Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Ross and North Bay islands

(Andaman trip – 2)

On the morning of 2nd day (17/1) we left the hotel after breakfast and proceeded to Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex jetty to take the boat to Ross island. As only last month the island’s name had been officially changed to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, it still has not come into popular use and I will continue to use the old familiar name.  The Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex offers safe water sports activities and also adventure water sports activities such as joy rides on speed boats & Jet Ski.  Boats to Ross and North Bay islands ply from here. There was quite a crowd here waiting for their respective boats and only after a period of wait we got our boat.  Ross island is situated 3 km east from central Port Blair and after around 15 minutes ride we reached the island. The island is under the control of Indian Navy and no civilian settlement is allowed by the authorities here.

This Island was the capital for the most of Andaman Islands from 1858 until an earthquake took its toll of the island in 1941.  It was the headquarters of the Indian Penal Settlement for nearly 80 years.  Then it had everything at that time like bazaar, bakery, stores, water distillation plant, church, hospital, cemetery etc, but now all of them are in ruins.  In 1941, the Japanese converted the site into POW camp, and built war installations, remnants of which can still be seen, like the dilapidated bunkers with tunnels.  During the period of Japanese occupation Netaji Subash Chandra Bose visited the island and hoisted the Indian tricolour at the top of the Government House. The island was reoccupied by the British in 1945 and after independence it became part of the Union territory of Andaman Nicobar islands. In April 1979, the island was handed over to the Navy, which set up a small post, INS JARAWA, named after one of the indigenous tribes of the Andaman group of islands.  On 30 December 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi renamed Ross Island as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island in a ceremony in Port Blair. The island is full of palm and coconut trees and spotted deers are seen in the island.  We spent our time in the island leisurely walking among the ruins wih periodical rests here and there until it was time to join the boat for the next island, North Bay Island.

North Bay Island is a beautiful beach island, placed just northwards of Port Blair.  There are various adventure sport activities available at North Bay beach. These activities include scuba diving, sea walk, speed boat cruise, snorkelling etc.  This is also known as Coral Island as there are corals spread over a large area underwater. Coral Safari is a semi-submarine which takes you into the deep sea in a most comfortable 100 seater cabin, fully air-conditioned.  We went on this safari, watching the undersea world through the large glass windows inclined at 45 degrees.  The trip was for one hour and we reached the ship for coral safari by riding a boat from the shore. After the ride we returned to the hotel for night stay.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Port Blair

(Andaman trip – 1)

We went on a five day trip to Andaman islands starting from 16/1/19. The local travel agent who organised our trip was White Shell Travel whom we picked through Travel Triangle. This travel agency is based in Port Blair and is run by Mrs. Pinky Roy who hails from Tamilnadu and speaks good Tamil.   Let me start with a brief introduction to the islands before recounting my experiences there.  Andaman islands are a part of Andaman and Nicobar islands, a union territory in Bay of Bengal.  It is a group of islands with the Bay of Bengal to the west and the Andaman Sea to the east.  The Chola king Rajendra chola used these islands as a naval base to launch an attack against Sri Vijaya empire (Indonesia). The name Nickobar is a corrupted version of the Tamil name Nakkavaram only.  These islands came under Japanese occupation during Second World War.  Dr. Subhsh Chandra Bose hoisted the Indian flag here on 30 December 1943 and named the islands Shaeed Swaraj. Prime Minister Modi, who was on a two-day visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in Dec, 2018, renamed three of the Andaman Islands as a tribute to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The Ross Island was renamed as Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Dweep; the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep; and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep.
We landed in Port Blair, the capital of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands, on the morning of 16/1 by Indigo flight.  Mr. Anil from White Shell Travels received us and took us to the hotel My Island Residency, where we stayed for two nights.  In the hotel our room was in the first floor and dining room in third floor and there was no lift.  But Anil was helpful and took us later to a vegetarian restaurant Annapurna, where the food was good.  After lunch we visited the famous Anthropological Museum.  It is a well-maintained museum that sheds light on the island’s local community of tribes, considered as one of the oldest in the world. It showcases the highlights of the lifestyle of Jarawas, the Onges, the Sentinelese, the Shompens and the Nicobarese.  It is said that even today, these tribes maintain very little contact with the rest of the world and visitors are not allowed inside tribal areas without special permission, making this Museum the rare opportunity to understand tribal life on the island.  The museum has on display various articles like handicrafts, tools, arts and crafts, implements, photographs and clothing dating back to the era of prominence of these native tribes. It also displays models of clay and hay as a visual description of the houses, utensils, ornaments and equipment used by them. Only photography is not allowed inside the museum.

