Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter XXII - Obloquy of old age

1. Boyhood has scarcely lost its boyishness when it is overtaken by youth, which is soon followed by a ruthless old age, devouring the other two.

2. Old age withers the body like a frost freezing the lake of lilies. It drives away the beauty of the person as a storm does the autumnal clouds; and it pulls down the body, as a current carries away a tree on the bank.

3. The old man with his limbs slackened and worn out by age, and his body weakened by infirmity, is treated by women as a useless beast.

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5. Old age drives a man's good sense, as a good wife is driven away by her step dame.

6. A man in his state of tottering old age, is scoffed at as a dotard by his own sons and servants, and even by his wife, and all his friends and relations.

7. Insatiable avarice like a greedy vulture alights on the heads of the aged, when their appearance grows uncouth, and their bodies become helpless, and devoid of all manly qualities and powers.

8. Appetite the constant companion of my youth, is thriving along with my age, accompanied with her evils of indigence, and heart-burning cares and restlessness.

9. Ah me! what must I do to remove my present and future pains? It is this fear which increases with old age, and finds no remedy.

10. What am I that am brought to this extremity of senselessness, what can I do in this state. I must remain dumb and silent. Under these reflections there is an increased sense of helplessness in old age.

11. How and when and what shall I eat, and what is sweet to taste? These are the thoughts which trouble the mind of one when old age comes upon him.

12. There is an insatiable desire for enjoyments, but the powers to enjoy them are lacking. It is the want of strength which afflicts the heart in old age.

13. Hoary old age sits and shrieks as a heron on the top of the tree of this body, which is infested within it by the serpents of sickness.

14. As the grave owl—the bird of night, appears unexpectedly to our sight soon as the evening shades cover the landscape, so does the solemn appearance of death overtake us in the eve of our life.

15. As darkness prevails over the world at the eve of the day, so doth death overtake the body at the eve of the life.

16. Death overtakes a man in his hoary old age, just as an ape alights on a tree covered with pearly flowers.

17. Even a deserted city, a leafless tree and parched up land may present a fair aspect, but never does the body look well that is pulled down by hoary age.

18. Old age with its hooping cough lays hold on a man, just as a vulture seizes its prey with loud shrieks in order to devour it.

19. As a girl eagerly lays hold on a lotus flower whenever she meets with one, and then plucks it from its stalk and tears it to pieces, so does old age overtake the body of a person and break it down at last.

20. As the chill blast of winter shakes a tree and covers its leaves with dust, so does old age seize the body with a tremor and fill all its limbs with the rust of diseases.

21. The body overtaken by old age becomes as pale and battered, as a lotus flower beaten by frost becomes withered and shattered.

22. As moon-beams contribute to the growth of Kumuda flowers on the top of mountains, so does old age produce grey hairs resembling casla flowers on the heads of men (with inward phlegm and gout).

23. Death the lord of all beings, views the grey head of a man as a ripe pumpkin seasoned with the salt of old age, and devours it with zest.

24. As the Ganges upsets a neighbouring tree by its rapid course, so does old age destroy the body, as the current of our life runs fast to decay.

25. Old age which preys on the flesh of the human body, takes as much delight in devouring its youthful bloom as a cat does in feeding upon a mouse.

26. Decrepitude raises its ominous hoarse sound of hiccough in the body, as the jackal sends forth her hideous cry amidst the forest.

27. Dotage as an inward flame consumes the living body as a wet log of wood, which thereupon emits its hissing sounds of hiccough and hard breathing, and sends up the gloomy fumes of woe and sighs.

28. The body like a flowering creeper, bends down under the pressure of age, turns to grey like the fading leaves of a plant, and becomes as lean and thin as a plant after its flowering time is over.

29. As the infuriate elephant upsets the white plantain tree in a moment, so does old age destroy the body that becomes as white as camphor all over.

30. Senility, O sage! is as the standard bearer of the king of death, flapping his chowry of grey hairs before him, and bringing in his train an army of diseases and troubles.

31. The monster of old age, will even overcome those that were never defeated in wars by their enemies, and those that hide themselves in the inaccessible caverns of mountains.

32. As infants cannot play in a room that has become cold with snow, so the senses can have no play in the body that is stricken with age.

33. Old age like a juggling girl, struts on three legs at the sound of coughing and whiffing, beating as a tymbal on both sides.

34. The tuft of grey hairs on the head of the aged body, represents a white flapper (chowry) fastened to the top of a handle of white sandal wood, to welcome the despot of death.

35. As hoary age makes his advance like moon-light on the site of the body, he calls forth the hidden death to come out of it, as the moon-light makes the nilumbium to unfold its buds.

36. Again as the white wash of old age whitens the outer body, so debility, diseases and dangers become its inmates in the inner typo apartment.

37. It is the extinction of being that is preceded by old age; therefore I as a man of little understanding, can have no reliance in old age (though extolled by some)[1]

38. What then is the good of this miserable life, which lives under the subjection of old age? Senility is irresistable in this world, and defies all efforts to avoid or overcome it.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Cicero "De senectute."