Should women dress modestly?

For centuries, religious clerics have railed against women for tempting men with their seductive and skimpy clothing, and sought to sequester them and restrict their dress choices.  Such rash and narrow social impositions often create a deceptive illusion of purity without addressing the sexual turbulence which continues unabated within the individual consciousness.  A more sagacious solution has to be based on the recognition of the complexity of human consciousness.  This article examines some insights provided by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (Mirra Alfassa) on this matter.

Photo: La donna velata (“The woman with the veil”) by Renaissance painter Raphael. Click image for source

Since social norms vary by culture and age, the question of appropriate social dress codes comes loaded with sociopolitical overtones.  A broader exploration of this topic can quickly become contentious because there are numerous  antagonistic constituencies which demand to be respected and simultaneously satisfied.  Consequently, we shall lucubrate solely on the psychological foundation of this problem and ignore broader issues.

In the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where men and women worked and lived side by side, all disciples were enjoined to forgo sexual intercourse so as to conserve and redirect sexual energies towards spiritual illumination.  However, human nature being what it is, the disciples still underwent sexual tumults during the yogic transformation process. The noteworthy insights they received from their Gurus during this turmoil are presented here.

Psychological foundation

According to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, there are two aspects to be contended with: the action of the universal life-forces, and the habit of response within the individual consciousness.   We briefly summarize these aspects first.

As human beings, we are not solely the physical body but actually have five sheaths which are being imperceptibly influenced by the occult mental and vital worlds.  We are, so to speak, perpetually and unknowingly swimming in a sea of universal forces.  On the universal mental plane, there are ideas which circulate perpetually and sometimes take hold of individual minds; once accepted, these ideas become part and parcel of the individual personality, which then proceeds to formulate and express them depending on the unique turn of mentality.  (For more on that, see All thoughts come from outside.)  Similarly, there are waves of universal life-forces (sex, anger, etc) which circulate through the vital planes and influence our conduct once they inundate and grip our consciousness.  Every human being has an environmental consciousness, and a person who has advanced to some degree in Yoga begins to “catch” these vibrations before they invade his or her consciousness. (for details, see Constitution of Man)

The sexual force then is a universal force of Nature implanted in the species for the purpose of procreation.  Under this model, the blame for sexual arousal cannot be assigned solely to women; rather, the fault lies in that gap in the individual consciousness through which vital forces invade us without discrimination.  This gap –  this weakness – in our consciousness is the primary cause of our sexual tumults; the arousal engendered by some external agent is an auxiliary phenomenon.

Some letters on this topic

These are some illuminating and candid exchanges between Sri Aurobindo and his disciples on the identification of the root cause of the sexual turmoil that the disciples were experiencing.

Disciple: The sex thoughts do not seem to come really from within us. Most of them have even no connection with us. They are merely a play of the physical nature without any individuality in them. They pass simply from men to women or the other way round-often without our knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, that is what happens – but sometimes people, if they receive and indulge them, become themselves instruments for passing them on to others [1].

Disciple: Along with the sex thoughts, there are the egoistic thoughts about the power to attract others through one’s physical charms.

Sri Aurobindo:  It is the usual vanity of the lower vital – it is very common. Any man can have an attraction for any woman, and vice versa, when the sex forces are active, but that attraction is not his, it is the pull of the sex force [1].

Disciple: It is not always the attraction on our part that brings or creates the sexual pull. At times it is the mere presence of some particular type of women that does it. What we feel is our vital energy being drawn out.

Sri Aurobindo:  Attraction is always the result, not the cause [2].

Disciple: Sometimes it is noticed that the mere presence of a woman is enough to raise the sexual sensations in us. How does it happen like that?

Sri Aurobindo: It is quite usual—just as the smell of very nice food may awake the desire of the food. [3]

Disciple: I was walking on the road when some local women of low class passed by near me. Immediately I felt a vehement sexual sensation in the form of pain. By the time they had gone far the sensation too had left me. Was it due to the women? If so, how could my body come in their influence without my ever taking any interest in them?

Sri Aurobindo: Why not? It is not their influence, but the influence of the forces, which are around them [1].

Disciple: I think women are not to be blamed even if they pull consciously. If men want to conquer sex they have to detach themselves from the pull of women and make their vital strong enough to remain detached. Is it not so?

Sri Aurobindo: It is right except that the starting-point or rather starting line is the sex-weakness in the man and the woman’s pull is only an immediate cause of its activity, not the fundamental cause. Moreover the sexual pull from the woman is not always conscious. Sometimes there is no pull from her; the man is attracted by the mere fact of her beauty or charm or even her femininity only while she herself has no sex desire at all. In such cases the man often fatuously imagines that the woman wants him, though it is quite untrue. [2]

Disciple: Nowadays I have begun to reject the sex-movement. And yet I can see clearly that some part of the vital takes interest in women — either in an explicit or in an implicit way. How else could this movement be explained, for, though I was not off my guard I still could not keep myself detached from the attraction of R? Or was it possible that her vital too enjoyed the attraction?

Sri Aurobindo: Even without any response on her part it is possible. It is evident that part of your vital does not care at all for your mind’s refusal — it goes on replying to the sexual suggestions [3].

Disciple: Talking with sadhikas (women disciples) I still feel uneasiness. Does this not show that the sex basis is still there?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it ought practically to be forgotten that they are sadhikas [3].

