Is Spirituality to be practiced in old age?
India is known as ‘spiritual capital’ of the world. No doubt most Indians do come across the message of the Vedas in some or other way. For some reciting Bhagvad Gita gives them lot of inspiration and is a daily chore. Some chant mantras as their daily prayers. Many go to one temple or another. And practically everyone has watched Ramayana or Mahabharata telecasted on television. A few of the youngsters even do learn from Bhagvad Gita or some Vedic texts.
The India of the past had its educational basis in the Vedas. In the system of education known as ‘Gurukul’ the recitation of Vedic mantras, performance of Vedic sacrifices and most importantly study of Vedic spiritual sciences was one of the most important practice. There was a seriousness in learning Vedic science and most Indians were aware to some or other extent about the Vedic philosophy.
In the recent years, however, there is a trend and the trend is specially becoming viral among the young Indians who say ‘Spirituality is to be practiced in old age’.
Most of such uninformed youngsters feel that Spirituality has no productive output and thus can be taken up as a mere time-pass when one has nothing else to do (i.e. in the old age). In fact most feel that Spirituality means giving up happiness of this world and thus ‘Youth’ and ‘Spirituality’ is incompatible.
Shall we not rethink? Why did the glorious India of the past not only emphasized but practically made it compulsory for youngsters to learn the Vedas?
Because probably Spirituality is enjoyable! And perhaps it gives the right way of life which if followed one can becomedoubly productive!!
Spirituality is Enjoyable
Too often spirituality is seen as some regulation or restriction imposed on the self. It’s true that those who relish spiritual pleasures may become more disciplined and have better self-control, however that comes as a natural outcome of receiving higher happiness and inner satisfaction. It’s exactly like one who has a cake to eat will naturally not get attracted to a dry piece of stale bread.
How could it be that those who take up to spirituality will want to be miserable! Does it not sound ridiculous? No sane person would ever increase his misery. Many of the spiritualists were highly thoughtful and intelligent beings and it is certainly improbable that all of them made mistake to choose spirituality in the prime of their youth. A few among many who embraced spirituality were, ChanakyaPandit(a well knownphilosopher, economist & political advisor), Aryabhatta(mathematician &astronomer),Shankaracarya(a devout logician and philosopher), Madhvacharya (philosopher & theologian), SrinivasaRamanujam (mathematician & autodidact), etc.
Contrary to the popular notion, true spirituality brings deep inner fulfillment and an experience of true inner happiness. Padma Purana, an authoritative Vedic text proclaims, “ramanteyogino ’nantesatyänandecid-ätmani” that the spiritualistsderive happiness in the unlimited true pleasure of spiritual existence.There is a joy in the selfless acts, far more than the sensual gratification. Spirituality thus refers to the ‘higher pleasure’ which the youngsters can explore.
Spirituality is Doubly Productive
How to know the principles of success? Simple – read the success stories and the failures too. Spirituality means to learn from the success and failure stories given in the Vedas. Vedas discuss the real life characters facing challenges – internally and externally – and then emerging out victorious or learning from their failures. Learning from each real life story in the Vedas is a great treasure of wisdom. I doubt if anyone would want to miss out on this treasure hunt.
Thus spirituality is doubly productive as first it helps one to have better self-control, thus enabling one to stay focused. And second the Vedic wisdom helps one to avoid repeating the mistakes by teaching principles of success.
To reap the benefit of spirituality one has to practice it from early age. Youth is the right time to learn and to absorb. Thus when our minds are pliable the input of spirituality can prove to be a great boon. Spirituality is learning the right and the right way of learning. In old age one can’t learn and one can’t unlearn too. That’s why those who are misled in the youth carry deep scars of bad habits practically throughout their life. If young students learn spirituality they can much better handle the inevitable pressures of life with a calm mind.
Would you like to take an exam before going through the course-work? Indeed No! But entering into the adult-hood to face the real life challenges without first learning to deal with them through spiritual knowledge is exactly like that. No doubt many teenagers face failures. Life could be much better if one pursues spirituality and practices devotion.