“Life is there to live and live happily”
“It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you have not lost the things that money can’t buy” George Lorimer
Introduction – Life is there to live and live happily Almost everyday people, people wish to their near and dear one, ‘be happy’, ‘enjoy the day’, ‘enjoy life’, ‘enjoy the trip’ ‘enjoy your holidays’ etc. etc. But the irony is that hardly most of them know or understand what is true happiness, how can they be happy. Most of the unhappiness of people are self-created.
Issue – The problem is how can people realize what real happiness is, how can they be happy and what they should do or what are the ways and means to achieve it.
What is happiness? – Many people desire to have ‘name’, ‘fame’ or ‘wealth’. They feel happy and empowered when they get control over muscle, money or occupy an influential place in the corridors of power/authority – be it social, political or economic.. For them, controlling the destiny of others is enjoyment and desire to have a say in all important matters of society/nation.
Youth of the day find happiness in visiting and holidaying in world’s most exotic locales, purchasing expensive goods and clothes, providing best education to their children, buying expensive cars and residences in exclusive areas and ultimately retire rich. For fulfilling all these desires, they would require a handsome amount of money. Without enough money at hand and good bank-balance, they feel insecure and restless.
Does material success give happiness – Material success does matter in life and is necessary to be comfortable and to enjoy in life. There is nothing wrong to pursue ambitions and self-interests and make efforts to be successful in life. All are supposed to lead an active and happy life especially when they are young, because youth is the most energetic and most enjoyable period in anybody’s life. As far as possible, it should be free from worries and tensions. Nature offers maximum opportunities to young people to utilize their intellectual and physical capabilities and enjoy the life the most.
In Hinduism, ‘Grihasthashram’, (young couples leading a family life) are advised to work for financial and material gains, get involved in economic activities of the nation and fulfill their dreams and ambitions. But at the same time, they have certain duties/obligations towards society. They are the trustees and managers of social estate. They are supposed to fulfil their duties towards family members – parents, wife/husband, children and elders; towards the rest of the society, helping other people in need of protection/help; and towards nation by observing the law of the nation and pay taxes honestly on their income.
Young couples are the main contributors and ‘Society’ is the recipient. They are supposed to make direct/indirect contribution to the society consistent to their capacity, knowledge and conscience. Taking proper care of toddlers and elderly/old people, proper maintenance of institutions of learning, NGOs involved in social service and support the poor etc. are included in their duty. They are also supposed to be sensitive and compassionate to the problems of weaker sections of society.
Can only money make one happy? – George Lorimer suggests “It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you have not lost the things that money can’t buy” (George Lorimer, TOI, Sacredspace, P.16)
A million dollars question arises – Can only money or material success buy happiness? Such questions are being asked from time to time. People thought over it, tried to get an answer but have never been satisfied with the answer. The answer depends on just what one means by ‘happy’. Present generation born and brought up during the era of materialism and consumerism regards money the most important thing in life. Many people are running after money blindly. It needs to be understood that money is the means, not an end in itself. Money is not the master or sole aim in life. It is supposed to be the servant. Money is important and useful for meeting day to day requirements and basic needs of the life, but ‘greed’ or aspiring for more and more money does not make a person happy. More one has, for much more he desires. Once craving for money starts, there is no end to it. ‘Satisfaction’ with what one achieves in life or possesses and living within its limits gives more happiness than always craving for ‘more’.
What money can’t give – Some successful persons feel that happy and satisfied with what they have earned or achieved in their lives. But most of the times, such happiness is superficial and short-lived. Money and material successes can make one happy for a short period, or provide comforts in life or satisfy their ego up-to certain point, but can not buy sustainable happiness in life. People keeping themselves busy in earning money, hardly get time to enjoy life’s little pleasures.
There is a large number of persons, who are poor, unemployed or underemployed. It is difficult for them even to fulfill their basic requirements. Unemployment is continuously increasing and prices of commodities are soaring after the great economic depression of 2008. Because of the lack of opportunities, money and numerous temptations, many of them are tempted to adopt wrong means including extortion, violence etc. to become rich overnight. These are one of the main reasons why corruption, crimes, violence or thefts are increasing amongst all the sections of society every day. It is becoming very difficult for the government to maintain law and order situation properly. There seems not much hope for the improvement of the law and order situation in near future.
What is happiness according to Hindu Philosophy
According to Hindu philosophy, real enjoyment/happiness (आनन्द) means ‘Satchitanand’ which includes in itself three things –
Cit (चित्), and
Sat (सत्) or path of righteousness – Sat refers to what is true and real. It inspires one to be true/honest to oneself and to others. It enables a person not to live in an illusionary world, but to accept the facts or realities of life and then decide his/her course of action.
Tremendous will power and a strong character is required to follow the path of ‘Sat’. It is difficult to follow the path of ‘sat’ for persons with weak faculties of mind. One needs to control or abandon passions like lust, anger, greed, vanity, conceit or over-joy, as it leads only to sorrow and distress.