Disciple: To see no difference between man and woman except physiological and grammatical is one of the steps towards the purification of the sex centre.

Sri Aurobindo: A very important step [3].

If women smile and cause sexual arousal, is it their fault?  No, according to Sri Aurobindo:

A smile or any movement, appearance or action of the woman can be the starting-point for these vibrations. I don’t suppose it is anything inherent in the smile itself, but all these things have been the habitual means by which sex has been excited in men (hāvabhāva or gesticulation) and the woman uses them, often unconsciously and by mere habit when coming into contact with man — whether she has or has not any intention of pleasing or moving the man, it still comes up as an instinctive movement.  X is of the type of woman who has this instinctive movement to please the male.  But even when the woman smiles quite casually and without even the habitual instinctive movement, still there may be the vibration on the man’s side owing to the habit of response in him to feminine attraction. These things are almost mechanical in their starting. As I wrote before, it is the automatic answer of the physical or vital mind (imagination etc.) that prolongs it and makes it effective. Otherwise the vibrations would die away after a time [4].

Rising above sex-consciousness

So there is this gap in our consciousness which causes sexual arousal, and this gap needs to to be deliberately sealed.  We need to rise above sex-consciousness into the compactness of an immaculate consciousness.  This can be a protracted process whose duration varies depending on the psychic development of the individual soul.  The power and tranquility which has been acquired during meditation must be re-deployed every day to bolster one’s capricious  willpower.  One has to gradually detach oneself from sexual attractions.  First the mind must withdraw consent by abstaining from sexually-tinged conversations and lurid imaginations.  Then the vital personality (the region from heart to the navel) has to steel itself from the desire for sexual excitation by perfecting the Divine surrender.  Then the physical body itself has to give up its restive nature through continuous infusions of the Higher power.  Once the waking state has thus been cleansed, the battlefield inevitably shifts to the night where remnants of past sexual longings continue to produce annoying dreams long after they were eradicated from the waking state.  Cleansing the subconscious of sexual desire usually takes much longer because it is not under the control of our waking mind. The subconscious is veritably the bedrock of our collective human urges and does not yield easily to the transformative action of the Higher power, but for those who have come thus far, it is a battle worth fighting!

For more on that, see an earlier article : Sublimation of the sexual urge through Yoga.

Photo:”American girl in Italy” (1951) by Ruth Orkin(1921-1985). Click image to go to the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive.

Related satire

Satire can sometimes deliver truths far more forcefully than real-life anecdotes.  These are three hilarious articles from the satirical Onion magazine on this topic.

  1. Local Harlot Exposes Face, Neck, February 20, 1996 ISSUE 29•06
  2. Woman In Burqa Condemns Woman In Chador  December 5, 2001 | ISSUE 43•19 ISSUE 37•44

Related articles

  1. Spirituality : between morality and immorality
  2. The transmutation of sexual energy
  3. Why one should not hate the sinner?
  4. Developing discernment on which actions are spiritual
  5. The foundation of spiritual relationships
  6. How to choose the right life partner
  7. Four stages in human love
  8. Why are artists irregular in their conduct?
  9. How to increase will-power
  10. Ethical, logical and aesthetic mind
  11. Why bad things happen to good people
  12. Ill-effects of television on Yoga


  1. Nagin Doshi. Guidance from Sri Aurobindo.  Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society 1974, vol. 1, pp 200-203.
  2. Ibid., vol. 3, pp 121-122.
  3. Ibid., vol. 2, pp 55-63.
  4. Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 24.

37 thoughts on “Should women dress modestly?

  1. ipi

    There are two ways of avoiding the snare of woman; one is to shun all women and the other to love all beings.

    – Sri Aurobindo (304−Thoughts and Aphorisms)

  2. ipi

    Sri Aurobindo: Dress has always been used by woman as an aid to her “sex-appeal” as it is now called and man has always been susceptible to it; women also often find dress in man a cause of attraction. (e.g. soldier’s uniform). There are also particular tastes in dress – that a sari of a particular should attract is quite normal. The attraction works on the sense and the vital, while it is the mind that dislikes the psychological defects and gets cooled down by their exposure; but this repulsion of the mind cannot last as against the stronger vital attraction.

    (Letters on Yoga, SABCL, Vol. 24)

  3. Sandeep Post author

    Indira Devi (1920-??) was a gifted psychic who could read people’s minds (read more about Indira over here). Here, she relates how once she was able to see sex thoughts playing with people’s minds during a group meditation. This anecdote is in consonance with the explanation given above:

    “This gift (of reading people’s minds) did help her, however, in one way: she saw clearly that it was not right to judge a person by what he was thinking at a particular moment. The best of men sometimes harbored bad thoughts and men who were not so worthy sometimes had noble thoughts. She also realized that many of the thoughts we take to be our own actually float in from the atmosphere and that it is our own free choice whether to accept or reject them.

    She had a very vivid experience of this once. She was sitting down to meditate in her guru’s temple hall in Poona with a group of friends. She could see very clearly that most of them had an aura of tension around them. They were concentrating so hard to silence their minds that it only heightened their awareness of the thoughts. Not one person in that group was completely relaxed-the first condition necessary for meditation.

    Suddenly she saw a sex thought floating in from without and touching one person who accepted it. He became restless, but the thought developed in his mind in the form of jealousy, which is one of the concomitants of sex. He played with the thought and was soon carried away on the wave of a grievance and anger against the guru, the world and God.

