As BATURAM NAYAK philosophises on the existential crisis of pain and suffering, caused by ageing, and the yogic path of addressing it, he realises that looking after his nonagenarian father is sheer joy and bliss
Our traditional wisdom says that the essence of our life lies in our ability to make a perfect synthesis of the knowledge derived from the existential matrix of our own life by honestly carrying out all its demands, based on our individual capacity.
Succeeding so, we find out of our own life, a hidden meaning, pragmatic knowledge, and an intuitive understanding, which brings in pure bliss or salvation as a here-and-now experience in our life.
What more is required at the fag end of life than a sense of fulfilment that one has lived life honestly and responded to its calls gracefully, whenever required. This is what the seers say: “सा विद्या या विमुक्तये” ― that itself is true knowledge which makes one feel liberated while still living through one’s life.
Very contextually, since I have retired I have been fortunate enough to sit beside my ailing, bed-ridden father, Pandit Surendra Prasad Nayak. We get engaged in the exploration of this very meaning of life, most of the time of our day.
My father says pain and suffering is confined to the body and mind, but it can’t touch the soul whose nature is pure bliss. The influencer is the mind only, which is averse to suffering and craves for pleasure, intensifying the angst and torment to one’s life.
Needless to mention, even realised ones suffer the pains of old age and disease. Even sages like Ramana Maharshi and Swami Sivananda suffered from insurmountable diseases but nevertheless lived a fulfilling life, equipped with the right knowledge, transcending “देहात्म बोध” or one’s identification with the body.
This helps one to get dissociated from body-identity, and be focused in the centre of the being, and go through the pain and sufferings of life, like one is joyfully relishing the fruits of one’s own planted tree. Such an attitude leads to the path of overcoming the effect of Prarabdha Karma, being inundated in the stream of joy, which as such is the very nature of the soul, as realised ones experientially say it.
As Lord Adi Shankaracharya says, Prarabdha is an inescapable truth and even yogis are not immune to it; but staying anchored in the centre of the being, yogis settle in Brahmananda and settle the karmic dues in an absolutely pure state of being.
This is very beautifully described by Lord Adi Shankaracharya in a verse of Viveka Chudamani, which in itself is a pointer towards the resolution of this great existential question of pain and suffering, leading to a state of delight of being:
प्रारब्धं बलवत्तरं खलु विदां भोगेन तस्य क्षयः
सम्यग्ज्ञानहुताशनेन विलयः प्राक्सञ्चितागामिनाम्।
ब्रह्मात्मैक्यमवेक्ष्य तन्मयतया ये सर्वदा संस्थिताः
तेषां तत्त्रितयं नहि क्वचिदपि ब्रह्मैव ते निर्गुणम्॥
Prārabdha, which is the result of one’s action that one has to reap anyway, is very powerful even for the realised man and becomes zero only through the exhaustion of its fruits; while the sañcita and āgāmī are destroyed in the fire of perfect knowledge.
But none of these three, Prarabdha, Sanchita and Aagami Karma affects them who have realised Brahman and always live identified with It. They are, truly the transcendental Brahman, settled in the state of eternal bliss.
On the other hand, for the common people too, there is a suggestive note to bear the pain and suffering ensuing out of life with an understanding that everyone with whom one is associated in life beginning with one’s offspring, wife, people, and even pet animals are tied with the bond of karmic debt in such a way that we have to clear each others’ dues by rendering to the other the due service. And once it is done with joy, then karmic dues get cleared, mitigating away all sufferings, making the transactions of one’s life completely complete.
As the verse goes:
ऋणसंबन्धिनः सर्वे पुत्रदारं पशुस्तथा ।
ऋणक्षये क्षयं यान्ति का तत्र परिदेवना ॥
What a gentle wisdom lurks through this verse, if we can notice, for all of us, to serve our near and dear ones, including our parents, so that our life experience becomes mutually fulfilling to the point of total respite.
Needless to mention, living this very way, when one nears the end of life, then like that proverbial stream rushing from atop the hill to the mainland to the merger at sea, one remains in the purity of the pure and purely dissolves away in the sea….
This very way of living and dying becomes a celebration of pure joy and bliss.
After this philosophical contemplations, the biggest takeaway that I would like to share is that looking after my nonagenarian father, is sheer joy and bliss.
Featured Image: The author’s family. His father Pandit Surendra Prasad Nayak is extreme left and the author Baturam Nayak is third from right
Baturam Nayak, a postgraduate in economics, joined the banking sector in 1983 and retired in June 2020. He is a firm believer in simplicity and minimalism. “My faith is Oneness, एकत्वम्; that’s the way I would express myself and live in harmony with everything,” he says.