Cit (चित्) or mindset/consciousness, knowledge, awareness or wisdom, Wisdom controls passions. It leads to balanced mind-set and controls irrational desires or passions. A balanced mind directs a person towards path of righteousness and achieve in proper manner desirable objectives.i
Ānanda (आनन्द) or happiness – Usually a common man devotes his/her time, effort and energy in satisfying the physical basic human needs. Real happiness lies in the development of ones inner self. One needs to have a balanced mind for being happy. Whatever comes on the way in life, one must accept that. Indian value system teaches an individual to accepts his surrounding, as it is and try to extract from it, whatever happiness he can. An Indian does not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs. It is said that Indians do “not count wealth in money alone, there is richness in their poverty.”
A person, whether rich or poor can be happy if he is able to keep a balance between his material (physical body) needs (be it money, attachment, material pursuits or ego) and spiritual needs (of soul).
How to achieve ‘Satchitanand’?
For reaching to the stage of ‘Satchitanand’, it is necessary –
- Positive attitude
Role of knowledge – It is not the money but acquisition of Knowledge, which is necessary to become happy. For real happiness people focus on pursuit of right kind of knowledge, maintenance of harmonious relationships with fellow-beings and health are more required rather than anything else.
Knowledge is essential the purpose of giving activities, their due meaning and value and make a person happy. Even a wise man may get puzzled without knowledge, as to what he should do or should not do. Therefore acquisition of knowledge is the most important thing in life. It is only after gaining knowledge, a person could understand well the real nature of work and could distinguish correctly between action, forbidden action, and in-action.
Positive attitude – A person is, what he thinks. Negative thought generates negative energy that is transformed into illness/bad feelings. Negative thinking pushes a person backwards. It pushes away the solutions and enlarge problems. It leads to pessimism. It is better to light a match that to regret the darkness. A bee is small, but produces one of the sweetest things -honey – that exist.
Positive thinking brings happiness, serenity, blissfulness and sensitivity. It helps one to achieve success and to reach up-to great heights. Positive attitude towards life inspires in human beings qualities like sincerity hard-work, honesty and uprightness. For leading life in a positive way, one’s actions(Karmas) need to be performed with balanced mind. A person should adopt the path of righteousness without any bias.
True education is self-acquired and leads to self-awakening and to live with wisdom. Self awareness brings in love, peace harmony, joys and ‘Bliss’ Formal education in schools usually teaches to maintain external things or what exists – to preserve the systems, culture, religion and philosophies and prepares people for employments. All the time people worry about losing in the maintenance process. Human life is to live, not just to maintain.
Contentment – Contentment has an important role in life to make one happy. There is enough for everybody’s need in this world, but not enough even for a person’s greed. Contentment can generate happiness or feeling of real enjoyment in life amongst those who have enough money for fulfilling their basic needs. Hindi poet Kabir has said –
“Godhan gaj dhan baji dhan aor ratan dhan khan,
Jo ave santosh dhan sab dhan dhhuri saman.”
(meaning all kind of wealth in this world can not bring that kind of satisfaction to human beings as contentment brings)
In India, it is a proverb that Lakshmi, ‘the goddess of wealth’ is quite unpredictable. With great effort a person learns to earn the wealth righteously, spend it properly and keep it safely. (Lakshmi bahut chanchala hai, isko sambhal kar paana, rakhana aur kharchana, teeno bahut tapasya ke baad aata hai. Quoted from the booklet Anmol Moti, written in !940’s by Shri Bhagwati Dayal Khare , an Advocate, Barabanki, U.P.)
Indians believe that achievements only at physical plane do not always make a person happy, successful and strong. Such a mindset gives rise to greed, anger and passion and most of the times (s)he is not able to maintain good relations with others. Materialism, consumerism, ruthless competition for positions of power, money and VVIP status in society or desire to have all the pleasures of life at others cost have brought some unpleasant changes in the mind-set of people in recent past and is increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the following main constituent of the national elites – political executive, legislators, businessmen, media, organized workers, surplus farmers and bureaucrats etc.
Winding up – With positive thinking and contented mindset, child-like innocence is also required for happiness, which guides one to forgive and forget easily, carry no grudges against anyone, focus attention on the present, and keep always alive curiosity to understand new things and spirit of adventure.
True education and learning removes ignorance and trains the faculties of a person towards positive thinking and channelize his/her energies towards right direction. Positive thinking inculcates in human mind discipline and productivity. A knowledgeable person does not believe in discrimination. All persons rich or poor, high or low, forward or backward appear equal. Detached mindset helps them to live together peacefully in this world.
Positive-thinking leads towards clear objectives. Clear objective decide the right course of action. Choosing right path or course of action makes a person happy and contented. For happiness knowledge, wisdom and intellectual intelligence is necessary. Intelligence itself brings in financial independence. Limit one’s desires/over-ambitions. Even best ones are short-lived. Whatever comes in the way, one must accept it gracefully with positive mind-set and try to make efforts to extract the best out of the worst circumstances.
i Manusmriti, II, 94.
ii Bhagwat Gita, IV 14,15,16,and 17
iii Manusmriti, II, 3 and 5.
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ‘universe; a part of limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.) Albert Einstein
“The death of an elderly man is like burning a library.” A proverb
Introduction – “Age is nothing but a number.” Not very long ago, retirement meant end of active life and wait for death, whenever it comes. So during the interim period, one should lead a sedentary life, most of the time be spent on reflection and meditation.