    The thought touched two other people but as they did not give it a fireside seat, it quickly turned away from them. Another friend accepted the thought as his own and felt terribly anxious about his health.

    It was fascinating, though the whole thing did not take more than a minute. It was borne home to Indira that she should not judge people by their thoughts. It made her much more tolerant and understanding toward her fellow-beings.”

    (Dilip Kumar Roy and Indira Devi. Pilgrims of the stars, New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1973, p 252)

  4. Pingback: Further remarks on sexuality | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  5. Sandeep Post author

    The Discover Magazine blog has a special category called NCBI ROFL which highlights idiosyncratic and insanely funny scientific research. The latest publication they have uncovered is entitled “The Mere Anticipation of an Interaction with a Woman Can Impair Men’s Cognitive Performance.”

    Abstract of the paper: Recent research suggests that heterosexual men’s (but not heterosexual women’s) cognitive performance is impaired after an interaction with someone of the opposite sex (Karremans et al., 2009). These findings have been interpreted in terms of the cognitive costs of trying to make a good impression during the interaction. In everyday life, people frequently engage in pseudo-interactions with women (e.g., through the phone or the internet) or anticipate interacting with a woman later on. The goal of the present research was to investigate if men’s cognitive performance decreased in these types of situations, in which men have little to no opportunity to impress her and, moreover, have little to no information about the mate value of their interaction partner. Two studies demonstrated that men’s (but not women’s) cognitive performance declined if they were led to believe that they interacted with a woman via a computer (Study 1) or even if they merely anticipated an interaction with a woman (Study 2). Together, these results suggest that an actual interaction is not a necessary prerequisite for the cognitive impairment effect to occur. Moreover, these effects occur even if men do not get information about the woman’s attractiveness. This latter finding is discussed in terms of error management theory.

  6. ned

    These kinds of questions can’t be addressed without applying a feminist framework in our day and age. I would argue that the reason why men find it so hard to stop sexualizing women (even when women are not trying to attract them) is because there is an actual social and cultural infrastructure (involving things like: a certain type of patriarchal marriage, prostitution, widespread access to pornography, a hypersexualized media, a particular way in which male-female relations are ordered) in most societies that encourages men to view women as little more than sexual objects and/or baby machines. Of course ultimately there are occult forces at work, but what are the cultural structures that perpetuate the kingdoms of these vital forces? And how can we build newer cultural structures that stop doing so?

    Feminists have argued that sexuality has been specifically constructed to keep women politically subordinated to men and dehumanized throughout the ages, because women are seen as the objects of sexuality while men are seen as the agents of it. The sexual liberation movement in the West has almost totally watered down the original noble aims of feminism. The early feminists in the 1970s were actually totally opposed to this movement because they knew that sexual liberation, in practice, could never lead to anything other than the political and social degradation of women because of the historically and systemically unequal nature of male-female relations. And they were right.

    By the way, if you look at some rare pre-patriarchal, woman-centered hunter-gatherer cultures in the world, where this sort of sophisticated patriarchal infrastructure does not exist (you could say these are pre-civilizational cultures), you find that women are often roaming around wearing very little clothing, but the men are not in a constant state of sexual excitement because of it. In fact they hardly seem to notice that the women aren’t wearing much. This sort of anthropological work has led me to conclude that the excessive sexualization of women by men is largely culturally constructed and not inherent to male nature at all.

    So it’s all well and good to ask if women should dress modestly or not, and maybe in certain cultures they do have to dress up in a certain way as a pragmatic compromise with reality, but I think the real question is: how do you dismantle a (virtually universal) cultural infrastructure that, in the service of gender inequality, encourages men to see women as sexual objects, and encourages women to perform as sexual objects for men? And here the sexually libertarian culture in the West and the socially conservative culture in the Middle East and Asia strike me as being pretty much two sides of the same misogynistic coin that sees women, not as human beings, agents, and subjects, but as nothing more than sexual objects.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      You are right. I tried to duck the larger issue (second para of the article) but it can’t be ignored easily because the human psyche is inexorably shaped by the cultural cocoon one lives in.

      This article was directed more towards those who are aspiring for a complete transformation of consciousness. I sought to contrast the traditional religious views on the subject with the Aurobindonian perspective.

      > Ned: The sexual liberation movement in the West has almost totally watered down the original noble aims of feminism. The early feminists in the 1970s were actually totally opposed to this movement

      I didn’t know that. Do you have a reference for this ?

      > Ned: how do you dismantle a (virtually universal) cultural infrastructure that, in the service of gender inequality, encourages men to see women as sexual objects, and encourages women to perform as sexual objects for men?

      There are no easy answers. As long as the media is run by men and lusts for quarterly profits, it will continue to project women as sexual objects.

      Some pertinent observations on Modesty from the 1910 issue of the Encyclopedia Britannica:

      Modesty is not innate in man, and its conventional nature is easily seen from a consideration of the different ideas held by different races on this subject. With Mahommedan peoples it is sufficient fora woman to cover her face; the Chinese women would think it extremely indecent to show their artificially compressed feet, and it is even improper to mention them to a woman; in Sumatra and Celebes the wild tribes consider the exposure of the knee immodest; in central Asia the finger-tips, and in Samoa the navel are similarly regarded. In Tahiti and Tonga clothing might be discarded without offence, provided the individual were tattooed; and among the Caribs a woman might leave the hut without her girdle but not unpainted. Similarly, in Alaska, women felt great shame when seen without the plugs they carried in their lips….

