Celibacy (from Latin, cælibatus") is the state of voluntarily being unmarried, sexually abstinent, or both, usually for religious reasons. It is often in association with the role of a religious official or devotee. In its narrow sense, the term celibacy is applied only to those for whom the unmarried state is the result of a sacred vow, act of renunciation, or religious conviction. In a wider sense, it is commonly understood to only mean abstinence from sexual activity.
Celibacy has existed in one form or another throughout history, in virtually all the major religions of the world, and views on it have varied. Ancient Judaism was strongly opposed to celibacy. Similarly, the Romans viewed it as an aberration and legislated fiscal penalties against it, with the sole exception granted to the Vestal Virgins. Christians in the Middle Ages and in particular Catholics believed that celibacy was a prerequisite for religious office (clerical celibacy). Protestantism saw a reversal of this trend in the West and the Eastern Orthodox Church never adopted it. The Islamic attitudes toward celibacy have been complex as well; Muhammad denounced it, but some Sufi orders embrace it.
Classical Hindu culture encouraged asceticism and celibacy in the later stages of life, after one has met his societal obligations. Jainism and Buddhism have been influenced by Hinduism in this respect. There were, however, significant cultural differences in the various areas where Buddh . . . more