Not anymore – The mindset of old people is tuned to what Abraham Lincoln had said, “… In the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years.” Or what Mark twain commented, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you do not mind, it does not matter.” Now there are no restrictions how a senior citizen should behave, act or think. The gap between generations has almost disappeared. Internet and social media have played a big role in making the free flow of ideas between people of all ages.
At present, as far as possible, Many old people refuse to retire in earlier traditional way, as it led to boredom, total dependence on sons, depleting funds, loneliness. Today with increased awareness, longevity and better health-care, most of the senior citizens after spending their prime time in job requirements and familial responsibilities, now look forward to pursue their hobbies holidaying, travelling or work which really interests them. They are careful to keep themselves emotionally, financially and health-wise fit enough to enjoy their retired life. There are so many opportunities for them to keep themselves occupied meaningfully, only they have to keep pace with the changing times.
Psychologist Gitanjali Sharma says very correctly, “The mind does not age like the body. In mind everybody is as old as one feels.” Failing energies with aging compels one to dependence – whether one likes it or not. That day comes in every body’s life, when he/she is compelled to depend on younger ones, even for fulfilling their daily needs. There is a saying – Old age is very bitter -“Tulsi wa fal kaun hai, pakat hi karuwaen”. Living with no hope of better health or better future itself, is very sad and painful. Indian scriptures have permitted voluntary death in old age, especially when one’s body is incapable of carrying out basic human activities for survival.
Issue – In modern societies such elderly people are usually neglected or treated well because of lack of time, patience and resources. Instances of parental abuse are increasing. Together with child abuse and spousal violence, neglect of elderly has been a hidden social problem an unholy trinity of domestic violence since long. The issue of neglecting elders encompasses physical as well as financial exploitation of the 60+ people. Dr. Buston wrote an article, “Granny-battering in the August Medical Journal 1975, “It is about time that all of us realized that elderly people too are at times deliberately battered”.
Gaps in present understanding of elder issues – There are many gaps in the present understanding of elder issues all-over the world. It is a complex problem. Youth are also too busy in their present world and have little apprehension of old people’s problems. Lack of sensitivity aggravates the problems more.
Old age becomes a source of many physical and mental worries for themselves as well as their near and dear ones. People do not know how extensive it is, what are the endangering factors, or what are the policies and interventions that would be effective to prevent or reduce these problems. Until and unless we understand the issue of elders abuse better. Any one of us could end up being a victim or a perpetrator.
Proper elderly care requires various measures ranging from better support of caregivers; more training and incentives to for those paid or unpaid – who take up the responsibility of helping elderly people; to legislation and provide the legal instruments for better protection to them. There should be better public awareness and education about Geriatric Psychiatry to know the common causes and signs of elder abuse or to be aware of the existence of Elder Protection Team and how to make a report.
Difficulties in old age – The reasons behind the difficulties old persons have to face are indifferent family response, slow interventions and intra-familial pressures. Even in many well-off families, youth misbehave with elderly. There are many cases reported in newspapers when the old parents are often considered a burden by married children. They are abandoned, compelled into destitution and isolation or even eliminated. In order to preserve or save family honour and reputation, many senior citizens bear it silently, deny or cover-up the ill-treatment they get from their own children. There is a large number of elderly persons, whose sons/daughters are settled abroad. It is not always possible for young sons/daughters to reach to their parents immediately. So much and so disgusted are some senior citizens, that they pre-book for their funeral services.
Usually, the main trouble of elderly arises because of dementia which means a loss of memory. With them it is “a progressive loss of comprehension, judgment, insight, speech and physical function. Psychological and behavioural changes in elders make them dependent and vulnerable. Increasing burden and stress of modern life makes the service giver (family members, paid caregivers, friends and professional health-care workers) agitated and aggressive, which starts from verbal abuse and neglect. The vulnerability and weakness with growing age tends to shake old persons’ self-confidence forever.
Euthanasia, both active and passive (Ichcha mrityu or freedom to die) – Many older people think that it seems to be cruel to keep a person alive even in vegetative stage, when medical opinion is as certain as can be, that there is no chance of recovery, for both – the patient and his family. Such people, who choose to die peacefully should be allowed to do so. In the past Supreme Court has acknowledged that the right to dignity in life extends to the right to a dignified death. Active euthanasia means assist in patients immediate death through painless injection. Passive means withdrawing life-support. There must be strict safeguards to ensure that the provision is not misused by people who may benefit from the death of the patient.
Senior citizens in India – Elderly population is in increase in India. India will soon become one of the countries in the world having largest number of older people. Medical science has improved public health and quality of life, reduced old-age suffering and improved average life span. Still there are many physical and mental problems. A Sample Registration System Report says (TOI, p.13, 2.4.2012). Nearly 7.5% of India’s population is currently above 60 years. A majority of them are in rural areas. In urban areas too, better education, health facilities and awareness has increased the life expectancy. (A Sample Registration System Report quoted from TOI, p.13, 2.4.2012).
Importance of Family for well-being of elders – One of the salient feature of Indian culture is to revere and take care of the elders in their old age. Family has been the mainstay of social support. Traditional and conservative society view is that it is the duty of parents to take care of their children till they mature enough to meet the challenges and get settled in life. Similarly sons/daughters are obliged to take care of their old parents when their energies fail. Offering Prayers or performing rituals for dead have no meaning, if one does not look after well one’s own parents/grand-parents while they are alive. The National Policy on Older Persons also recognizes the importance of family for the well-being of older persons.
