Bhaja Govindam 16: Practise mind and desire control when in youth (Verse 15)

Aṅgaṃ galitaṃ palitaṃ muṇdaṃ daśana vihīnaṃ jātaṃ tuṇdam |

Vṛddho yāti gṛhītvā daṇdaṃ tadapi na muñcatyāśā piṇdam || 15 ||

Meaning- Even though the person has become old, his organs are all incapacitated and weak, is bald, toothless and walks holding onto a stick, he is unable to overcome his multitude of desires.

This stanza explains the powerlessness/ helplessness experienced during old age.

As age advances there are only sufferings to be endured. Happiness disappears. The physical body will no longer be in a position to fulfill the desire demands as it will be infirm and weak. Hair will begin to turn gray and will fall off. The person will be toothless and as such will be unable to enjoy his favorite delicacies. Yet, at the same time he will be tormented by a strong desire to enjoy all his favorite foods. Offer him a fruit and he is bound to say, “Oh, Being toothless I cannot eat”. He will never say, “I have no desire to eat it”.

The ability to effectively complete tasks will be lost during old age. He may become totally dependent on others for their care. Such old age is worse than death. In each and every minute, there is only suffering. Even amidst such suffering the person refuses to give up his desires. In fact these desires in him tend to grow by leaps and bounds.

Due to physical infirmity, the ability to enjoy sensory pleasures is totally lost.  Yet, the mind, that has been trained the entire life to fulfill sensory pleasures, continues to run behind them seeking their fulfillment. When they remain unfulfilled, the mind gets depressed. It shrinks under the weight of useless thoughts. At such times, a very huge friction erupts between the mind and the body. The mind will be eagerly looking forward to enjoying every sensory pleasure that comes its way. The body refuses to co-operate due to its infirmity. As a result, the body and mind lack unity and will part ways.

The message in this stanza is not meant for the old. In fact it is oriented purely towards the able-bodied persons who are in the prime of youth. This stanza goads youngsters that, should they fail to rein in the mind and control desires when they are in the prime of youth, they will have to go through these terrible situations in their old age.

Irrespective of its nature, every desire causes endless sorrow during old age.  Hence desires are referred to as a noose (āśā pāśa) which entangles every person. Our mind is a bundle of desires. These desires form the foundation for this samsara (life with its bondages). The dangerous outcome of desire is that as soon as one desire gets fulfilled innumerable more desires sprout from it. The web spun by it is endless.

Swamiji has explained this in His bhajan-

janmāniki mūlamu kōrikalaṇḍi kōrikalaku mūlamu āśalaṇḍi
āśa tīraka pōtēnē duḥkhamaṇḍi duḥkhamulanu anusarin̄cu rōgamaṇḍi.

This is the sequence. This is why it is extremely critical that when the body is healthy and the senses are in our control, we should turn our mind towards God. When this is done, then during old age even if the body is weak and unwell, then the mind, due to its previous training will automatically turn towards God, causing immense relief to the person. At such time, the person will accept his troubles as originating due to his past karmas and will be peaceful. As a result of this practice, the person will be rewarded with a subsequent good birth with good samskaras.  

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