which is born is sure to decay and die, living or non-living.
Existence is inevitably associated with growth, youth, old
age, decay and death; there is no exception.
it is said, was walking along a street in Varanasi, accompanied
by his disciples. He saw an old man trying to master Sanskrit
grammar. Taking pity on him, he advised him not to waste his
time on learning grammar at his age but to turn his mind to
God in worship and adoration. That is how the famous hymn
Bhaja Govindam came to be composed.
long as one is fit and able to earn and support one's family,
all the kith and kin are affectionate. But no sooner does
one become old and infirm and one's earnings cease, no one
cares to enquire of one's well-being even in one's own home.
is wasted in sport and play. Youth flies off in pursuits of
passions. Old age passes away in brooding over the past and
the future. And there is hardly any time left for contemplation
body is worn out. The head has turned grey. All the teeth
have started to fall out. The legs totter and the old man
moves about with the support of crutches. Even then the desires
are so strong.
the Bhagavatam, old age is depicted as an ugly
grey haired unwanted daughter of Time, and the sister of fear.
the young prince Siddhartha beheld an old and tottering man,
a diseased man and a dead man he was horrified. He did not
expect to see such a sight. He never thought he would have
to confront old age, sickness or death. When he realised these
were inevitable, he renounced home in search of a cure. He
did not find a cure for these ills of life. He found a spiritual
way to become immortal. He became Buddha, the Enlightened.
Siddhartha none of us want to suffer from old age, sickness
or death. There is no way to cure the ills of life, but we
can become Buddhas and overcome them.
cult of youth rules our present day. No wonder even the old
people try to pretend, appear and behave like young people.
old age, millions are taking recourse to all kinds of therapies
- drug and diet therapy, gene therapy, hair colouring, hair
implantation etc. - to maintain their youthful appearance.
Billions of dollars are being spent by the cosmetics industry
in search of products to hide the outward signs of aging.
are deceptive. No amount of cosmetic change could change
the fact of old age. Is it not then far better to accept the
fact of existence and grow old gracefully?
World Population census tells us: The global population
was estimated to have only 1% of people aged 65 years and
over. By 2000 this figure was 7%, and by 2050, the estimated
proportion will be 20% to 25%. The world's population 'boom'
is not a result of an increase in birth rates, but rather
a decrease in death rates within the next 15 to 20 years.
this means is in another two decades one quarter of the population
will be old or elderly. Thanks to progress in medicine, more
people will be living longer, stronger and full of energy.
Already a large proportion of money is being spent on the
health and social care of the elderly. Like it or not, we
have to accept this fact. What would be the economic and social
impact of this fact is anybody's guess!
of old age
age brings many changes physically and mentally. There is,
often, a general physical decline, and people become less
active. Old age can cause, amongst other things: wrinkles
and liver spots on the skin; change of hair colour to gray
or white; hair loss, lessened hearing, diminished eyesight,
slower reaction times and agility; shaking of the limbs; reduced
ability to think clearly; difficulty in short-term memory.
One perhaps repeats the same old story again and again!
importantly; biological aging apart, there is something called
mental aging. One loses enthusiasm; perhaps pessimism sets
in; one loses faith in God and high ideals; becomes a sceptic
and develops the habit of ridiculing everything; grows wisdom
teeth at the cost of a wise and happy life; often looks back
with a sigh at the (non-existent) 'golden past'!!
or old, when one is not prepared to change bad habits and
to form good habits one is old.
good advice falls on deaf ears, when one takes offence easily
at even insignificant things, one has definitely become old.
sum up: it is not merely the biological age that matters.
It is the mental and spiritual state of one's mind that really
harmony, positive attitude, a higher goal in life and self-control
are the characteristics of a mature personality and maturity
in age. When these are absent one is definitely old and needs
does old age begin?
one wag said : From day one! Otherwise why do we ask,
'How old is the baby?'
to one report (from the internet) old age begins at 27. New
research shows that many well-known effects of aging may start
decades before our twilight years. According to scientists,
our mental abilities begin to decline from the age of 27 after
reaching a peak at 22.
is some good news, though. The report states that abilities
based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests
of vocabulary or general information, increase until at least
the age of 60.
to Sri Ramakrishna when one's hair starts to turn grey one
should recognise old age. According to him age 50 is good
enough to accept that one is old and gracefully step into
the Vanaprastha Ashrama,the third stage of life.
Hinduism, life was divided into four stages: childhood, youth,
middle age, and old age; but our modern culture has downsized
the categories to three: childhood, youth, and you are
looking fine. (Courtesy of Swami Adiswarananda).
to old age
old age really that bad? Why is it old people do not wish
to gracefully accept old age? These days it is an offence
to ask elderly people their age (even on their birthdays!!).
frustration, fear of being treated as insignificant etc.,
and boredom are some of the reasons why people do not accept
old age. Unable to bear this loneliness some even commit suicide.
Old age also hardens one's habits, likes and dislikes, prejudices
of us get panicky when we become old. This is because we never
planned for this event; we never pause to think that one day
we also will become old and are emotionally illprepared to
face it. And mere acceptance of becoming old is not enough.
Just as we plan for our financial future we also have to plan
for the day when we become old, retire and have to spend our
tells us not to worry. It tells us the way to grow old gracefully,
joyously and become fruitful. We will discuss this in our