Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 24 Jul 2020


Spiritual Progress Of Senior Citizens

Dr. Nikhil asked: Padanamaskarams Swamiji! A large number of senior citizens today have sufficient time and energy to work on their spiritual growth. They have already fulfilled their family responsibilities. Most of them have some retirement savings in addition to their grown-up children to look after them. Apart from some health issues, they are sufficiently strong and healthy to dedicate themselves to the spiritual path of learning spiritual knowledge, developing devotion and even practically serving and sacrificing as much as their health and finances permit. It is disturbing and sad to see that an increasing number of senior citizens are not considering spiritual activity as an important, if not the only activity during retirement. The majority of retired people fall in the three categories described below. I request You to please give Your valuable advice and a set of clear guidelines that each of them can follow so that the time they have is best utilized for their spiritual progress. Your servant, Nikhil...[Click to read detailed question→]

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! Actually, the tradition is that old people, who retire from their profession are expected to concentrate on learning and propagating spiritual knowledge by entering into the naprastha and saṃnyāsa āśramās. In the first stage in life, which is brahmacarya āśrama, people get professional education needed for getting a job and earning their livelihood for the entire human lifespan. When they earn and save enough, they will have enough money after retirement, as you said, for living and for the treatment of some illnesses that are expected to attack them in their old age. In the second stage in life, which is gṛhastha āśrama, they are supposed to have fulfilled their responsibilities of raising children and engaging in justified and controlled enjoyments that are within limits. Enjoyment without discipline and control becomes over-enjoyment and it will certainly destroy the human being even in youth, when the body is generally strong. When old age comes, even this controlled enjoyment must be drastically reduced because the body is not strong anymore.

Old age is like the month of March for a student having examinations in the month of April. Even though the student might indulge in some enjoyments during the academic year, the student should become serious about studies from March onwards. The student must drop all enjoyments in order to pass the examinations in April. Similarly, in old age, the human being must concentrate on spiritual life since death is very near. After death, the soul will be examined by God in the Preta Loka for ten days, where the soul’s deeds will be analyzed and the extent of reformation will be assessed. God also helps souls by making them unfit to indulge in worldly enjoyments during old age, so that they will be forced to withdraw from worldly pleasures and concentrate on spiritual life. This withdrawal is necessary to pass the examination or the enquiry of the soul conducted by God very shortly after death.

Unfortunately, there are some students, who do not bother about passing the final examination and continue to enjoy. They do not get serious even in the months of March and April. There is no use of preaching to such careless students and careless old people. Such students fail the exam and keep repeating the same year, throughout their lives, without ever graduating from college. Similarly, such old people will fall into the births of animals and insects in this world repeatedly, as long as this creation continues. Such careless old people must be advised about the fact that there is at least a fifty-fifty probability that God and hell after death exist. If they say that no one has seen God or hell, they should be told that nobody has travelled the entire cosmic space and proved the absence of God and hell in this infinite space either! So, a fifty percent probability of the existence of God and hell cannot be denied.

By caring about God, they will actually be caring for their own souls. Śaṅkara condemned such old people who remain immersed in worldly affairs and aspire for enjoyments as ripened fools (Mūḍhamati) in His famous prayer known as Bhaja Govindam. He says that even in their old age, they do not leave their worldly desires and ambitions (Tadapi na muñchatyāśāpiṇḍam...). If a soul truly cares and is serious about the spiritual path, such a soul indeed gets spiritual knowledge, whatever may be the age of the body (Śraddhāvān labhate jñānamGītā). Such a wise human being becomes old (mature), even in his or her childhood (Vṛddhatvaṃ jarasā vinā). The best example of this is Śaṅkara, who completed His entire education and entered into saṃnyāsa āśrama at the tender age of 8 years! For a person who reaches old age and then turns to the spiritual path, it is “Better late than never”.

