(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)
Nalinidalagata jalamatitaralam, tadvadjeevitam atishayachapalam
Viddhi vyadhya abhimanagrastam, lokam shoka hatam cha samastam || 4 ||
Meaning: Life is so uncertain. It’s like a drop of water on a lotus petal which floats for a while but can be blown away any time. Know that the whole world is a victim of disease, ego (self-importance) and grief.
One of the best ways in learning something is the way of simile or metaphor. While life is going on smoothly, one tends to feel that it is going to be the same all the time. When a couple falls in love, they feel that they are going to live happily ever after. When a person becomes rich in his business and has achieved name and fame, he feels that this is going to be the same situation until he dies. With this comes an Ego – ‘I’m Somebody’. A body builder or a beautiful lady may be proud of their body. Wherever they go, they have eyes staring at them. But a death of one’s partner, one natural calamity, an incurable disease is enough to bring the person down and he’ll never be able to get up again.
If we go to Tata Memorial Hospital (the best cancer hospital in Asia), we can see a lot of people suffering from cancer. Some of them come from a very rich background and are willing to shell out any amount of money just to get a cure of the disease. But alas! Even bank balance cannot get a cure. Such a person might have been very successful in life and a very happy person too, until he got diagnosed with the disease. Is there any happiness left in his life now?
Parveen Babi, one of the most glamourous actresses of Bollywood in the 70’s and 80’s, who was the first Indian woman to appear on the Time magazine, had a miserable life in her middle age. She was once adored by a number of fans. But the truth is, her body was adored by the people, not her. When she lost her young looks and put up a lot of weight, she didn’t get any roles in movies. She was no longer wanted by the media and film industry. This hit her very bad and she became a victim to psychological disorders and died. How many people can we see today, right from teenagers to film actors, who are proud of their physical appearances?
How can we come out of such situations? This is what Shankara explains in these lines. To be able to withstand these turbulences in life, the mantra is – “Even this will pass away”. Once again, intelligent thinking and understanding of life is required here. Everything is temporary in life. Be it happiness or sorrow, name or fame, money or good looks; destiny can change in a fraction of a second. Even though we know this, we don’t remember this all the while, do we? Shankara says that is the reason we get shattered at calamities. We start identifying ourselves with the physical body, the fame or money we have earned. What grief and pain is caused by this wrong identification!