We were scheduled to visit the fisheries museum next. But as it is closed on Wednesdays we made our way to the notorious Cellular Jail next.  It is called ‘Cellular' because it is entirely made up of individual cells for solitary confinement of freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail, specially designed and built by the then British rulers.  This jail is now a place of pilgrimage for all the people taking them down the memory lane to the years of freedom struggle and to the brutal and barbaric atrocities suffered by the freedom fighters.  During the Japanese occupation of the island in Second World War when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose visited the islands as ‘Head of the Provisional Government of India’ he visited the Cellular Jail and many inmates joined the Indian National Army started by him.  Now this is a National memorial and a Martyrs column has been raised here in memory of all Freedom Fighters and martyrs and also an eternal flame is kept burning.   There is also a Photograph Gallery and Museum here, which displays articles of everyday use by the prisoners and also the ones by the authorities to maintain strict discipline in the jail.  An added attraction in the National Memorial is the programme of sound and light (son-et-Lumiere).   The shows are in Hindi on all weekdays with English shows on certain weekdays.  Luckily there was an English show on that day and we attended it after a visit to Corbyn’s Cove Beach.

After visiting Cellular jail we went to Carbyn’s Cove Beach, which is 8 kilometres from the city centre.  This is a coconut-palm fringed beach ideal for swimming and sun-basking.  Some of the water activities that one can undertake and enjoy over a visit to Carbyn's Cove Beach include scuba diving, surfing, and boating. We spent there about two hours lazing away the time watching the pleasant blue sea waters and the people engaged in the several water sports, sitting in the shade of lush green coconut palms.  We left the beach when it was time to go to the Cellular Jail to watch the English version of Sound & Light show.  The Sound and Light show in the Cellular Jail narrates the saga of the Indian freedom struggle, brought alive through sound and light effect, of the hardships and punishments suffered by the freedom fighters deported to these islands and incarcerated in the small cells of this jail.  After the show, we went to another vegetarian restaurant, Kattabomman, where we had our night snacks and then retired to the hotel for the night.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Five features of traditional Bhakthi

(adapted from a lecture of Swami Paramarthananda)

What we call as traditional bhakti is one that is not an emotional attachment to a finite God in the form of a person. It is not an emotional obsession; but, it is the love and reverence for the infinite limitless God, based on scriptures.

The first feature of traditional bhakthi, as visualised by our scriptures is, reverential appreciation of God (Brahman) as the comic Intelligence behind the order, harmony and natural functioning of the entire universe consisting of sentient, living beings and insentient material objects.  Our scriptures define the cosmic Intelligence as the eternal, all-pervading Consciousness principle. Mundakopanishad states (1-1-6):
yat tad adresyam agrahyam agotram avarṇam acaksuhsrotraṃ tad apanipadam 
nityam vibhuṃ sarvagatam smam tad avyayaṃ m paripasyanti dhiraḥ 
(By means of higher knowledge) The wise realize everywhere that which cannot be perceived and grasped, which is without source, features, eyes, and ears, which has neither hands nor feet, which is eternal, omnipresent, all-pervasive, extremely subtle, and imperishable, and which is the source of all.

That means there is no specific form for God and provisional forms are adopted only for relating to Him for worship with puja, abhishekam etc.  Getting hooked to a form will make it difficult to transcend the form, with higher knowledge (Para Vidya). Though one starts with a provisional form as ishta devata, one must always keep in mind that God is invisible, inherent, Intelligence that is pervading everywhere, who is invoked as the Ishta devata with a particular form and name.   One starts with a provisional form; but later with the growing Jnanam, God is recognised as, the invisible, inherent, Intelligence that is pervading everywhere. Therefore, the first feature of bhakti is, reverential appreciation of God as cosmic Intelligence.

The second feature of bhakti is, reverential appreciation of the universe itself as the body of God.  If God is inherent in the entire universe, pervading the entire universe, the universe must be the physical body of the Lord.  Appreciating the universe as the body of the Lord is appreciating the whole universe as Viswarupa Ishwara.  This reverential appreciation of the world is very important; because, as the appreciation of the whole universe, consisting of a mixture of good and bad, will gradually dilute both one’s attachments and aversions.  Greater the appreciation, lesser will be the raga dwesha.  In Viswarupa Bhakthi, there can be no difference between Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu as the universe is one and the same.  Rudram is description of Shiva as the universe. Purusha Suktam is the description of Vishnu as the universe.  So in Viswarupa Bhakthi one can grow out of the narrow division between deities and foster a sense of unity and oneness among them.  So whatever the form one adopts for Ishta devata, one should not forget that God is not confined to that form and the whole universe is manifestation of God only.  

