Pandit Ram Kinkarji was a well known saint. He was such a good commentator on the Ramayana that even a staunch atheist was compelled to listen to him attentively. The reason is that he related the story of Ramayana to the common man’s day-to-day life in a very convincing manner. This way he did a great service to mankind. I came in contact with Panditji at a friend’s place in Dehradun many years back. Since then I had his blessings and the privilege of his company almost every year till his death. Panditji used to visit Kanpur also for discourses every year. During one such visit I had the opportunity to have a discussion with him. The reference was the suffering of most of the old people despite all their goodness and success in life. Panditji dealt with the subject very convincingly.
The sum and substance of his analysis was that those who do not plan the end of their life’s journey usually suffer, irrespective of their success and goodness. In the present write-up I am trying to put up the same thing in a more elaborate manner. I compare the journey of life with the flight of an aero plane. It can be divided into four parts. 1. Moving on the runway; 2. Taking off and gaining height; 3. Flying; 4. Landing.
Life can also be similarly divided into 4 parts. Taking a good lifespan of eighty years, each part can be assumed approximately equal. During the first twenty years one prepares for the flight of life. He has to run on the ground with adequate acceleration so that he is able to take off before the end of the runway. He cannot venture taking off before acquiring sufficient speed which may lead to crash. This period is called childhood which is preparatory for the flight of life. Having gained sufficient momentum in the first part of life, one takes off and gains height. This is what we call success in life. A normal person goes up and up during this period of life till he reaches saturation point. This point varies from person to person depending upon his ambition and circumstances. Likewise, the altitude of an aero plane depends upon the type of plane, the distance of the destination and the weather. In this phase of life, one has to carefully determine the limits, otherwise the so-called success may turn out to be painful.
The next stage is of flying at a constant altitude with minor variations. This stage is comparable with adulthood when one has achieved all worldly successes and is satisfied with his gains. Those who do not reach the satisfaction level may ultimately lose the pleasure of their gains. Such people become miserable right at this stage of life. They forget that the fuel in the plane is limited to cover more distance at a constant height. This is the best part of the journey. In an aero plane’s journey also, one is most carefree during this period. The food, snacks, etc., are served during this period and there are no restrictions on movement. The last stage is landing. No pilot can afford to forget that his ultimate destination is ground only. If he forgets that, the consequences need not be told. The same thing has to be remembered in life also but most of us forget this simple fact. Having reached high in the sky, we do not want to come down voluntarily. The obvious consequence is a crash and that is what we call suffering in the last phase of life. This is what Panditji had hinted at.
The preparation for landing has to be started right in the third phase. The belts have to be fastened, movements stopped and descent begun. It is this process of descent which is resisted by most of us. Those who do not resist, land safely and smoothly. They meet the end of life happily without any complaint.