In the third stage of life, which is retirement or vānaprastha āśrama, the person is expected to study spiritual knowledge along with his wife. He should look upon his wife as his sister. After studying spiritual knowledge deeply from the divine Sadguru, he is expected to enter into the fourth and final stage in life, which is saṃnyāsa āśrama (renunciation) to propagate this spiritual knowledge in the world. He need not leave his wife, even in saṃnyāsa āśrama because she is also in the same spiritual line. Sureśvara Ācārya, who was previously called Maṇḍana Miśra, was accompanied by his wife, Ubhaya Bhāratī even after taking up saṃnyāsa āśrama, since she was involved in the same spiritual work. The wife is not a hindrance at all in God’s work since both partners, during the wedding vows, have promised to cooperate with each other even in the pursuit of salvation (Mokṣeca nāti carāmi).

Attached to the Family

[What is Your advice for the retired people who are mainly attached to their children and family, without any attachment to God? Many middle-class people, who have struggled all their lives to support their family and have retired with meagre savings, belong to this category. They take a lot of interest in all the minute details and happenings in the family and the lives of their children and grandchildren. They care more for their family and children than themselves. They are not too interested in their own comforts or luxuries since sacrifice for their family has become a way of life for them. They tend to lead a simple life. They go through considerable inconvenience for the sake of their family. They have taken full care of their parents during their parents’ old age and now they willingly submit themselves to the care of their children.

They often have a significant dependence on their children, possibly even financially. Yet, they spend even their limited pension amounts on their family, out of both attachment and obligation. They might even willingly lend some money to their children in their times of need. They endure even rudeness or ill-treatment from their children and their daughters-in-law, without much complaint. Ego has very little place in their relationship with their children. They are utterly and thoroughly convinced that all their wealth and inheritance must be passed on to their children alone. They never have any second thoughts about it. They blindly love their children. They have almost no interest in God or spirituality. As a matter of social habit, they might visit temples or celebrate certain festivals, but for all practical purposes, they are either atheists or borderline theists. How can these people be turned to the spiritual path? How can they learn to love God as blindly as they love their children?]

Swami replied: Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was in saṃnyāsa āśrama from birth to death and He did not leave His wife till the end. King Janaka did not give up his family or even ruling the kingdom till his end and he was considered to be a liberated soul, as mentioned in the Gītā (Karmaṇaivahi saṃsiddhiṃ, āsthitā Janakādaya). King Janaka was selected by Sage Vyāsa for examining His son, Śuka, for his progress on the spiritual path. Hence, age, marriage and staying with the family are not at all considered to be obstructions for the spiritual path. The duty of a saint is the propagation of true spiritual knowledge to the world and since one’s family is also a part of the world, one need not leave the house and the family and go to a forest to become a saint. The Gītā says that merely by taking saṃnyāsa (sainthood), one does not attain salvation (Na ca saṃnyasanādeva siddhiṃ samadhigacchati). All these four āśramas are related to the inner mental maturity and not to the external place or the saffron clothes. Śaṅkara has, in fact, criticized people who adopt the external dress and appearance of a saint, without the internal maturity of a saint (Kāṣāyāmbara bahukṛta veṣaḥ).

Two friends were going to the holy city of Kāśi for attaining the spiritual goal. On the way, one friend was attracted by a prostitute and stayed back with her. The other friend continued to Kāśi and started worshipping the divine Śiva Liṅgam by bathing it with the pure water of the Ganga. The friend who had stayed back with the prostitute was always thinking about God Śiva and his friend who was now in Kāśi. He felt very sad that he missed the opportunity of woshiping God and progressing on the spiritual path. On the other hand, the friend in Kaśi was always thinking about how his friend must be enjoying with the prostitute. After both of them died, the friend in Kāśi was sent to hell, while the the friend who had stayed back with the prostitute reached God!

The general human psychology is, that which is very close, does not attract your mind, whereas, that which is very far, always attracts your mind. This is even said in the Veda (Parokṣapriyā ivahi devāḥ pratyakṣa dviṣa). The one sitting in the forest, thinks about home and the one sitting at home, thinks about the forest. The one in the company of saints, thinks about the family and the one with the family, thinks about saints. The mind of a person living with his with wife and children is always attracted to God, while the mind of a person sitting in penance in a forest, is always attracted to his wife and children. This is one side of the concept.