      Another point of interest lies in the difference of outlook with which nudity is regarded by the English and Japanese. Among the latter it has been common for the sexes to take baths together without clothing, while in England mixed bathing, even in full costume, is even now by no means universal. Yet in England the representation of the nude in art meets with no reproach, though considered improper by the Japanese….

      One more point must be considered: there is the evidence of competent observers to show that members of a (African) tribe accustomed to nudity, when made to assume clothing for the first time, exhibit as much confusion as would a European compelled to strip in public. This fact, considered together with what has been said above, compels the conclusion that modesty is a feeling merely of acute self-consciousness due to appearing unusual, and is the result of clothing rather than the cause. In the words of Westermarck: “The facts appear to prove that the feeling of shame, far from being the cause of man’s covering his body, is, on the contrary, a result of this custom; and that the covering, if not used as a protection from the climate, owes its origin, at least in a great many cases, to the desire of men and women to make themselves mutually attractive.”

      (The encyclopædia britannica, Volume 7, edited by Hugh Chisholm, from 1910, p 225)

  7. Sandeep Post author

    Blue glasses as a remedy
    from a conversation between Sri Aurobindo and his disciples

    Champaklal: Somebody has written to (Mahatma) Gandhi that he suffers terribly from sex desire.. The sight of a woman wakes up passion in him. He can’t even go out because of that. So he asked Gandhi who is a saint about the remedy and what to do in such a case.

    Sri Aurobindo: Or he asked him, “What did you do?” (Laughter)

    Champaklal: His wife has suggested to him that he keep her with him when he goes out. Gandhi praised the frankness of the man and advised him to wear blue glasses when he goes out, always to look down, not to go to cinemas and to have faith in God and aspire to Him.

    Sri Aurobindo: What is the idea behind the blue glasses?

    Purani: It will disguise the female form.

    Sri Aurobindo: How?

    Purani: Because everything will assume one colour and there won’t be any differentiation,

    Sri Aurobindo: That’s a different matter. But if the women could be made to look hideous, it might help still more.

    (Nirodbaran. Talks With Sri Aurobindo, vol. 1, 8 FEBRUARY 1940)

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of vision-blurring glasses which disguise the female form has now been adopted by ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel.

      Yay, another win for Gandhi !

      Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men offered blurry glasses look to keep Israeli women out of sight

      By Associated Press, Published: August 8, 2012

      It’s the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don’t have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed.


      The ultra-Orthodox community’s unofficial “modesty patrols” are selling glasses with special blur-inducing stickers on their lenses. The glasses provide clear vision for up to a few meters so as not to impede movement, but anything beyond that gets blurry — including women. It’s not known how many have been sold.

      For men forced to venture outside their insular communities, hoods and shields that block peripheral vision are also being offered.

      The glasses are going for the “modest” price of $6.

  8. Sandeep Post author

    After Self-realization, the moralistic attitude tends to get replaced by an attitude of all-embracing love, as Swami Vivekananda illustrates in a letter he wrote a friend Francis Leggett:

    At twenty years of age I was the most unsympathetic, uncompromising fanatic; I would not walk on the footpath on the theatre side of the streets in Calcutta. At thirty-three, I can live in the same house with prostitutes and never would think of saying a word of reproach to them. Is it degenerate? Or is it that I am broadening out into the Universal Love which is the Lord Himself?

    (Complete-Works, Volume 6, Epistles – Second Series)

  9. Sandeep Post author

    Ultra-orthodox Jews target women for dressing immodestly

    A shy 8-year-old schoolgirl has unwittingly found herself on the front line of Israel’s latest religious war.

    Naama Margolese is a ponytailed, bespectacled second-grader who is afraid of walking to her religious Jewish girls school for fear of ultra-Orthodox extremists who have spat on her and called her a whore for dressing “immodestly.”

    Her plight has drawn new attention to the simmering issue of religious coercion in Israel, and the increasing brazenness of extremists in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

    “When I walk to school in the morning I used to get a tummy ache because I was so scared … that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting,” the pale, blue-eyed girl said softly in an interview with The Associated Press Monday. “They were scary. They don’t want us to go to the school.”


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  12. mike

    lt’s probably best to see all women as the Divine Mother and all men [because this is not just about the slavery of men to women] as the Divine Master. The only solution is to acquire Divine Love and receive the Divine Grace.

    Blue glasses LOL. Give me a break.

    “So he asked Gandhi who is a saint about the remedy and what to do in such a case”

    l don’t know about Gandi being a saint. l don’t think SA and Mother would think so [ SA didn’t dispute it in the above, though]. Their opinion of him wasn’t very high from what l’ve read. Of course, l think champaklal might have been a little sarcastic there LOL.

    l remember reading the ‘Pilgrim of the Stars’ – it was a fascinating book.
    A friend of mine went to visit Dilip and lndira some years ago. She told him that she could see a tight band of light around his head. He did suffer from bad headaches and he died a short time after this visit. He followed SA and Mother too.
    As l’ve said here before, the only thing that got rid [for the most part] of the sex-impulse in me was meeting someone l believe is my twinsoul. lt must be something about the dual-power of two souls working together [double the power]. l can’t see how otherwise.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      As l’ve said here before, the only thing that got rid [for the most part] of the sex-impulse in me was meeting someone l believe is my twinsoul. lt must be something about the dual-power of two souls working together [double the power]. l can’t see how otherwise.

