(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)
Baalastavat kreedasaktah, tarunastavat taruneesaktah
Vruddhastavat chintasaktah, para me brahmani kopi na saktah || 7 ||
Meaning: Childhood is lost in playing with toys. Youth is lost in the desire and attachment towards the opposite gender. Old age passes by worrying over various issues. Hardly anyone is lost in attachment towards God.
There’s an old Hindi song which carries a similar meaning
Ladakpan khel me khoya, jawani neendbhar soya
Budhapa dekh kar roya
Budhapa dekh kar roya, wohi kissa purana hai
In the above song and Shankara’s verse, ‘lost’ does not mean ‘a loss’. It means one is so involved in a particular act that he forgets the whole world. Children, when totally engrossed in their play, don’t even care to have food or rest. The mother knows that if the child does not have food now, he’s going to get cranky after some time. She tries her best to convince the child, but the child being lost in play does not listen to its mother. In the same way, youth is the time when one can gather knowledge in different areas to make both their and the society’s future bright. But that period is also lost in the attraction for the opposite sex, indulging in pleasures, habits, etc. The attraction at that age is quite natural, but being lost is a tragedy. Elders, out of compassion and their own experiences in life, advice the youth to become learned. But with all arrogance the youth scorn them off saying, “Old man…out-dated person….what does he know about enjoying life?” Youth cannot see five years from now. Their vision is limited. And that’s why they get lost, unless they are intelligent enough to expand their vision with the help of an ideal.
Once this period has passed, then there is no time to study and contemplate over one’s own life. In middle-age everyone gets busy with family life and trying to earn good for supporting the family. After working like a donkey for one’s family, he retires. What is left with him is an unhealthy body, idle mind and a lot of time. All the while when he was working, he didn’t have time to think over his life that is passing by. But he gets ample amount of time in the old age to brood over his life. He starts feeling lonely because he has got no company now. He feels like travelling but his body does not permit. He wants to read, but his eyesight becomes poor. He wants to do spiritual studies but how can a person with an unhealthy body and mind learn at an old age and that too subjects of deep philosophical depth? Old people complain that time for them passes very slow. This way, old age is passed slowly in grief, sorrow, pain and dejection. Don’t we see this common phenomenon around us?
Whereas we also see people like Abdul Kalam, Anna Hazare, who are happily living their old age. People, both young and old, flock towards them all the time. They receive the love from millions. Why? How? Only answer is – Intelligent Living during their younger days. They didn’t fall into the usual traps. They used their youth to study and serve for a good cause. Intelligent living in younger days will result in a happy old age. Or else, one has to live old age in regrets thinking, “What all opportunities I had to change but I missed. And look where I’m today? What a beautiful life have I wasted?”
The last part of the sloka is something to ponder upon. What are the priorities we set in life? We have our ambitions, earning name, fame & wealth, getting material comforts, enjoying as much pleasures as possible, getting the children married,…the list is endless. We are so lost in these things. How many times have we thought – Who gave me this ability & efficiency to achieve all these things? Who gave me the intellect to understand? Who gave me such wonderful parents without whom I might have been a lost soul on this planet?
Most of us are lost in seeking happiness in various things and forgetting the Ultimate Giver of all this happiness to us. Those who take up spirituality at their younger age are able to live their life thoroughly and happily. They are the ones who make the most of it, who make their lives purposeful.