On the other hand, it is also said that one should be away from the family to think about God. This is told in the Yoga Vāsiṣṭham. Both these opposing statements must be correlated. It is always better to stay with the wife and children in the home. This is useful to maintain perfect health, which is very essential for doing God’s work. But one should leave the house for some time during the day and be in the spiritual company of the Sadguru for gaining right direction in spiritual knowledge. For an ordinary human being, this is the best solution. Even while living with one’s family, one need not develop excessive fascination for the family, which is possible if spiritual knowledge is properly digested. Spiritual knowledge gets properly digested when one propagates it to others since it leads to repeated revision of the concepts. People commonly estimate a person’s devotion or attraction to God based on whether the person lives with his or her family or has given up the family. This is not correct. The attraction to God depends upon the depth of a person’s understanding of the right sense of the spiritual knowledge given by the divine preacher selected by the person.

The retired people who are attached to their families are better than the people on the path of duṣpravṛtti, who are attached to illegitimate worldly bonds and who neglect their legitimate worldly bonds. At least, such people will not go to hell, even if they do not reach God. Such people pray to God, but they do so, only for the welfare of their own family members. At least, they are introduced to God, even though their path is not correct. They have climbed the first step called pravṛtti and they have risen above the ground-level, which is duṣpravṛtti. The second step is to reduce their worldly fascinations to some extent, at least and to learn and propagate spiritual knowledge, which is God’s work. This work of propagating spiritual knowledge must be done without the aspiration for any fruit in return. The third and final step is nivṛtti, which is to develop total attraction to the personality of God by which the worldly fascination drops by itself, without any effort. God does not want your worldly fascination to be dropped by forcible effort. It should be spontaneous and natural, due to your strong attraction to God. Detachment from worldly bonds is not a prerequisite for developing attraction to God. Of course, a small amount of forced detachment from the world is necessary initially, as told in the Yoga Vāsiṣṭham. But it only means that one should allot some time for the study of the divine personality of God through spiritual knowledge.

Spiritual, but Unable to Detach

[What is Your advice for the retired people who are interested in spirituality, but are unable to overcome the attachment to their children? These people lead simple lives and claim to be interested in spirituality. Some even follow a Guru and attend the discourses (satsangs) conducted by the Guru or by some devotees. Others, at least watch some discourses given by Gurus on the television or read spiritual books. Most such people follow some spiritual practices such as meditation, performing some rituals or singing devotional songs. But these retired people often live with their children’s families or at least partly depend on their children. Due to the close association and dependence on their children, they are usually strongly attached to their children. In fact, the attachment to their children is far greater than their commitment to the spiritual path. The spiritual activities that they do, often get reduced to mechanical rituals, which they perform without thinking or without any enthusiasm. They partly perform the spiritual activities out of the fear that if they miss the activities, something bad might happen to their families or their health. After somehow completing the daily quota of spiritual activities, they feel free to finally spend the rest of the day with their children, grandchildren and others. Some such people look forward to attending public discourses (satsangs) only because it gives them an opportunity to socialize with other people and beat boredom. All-in-all, their interest in spirituality is only superficial. Their real interest lies in the families of their children. Occasionally, they might get a few flashes of interest in spirituality but that is soon drowned in the flood of family matters and their own inevitable health problems.

The main problem is that these retired people do not appreciate the central and crucial position of spiritual knowledge in the field of spirituality. They feel that knowledge is an optional item in the field of spirituality and that meditation or some other activities are the main items. In many cases, the Gurus or even Sadgurus have emphasized different things such as repetition of the mantra (japa), meditation and so on, more than knowledge. So, even if we inform them of the value and the essential requirement of spiritual knowledge, they do not accept it, quoting the teachings of their Guru. They grossly lack a proper inquiry into spiritual knowledge and its analysis. Even if they read some knowledge, they avoid discussion.