Elder’s Abuse – Elder abuse is a complex, poorly understood problem. It, along with child abuse, sexual abuse forms a trinity of domestic violence. The issue of elder abuse encompasses physical, psychological, sexual abuse, neglect as well as financial exploitation of senior citizens. They are discriminated and marginalized by the mainstream of society. In 1975, G.R. Busrston attracted the attention of people towards the problems of elders in his article ‘Granny battering, published in the British Medical Journal (August issue) –“It is about time that all of us realized that elderly people too are, at times, deliberately battered.”
A study on abuse of India’s elderly, conducted across 20 cities and over 5,500 people has found that ill-treatment of elders is on rise.
- “Even in this age and time, 58% of older persons in India are living with the family. The findings of this report also confirm confidence in the ability of the family to care for its elder members.” (Quoted from TOI, p11, 29 Sept, 2012)
- Almost 1 in 3 (32%) have faced abuse. (TOI, 29 Sept. 2012, p.1) The study revealed that Indian sons (56%) and their wives (23%) were found to be the primary abuser. They are not treating their aged parents well. Then comes the neighbors, living in nearby places, especially in multi-storied flats, shrewd friends and members of extended families. There are more than 50% cases which remain unreported in order to uphold family honor.
- Out of total older men who faced difficulty 47% cases were reported and 53% did not report.
States with high abuse rates are Madhya Pradesh (77.12%), Assam 60%, UP 52%, Gujrat 43% and AP 42.86%., West Bengal 40.93%. People in Rajasthan are most well-behaved with the elderly in their family. States with low abuse rates are Rajasthan 2%, HP 3%, Kerala 11%, Maharashtra 39%, and Delhi 30% and TN 27.56%. In Delhi, out of 84% cases of those who felt abused by their sons or their wives, 69% felt disrespected. 76%of those abused did not report it.
What can be done to give relief to elderly people – Measures needed to be taken to control elder abuse –
- To promote family values,
- Sensitize the young on the necessities of older people and promote in them desirability of meeting familial obligations.
- The most effective measure is through sensitizing children and strengthening inter-generation bonding.
- Increased economic independence.
- Initiate state policies to encourage young generation to co-reside with their parents by providing tax relief, allowing rebates for medical expenditures and giving preference in allotment of houses.
- Short term staying facilities for older persons, so that family can get some relief when oldies go out.
- There should be nation-wide programs in schools and colleges for sensitizing children and young adults towards the aging and the aged,
- Sensitization of healthcare workers to recognize and develop a protocol for treating,
- Develop a robust social security system that not only ensures income security to the older persons, but also gives them opportunities for income generation.
- It is one of the primary ethical duty of any welfare government and its institutions to provide comfortable environment for elderly and terminally ill persons or to ease their anxiety, stress, or pain and other problems, physical, psychological and spiritual by opening healthcare centers in each and every local area, to take care, genuinely and compassionately, of their day today physical, medical and mental necessities.
- Government should build flats for senior citizens specially designed keeping in view the special needs of old-age – from grab rails in bathrooms and corridors to anti-skid flooring, arthritis friendly taps, wheelchair friendly lifts and flooring etc. It will give them secure atmosphere and live independently with dignity.
As a welfare state, UK is one of the foremost nation in the world for providing best possible care to its elderly people as well. It has developed many effective and efficient support systems for elderly and terminally ill patients – thanks to Mac Millon’s institution, being the major force behind it. palliative care is not an essential part of the treatment regimen. In India, most patients cannot afford institutionalized care (such as in hospice).
Geriatric and palliative care in India – At least 1.2 million disabled people in India are living in households consisting only of persons with disability. Life is a challenge for them. There are 24.9 cr total households in 2011 out of which households with one or more disabled person is 2.1 crore and disabled persons living on their own are 11.8 lakh. (TOI Report, Aug 29, 2014, P. 9)
Cases of old parents being abandoned or abused is on increase across the country, a survey (across 12 cities, 1200 senior citizens surveyed across 12 cities) was conducted. It pointed out that 60% of senior citizen’s experienced (mostly verbal, rather than physical) abuse. Generally women are more vulnerable than men, report suggests. Most of them do not know how to deal with the abuse.
Common forms of abuse, which are on rise, are verbal abuse, disrespect, and neglect. Common reasons are emotional dependence on children, economic dependence of elders and changing ethos. Now elders lack confidence in any person be it their own off-springs, close relatives, friends/neighbors or any governmental (be it police, helpline etc.) or non-governmental organizations. Fear of retaliation and their vulnerability are the reasons behind this kind of distrust. Also elderly persons believe in maintaining family honour and confidentiality of a family matter and become silent sufferers as many of them live with their abusers i.e. their own children.
Unfortunately palliative care is not in the priority list of health schemes of the government. Doctors are too busy battling disease rather than caring about offering pain relief or emotional balm. Of the 9 million estimated deaths every year, almost 6 million are said to need palliative care. This includes almost all cases of cancer (80% of the 1 million new cases in India come for treatment at advanced stage.) Then there are conditions – AIDS, muscular dystrophy, dementia, multi-organ failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases, end-stage renal disease, heart diseases, those who are permanently bedridden and people with neurological problems.