      It is the psychic transformation which cures lust. You discover that you don’t need anybody

  13. Pingback: Gender differences between men and women | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  14. mike

    “It is the psychic transformation which cures lust. You discover that you don’t need anybody”

    Yes, that’s true, sandeep. What l’m saying is that, in my own experience [this is how it happened with me], meeting the Twinsoul will make the Transformation quicker and easier IMO.

  15. Sandeep Post author

    The Onion lucidly illuminates the women’s view of daily life in this satirical article

    Weird, Area Woman Wasn’t Harassed Today

    ATLANTA—Returning home from work Wednesday evening, area woman Caitlin Levy suddenly realized that, quite unusually, she had not been harassed or propositioned for sex even once the entire day, the puzzled 28-year-old told reporters.

    Noting that she had experienced a lingering sense of ease and safety all day long that “just felt off,” the paralegal told reporters that, strange as it may sound, she somehow could not recall one single instance from the past 10 hours in which she had been gawked at, hit on repeatedly, or otherwise leered at by a male as she conducted her daily routine.

    “Huh, that’s weird,” said Levy, remarking on the fact that at no point during her day did a total stranger attempt to provoke her with suggestive language. “No unwanted sexual advances, no creepy comments, no obscene gestures, nothing.”

    Read more @,29110/

  16. Sandeep Post author

    French comedy movie “Vie de Meuf” depicting a role-reversal where women jeer at men on the street and cheer the man while he does dishes at home.

    See clips


  17. Gordana

    I am not sure how much you are open to other teachings – Torkom Saraydarian was a famous Teacher of Agni Yoga (but his teaching seems to be close to Theosophy) – so, if Sandeep thinks that the text (teaching) is out of the scope of his site – well, Sandeep, sorry, — just delete it. Also I am not sure to which article to add this post. It is actually much more convenient addendum to The transmutation of sexual energy . I agree that many women by being dressed not modestly, by their make up, or their smiling can easily disturb the poise even of a bit advanced seekers (for two decades I was within a spiritual group of bramacharies and I have witnessed that women can stir men’s lower and higher emotions even with their ‘simplicity’ ,purity…..) , however my post refer to ‘men- triggerers’’ ( :-))) …..oh I have no words how to put this, I will just post the excerpts from the text Sexual Illusions and Glamors ( by Torkom Saraydarian and you will see what I am referring to:
    “ Sexual imagination and the reception of sexual thoughts from other people are two ways of polluting our auras. If many men are thinking about a woman and creating powerful sexual thoughtforms about her, those thoughtforms go and attach themselves to her aura and begin to influence her life. Slowly she can be forced to act according to those thoughtforms. A woman can even become a prostitute as a result of the influence of men’s sexual thoughtforms about her.
    It is best not to think sexually about other people as it can create forms in their auras that really hurt them. Because of the images of television, movies, magazines, and advertisements, people are constantly bombarded with sexual thoughtforms and desires. These thoughtforms are very difficult to resist.
    When the sexual thoughtforms of other people mix with your own sexual imagination, your sex center may become obsessed. Actually it is through imagination and thought, sexually-stimulating reading, desire and low-level sexual intercourse that the door is opened for impressions and thoughtforms of other people. When your sex center is obsessed with thoughtforms of other people, it eventually cut its relation with you, the director. It becomes independent and can attract disembodied entities living in etheric planes waiting for the opportunity to enter someone’s sex center and thereby gain a vehicle for experiencing sex. Then obsession turns into possession.”
    Glamor can become a body for obsession or it can become an obsessing entity which controls you from the astral plane by remote control. If you do not have a remote-control mechanism in you, no one else can control you. But if you have glamor, it acts like a remote control which someone else can use to turn you on or off. If you have a sexual glamor and somebody starts thinking about you sexually, you are immediately affected by that sexual energy. You start desiring sex or whatever impulse is being directed toward you. Ninety percent of our sexual urges are controlled automatically by our glamors, which are channels for many things.

    Glamor is something to which you are emotionally attached and have difficulty separating from. When anything outside controls your free will, free decision and free action, it is a glamor or an illusion. When you have a glamor, your imagination can become so big that it controls you and you lose your power of right action. This is what is happening now in the world.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      so, if Sandeep thinks that the text (teaching) is out of the scope of his site – well, Sandeep, sorry, — just delete it.

      As long as the comment doesn’t contain profanities, it can stay 🙂
      Torkom makes a good point. I edited your comment with a hyperlink to his wikipedia entry.
      I will respond to this comment tomorrow.

    2. Sandeep Post author

      I am not sure how much you are open to other teachings

      Once in a while, there is no harm in bringing in other viewpoints but too much of comparative religion, mysticism or philosophy eventually becomes very confusing. There are people who spend all their time drawing elaborate maps showing how all teachings connect together, which I think is really excessive. Its more important to live one teaching than to compare all and sundry.

      I was within a spiritual group of bramacharies and I have witnessed that women can stir men’s lower and higher emotions even with their ‘simplicity’ ,purity…..)

      It is only when the Higher Shakti (above the head) that Sri Aurobindo refers to descends into the heart and cleanses the vital that one can become relatively free from these sexual impulses.