They are extremely reluctant to bring out any questions that they might have and seek answers by discussing with other devotees, especially when the devotees are not followers of their Guru. One reason for this is ego. They do not want to accept before others that they do not know something and are seeking answers. This is especially true when other devotees are younger than they are. People like Devahūtī are extremely rare. She was able to overcome her ego of age and parenthood and learn divine knowledge from her son, sage Kapila, who was an Incarnation. Another reason why these retired devotees do not discuss with other devotees is the fear that their pet ideas might be challenged by others and they might be forced to give up or change some things that they are strongly attached to. Perhaps, these devotees might openly ask their questions directly to their Guru, but the opportunities of personally meeting or contacting the Guru are extremely rare in most cases.

So, finally, hardly any questions get answered, their knowledge hardly grows, and time runs out before they have made any significant spiritual progress. I feel that if such people (1) accept the critical role of knowledge in the spiritual path, (2) specifically read Your divine knowledge and (3) enter into frequent discussions to have their questions answered, it might even be possible for them to attain liberation in a single birth like king Parīkṣit from the Bhāgavatam. If not, then with Your grace, they can at least get a highly favorable human rebirth where they can make rapid spiritual progress.]

Swami replied: Retired people have almost come to the end of their entire dynamic and energetic lives, during which they could have attained the goal, if they had put in serious spiritual effort. Not only is the time over for them, but so is their dynamism and energy. At that stage, you cannot expect much change in them. Neither can you expect them to put in much spiritual effort. Even if the student becomes serious about preparing for the examination, the day before the exam, what is the use? But there is still full hope for their spiritual development because God assesses a devotee’s progress with reference to the existing circumstances and not based on the circumstances of the past. This is the speciality of the spiritual path. Even in one’s old age, if one gets reformed, all the pending sins of the soul are cancelled by God. Under the existing circumstances, what best can be done by the person is considered by God. A beggar gave one coin as an offering to God, whereas, other rich people gave thousands of coins. But God declared the donation of the beggar to be the highest!

One need not be discouraged about the past. The past is past (Gatam gatam). The present is yours and the future lies in the hands of the present (Kartavyaṃ bhāvicintanam). When you start making some effort, you should feel that you have just been born at that time. Brooding over the past is of absolutely no use in improving one’s present. Moreover, brooding takes away a person’s strength, which spoils the present. Especially, in the spiritual field, one need not brood over the past at all, because God does not mind your past. If a person is fully reformed, even on the day of the person’s death, I assuredly tell all of you that God will cancel all the pending punishments of his or her sins and grant a human rebirth for further spiritual effort. If the person’s reformation is not true, the next human rebirth gets spoiled. God is omniscient and gives another chance of human rebirth if He knows that your reformation is true.  One can cheat another human being by expressing artificial reformation, but God knows everything that is present even in your most minute hair-like nerves also!

We must also analyse the external atmosphere in which these old people have passed their lives. The external atmosphere is very very important for the development of spiritual interest in any soul. I will concentrate the old people of the Hindu religion. The first point is that Hindus believe that the soul will get plenty of rebirths. This is true, but the problem is that every rebirth need not be a human rebirth. Hinduism says that human rebirth is very rare (Jantūnāṃ nara-janma durlabhamidamŚaṅkara). Other religions outright say that human rebirth is impossible and that this human birth is the final chance given to the soul. But Hindus are under the misunderstanding that they will get numerous human rebirths. As a result, you can find some difference between old Hindus and the old people of other religions, regarding their seriousness about the spiritual path. Old Hindu people are much less serious about their spiritual effort as compared to the old people of other religions.