The third feature of traditional bhakthi is the reverential appreciation of God as the source of the Vedas, our primary scriptures.  Svetasvatara Upanishad (6-18) states:
yo brahmanam vidadhati purvaṃ yo vai vedaṃsca prahinoti tasmai I
tam ha devam atmabuddhiprakasam mumuksurvai saranamaham prapadye II
Seeking Liberation, I take refuge in the Lord, the revealer of Self-Knowledge, who in the beginning created Brahma and delivered the Vedas to Him.
Vedas are not only a manual for life but also our only source of knowing God Himself.   With all our instruments of knowledge, including modern scientific equipments and all the research, one is not able to discover God, indicating that God is not accessible for the human instruments of knowledge.  So the only source of knowledge of God is Vedas only.  One is grateful to God for giving the Vedas to know Him, for without knowing about Him there can be no bhakthi or bhaktha.

The fourth feature of traditional bhakthi is the reverential appreciation of Vedas themselves as a gift from God.  A bhaktha is one who uses Vedas as the guide for his life with full faith in its validity as God-given manual for life.  One of the Pancha Maha Yajnas is Brahma Yajna, worship of the scriptures through reverential study and this is possible only if one has reverence for scriptures.  Swami Paramarthananda calls Vedas as GPS, God’s positioning system, for life.

The fifth feature of traditional Bhakthi is the regular, systematic reverential study of the scriptures.   This is one of the Pancha Maha Yajnas and also then only one can follow the lifestyle and code of conduct given in Vedas. But one faces difficulty because of the volume of the Vedas and the difficulty of Vedic language which is not easy to follow with mere knowledge of the language.  God, as Lord Krishna, has condensed the Vedas in a simpler language in 700 slokas spread over 18 chapters in Bhagavad Gita.  Madhusudhana Saraswathi praises Bhagavad Gita thus:
sarvopaniṣado gavo dogdha gopala-nandanaḥ|
partho vatsaḥ sudhirbhokta dugdhaṃ gitamṛtaṃ mahatII
All the Upaniṣhads are the cows. Krishna is the milker. Arjuna is the calf. The
pure-minded are the enjoyers (of the milk).  The supreme nectar of Gita is the
In the 16th chapter of Gita, Lord talks about the right values to be followed as Daivi sampath and wrong habits to be given up as Asuri sampath.   In various places it talks about sat karmani, proper actions; sat bhavanah, proper attitudes; and sat gunah, noble qualities which are to be adopted by a true, sincere devotee.  Such a study makes one an informed bhaktha and one’s informed bhakthi is free of common misconceptions, two of which are listed as follows.

One of the popular misconceptions is bhaktha will have no problems in life.  The scriptures do not make such a promise.  On the contrary they state that prarabdha karma has to be experienced by everyone, bhaktha or non-bhakthaBhakti will give inner balance and inner strength, which will help one confront one’s karma with courage and confidence.  Second misconception is that mere bhakthi without karma can help one achieve one’s goals.  Bhakthi promises only God’s grace and not miracles and bhakthi is not a substitute for karma.  So bhakthi must be an informed bhakthi, to be free of misconceptions and seek only His Grace. For that reverential study of scriptures is necessary.  Reverential systematic study of scriptures confers another benefit as well.   Systematic study of strictures with a refined mind under a guru will help one to acquire knowledge of Self, Athma Jnanam, and attain Moksha, Liberation.

So to sum up the five features of traditional bhakthi are:
1)    Reverential appreciation of God as the cosmic Intelligence
2)    Reverential appreciation of the very visible universe itself as the very body of God
3)    Reverential appreciation of God as the source of Vedas
4)    Reverential appreciation of Vedas as God-given life-manual
5)    Reverential study of scriptures 

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

God and the Universe

(adapted from a lecture of Swami Paramarthananda)