      First the mind is silenced, then the vital is cleansed, then the subconscious is purged, and finally whatever has been expunged goes into the circumconscient from where it is permanently dissolved through cosmic expansion or cosmic consciousness. That’s the order in which transformation proceeds.

      Sexual imagination and the reception of sexual thoughts from other people are two ways of polluting our auras. If many men are thinking about a woman and creating powerful sexual thoughtforms about her, those thoughtforms go and attach themselves to her aura and begin to influence her life

      This is true. That is why I am always mystified by women who feel that displaying their naked body makes them feel empowered. See Kate Winslet’s recent remark for example. Becoming naked may temporarily relax apprehensions of their body-image but instead of becoming empowered they are only getting enslaved to the desires of others.

      The Mother also spoke of mental formations acquiring a power which is independent of the thinker in a previous post.

      In Castaneda’s “Journet to Ixtlan”, Don Juan advises his protege to become “inaccessible” so that people don’t pin him down in their thoughts:

      “”Your father knows everything about you,” he said. “So he has you all figured out. He knows who you are and what you do, and there is no power on earth that can make him change his mind about you.”

      Don Juan said that everybody that knew me had an idea about me, and that I kept feeding that idea with everything I did.

      “Don’t you see?” he asked dramatically. “You must renew your personal history by telling your parents, your relatives, and your friends everything you do. On the other hand, if you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts.“”

      (Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan, chapter titled Being Inaccessible)

      When your sex center is obsessed with thoughtforms of other people, it eventually cut its relation with you, the director. It becomes independent and can attract disembodied entities living in etheric planes waiting for the opportunity to enter someone’s sex center and thereby gain a vehicle for experiencing sex.

      Agree. This is also discussed in another post where Maurice Magre says he “noticed that people who have sexual desires are surrounded by a kind of small swarm of entities who are somewhat viscous and rather ugly and which torment them constantly, awakening desire in them”

    3. Sandeep Post author

      Another thing I forgot add. In that article you linked above, it says “The second thing that happens to a flooded sex center is that it leaks energy into the organs and eventually cracks. This causes the person to engage in excessive sex. Excessive sex drains the energy from the sex center and from the other centers as well. The throat center which is related to the sex center will lose energy. The voice of the person changes, becoming weak or raspy; then the person’s creative imagination, ability to visualize, and mental powers suffer because his normal source of energy is being depleted by the sex center.”

      The effect of sex on the throat center correlates with an observation made in a previous article on History of Yoga. When sex energy is transmuted, one feels nectar in the throat. See the following passage from that article:

      What Tirumular implies is that when the sex-energy is directed below the throat, it is dark but when the sex-energy is sublimated above the throat, it becomes amrita (nectar) and it illuminates the body-space above the throat. “Siva has swallowed the poison” means that he has prevented the sex-energy going downward [14].

      All Yogis who have transmuted their sexual energy are able to experience this sweet nectar in the throat. Sri Aurobindo also seems to have experienced it, as per his diary note on Feb 6, 1911: “Felt the sweet taste of the amrita in the throat and noticed the struggle ibidem of the impure rasa causing nausea with the amrita”. A few days later, he wrote, “Sweetness of amrita much stronger, denser and more frequent and continuous, the mixture of phlegm less frequent.”[15]. This is a good illustration of how the body gets physiologically transformed through Yoga; one begins to experience a sweetness and tranquility within the body.

    4. Sandeep Post author

      Sexual imagination and the reception of sexual thoughts from other people are two ways of polluting our auras. If many men are thinking about a woman and creating powerful sexual thoughtforms about her, those thoughtforms go and attach themselves to her aura and begin to influence her life. Slowly she can be forced to act according to those thoughtforms. A woman can even become a prostitute as a result of the influence of men’s sexual thoughtforms about her.

      Sri Aurobindo says “Talking about somebody may very well have an effect on him; it often does, for it can be an effective formulation of a thought or feeling which, so embodied, will reach him. But I don’t suppose mere mechanical thoughts or ill-formed imaginations would do that – at any rate it must be rare and need exceptional conditions or a play of forces in which a trifle counts.”

      and “Yes, one’s bad thoughts and good thoughts can have a bad or a good effect on others, though they have not always because they are not strong enough – but still that is the tendency. It is therefore always said by those who have this knowledge that we should abstain from bad thoughts of others for this reason.”

      (Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 23, section on “Human relationships in Yoga”

      So maybe its not all that bad as Torkom Saraydarian suggests.

  18. Sandeep Post author

    The perspective of Muslim women

    Behind the veil lives a thriving Muslim sexuality – by Naomi Wolf

    The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality. But when I travelled in Muslim countries and was invited to join a discussion in women-only settings within Muslim homes, I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women’s appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one’s husband. It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channelling – toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home.


    Indeed, many Muslim women I spoke with did not feel at all subjugated by the chador or the headscarf. On the contrary, they felt liberated from what they experienced as the intrusive, commodifying, basely sexualising Western gaze. Many women said something like this: “When I wear Western clothes, men stare at me, objectify me, or I am always measuring myself against the standards of models in magazines, which are hard to live up to – and even harder as you get older, not to mention how tiring it can be to be on display all the time. When I wear my headscarf or chador, people relate to me as an individual, not an object; I feel respected.” This may not be expressed in a traditional Western feminist set of images, but it is a recognisably Western feminist set of feelings.