The demand for palliative care is expected to explode with increasing life span and shift from acute to chronic illness. With it increases the need to improve the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening-illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychological and spiritual.
How to deal – There is a strong need to give elderly persons proper protection It requires –
- Economic independence for elderly people,
- Sensitizing youth,
- Strengthening intergenerational bonding
- Developing groups of elderly for assistance, intervention
Sensitize the Youth of the day – Instead of running after blindly for name, fame or money, they should feel that it is the time for them to pay-back for whatever they love and care they got from their parents till now. Youth of the day have more education facility, more exposure and more talented and capable to do wonderful work in technological field than previous generations. But most of them neither have time nor tolerance for older people. There is a need to sensitize people about elders.
The focus should be on propagating and inculcating family values so that the needs of the elderly are met by family members to the maximum extent possible. Future of humanity lies in resurrection of family values like sharing vision, caring, loyalty and discipline.
Developing an effective legal reporting and redressal-system – Realizing the need Government of India has enacted Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior citizens Act 2007 has been. It aims “to provide for more effective provisions for maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.”
The Act outlines the legal options available to elders.
- Parents and grandparents who cannot maintain themselves can demand maintenance under the Act.
- Maintenance include food, clothing, residence, medical attendance and treatment.
- Maximum maintenance cannot exceed Rs. 10,000/- per month.
- The state government can designate a social welfare officer to ensure the senior citizen gets maintenance.
- If children/relatives fail to pay maintenance within three months, the tribunal can impose a fine and even imprison them, the tribunal can impose a fine and even imprison them till the fine and even imprison them till the fine is paid.
- If senior citizen is abandoned, children/relatives can be imprisoned for up-to three months or fined up-to Rs.5,000, or both.
Proper training to care-takers – The vice chairman, medical board, research, at the institute of Mental Health has advised that there should be better support of care-givers, more training and incentives for those who take care of their elderly, legislate to provide legal instruments to better protect the elderly. There should be better public awareness and education. (firstname.lastname@example.org,)
- Need of trained care-taker/institutional help – It has been observed that within a family presence of domestic help lessens the burden of family members and reduces the burden and stress of care-giver and minimizes the chances of elder abuse as the presence of “non-family member” within household places a restraining hand.
Winding up – As is evident, in India elderly population is in increase. It will soon become one of the countries in the world having largest number of older people. Medical science has improved public health and quality of life, reduced old-age suffering and improved average life span. Age longevity Old age still becomes a source of many physical and mental worries.
Growing awareness about the agonies of old people – Recently, welfare of senior citizens has assumed significance. Age longevity has given rise to new set of problems. Failing energies as one gets older every year, needs support of youth at every step, no matter what is ones bank-balance. The responsibility of looking after old parents falls on already aged and weakened shoulders. As age of the sons and daughters advances, even their own shoulders are not strong enough to bear the burden and solve all the problems of elders.
Collapse of family as a social institution, while aping the west is causing severe problems. Innovations in medical science have solved many problems, but simultaneously it has forced a person to live unnaturally, just for the fact that they are still alive. It is very difficult for them to lead a quality of life. Sometimes family has to sell homes, beg and borrow to look-after terminally ill patient.
New support systems – Many new kind of support systems have come up like – Night shelters, old-age homes or other senior living projects etc. but they are only transitory measures. Living away from a loving family is really harsh. However while coping demands of a fast-paced life, when it becomes difficult the youth to shoulder the burden of oldies, old age homes are an alternative for elderly people. The continuously growing number of old persons has given rise to the number of old age homes as well. Some offers short stay facilities where the elderly can be kept while family members are out of town. Some provide pay and stay facilities to live securely. The concept of retirement homes in particular areas have been gaining ground. There are some specialized apartments which give elders a sense of community as they live away from their families in a multistoried flats.
Senior citizens not only require protection from the younger generation, but also love and care. They hardly have anybody to talk freely or share their emotions with. The younger generation does not have time or patience to listen the same story again and again.
Distances, a problem for younger generation – Some educated and aware old people realize the difficulties their children face in coming immediately every time, they face an emergency. There young sons/daughters also have their own liabilities – familial as well at their workplace. But many old ones take it to their heart. They keep on brooding and many of them become the victim of depression. It is more practical for senior citizens to be in close touch with the relatives, friends and colleagues of their own age living in their local area, so that they get required assistance immediately when-ever needed.
“Life is to be lived, not controlled” (Barrack Obama)
“Every art and every inquiry and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.’ (Aristotle)
And to lead a happy life, –
“Keep your thought positive because your thought becomes your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
Paradox of modernity
George Carlin (‘O Tempora, O Mores’) has described beautifully the modernity of twenty first century and the life style of modern times –
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.
We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.
Issac Newton has said, “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” Modern world is full of confusions as per the saying of George Carlin (‘O Tempora, O Mores’) mentioned above. And the adverse effect of Modernity is visible all-over the world. Erosion of traditional values and decay of morality in ‘community life’ has been a matter of concern everyone. Leaders and intelligentsia now desire to restore the moral values back.
Mostly the children of twenty-first century are brought up and educated in such a way that they there learn to stand on their feet firmly, quite early in life. The youth living in western countries or brought up in western life-style become politically and economically independent better much earlier than their previous generation and counterparts living in eastern societies. However, quite often they end up “Bowling Alone” (in sociologist Robert Putnam’s memorable phrase) and unhappy.