Svetasvatara Upanishad (6-18) states:
yo brahmaṇaṃ vidadhati purvaṃ yo vai vedaṃsca prahiṇoti tasmai I
taṃ ha devaṃ atmabuddhiprakasam mumuksurvai saranamaham prapadye II
Seeking Liberation, I take refuge in the Lord, the revealer of Self-Knowledge, who in the beginning created Brahma and delivered the Vedas to Him.
The Vedas that have been handed to Brahma, and coming down to this present day is a guide book for living and offers guidance for living to those who have the trust in the validity, efficacy and utility of Vedas. Those who have shraddha in Vedic teachings were called Vaidhikhas, who are now called as Hindus.  Vedas prescribe a life-style that is God-centred for its followers.  For a devout Hindu the day starts with the remembrance of God and in every activity during day God is remembered.  For instance during bath God is visualised in the heart and bath is considered as an abhishekam to the Lord.  Pradhakshinam a  Hindu does in temple is a symbolic declaration that his life will be centred around God only,  Not only the daily chores but also all other aspects of Hindu life like music and dance, art and architecture are all centred on God.

The scriptures not only give the instructions but also teach the significance of each action.  But over the period of time, the backup teachings were lost and the scriptures are not studied with sraddha; only the traditions are maintained with the result the practices now appear to be ‘meaningless rituals’ to the younger generation.  But one will understand that rituals like puja are not meaningless if one learns the principle and purpose behind it. Let us see a few salient points of the backup teaching in support of the God-centred lifestyle, starting from the common definition of God. 
The common provisional definition of God is ‘Srsti Kartha’, creator of the world.  Scriptures themselves refine that definition for serious thinkers, the reason being that according to Vedas nothing can be created or destroyed, which idea is echoed by modern science through its law of conservation of matter and energy.  Only transformation takes place; nothing is created, nothing is destroyed. Before the world came into existence, it was already existent in potential form only.  What was potentially existing in an un-manifest form alone comes to manifestation in what we call ‘creation’. This un-manifest form is called the seed of universe.  This 'seed', which existed before the emergence of the universe, is called God.

This Lord Krishna points out in Bhagavad gita (7-10),
bijaṃ maṃ sarvabhutanaṃ viddhi partha sanatanam [7.10]
O Arjuna!, may you understand me, the Lord, to be the very cause or the seed of the entire universe.
Sri Adhi Sankara also mentions in Dakshinamurthy stotram:
 bijasyantarivankuro jagadidaṃ prannirvikalpaṃ punaḥ
mayakalpita desakalakalana vaicitrya citrikṛtam I  (first half of sloka 2)
This universe, undifferentiated at first like a sprout within the seed, becoming manifold through maya's aspects of time and space.

From that 'seed' - which is called God - alone, the entire universe, consisting of all the galaxies and planets and all living beings, emerges. Then, the scriptures point out that you can divide the entire universe broadly into two categories.  One is, inert material universe - called acetana tattvam; and the second is sentient living beings - which is called the cetana tattvam.  So this manifest universe consisting of cetana- acetana tattva dvayam, evolved out of that one 'seed', called God.  That means both the tattvams existed in God in potential form and emerged out of it in ‘creation’.  Lord Krishna names them in the Bhagavad gita as Puruṣha and Prakṛti,  Purusha referring to the chetana tattvam and Prakṛti referring to the achetana tattvamPurusha evolved in the form of living beings. Prakṛti evolved in the form of the inert principle.  So, the first lesson of the backup teaching is; the God, which is the centre of our life, is the 'seed' of the universe, which is cetana-acetana tattva dvayam.

The second lesson arises from God being the seed of the Universe.  As God is seed, God is kaaranam and universe being the product is kaaryam.  From this kaarana-kaarya sambanda we can draw certain conclusions.  One of the popular examples given in the scriptures to illustrate kaarana-kaarya sambanda is gold and gold ornaments, gold being the cause of various gold ornaments made out of it and gold ornaments, the product i.e. gold, the kaaranam and gold ornament the kaaryam.  From the study of their features; we can draw four conclusions regarding kaaranam and kaaryam
1)    Gold, the cause, is one only from which various ornaments of different designs and shapes are made. So while kaaranam is one, eka, Kaaryam is many, aneka
2)    Gold only is the substance that has weight in all ornaments, which are all gold +nama+rupa.  Without gold the ornaments are reduced to weightless nama and rupa,  So kaaranam is the essence, sara, and Kaarayam having no substantiality of its own is asara
3)    Gold was there in the past, before it was converted into ornaments. Gold is therein the present as ornaments.  Even if the ornaments are melted in future, gold will still remain. So kaaranam, in relation to kaaryam is present in all the three periods of time and so permanent, nitya, while kaaryam temporary, existing in the present only, anitya.
4)    Gold has independent existence and is satyam as compared to ornaments which do not exist without the gold and have dependant existence, asatyam.  So kaaranam is satyam and kaaryam is asatyam.

