“Insurmountable, eternal time imperceptibly overcomes those who are too much attached to family affairs and are always engrossed in their thought.”
– Srimad Bhagavatam (1.13.17)
Alone in my room, I heard the noise from a kilometer away. In a tranquil village setting, the hundred plus monks cavorted- swimming, water polo, and singing- they played with abandon during the two-day retreat, far away from our bustling ashram in South-Mumbai.
I skipped the morning frolic and instead heard a thirty-year-old lecture by Radhanath Swami, on my MP3 player. He spoke on monk life on the serene banks of river Godavari. I recognized many laughing voices in that interactive class- they were so young then! Stunned by the experience, I paused the audio. Instantly, I was dragged to the present where boisterous monks gamboled in festivities. I lent an ear, trying to recognize their voices that swallowed the rustic stillness. The explosion of happiness now seemed as real, as it was decades ago that I revisited on my media device. A gnawing thought gripped me: what would happen to these romping, young monks, a few years from now?
Again I resumed the class and heard the older monks in a riant setting, on a riverside, in October 1998.
In these long years, what happened to them? Where are they now? How did time move so fast? I recognized one of the giggling voices- he was so happy then. But ten years ago, he contracted cancer and died at thirty-five. Another monk killed in an accident, while a few of them left the ashram and decided to move on in life. One familiar voice, I now recalled, was of a forgotten friend who moved out, got married, and later went through a painful divorce. Did any of the forty-plus monks then have an inkling of what would transpire them over the next three decades? I came back to the present reality and realized, even the monks playing outside-including me- have no idea, on how life’s going to unfold many surprises over the next few years.
Time is imperceptible
Everything in this world is subject to time. The Srimad Bhagavatam verse quoted above (1.13.17) reveals the nature of time as ‘imperceptible.’ Suddenly, you realize your nails and hair have grown. But you don’t see them growing. One day, you exclaim, “Oh, you have grown so old” or “My God, time has moved so fast.” That’s how dexterously time invades our lives. In time, the beautiful Tajmahal would dwindle; the mighty Himalayas would crush to powder; the large rivers would dry up, and we’ll be a lost statistic on the pages of history.
To be continued…