The old Hindu people must be told that rebirth is not at all the point, but that getting a human rebirth is the point. The omniscient God gives human rebirth to the soul, in which there is some real hope of reformation. One must know that continuous rebirths of a soul as animals, insects or worms is the continuation of hell in this world. Hell is Naraka Loka, which is an upper sub-world of the Bhu Loka. The material world we live in is the Martya Loka, which is the lowest sub-world of the Bhu Loka. Above the Bhu Loka there are several heavenly worlds and below the Bhu Loka there are several lower-worlds. The soul not only faces the punishment of its bad deeds in hell (Naraka Loka), but also in this material world (Martya Loka), in the form of rebirth as animals and insects. It is nothing but the continuation of hell in this world, which happens in the cases of the majority of souls. The possibility of getting a human rebirth is thus, negligible. This concept agrees with the concept of other religions which say that human rebirth is not possible and that a sinner remains in hell forever. Hence, the concept that present human birth should be considered to be the last human birth, is one and the same in all religions.

Another facility existing in other religions is that every person belonging to those religions passes through several rituals that are conducted on different occasions in the person’s life. Even the Hindu passes through different rituals on different occasions in life. On these occasions, whether the person is a child, youth or an old person, the person makes it a point to attend the function, even if it means taking leave from one’s job on that day. The person is forced to attend the ritual function. When it comes to attending spiritual speeches given by liberated preachers, the person may or may not attend them, but when it comes to such rituals performed at home, the person surely attends them. Hence, these rituals are the best occasions in the entire life of a person to learn the spiritual knowledge given by the preacher-priests. The priest is called purohita and if the same purohita is also a divine preacher, He is called Brahman.

In the case of other religions, the scripture is translated into their mother tongue, so that even if the scripture is simply read or recited, some knowledge certainly enters their minds. Even though people might not develop a very deep understanding of it on their own, it serves to develop some interest in the subject. Moreover, most of the preacher-priests of other religions also explain the deeper meaning of the recited scripture. The knowledge makes people become devotees of God, at least temporarily. After preaching knowledge, the devotees are made to sing sweet songs in praise of God, which brings out the emotion (devotion) developed through the preaching of the knowledge, at least for a small period of time. But what is happening in Hinduism? The priest is simply a priest. He is not a scholar who can understand and explain the deep meaning as a preacher. Moreover, the scripture is in the Sanskrit language, which is not known to anybody in the function, including the priest! The Hindu person performing or attending the ritual, neither understands the scripture read in the unknown Sanskrit language directly nor can he understand it with the help of the priest, since the priest cannot translate even a single word of the scripture! So, the Hindu should either learn Sanskrit or the scripture should be translated into people’s mother tongue. At the very least, the preacher should translate and explain the scripture recited by him. The person attending Hindu rituals remains a namesake devotee, without even a trace of spiritual knowledge. Unless the meaning of the spiritual scripture is understood, no feeling of devotion can be developed. It is said that God is concerned only with your feeling and not the language that is unknown to you. This namesake devotion of Hindus exists because they are convinced that if they merely performed or attend the ritual, all their worldly problems will be solved and that they will achieve all desired worldly benefits. Such devotion is not real devotion to God and such devotion is always weak. This is the reason why you find that Hindu devotees have very mild devotion, whereas the devotees of other religions are very active and serious about their devotion.

Hence, the old Hindu person has already developed a firm mindset that is fully established in the head that a priest must be invited and some ritual worship must be performed, so that the rest of his life during old age will be happy and without any problem. The Hindu having this traditional mindset simply pays a small amount to the priest for this purpose, but, in fact, even this little amount paid is a sheer waste. The old Hindu person also knows that even after his or her death, the issues or relatives will similarly pay some amount to the priest to carry out the death rituals and the annual rituals on every death anniversary. The old person feels that due to these rituals, he or she will certainly go to heaven and avoid going to hell!

Can we blame our Hindu old people for this tragedy? Death is not the tragedy. Death is inevitable for every soul. This blind tradition established by our tape-recorder-priests is the real biggest tragedy! Hence, all of us should reform our religion because we and all our people are put to eternal loss! We must propagate the true spiritual knowledge and reform our religion, so that all our people also get real spiritual benefit. We should not go for such blind performance of rituals for the sake of false prestige in society, when we know that it will lead to a horrific loss! This defect within the Hindu religion is just like a problem in a family, which is discussed within the family without any reservation, behind closed doors. It is important to discuss, realize and resolve this issue.