Applying this to God and universe we learn that God is eka, sara, nitya, and  satyam while universe is aneka, asara, anitya and asatyam.  But universe has its own plus points like variety, beauty and novelty but it has no stability to rely upon as it is asara, anitya and asatyam. Human beings suffer from a feeling of insecurity, which is termed samsara.  Among many definitions of saṃsara, one  definition is, the sense of insecurity.  As a child one clings to mother for security and as one grows up this clinging for security continues, only it gets transferred to various objects of the world like money, fame, relationships etc.  Freedom from the feeling of insecurity, called Moksha, cannot be attained through reliance on anitya vasthu, the objects of the world.  Worldly objects are like a cardboard chair.  They can look beautiful in various designs but you cannot lean on them or sit in them as they are not stable and strong enough.  Emotionally leaning on any object of the world for security leads only to emotional trauma.  Therefore, scriptures guide us that if one wants to solve the fundamental problem, then one must turn to God for security.  Spirituality begins when one recognises the problem of insecurity and turns to God who is sara, nithya and satyam.  Rely on God for getting out of the feeling of insecurity, is the second lesson of scriptures.

The third lesson of scriptures arising from the previous two is on “How to find God and security?”  Scriptures present it in two stages.  The first stage is preparation of the mind to find God.  Because, God is an extremely subtle principle, being ultimate seed and cause beyond even time and space.  So in the first stage one makes use of the world to refine the mind using world as a field of service i.e. by serving the world in different areas through pancha maha yajna.  When with a refined mind one seeks God through scriptural study with the help of a guru, one discovers God in oneself as one’s Own Self, Athma.  God being the kaaranam pervades the kaaryam, the world, as gold pervades the golden ornaments.  The infinite, nitya God pervades the finite anitya universe with its sentient and insentient divisions.  And so what one discovers is;  “In this very world, in every object, in every living being, that includes ‘me’, God is there and so in  'me', the imperishable God is available within the perishable part of 'me'.    

In kathopanishad Lord Yama teaches the same to Nachiketas:
angusthamatrah puruso madhya atmani tisthati I
isanam bhutabhavyasya na tato vijugupsate I etadvai tat II (2.1.12)
The Purusha (Athma), of the size of a thumb, resides in the middle of the body as the Lord of the past and the future; knowing Him one fears no more. This verily is That.

When one seeks the God and discovers It as one’s own Athma, then life is no more a struggle for security but an expression of security and one does not need anything else for one’s peace, security and happiness as one has found them within oneself.  Then life becomes successful and meaningful; because, one would have solved the fundamental problem of samsara.  But, all these are possible only if one takes the guidance of the guru and the scriptures and leads a life which is God-centric.  And the rituals in Hinduism are really a periodic reminder to the devout Hindus not to get lost in worldly pursuit, swerve from a God-centric life and forget the real goal of discovering security in that God which is one’s own Self only. 

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Mental strength in Old age

(adapted from a lecture of Swami Paramarthananda)

Lord Krishna says in Gita (2-27): “Jaatasya hi dhruvo mrityur dhruvam janma mritasya cha; (Death is certain for the born and certain is birth for the dead;). Same way old age also is certain for the young when they live long. This Swami Paramarthananda calls “getting banished to the forest of old age from ruling the kingdom of youth”, drawing an analogy from Swami Chinmayananda’s story that runs as follows.  There was a kingdom in which anybody can become the king but that person can rule for only five years. At the end of the period he will be banished to a forest across the deep river, infested with the crocodiles.  The forest also was inhabited by wild animals only with no human inhabitants. So after enjoying kingly comforts for five years they will have to suffer in the forest with fear and die miserably.  So anyone who became a king started crying when the time came to go to the forest and he has to be dragged into the boat and out of it on the other shore as he kept begging the boat-man to spare him and save him. But there was a person who laid down the kingship and left the kingdom cheerfully at the end of five years, got into the boat voluntarily and got down on the other side with a smile and a wave to the boat-man. The surprised boat-man asked the person how he could be happy and cheerful while every other person he had taken to the forest had been sad and miserable.  The newly banished king replied that during the five years of rule he had attended to carving out a kingdom in the forest establishing townships and settling people there and this kingdom he will be ruling now on and so doesn’t feel gloomy or despondent.  The story is told to illustrate the point that as one enjoys “Yauvana Samrajayam” (kingdom of youth) one must also prepare for the “Vardhakya Vanam” (forest of old age) of the future.