Complexity of modern life
In-spite of having so much exposure to knowledge and technological developments, complexities in modern life-style are increasing every day. Cut-throat competition for being one-up kills the human values of ‘caring, sharing and accepting others heartily’. Instead it teaches an individual to care only for oneself. For achieving success in life, self-interest sometimes incites people to ‘Go and kill’ others in self-interest or.
Aversion to traditional values and systems
Amongst twenty-first century youth, there is gradual disappearance of the sense of morality. There is a trend of aversion to traditional values and systems. There is ruthless competition amongst them for material gains. Most of the time, their life-style is based on in-discipline. Chase for materialism in present consumerist world has lead them towards favoritism, violence, corruption has weakened the social fabric of a modern society beyond repair.
Scientific knowledge a source to preserve and destroy of power
Over and above all this, scientific and technological developments have endowed man with tremendous power both to ‘preserve and destroy’ anything. At slightest provocation, people do not hesitate to unleash destructive powers accessible to him. It has, once again, made the human life of modern society “nasty, brutish and short”.
Creation of civil society
Today there is an urgent need to make each and every society a civilized one. It requires a society/nation to reach to an advanced stage of mannerism and inculcate in its people eternal humanitarian values in all the spheres – intellectual, technological, cultural values. A civilized society/nation needs to create well-meaning systems for the benefit of the whole society.
Social norms/values/code of conduct
Based on experiences, traditions and customs, every society sets a code of conduct for all the members of a society, defines rights and duties of all all the sections society. It not only regulates behavior of individuals within the community, but also provides practical and useful vision/guidelines to be followed by its members everywhere, be it their personal, family, community, social, professional, national or universal life.
Basis for setting code of conduct
Social values are formed on the basis of specific needs, time-frame, mind-set of the people of that society and total atmosphere/circumstances of that place. Experiences of many generations form the basis to set code of conduct. In due course of time, it takes the shape of customs, traditions and rituals, which are observed by the common men living in that respective society. Efforts put by different social groups of a society at different point of time develop the attitude, aptitude and innate psycho-biological traits of its people. Over a period of time, all together set up the social norms/values of a society. Value system of a society does not remain static. It keeps on changing from place to place and time to time.
Difference between Morality vs. Moral-policing
There is difference between social values/code of conduct and moral policing. Morality preaches individuals to exercise self- restraint in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or social relationship.
- While social values/morality is concerned with self-discipline, moral policing is to discipline others.
- Unadulterated social values, morality, mannerism and norms based on reason and experiences help people to improve one’s own behavior by making conscious efforts for self-control, self-direction and self-discipline rather than forcing others to behave.
- Morality leads to peaceful co-existence, while moral policing generates agitation in people’s mind.
- Morality/social values cannot be taught like texts, nor tested in written examinations. They are learnt by living and practicing it in day to day life.
- Morality is not something which could be decided or opined at one point of time or propagated by self-styled Messiahs of a society or can be forced upon people.
- Morality believes in decentralized self-regulated system – be it in social, political religious or economic life of an individual.
Politicians, religious gurus or powerful lobby of elders or self-styled reformists cannot become the guardians of social values/culture. Their role in a civilized society is that of facilitators. They are supposed to inculcate positive attitude, good values and thinking by creating friendly atmosphere and arranging a sound system of education.
‘Born free but everywhere in Chains’
A human being is born free and desires to lead a free life. Now-a-days, in modern societies, there is too much emphasis on freedom and liberty of individuals. It is quite often said that an individual is born free and therefore, is entitled to lead an absolutely free life, – ‘I will do, what I want’ and ‘I do not care for anybody’ etc. etc. Everyone desires to have full liberty and freedom from all the liabilities/bondages.
Absolute freedom not possible
Total freedom or establishment of an absolutely free society is not possible, if one wants to live with other human beings. Where everybody lives/acts according to one’s own wishes without caring for other members of the society, a situation of lawlessness is created. In turn, lawlessness creates an atmosphere of a jungle, where ‘Survival of the fittest’ is the norm. ‘Survival of the fittest’ and ‘law of jungle’ instinct can be accepted in a civilized society.
For survival, ‘law of jungle’ develops killer-instinct within a person’s mind It makes him very selfish and forget about others’ conveniences. Such a mindset makes the whole atmosphere tense/uncertain and makes human life, ‘nasty brutish and short’ (Hobbes).
How to create a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere?
In order to have a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, creation of a civil society becomes necessary. In a civil society, no one is totally free to think or act according to his wishes. There people find themselves all the time in chains. Everybody has to live within frames, follow the ‘rule of law’ and observe in general the values, norms and systems created by the society. Nature has given enough wisdom to all the individuals. Only one has to listen to his/her conscience. It gives a human being enough power to escape from unruly/unwanted behavior.
Individual as a social being
As famous Greek philosopher Aristotle says, “A human being is a social animal. If he does not live with men or amongst men, then surely either he is god or a beast.” Living together peacefully is not an easy task. Dealing with some people is easy and natural, while with others complicated and difficult. People’s desire/need to live together peacefully in a harmonious atmosphere, a code of conduct is set for the people and is enforced by the authorities of that society or nation. Set norms and rules keep a control on laws of jungle and make the living of the people of society peaceful and harmonious and ultimately lead towards civilization.
