Miseries of Old Age - Part 1

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.

In the fourth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam we see that Srila Narada muni is instructing King Prachinabarhisat to enable him to come out of the entanglement of fruitive activites. While instructing, Narada Muni tells an allegorical story of King Puranjana who actually represents the individual conditioned living entity. After explaining how King Puranjana is completely engrossed in sense gratification throughout his life, Narada muni explains how the King is being attacked by the invalidity of old age, very high fever and fear of death. Last week we were reading from Srimad Bhagavatam, fourth canto, 28th chapter wherein the verses 6 through 9 describes our sufferings in the old age,

kanyopagūḍho naṣṭa-śrīḥ kṛpaṇo viṣayātmakaḥ
naṣṭa-prajño hṛtaiśvaryo gandharva-yavanair balāt

viśīrṇāṁ sva-purīṁ vīkṣya pratikūlān anādṛtān
putrān pautrānugāmātyāñ jāyāṁ ca gata-sauhṛdām

ātmānaṁ kanyayā grastaṁ pañcālān ari-dūṣitān
duranta-cintām āpanno na lebhe tat-pratikriyām

kāmān abhilaṣan dīno yāta-yāmāṁś ca kanyayā
vigatātma-gati-snehaḥ putra-dārāṁś ca lālayan

When King Puranjana was embraced by Kalakanya, he gradually lost all his beauty. Having been too much addicted to sex, he became very poor in intelligence and lost all his opulence. Being bereft of all possessions, he was conquered forcibly by the Gandharvas and the Yavanas. King Puranjana then saw that everything in his town was scattered and that his sons, grandsons, servants and ministers were all gradually opposing him. He also noted that his wife was becoming cold and indifferent. When King Puranjana saw that all his family members, relatives, followers, servants, secretaries and everyone else had turned against him, he certainly became very anxious. But he could not counteract the situation because he was thoroughly overwhelmed by Kalakanya. The objects of enjoyment became stale by the influence of Kalakanya. Due to the continuance of his lusty desires, King Puranjana became very poor in everything. Thus he did not understand the aim of life. He was still very affectionate toward his wife and children, and he worried about maintaining them.

So as we can see in the above verses, when old age sets in, the miseries we have to undergo are:

1. We lose our beauty in old age (naṣṭa-śrīḥ)
2. We become poor in intelligence because of too much addiction to sex (naṣṭa-prajño)
3. We lose our opulence (hṛtaiśvaryo)
4. All the family members start opposing, they become disrespectful and behave in a cold and indifferent manner (pratikūlān anādṛtān, gata-sauhṛdām)
5. When everyone turns against us we become very anxious as there is no power to counteract (duranta-cintām)
6. Due to continuation of lusty desires inspite of the objects of enjoyment becoming stale, we become poor in everything (dīno)
7. We become worried about our family members because we are still attached to them (snehaḥ)

All this happens because we fail to understand the aim of life (vigatātma-gati). Srila Prabhupada beautifully writes in the purport that because we are engaged throughout our life in maintaining our body, home and family, when we become old we become confused, not knowing what spiritual life is and what is the goal of human life. Further in the purport of the 10th verse, Srila Prabhupada says that in spite of all these sufferings of old age, we do not want to leave our body. The reasons he gives are:

1. We become overly attached to our material body although it is an abode of pain because of our long association with it and hence we defy offers of a more comfortable position.
2. We have no information about soul's transmigration.
3. We do not hope to enter the spiritual kingdom of eternal life, bliss and knowledge, and so wants to stick to our present body even though it may be useless.

In one of his lectures, H H Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj speaks about old age and its multitude of miseries and he tells us how, as Krishna conscious persons we should behave in our old age. We will see Maharaj's views in the forth coming offerings.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev, 
Uma Prathap
Abu Dhabi.