Early start to spirituality

“This is neither the time nor the age for all this. Maybe after getting older or after retirement,” is the excuse heard for not involving in any spiritual or philosophical pursuits. Absolutely true. Worldly pursuits are certainly necessary, without which a man cannot lead a life of comfort, honour and dignity. No religion or spiritual leader has ever espoused shirking of one’s responsibilities, denying oneself and one’s dependents the necessities of life and retiring to caves, mountains and forests in search of some vague enlightenment. But, evolved intellectuals and thinkers have a word of advice here. 

As Adi Shankaracharya says “After birth, you are an infant, knowing nothing. Then you are an immature youngster. As a youth, your interests lie in your career and finding a soulmate. As a young man, you are engrossed in earning and building your livelihood. Then as a family man, you need to provide for your family. In your old age, when you think you can devote time to other pursuits, health problems arise. Finally, one day the bell rings. So where and when is the time for even trying to engage yourselves in activity that elevates and ennobles you?” 

Shankaracharya poses this question in the well-known Bhaja Govindam. In his other composition, the Shivanandalahari, Shankara, poetically addressing the Lord, says, “My mind is like that of a monkey, fickle and unstable, jumping from one material pursuit to another constantly. Always running in the forest of sense pleasures, my mind turns towards women. This simian thief is besotted with desires and tends to sneak into the mansions of the wealthy to procure the means to fulfill its cravings. How do I control this ape of my mind? It seems the only way is to firmly bind this monkey with ropes of devotion and knowledge to the pillar of resolute effort and determination and bring it under control. When the mind is disciplined, then realisation dawns gradually that there is something more to life other than material enjoyment”.

This early start to inner awareness while not neglecting any worldly responsibility is advocated by Shankara.

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