Right balance between rights and duties
A civilized society needs to have a balanced outlook towards rights and duties. Keeping the right balance between the two is very difficult. To ensure that all people could enjoy their rights, liberty and freedom properly and equally, society sets some norms. It ensures that while enjoying one’s own rights, one should give due regards to others’ liberty and freedom as well, which in turn becomes his duties. One’s own rights binds others and becomes others duties, and other’s freedom binds him in return.
Due regards to others liberty, while exercising one’s own
Code of conduct teaches people to give due regards to others liberty and freedom while exercising one’s own liberty and freedom. An individual’s freedom binds others and other’s freedom binds him in return. Observance of norms and rules puts everybody ‘everywhere in chains’. It draws a line on human freedom and his behavior and keeps a control on the unruly behavior. It makes a person more humane. The whole atmosphere becomes peaceful and pleasant and ultimately leads a society to become more and more matured, cultured or civilized.
Foundation of human relationships, rights or duties?
In general, ‘Rights’ forms the natural foundation of human relationships in the societies of Western countries. Eastern societies have been evolved around the concept of ‘duties’. Too much importance to rights, though gives more opportunities to enjoy life, but it tends to make individuals selfish, arrogant and unmindful of others conveniences. More stress on duties tends to make people too humble, tolerant and submissive even to raise their voice against excesses and trains people in obedience without questioning.
Both the systems leaves something more to be desired. Advanced nations have succeeded in creating systems to keep an effective check on arbitrary behavior of people and developing respect for ‘rule of law’. Developing and underdeveloped nations, especially in eastern part of the word are still struggling to improve law and order position in their countries.
Culture of India
In principle – According to the tradition and culture of India, doctrines of Dharma and Karma define rights and duties of different sections of society. It gives to people an abiding sense of purpose to life, an aim to be actively striven for, cutting across class distinctions and regional boundaries, bridging the distance between rural and urban folk and between the illiterate and educated. Common men in India still regard doctrines of Dharma and Karma as norms and values of good conduct. These principles are applicable to everyone, show people follow the path of righteousness and develop harmonious relationship between different sections of society.
Observance of these principles in the past
In ancient India, sacrifice was regarded far more important than success and renunciation as the crowning achievement. On most of the occasions, stress on duties combined with the principle of inter-dependence ensured social harmony and prevented rivalries and jealousies between different sections of society. In the past, it helped the people to adjust themselves and adapt themselves slowly but steadily to changing times without much difficulty.
On the whole, the system worked so well that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. It had prevented people to exercise coercion against its working class, whereas in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip, ancient India remained peaceful and ensured social harmony. Also, while other nations passed through many bloody revolutions in the past, India kept on adapting itself to changing times.
Undesirable developments in Indian society
At the dawn of twenty first century, India has become a land of paradoxes. Some unpleasant changes have taken place in the recent past, which are multiplying every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of these main constituent of the national elites – political executive, legislators, bureaucrats businessmen, media-persons, organized workers and surplus farmers. As the result, on one hand, common-men feel very insecure and confused. They have lost faith not only in governing authorities, but also in their fellow-beings and in them-selves as well. On the other hand, scientific progress has endowed man with tremendous power both to preserve and destroy. At slightest provocation, one does not hesitate to unleash destructive powers accessible to him.
Alarming disparities of power, wealth and culture
There exist alarming disparities of power, wealth and culture amongst different parts and sections of the nation. In the recent past, the black money has subverted the whole socio political structure of the nation. Glaring disparities between different sections have been a cause of great social, political and economic tension. Whereas, the cumulative wealth of India’s 10 richest people is 6% ($ 114.50 billion) of India’s GDP, the cumulative wealth of America’s 10 richest people is mere 2% (311.30 billion). On the other hand 60% of the Indian population lives below poverty line.
Sectional and regional imbalances
Sectional conflicts are increasing day by day. There are sectional and regional imbalances, which have led to ever-increasing conflicts in the society and generated different kinds of social and psychological tensions. Attempts for social changes superficially have made a virtue of narrow loyalties of class, caste, creed or religion, generating sub-cultures like favoritism, lure for easy money, nepotism and, in-discipline in the society.
Lure for easy money
Lure for easy money has degenerated work culture. Rule of law has got adversely affected due to under-currents of sectarian politics, which makes the task of governance difficult and ineffective.
Centralization of control systems
These developments have led to complete centralization of control systems in the hands of a few individuals/groups or nations having political, money or muscle power behind them, who rule and control destiny of millions of people. They try to reform people, the way they want.
A nation or money can be created overnight, but it takes several generations for a society or a nation to become cultured or civilized in its true sense. The downfall in the observance of human values/norms/mannerism has led India to its present position. It has become a land of paradoxes. Once again, India has to get rid of the undesirable elements of modernity like narrower viewpoints, decay of traditional values, prejudiced mindset, trouble in accepting others. shallow relationships, broken homes etc. The nation needs to reach up to advanced stage of mannerism in true sense and make developments all the spheres – intellectual, technological, cultural values and to create well-meaning systems, so that the whole society could taste the fruits of all-round development.