However, the difference between old Hindu people and the old people of other religions is greatly reduced in an unexpected manner because of one factor that is common to all old people. All old people have the long habit of staying immersed in the ocean of worldly bonds. Every soul is entangled in the multi-dimensional net of fascinations for worldly bonds. As a result, the effect of the two factors that create a difference between Hindu and non-Hindu old people is greatly reduced. The two factors creating a difference between Hindus and non-Hindus are: (1) Unlike other religions, the Hindu scriptures are not in the mother tongue of people, which prevents understanding of spiritual knowledge and the development of devotion. (2) Unlike other religions, Hindus believe in many human rebirths, which reduces their seriousness towards spiritual progress in their present life.

But the lifelong over attachment to worldly bonds, which is common to the old people of all religions, takes away most of the advantage that the other religions have over Hindus. This brings the old people of all religions to almost the same level. Due to their worldly attachment, all old people thus, have a habit of remembering God only for finding solutions for their worldly problems and for getting worldly benefits. Continuing the same habit, they spend the last phase of their lives praying to God for the welfare of their grandchildren!

All religions have traditionally encouraged a soul from birth to death to worship God and express devotion to Him only for the sake of solving worldly problems and getting worldly benefits. Souls born in every religion are soaked in this tradition for millions and millions of previous births. If you suddenly preach now that such devotion is not real and that devotion without the aspiration for any fruit in return alone is real, it is doubtful how effective this preaching will be. How will it be able to change the rock-solid mentality of selfish devotion to God, developed over numerous past births? The mind may be influenced by the preaching of such real devotion for a small period of time. But it will be like straightening the curved tail of a dog by tying it to a straight stick. It will remain straight only as long as it is bound to the stick.

This point is true, by and large, but it does not mean that there cannot be any exceptions. In fact, we find exceptional people developing interest in spiritual knowledge and devotion, without the aspiration for any fruit in return, irrespective of caste, gender, religion, region and age. These are the rare people who are caught in the most powerful pure multi-dimensional net of real love for God. Their love for God exceeds their worldly bonds. Such souls are found scattered here and there like precious diamonds. Sometimes, we see very young people of this type, who have advanced to such a high stage of practical spirituality that it is extremely difficult even for very old sages to reach the same stage! Their level of spiritual maturity cannot be explained by their efforts in one life. One must take into account their spiritual efforts over all their previous births. Such people have had a very long journey of spiritual progress (Yoga bhraṣṭo’bhijāyateGītā). In the present birth, they have forgotten the spiritual knowledge acquired by them in their past births, due to the change of the body. But since they had already learnt that knowledge before, preaching to them even once in the present birth is sufficient and they immediately progress with unimaginable speed. Not only do they learn real spiritual knowledge, but they are also able to convert it to practice in terms of the most valuable practical sacrifice and service. On the other hand, even if you preach the concept of real devotion to an old man a hundred times, it might not have even the slightest effect on him.

The very young Sage Śuka, surpassed even his great father, the extremely old Sage Vyāsa, by putting the spiritual knowledge to practice (practical philosophy). This does not mean that all old people are to be condemned. This only means that the spiritual level of a soul is irrespective of any external factor like caste, gender, religion, region, age, education etc. The conclusion is that the observed old age of the body in this birth need not necessarily indicate the spiritual maturity and progress of the soul. Conversely, the observed young age of the body in this life need not necessarily indicate spiritual immaturity or the lack of spiritual progress.

