JOYS OF TURNING SEVENTY FIVE IN LIFE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
We are all up and about at the crack of dawn.There is a lot of hustle and bustle in the house. Some souls had left the bed in the Brahma muhurt ,approximately about 4 A.M. to recite the Ved mantras. Afterall it was an important day. I, head of the family, would turn seventy five in life. In the Vedic way of life,it is considered an important landmark because the third phase of life comes to an end and the fourth phase of life culminating in one becoming a centenarian commences. In the varnashram dharma this phase of life is also called the sanyas ashram. Notwithstanding my strong inclination towards taking sanyas and donning the ochre clothes, my wife and children, who are parents of their own children,succeeded in convincing me that my area of activity could still revolve around the basic unit of the human habitat,that is a family. I quite know that my detractors would quote the oft-quoted saying – “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” HAVAN in the house is quite a family affair as everyone recites the mantras and makes an offering to the lighted fire to sanitize the environment. Neighbours too love to make an offering, aahuti to the yajna,a positive step in cleansing the environment and prevent the global warming at the local level. Children look forward to performing the poorna aahuti or the final offering of purified butter and fragrant mixture of vegetation in a dried form, as it is followed by distribution of yajna shesh, prasaad in common parlance. Sweetened rice that had been offered to agni as swishtkrit ,that is a mantra praying for forgiveness of the Almighty for defaults known or unknown. Well, today the sweetened rice is supplemented with quality sweets too. The Shanti Path, a prayer for peace, rings the curtain down and comes as a relief to the new generation who have to run many an errand to earn their daily bread. My wife, Sudha, and I have an intellectual chat on the significance of attaining the age of seventy five years with all the ten Indriyas or the faculties of body and mind that help in spiritual attainment remaining functional. I attribute this achievement to the Grace of God and good wishes of near and dear ones, the loved ones.Indeed quite a sense of achievement both of us have that the small family that we raised are quite well settled in life. Above all, they are happily married and are raising their respective families precisely the way they were raised, sans the tinge of the Prussian discipline. Times have changed and so has the new philosophy of life pertaining to rearing of new generation. Of course, I now treat my grand children differently from what it used to be for my own children. Life is like that.GAINS MUNDANE Turning seventy five brings more cash to the kitty. The Adjutant General’s branch of Army headquarters has paid a princely sum of Rs 50,000 out of the benevolent fund to which we all had contributed as serving officers. The plan is to go in for some philanthropic activity in a small way like sponsoring a festive meal or two for the brahmacharis of an arsh gurukul and a kanya Gurukul. Introducing a running shield for an inter-gurukul Public Speaking competition is also on the anvil. A small part of the longevity prize money given by the Army could go towards defraying cost of printing and publishing a collection of my articles in English. The suggested title of the book may be INSPIRATION. How do you like that? A little bird just whispered into my ears “don’t close the kitty old boy, some more money is on the way. Well, it is a twenty percent increase in my monthly pension. Vow! I exclaimed. Generally only teenagers and youngsters display that kind of emotion. Chill Chill, so said the grey matter in my mind. Another friend gave the news that there is an incentive to live longer – a forty percent increase on turning eighty. How about turning a Centenarian, chirped one fellow. Then the old age pension earned in service would be doubled. This called for another vow but I cautioned myself “control yourself” Once bitten twice shy, period.ARMY MARCHES ON STOMACH The clock struck 2 o’clock. Time for lunch, clamoured the younger lot. All of us climbed into the two big cars of ours parked right there. Where do we go, asked the friend in the driving seat. Anywhere, man, anywhere, just move on before the suggestion for fasting on a festive occasion materialises. How about eating khichri, that age-old mix of rice and lentil with a pinch of salt and basic spices thrown in. Move,man, move – apparently patience was wearing thin. What sin a hungry man cannot commit? That line in Sanskrit was quoted. Bubhukshitah kim na karoti papam – the line was said again and again to hurry up to the restaurant that serves both for herbivorous and carnivorous –the veg and the non-veg .Gaurav and Aditi, our son and daughter-in- law chose to foot the bill and said that it was their privilege to do so. Sudha,my wife winked and that was a nod to themj to go ahead. She,our daughter,Richa and son-in-law, Sudhanshu Ji joined the veg club of my wife and said that this was the surest way to be healthy and happy.A man is what he eats. It is the age-old computer terminology GIGO – garbage in garbage out – that is applicable to human beings and the diet that they take. Quite a convincing and logical argument,I figured and joined the veggies. In any case I was born in an Arya Samajist family and thus both the heredity and environment influenced my diet from the word go. I shall confess that the three decades plus spent by me in the Indian Army and myshort sojourn in USA to learn Chinese mandarin did change my life style and eating habit but I returned to my moorings sooner than later. Rejoining the Veggies was like home coming for me that I ever enjoyed. Indeed another incentive was swami Ramdev,the yoga rishi,blowing the trumpet of Vegetarianism with commendable results in the form of an ever growing following. Well, all said and done, the community eating was delightful and called for an Encore.SPIRITUALISM ALL OVERThe youth brigade wished to top up the gastronomic pleasure spending a couple of hours in a good cinema hall enjoying the latest release of Bollywood. They got the nod. The grey-hair brigade chose to retire to the cosy comfort of their bedroom for a forty wink – siesta being the birth right of senior citizens. In any case ,being ex-servicemen thay could recall how enjoyable the post-lunch siesta used to be. For doing P.T. at dawn and being up and about for the rest of the forenoon took its toll that could be repaired only by taking a “forty winks” in the cool confines of the bedroom. In any case majority of people in Asia, latin America and Africa exercise this birth right unchallenged. My siesta, not forgetting my wife’s, that afternoon was indeed life giving.We felt rejuvenated to our fingertips. It is evening now. Peace prevails all around. In the small garden at the back of our house, birds are chirping. They have returned to their nest for the night and their young ones have been fed to the fill. The planting of trees was initiated by our middle child, Shikha and she tended to it until she left for her bridal-matrimonial home in Germany. We all contributed to its growth by planting a sapling here, a sapling there. The house guests, both Indians and foreigners did so as a matter of honour. Some saplings have grown into full fledged trees giving both shade and fruits to us and the friendly neighbours. The kitchen garden in the vicinity of the trees is a focal point of both praise and blame depending on the perception of a neighbour or a passer-by. Anyway, the greenery and the fruits are a delight to us that beggars description. Turning seventy five today I feel more attached to the garden, now an undispensable appurtenance of the main house.Sitting under the large and a small mango tree I am enjoying this evening than ever before. This closeness to the Nature has brought in an element of spiritualism today. It is the twilight –Godhuli in Hindi. Time for the cows to come home. We possess no cow now. How I wish I had one. Never mind, there is always a next life after the soul leaves the present body. I may own one then and do gau-seva , receiving unadulterated cow milk as a reward. My wife and I choose to recite the mantras of the Vedic Sandhya together. A spiritual awakening indeed. Pranayam forms an integral part of the Vedic Sandhya written and prescribed by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj. Herein it is emphasised that Prarthana or prayer coupled with Purusharth or Action deliver the goods. Moreover , the devotee develops a sense of self confidence that helps keep depression at bay.This is the sum total of my rewarding experirnce of a life of seventy five years on planet Earth – for us Mother Earth. I hope and pray that the Vedic way of life holds me in good stead until I realise the meaning of my prayer in Sandhy mantras “ JEEVEM SHARADH SHATAM...ADEENAH SYAM SHARADAH SHATAM “May I live a meaningful life for one hundred years and may I ever be self reliant.
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