In youth one is at the peak of one’s physical and mental health, as body is free of infirmity and healthy, senility is distant, faculties have not lost their vigour, enjoying company of friends, basking in the attention of family members and having a growing income.  So he is said to be ruling the yauvana samrajyam.  In old age physical powers and mental faculties are on the decline, with a tottering body, and a fading memory. The earning capacity is gone and the friend circle and attention of the family members also vanishes.  So old age is called vardhika vanam, the degenerative diseases being the wild animals inhabiting this forest of old age.  One does not know which wild animal will attack which limb; and, whether one will survive the attack or not!   Getting old and getting into this situation is inevitable and choiceless as old age advances.  Physical deterioration in old age can only be slowed down but not prevented and this affects the mind also.  With increasing incapacity and isolation in old age, dejection, depression and despair sets in making one lose confidence and courage to face life.  Just like the king in the story making preparation for the life in the forest, one can take steps from the hey-day of youth to keep the mental battery charged and continue to charge it in old age so that it does not run out in the old age nor its functions impaired. For keeping the mental battery charged Swamiji names Bhagawan as the power bank and prayer as the charger.

Bhagawan is defined as “bhagaḥ asya asti iti bhagawan”, the one who has got bhaga and bhaga is the six qualities defined in Vishnu purana as:
aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yasasaḥ sriyaḥ I
 jnana-vairagyayoscaiva ṣhaṇṇaṃ bhaga itiraṇa II
Overlordship, courage, fame, wealth, knowledge, detachment, these six qualities together constitute bhaga.

Bhagawan is also defined as ‘Ananthaha’, the infinite one. So Bhagawan is one who has got in infinite measure all the six qualities of overlordship, courage, fame, wealth, knowledge and detachment.  Every day in the morning one must have one’s mental batteries recharged by connecting to this limitless power-bank through prayer.  The prayer can be kayika, physical puja; vachika, verbal puja like recitation; or manasa, mental chanting.  Among these the best prayer is Japa, mantra aavritti as Lord Krishna has stated in Gita (10-25) “Yajnayanam Japa yajno’smi”.  Japa has an added advantage that you can do the chanting in any choiceless situations anywhere, including a traffic jam. One can chant a Mantra on one’s Ishta Devata or as Swamiji suggests, the Mantra “Om namo bhagavathe Ananthaya” that appeals to His limitless aspect, making the sankalpa “I want the mind to face choiceless situations calmly with confidence”.  The chant can be 108 times or more and it should be done with sincerity and shraddha, On the degree of shraddha depends the quantum of energy derived. Starting on this practice from a young age one is well prepared mentally to face the physical problems of old age with courage, confidence, calmness and cheerfulness. But one should not stop with Iswara sraddah, but should proceed to acquire Iswara Jnanam, if possible, because Jnanam based shraddha cannot be shaken either by repeat of adverse situations or scientific challenge to Bhagawan’s existence itself.

Iswara jnanam as per Vedanta is embedded in the profound mindboggling equation laid down in the Maha vakhya given by the Upanishads.  It is Bhagawan = bhaktha i.e. Bhagawan, whom a bhaktha  has been worshiping all the time with bhakthi is equal to bhaktha, as Athma . The mantra ‘soham’ also exemplifies this as soham stands for sah aham, sah standing for Bhagawan.  There is no difference between Bhagawan, the creator of the universe and bhaktha, the experiencor of the universe at the Athma level. But acquiring this Jnanam and making it one’s own is a big project requiring one to undergo the process of sravanam, mananam and nididyasanam.  If this profound equation is understood, then three problems are simultaneously solved.
1)    All misconceptions regarding Bhagawan, GOD, will go away
2)    All misconceptions regarding bhaktha, that is self-misconceptions also will go
3)    All the misconceptions and doubts regarding the existence of GOD also will go away

So when you have the Jnanam, you realize you yourself are the powerhouse and derive the mental strength to face the physical problems of old age with the auto suggestion and assertion every morning and night “ I have the mental strength to bear with my old age problems”  So either through Iswara shraddha or through Iswara Jnanam; either from Bhagawan or one’s Self; one must start charging one’s mental battery every morning and prepare for one’s old age with the sankalpa “ I have the capacity and mental strength to face all choiceless situations with confidence, calmness and cheerfulness” and  also behave unruffled in choiceless situations as if he is not affected by the adverse course of events.  It is better if one starts connecting with Bhagawan early but no age is too late as well.