    Read the full article @

  19. Sandeep Post author

    Most of the letters discussed in this article above are from the correspondence between Nagin Doshi and Sri Aurobindo. Later in life, Nagin related an anecdote of how the Mother silently used her power to cure his sexual infatuation.

    This passage was related by an Ashram inmate named Kailash.

    It was a Christmas day. In those early days, it used to be celebrated in the Playground. The Mother used to come there. Nagin was young. The problem of sex was still troubling him. There was a lot of correspondence with Sri Aurobindo regarding this. But he had not yet overcome it. In the Playground he was constantly looking at one girl. The Mother noticed it and did something. Since then Nagin had no sex-difficulty in his life and sadhana. He would talk and mix with everybody but this had totally disappeared. It didn’t happen in the case of many others although they were also very close to the Mother.

    and this passage was related by Esha-di

    As far as the presence of a woman was concerned, he did not have any feeling of that sort. Definitely the Mother had worked it so in him and he was free of it. Once the Mother told Sri Aurobindo that her experiment with Nagin was successful but with X it was a failure. Esha-di tells that Nirod-da himself had heard this when, in those days after the accident, he used to attend on Sri Aurobindo in his room.

    (RY Deshpande, Nagin Bhai tells me, pages 65 and 71)

  20. Pingback: Rape victims and Karma | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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  22. mike

    l’ve been noticing how much extreme vanity is all around us. Amoung celebrity it’s a major obsession. Then, l came across something by SA that l hadn’t read before:

    “Sri Aurobindo: Physical beauty is the result of some vital glow — it has no connection with spiritual development. Psychic beauty is not of the body — it is something subtle, independent of the physical formation. Excessive beauty is always dangerous as it is the result of something in the vital.

    Disciple: Different people have different standards of beauty — thus a Japanese and an European will not agree as to the beauty of a woman.

    Sri Aurobindo: Yes, the aesthetic sense belongs to the mental plane — the vital mental.”

    These days, there’s more ‘excessive beauty’ than ever.

    1. nizken

      funny, I had the same exact thoughts as I was walking by in the Univ corridors yesterday. I was thinking celebrities and bollywood stars nowadays seem to be more vain than ever and that maybe a result of excessive ego. It seems like a lot of them maybe so vain that they would be like ‘rakshasas’ in their personal lives and relationships.

  23. mike

    Yes nick, your probably right. l was looking at some of the top bollywood actors faces and there is definitely something not very nice there..
    Mother said lndia is still the main channel for the Divine on earth, but that it’s covering it’self in ‘mud’ at the moment….
    l would even go so far as to say that bollywood is far worse in this respect [shallowness and vanity] than say hollywood.. a lot of bollywood actors have what they call ‘Vanity Vans’ as well LOL..
    l found this article amusing:

    “Speaking of Bollywood, have you watched the trailers of some recently released movies like Anjana Anjani , Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara on Youtube ? Please do so, and you will notice the huge difference between what I call the Indian reality vs. the Bollywood dream.

    Even when 83% of Indians are living in slums, Bollywood shows them a Western standard of living which Indians cannot even dream of living. They frankly make fun of dark Indians when Bollywood ugly women bleach their skin completely white and sell cheap fake fairness products on TV.

    Bollywood movies consist of Caucasian bleach skinned elitists with Western roots who make movies for their own pleasure…they don’t give a damn about having any real Indian representation in their films. All they are care about is homosexuality and gay rights activism, as if there are no other issues of any importance in India.

    It’s not just the poverty – Bollywood makes fun of the common Indian man in every way. This is the hypocrisy called Bollywood which makes Indians believe:

    We don’t need development.
    We don’t need trade.
    We don’t need industry.
    We don’t need infrastructure.
    We don’t need an economy.

    India is gonna become the next superpower because of Sharuk Khan!

    Let the politicians loot the country while we are busy hung over after our cricket and Bollywood binges. Everything that is said about India’s growth story is so fake. How is it that India is growing @9% while poverty reduction is merely 0.18%? India’s trade in world share is 0.015%, while china is in double digits at par with US. “

  24. mike

    l was just reading something interesting by The Mother about the cinema and the world in general [God knows what she’d think of it now]..