It can be concluded quoting Katha Upnishad 1.3.3-6,”Know that Self is the rider and body the chariot; intellect is the charioteer, and mind the reins. The senses are the horses; the roads they travel are the mazes of desire…” Keep the horses under control.
The Kayasthas trace their genealogy from Adi Purush Shri Chitragupta Maharaj, the son of Lord Brahama, the son of Lord Brahama, who had 12 sons with two wives, Irawati/Shobhwati and Sudakhina/Nandani. These 12 sons were married to Nagakanyas of Nagraj Vasuki and were the origin of the 12 castes of the Kayasthas. The same legend, with slight variation, is found in most of the Puranas. There are
Like Brahmins, who are being natural learners and pursuers of knowledge, Kayasthas were also quick to go for modern education and move ahead of other communities. Their long tradition and undisputed role in the field of knowledge and learning, their intelligence, sincerity and hard work helped them to take a lead in all newer areas of advancement and secure an important place in the society.
Kayasthas are one of the most secular community. Of all the castes and communities in India, they are the easiest to mingle with others. Their cosmopolitan and secular outlook and focus on education and revenue work distinguished them from others. These two factors have been the main factors, which to a large extent are responsible for their success in changing times.
After Hinduism re-emerged around 2nd century, many liberal-minded people from the four Varnas, who had joined Budhism earlier, wished to come back to their original ‘Varna’ were not allowed to do so. It is said that at that time Brahmins refused to take them back into Hinduism saying that Hinduism does not believe in conversion or re-conversion. Time had given opportunity to such people to get a new identity. The people, who were learned who were proficient in revenue work and whose traditional occupation was reading, writing came to be known as ‘Kayasthas’.
Kayasthas mingled with other communities without any fuss again and again. Such as during medieval period with Muslim and or during under British rule in modern times. In recent past Kayasthas in global world have mingled with other nationals more than they mingle among themselves in India. This cosmopolitan outlook distinguished members of this caste. Along with the great emphasis on education, is to a large extent responsible for their success in changing times.
- Kayasthas are the only sect who are referred to as direct “blood” descendants of a Vedic god (Chitragupta) in the religious texts and the only ancestor-worshiping sect of Hinduism.
- Kāyastha are said in the Vedas and Puranas to have a dual-caste status, i.e. Brahmin and Kshatriya.
- Kayasthas are more secular in attitude than other sections of society. People from all the four Varnas have formed different sub-castes.
- The Anthropological Survey of India conducted a survey during the British Raj which concluded that the Kayastha community were also influential during the Mauryan period as administrators. Also, many proof have been found that the Hindu Kings used to grant lands to the Kayasthas, a practise enjoyed only by a particular caste.
- The Kayastha were one of the most influential Caste in Kashmiri politics around 7th century (ref. Rajatarangini) .
- During Mughal rule, Kayastha developed expertise in Persian (the state language in Islamic India), learnt Turkish, Arabic and later Urdu, economics, administration and taxation.
- In the colonial era, learnt English, whilst the more affluent ones sent their children to England. Many Kayastha became civil servants, tax officers, junior administrators, teachers, legal helpers and barristers. They rose to the highest positions accessible to natives in British India .
- Kayasthas are mainly spread across Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, North India.
- Kayasthas worship Shree Chitraguptaji and on Bhai-Dooj, they celebrate Kalam-Dawaat Pooja (pen, ink-pot and sword worship), a ritual in which pens, papers and books are worshipped
- Kayasthas eat onions, garlic, meats like mutton and chicken, fish and eggs, though a large number are also vegetarians. Meat eating kayasthas do avoid beef as the cow is considered sacred for Hindus.
- It is believed, though not yet proved, that Kayasthas of holy towns like Prayag, Mathura, Varanasi, etc. are purely vegetarians, while in other areas they may be mixed. It is said that Kayasthas started eating meat during the Muslim period when they socially mixed with the Muslims. It is also said that Kayasthas have the best eating sense, because amongst Hindus, Kayasthas add the largest varieties of food to their diet.
- They are experts in revenue and legal professions.
- They have given a tough competition to the Brahmins in the sphere of education (Grammer=School) and modern callings.
Post independence Kayasthas rose to the highest positions in administration in judiciary, There are many top civil servants and high ranking officers in the Indian armed forces. Some prominent kayasthas are the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, third Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri are Swami Vivekananda, Sri Arbindo, Subhash Chandra Bose, Amitabh Bachchan, Raju Srivastava, Sri Arbindo, Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, Munsh iPremchand, Mahadevi Varma, Dr. Vrindavan Lal Verma, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Bhagwati Charan Verma, Ramkumar Verma, Dharmavir Bharati, Sri Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, Firaq Gorakhpuri etc.
Many Kayasthas have emigrated to the West since 1970s and especially after 1990’s. Their numbers are increasing every year.
- Weaknesses of Indian bureaucracy
- Dalit Assertion
- Factors, that changed caste-system into casteism
- Development Administration
- Wisdom/Enlightenment and empowerment
- Rights and duties
- Role of Bureaucracy in good governance
- India – Unity in Diversity
- Fusion of many cultures in India
- Theory of biological Evolution
- Dalit Assertion, A Journey from ‘Shudras’to Outcastes, to’Panchamas’ and to ‘Dalits’
- Untouchables (“Dalits” of modern India) in Ancient India