Returning to the topic of old people in general, belonging to all religions in the world, the old people are generally greatly fascinated with their families. It is a continuation of the fascination they have had for their families, throughout their long lives. Of course, the fascination for one’s legitimate worldly bonds (wife, children, parents etc.) is not a sin. The fascination for illegitimate worldly bonds, neglecting one’s legitimate worldly bonds is sin and it puts the soul at the lowest level, called duṣpravṛtti. The legitimate fascination for one’s family is the middle level called pravṛtti. It is a justified path and certainly better than the lower level of duṣpravṛtti. The love for your parents is justified because they gave birth to you and you grew up only because of their sacrifice. The love for your wife is also justified because she attends to all the needs of her husband with utmost care till the day either she or her husband dies. The love for your children is also justified because they serve you in your old age with natural love, irrespective of the value of the property you pass on to them. Pravṛtti is neither low nor high. It is a respectable path corresponding to Aristotle’s golden middle path. Persons who love their legitimate worldly bonds need not be criticised, even if they are unable to rise to the upper nivṛtti level. Of course, the Veda says that there is no real love in worldly bonds because all worldly relations are polluted with selfishness (Ātamanaḥ kāmāya…). It is only in nivṛtti that one finds the love of God for the devotee, which is absolutely pure, without any selfishness. There is no need for the omnipotent God to love others for the sake of selfishness.

God does not want you to make any forcible effort to hate your worldly bonds. God is pleased only when your worldly bonds naturally drop off, without any effort. The worldly bonds should drop off naturally, even if you make a lot of effort to retain them! That indicates that you have true love for God. This is what is liked by Him.

To understand this, let us take a worldly example, which conveys the concept, at least to some extent. A boy loves a girl and the girl also loves the boy. Their love is so natural and so intense that both the boy and the girl do not bend in spite of the opposition from their parents, who have given birth to them and raised them with a lot of sacrifice and hard work. The boy and girl often try to defeat their mutual love, thinking about the love of their parents, but they utterly fail, due to the strength of their mutual love. Such cases of love are found almost everywhere in the world. This is the kind of love one should develop for God. The love for God should naturally defeat the love for all worldly bonds.

The love between that boy and girl is not simply physical attraction because if it were only physical attraction, any other boy or girl, who is more beautiful, would have served the purpose. The love between the boy and the girl is the love for each other’s permanent personalities, which are made of qualities. It is not mere physical attraction, which disappears with youth. Their love is also not based on the personal benefits that can be achieved with the help of each other. Similarly, the love for God should be the eternal love for the divine personality of God, which is known through the study of spiritual knowledge in detail and in depth. Such divine love lacks the aspiration for any fruit in return from God.

Hence, old people must attend the spiritual discourses given by divine preachers, so that they may learn the true spiritual knowledge. This spiritual knowledge will lead to the development of devotion to God, which has both theoretical and practical parts. Old people are free to learn spiritual knowledge, develop theoretical devotion and put it to practice because all their responsibilities have ended. They have also retired from their professions, in which they had been engaged throughout their lives for earning their livelihood. Most old people, generally, follow this trend. The only unfortunate thing is that the spiritual knowledge they are following is wrong. As a result, God is certainly not pleased with them. Just after retirement, vānaprastha āśrama starts, in which they should learn true spiritual knowledge from a Sadguru. The same should be propagated to others to please God, in the later part of old age, which is saṃnyāsa āśrama. People, irrespective of age and āśrama, can perform the duties of both these āśramas to please God. They can stay with their families while doing so. It will not hinder their internal spiritual progress and in fact, it is also good for their external physical health. A true saṃnyāsī or saint (Jñeyassa nitya saṃnyāsī...Gītā) is he or she who propagates true spiritual knowledge, irrespective of age and āśrama to uplift this world created by God since this world is God’s personal property, which is very dear to Him


| Shri Datta Swami | Spiritual Progress Of Senior Citizens | Mokshecha naati charaami Mandana Mishra Ubhaya bhaarati Samnyaasa Sureshvara aashrama Vaanaprastha Vruddhatvam jarasaa vinaa Karmanaivahi Samsiddhim, Aasthitaa Janakaadayah Na cha samnyasanaadeva siddhim samadhigachchati Kaashaayaambara bahukruta veshah Parokshapriyaa ivahi devaah pratyakshadvishah satsangs Gatam Gatam Kartavyam bhaavichintanam Jantuunaam nara-janma durlabhamidam Shankara Yogabhrashtobhijaayate Aatamanah kaamaaya Pravrutti Dushpravrutti Nivrutti Jneyassa nitya samnyaasii Samnyaasi