    “This world, I must say, is a world of extremes from the
    point of view of taste, artistic and literary culture; on one side,
    it makes a great effort to discover something that’s very high,
    very pure, very noble, and on the other, at the other end, it
    sinks into a vulgarity which certainly is infinitely greater than
    the vulgarity of the past two or three centuries. What is curious
    is that, going back two or three centuries, people who were
    uncultured were gross, but their grossness resembled that of
    animals, and there was not much perversion in it; there was a
    little, because as soon as the mind is there, perversion comes
    in, but there was not a great deal of perversion. But now, what
    does not rise to the mountain-peak, what remains on groundlevel,
    is absolutely perverted in its grossness, that is, it is not
    only ignorant and stupid, it is ugly, dirty and repugnant, it is
    deformed, it is wicked, it is very low. And it is indeed the wrong
    use of the mind which has produced this. Without the mind this
    perversion did not exist, but it’s the wrong use of the mind which
    produces this perversion. Well, it has become what is ugly from
    every point of view, now, what is vulgar and ugly.
    There are things, things considered very pretty nowadays… I
    have seen photographs or reproductions which are considered
    very fine but they are frightfully vulgar in their perversion, and
    yet people go into ecstasies over them and find them pretty! It’s
    because there is something deformed, not only without culture,
    not only undeveloped, but deformed, something that’s much
    worse, because it is much more difficult to restore something
    perverted and deformed than to enlighten something ignorant
    and uneducated.Well, I think some things have been great instruments
    of perversion, and among these one may put the cinema.
    It could have been, and I hope it will become, an instrument
    of education and development; but for the moment it has been
    an instrument of perversion, and of a truly hideous perversion:
    perversion of taste, perversion of consciousness, and everything
    with a terrible moral and physical ugliness. Yet it is something
    which can be used for education, progress, culture and artistic
    development; and from this point of view it could be a means
    of spreading beauty and culture much more widely and making
    them much more accessible to all, than the former methods
    could do. But it is always like this—for what can be better, if it
    is not better, it becomes worse. And as I said at the beginning, we
    are in a period of excesses—excess in every way—a thing tries
    excessively to perfect itself and falls into excesses of perversion
    which, relatively, are as great if not greater. And if one looks
    attentively at oneself, one becomes aware that naturally, as one
    lives in the world as it is at present, one shares in its vulgarity,
    and that unless one observes oneself closely and constantly puts
    the light of one’s highest consciousness upon oneself, one risks
    making mistakes in taste, from the spiritual point of view, rather
    There we are!”

  25. AGK

    Men may also suffer from sexual harassment from women’s clothes as per another blog

    “Here is another suggestion: why can’t we recognize that sexual harassment can go both ways?

    Often, we characterize catcalling men as the predators who harass helpless women. What about immodest dress? If a person dresses in “sexy” clothes and goes out in public, why shouldn’t we consider this a form of sexual harassment in its own right?

    Let me be frank. As a Muslim man, it is not easy walking through the streets these days. Women’s fashion continues to get increasingly sexy and provocative, and, in effect, public spaces are increasingly sexualized. From an Islamic perspective, the harm caused to individuals by this is clear and inarguable. Even from a non-religious perspective, constantly bombarding men with sexiness can be tortuous. Think of men or adolescent males who for whatever reason cannot find a sexual partner. Or think of married men being endlessly tempted by strangers as soon as they step out of the house. And, of course, the same or analogous harm can be inflicted on women by provocatively dressed men.”

    1. Sandeep Post author

      I had been traveling around the world for ten years and while doing so I observed women, how they dressed, and how men reacted. The conclusion I always came to was that women all over the world were wearing what they wanted to wear and for the most part were not treated inappropriately because of how they dressed but rather how certain people reacted to dress based on their own convictions. What I noticed is that no matter what a woman wears, there are some people out there who treat women inappropriately. There are men who will harass women that are scantily dressed and men who will harass women covered from head to toe. There are people – men and women – who treat women with disgust because they are scantily dressed and other people – men and women – who treat women with disgust because they are covered from head to toe.

  26. mike

    “The conclusion I always came to was that women all over the world were wearing what they wanted to wear”

    l’m pretty sure this is not true for most muslim women around the world [which are the ‘women’ she’s actually referring to, l think]. lt might work in Europe [although Belgium, France and Germany – not to mention Sweden and Norway – are being slowly overrun by muslim migrants. lf you watch the news atm, you’ll see a surreptitious invasion of Europe taking place – by muslim refugee’s], although that would still depend on the type of lslam they follow, and on the husband’s permission.
    Try taking the ‘head gear’ off in places that adhere to the ‘wahabi’ version of lslam – like Saudi, lran, Yemen, Afghanistan etc. And l don’t think Pakistan would be too forgiving either [Pakistan has the worst record of abuse against women, l believe – beating women is usually allowed in sharia law, because it’s sanctioned in the koran [meccan version], the hadith and sira] – God knows how much disfigurement is hidden beneath those hijabs – l was surprised at how many women have acid thrown in their faces by muslim men. l won’t even mention ‘female genital mutilation’, which is widespread in lslamic society.
    Women have little or no choice about the what they wear in those countries. Egypt [where this woman is from] is much more lenient about the ‘hijab] – they’ve even banned children under 12 from wearing them to school. ln Saudi a woman would probably get a thousand lashes for NOT wearing it. Don’t forget, the muslims in places like Egypt are usually seen as ‘Kafirs [non-muslims]’ by the wahabi muslims because they are’nt following the literal teachings of muhammed. lt’s not a matter ‘moderate’ or ‘extreme’ – your not a ‘True’ muslim unless you follow the teachings of mohammed, to the letter [and if you read the hadith and sira, you’ll see where that leads]. There’s no compromise.
    From what l’ve seen in western countries, the men who are really affected by women’s appearance are muslim’s [and muslim men have said this too], simply because of the restrictions placed on muslim women. ln sweden it’s a national statistic that most rapes are carried out by muslim men – what does that tell us..?
    ln the west everything [mostly] is out in the open. ln lslam it’s done behind closed doors – they’re not just covering their faces. That’s the only difference, but the result of lslamic repression is very clear IMO.. For instance, ln Saudi homosexuality is widespread, l believe, even though it’s forbidden in the koran..[although, not so much behind closed doors, lt seems]..
    ln pakistan, because of the attitude toward women, there is a huge paedophile problem and their prey is the million and a half street kids [boys not girls]. lf you don’t believe me watch the vid below. This is not my opinion, but that of muslim men in the video.

    Pakistans Hidden Shame


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