 350-450, Routledge, 1995
Dyan Elliot, Spiritual Marriage: Sexual Abstinence in Medieval Wedlock, Princeton University Press, 1995
David M. Scholer, Women in Early Christianity: A Collection of Scholarly Essays, Taylor & Francis, 1993
Roland H A Seboldt, Spiritual Marriage in the Early Church: A suggested Interpretation of i Cor. Cor. 7:36-38.
William Graham Sumner, Folkways: A Study of Mores, Manners, Customs and Morals, Courier Dover Publications, 2002
Charles Williams, The Descent of the Dove: A Short History of the Holy Spirit in the Church, Longman, Green and Co., 1939, current ed Regent College
WOLPERT, GANDHI’S PASSION
Gandhi was testing the “truth” of his faith in the fire of “experience.” His had always been a practical philosophy, an activist faith. He appears to have hoped that sleeping naked with Manu, without arousing in himself the slightest sexual desire, might help him to douse raging fires of communal hatred in the ocean of India, and so strengthen his body as to allow him to live to 125 in continued service to the world.
[ … ]
He felt so troubled about Manu’s anxiety and listlessness that he wrote to his old Calcutta comrade Satis Chandra Mukerji, seeking his opinion. A young girl (19) who is in the place of a granddaughter to me by relation shares the same bed with me, not for any animal satisfaction but for (to me) valid moral reasons. She claims to be free from the passion that a girl of her age generally has and I claim to be a practised brahmachari. Do you see anything bad or or unjustifiable in this juxtaposition?” Mukerji chose not to answer that question. Manilal Gandhi, however, was shocked when he heard the news. “Do not let the fact of Manu sleeping with me perturb you. I believe that it is God who has prompted me to take that step,” his Bapu replied.
Stanley Wolpert, Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, Oxford University Press US, 2002, pp 228-9
BRAHMACHARYI OR A PRETENDER?
Brahmacharya is a common practice for the yogi who wishes union with the Divine. For, the sex impulse is understood to be one of Nature’s greatest impediments to attaining that Superconscious Bliss. Having this to aspire to makes it unlikely for one to return to prior indulgences in any form. Thus it was a shock to many when, a couple of years prior to his death, it became public knowledge that Gandhi was doing experiments related to the sex impulse, seemingly in order to determine whether he had any sexual desires left. The most controversial practice was his taking to bed – although sexual encounters were denied – of the younger women in his ashram, including his grandniece Manu. It was this practice with Manu that forced Gandhi to write to his son: “Do not let the fact of Manu sleeping with me perturb you.” His son was not the only one of his inner circle to become concerned by his practices. Gandhi also had to respond to colleague J.B Kripalani, sending a letter to convince him of his position:
Manu Gandhi, my grand-daughter, as we consider blood relations, shares the bed with me, strictly as my very blood…as part of what might be my last yajna. This has cost me dearest associates…You as one of the dearest and earliest comrades…should reconsider your position in the light of what they have to say…I have given the deepest thought to the matter. The whole world may forsake me but I dare not leave what I hold is the truth for me. It may be a delusion and a snare. If so, I must realize it myself. I have risked perdition before now. Let this be the reality if it has to be.
One of Gandhi’s followers, Nirmal Kumar Bose, discussed the matter in depth in his book, My Days with Gandhi, writing:
From a serious study of Gandhiji’s writings, I had formed the opinion, which was perhaps not unjustified, that he represented a hard, puritanical form of self-discipline, something which we usually associate with medieval Christian ascetics or Jain recluses. So, when I first learnt in detail about Gandhiji’s prayog or experiment, I felt genuinely surprised. I was informed that he sometimes asked women to share his bed and even the cover which he used, and then tried to ascertain if even the last trace of sensual feeling had been evoked in himself or his companion.
News of Gandhi’s experiments spread to other yogis, two of whom – Swami Anand and Kedar Nath Kulkarni – came to visit and discuss with him his methods, which they were opposed to:
Question: The irreparable harm, if you weaken the foundation of the moral order on which society rests and which has been built up by long and painful discipline, is obvious. But no corresponding gain is apparent to us to justify a break with established tradition. What is your defense? We are not out to humiliate you or to score a victory over you. We only wish to understand.
Gandhi: No moral progress or reform is possible if one is not prepared to get out of the rut of orthodox tradition. …The orthodox conception of the nine-fold wall of protection in regard to brahmacharya is in my opinion inadequate and defective. I have never accepted it for myself. In my opinion, even striving for brahmacharya is not possible by keeping behind it. … If you admit the necessity and desirability of reform, of discarding the old, wherever necessary, and building a new system of ethics and morals suited to the present age, then the question of seeking the permission of others or convincing them does not arise. A reformer cannot afford to wait till others are converted; he must take the lead and venture forth alone even in the teeth of universal opposition. I want to test, enlarge and revise the current definition of brahmacharya, by which you swear, in light of my observation, study and experience. Therefore, whenever an opportunity presents itself, I do not evade it or run away from it. On the contrary, I deem it my duty – dharma – to meet it squarely in the face and find out where it leads to and where I stand. To avoid the contact of a woman, or to run away from it out of fear, I regard as unbecoming of an aspirant after true brahmacharya. I have never tried to cultivate or seek sex contact for carnal satisfaction.
Gandhi was definitely right in his view that sometimes it is necessary to break with tradition, and that reformers are not ones to wait for others to follow them. But even if orthodox conceptions of nine-fold walls are not for everyone, Gandhi had still forgotten the higher purpose behind brahmacharya. His “enlarged” idea of brahmacharya was to put oneself in potentially sexual situations to see how much sexual feeling there was left in him, leading him to make this astonishing statement:
Thousands of Hindu and Moslem women come to me. They are to me like my own mother, sisters and daughters. But if an occasion should arise requiring me to share the bed with any of them I must not hesitate, if I am the brahmacharyi that I claim to be. If I shrink from the test, I write myself down as a coward and a fraud.
The ability to avoid sexual impulses while lying in bed with thousands of women – whether at once or one at a time – was not the original intent behind brahmacharya. Brahmacharya was not meant to be a continual negation (even though negation is needed at first); it was done to bring about a true transformation in nature, leading to that higher delight. And brahmacharya went further than the simple avoidance of the sex act, whether done by running away or in bed with a naked woman. The brahmacharyi was to remove the sexual urge not only in the physical act, but also within the mind as well, for as Lord Krishna said, “One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.”
Thus sex is to be removed from the mind as well as the elimination of the physical act and its mechanical impulses. To simply repress alone is not enough, because these urges can still remain subconsciously for some time. So Gandhi is on the right track when he denounces the tendency to run away, because life in the mountains may not by itself remove subconscious sexual urges. However, the ascetic life can present a better opportunity to transform the nature than what Gandhi chose to do, which was to sleep naked with a girl every night. Because even though – and this is if we take his word for it – there was no sexual interaction, Gandhi would admit to Swami Anand and Kedar Nath that the urges still remained:
I do not claim to have completely eradicated the sex feeling in me. But it is my claim that I can keep it under control.
To simply have it under control means that a lot more work is needed, because the brahmacharyi must eventually remove this lower attachment to realize the greater Truth.
Brahmacharyi or a Pretender?