Miseries of Old Age - Part 3

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

We have seen in the previous offerings how Puranjana who represents all of us conditioned souls, suffered from old age and yet he is unwilling to leave his body. Then we heard from H H Mahavishnu Goswmai Maharaj as to how when we grow old, we are affected by bodily sufferings and we become attached to money and have a sense of insecurity, if we are not attached to Krishna. Now let us continue to hear more nectar from Maharaj.

4. Generation gap: The cultural lag between the generations leads to difference of opinion. So that is why in old age it is far better and desirable to get attached to Krishna and keep quiet. Completely shut your mouth. Because there is always cultural lag in the generations. If I think, I will be thinking about my times in 1925 and the younger generation will be in 1990. So my grandchild will start, "Grand Pa, you are mad. I can't understand you." He can't understand what I am talking. I know how much hard labour I have done to earn a penny whereas my grandchild has everything. So he doesn't know what the labour is. He comes and switches on the television, goes and rings his friends and spends money like anything and if I tell him not to do it he will say, "Dada, you just keep quiet. I know what I am doing." (Maharaj laughs). He is spending my money and he tells me to keep quiet, (Maharaj laughs). And the old man freaks out, "What is this you tell me, you shut up." And the grandchild and the dada both are fighting and both are correct. The dada knows how he has collected the pennies and the grandchild knows how to spend that, (Maharaj laughs). He tells, "This old man is unnecessarily troubling." And eventually the grandchild takes the whole bag and goes away. And the old man shouts after him, "What are you doing? Give my bag to me." This is how there is always trouble.

At least when we become old we should be careful about these things. We are also going to become old. So whatever difficulty we are facing in maintaining the old people, looking after them, we should not allow ourselves to be in that problem. Best way is Prabhupada's communities you know. These places should be full with the old people. But unfortunately there are not much communities like that. Prabhupada wanted that there should be vanaprastha ashram and there should be very nicely dedicated people there.

5. Singing the past glories: When we grow old, we want to sing our own past glories and nobody wants to hear. There was a very nice old man coming to our temple in Soho Street. He was blind, completely blind. And he was struggling to walk with the help of stick you know. He was coming at 10 'o' clock in the morning and I was sitting always in the temple room reading the scriptures and all and so he wanted to talk to me because there was nobody talking to him. So I was his greatest friend. So in order to talk to me he will come all the way and he would say, "Oh now I am satisfied I have seen you." If I was not there one day he will enquire the whole temple where I have gone. And till he finds me, till I go to him and talk to him he will not be satisfied. This is how when we grow old, we are very satisfied if somebody talks to us. But people don't have the time and the children have to run to the school, the adults have to go to their work, they don't have time, they are in their own different circles of worries and there is nobody to talk to. Whereas we want to sing our glories, how we were a child, how was our education, how we came to England, and how we served and how we earned money, how we wanted to make the whole family very happy and this and that and that, you know. Every person has his own history. So he wants to sing the glories and therefore wants somebody to hear it. And there is nobody to hear him. Then he becomes a problem. And then eventually he tries to find out where he will be glorified, somebody will be attracted to him.

6. Hankering for Attention: Once we went to one old age home. There was a person called Tom who used to sit on the toilet seat. So we were there two hours and that fellow was sitting on the toilet seat keeping the doors open completely. I said, "Why don't you bring that man out?" The caretaker said, "If we bring him out he will again go and sit." He was doing that just because if he sits there then everyone looks at him and says, "Hey Tom it is not the place to sit. Come, come." He wanted to talk with somebody. No one was talking to him. So he was sitting on the toilet seat so everybody was telling him, "Eh don't sit there, come, come, come" and he was enjoying that, "Eh I like here." (Maharaj laughs.) It was not because he was attached to the toilet seat, but he wanted to talk. So how to talk unless he has some basis. "Oh Tom come out, come out." "No no I don't want to come." This was the enjoyment. If he would have been outside on the table nobody would have talked to him. So he was finding out ways to attract attention. This is how it appears to be lunacy. But for him it was very nice enjoyment. This way everybody was talking and he says, "No, no I don't want to,I am all right." It was nothing to do with the toilet or anything. But the basic thing was he wants to talk. And the psychiatrists also, they don't do anything. They may hear you that is all. They will say, "Yes, yes, you are really in trouble. Yes, you are really in trouble." That is all. They don't have any solution to offer. But we want to hear that, "Yes you are really in trouble." We hear that and pay 1000 francs to him and go away. Why? Because he said, "You are really in trouble." That is not the cure. But you wanted to talk. We want to talk to somebody. There is no one inside of the four walls to talk to. He goes to psychiatrist and talks. And he hears and "Come, give my fees." So this is how we are completely misdirected.

Krishna willing, we will see the concluding part of Maharaj's lecture on old age and its miseries in the ensuing offering.

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