In the times that we live in, the hard truth remains that old age is a burden, both on those who are in that phase of their lives and on society. Old age homes are a stark reminder of this dilemma as, at the fag end of their lives, senior citizens increasingly find themselves leading isolated existences within the confines of their own homes.
Old age, boon or bane?
The aged population in our midst today is weak in terms of learnedness and physicality. This does not make them ideal mentors for the generations that they will leave behind. Yet, there was a time when those in their sunset years were sought out by society for their wisdom, gained from years of experiential learning. What they had achieved over the course of their lives far outweighed what any youth had to offer, be it in terms of strength – mental and physical, or knowledge.
The mentors that Bharat produced were all seniors themselves with no young blood who could stand at par to match their skill sets. The trinity of Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshithar, and Syama Sasthri, and the saint Purandara Dasa, remain the stalwarts of Carnatic music while Dhanwanthari, Dattatreya Bhagawan, Sushruta Maharshi and Charaka Maharshi are the revered names in Ayurveda. These personalities, even in their old age, continued to shine their light and fill those around them with awe. Young scholars like Shankaracharya and Swami Vivekananda were few and rare in between. The seniors of yore were treasure houses of knowledge, earned from years of learning, analyzing and sifting.
Are elders these days unable to meet the expectations of society?
Sadly, the aged population is lacking even where they ought to be independent let alone be available for others. They end up dependent on those around them, yearning for their compassion instead. Mostly wreaked by illness, old age has lost its standing as a force to reckon with. A strong physique is a reflection of good mental health. While medicines can cure illnesses, they need not change minds.
We will replace them very soon. What awaits us then?
It is only a matter of time before we are faced with the same limitations that stare our elders in the face today. It is high time that we ask ourselves what can be done. This is where the significance of yoga comes into the picture. When we are physically able, it conditions the mind to imbibe the lessons that arrive with old age. Life becomes blessed and blissful if one is able to make use of such an opportunity. The current generation is confronted with challenges that are graver than those faced by their ancestors; the mechanical lifestyle and reckless food habits that youngsters now lead will invariably take a toll, reducing them to unproductive existences that fail to be a source of joy to themselves or those around them.
Youngsters should be geared to take care of their mental and physical health today so that the benefits accompany them into their old age tomorrow.
The relevance of yoga in old age.
Devoting a certain time every day to the practice of pranayama and yogasanas will lead to a gradual shift in lifestyle. Once food habits are also set in order, all the aspects will reward one with a pleasant phase of old age. An effortless death with one’s dignity intact is sure to be the reward for a life led like a giant oak, as a source of immense strength and wisdom.
Authored By: Monisha Murali (Indimasi)