Dear Master AD,
I have read at many places that human body is designed to live for 120 years. We see that now a days people struggle to lead a healthy life even beyond 70 years of age. Further, even if some cross this age they are generally sick, weak and become a burden on the people around them. That kind of longevity, I feel is not worth seeking.
So, my question is: Is it true that human body is designed to live for 120 years? If it is true then can you please guide on how to live 100 years healthy?
– Arun K. M.
You have presented one suspicion and a question. Let me take both the topics separately and in little detail.
CAN A PERSON LIVE FOR 120 YEARS OR MORE
If you asking me, then I being the firm believer of sanatan dharma and ancient wisdom shall tell you that standard human lifespan is 120 years. If you ask me how I arrived at this number then I’ll refer back to ancient Indian Science of Astrology wherein Vimshottari Dasha is most prevalent. Every jataka or individual whose Horoscope is prepared is given a table of Dashas till 120 years from the time of birth. It does not mean everyone will live for 120 years rather one’s possible death can very well be predicted within this 120 years of duration. However, that should not be taken as the upper hard limit. It only means this 120 years should be a standard human life expectancy if every factor that affects the age of jataka has desired optimum strength.
I have personally met some of sages and Yogis who (in my own observation and reading) should have crossed this limit. One very recent example in India is Devraha Baba, who as per legends is said to have lived over 200 years. Even if that is not true he definitely lived well beyond 120 years or may be for about 150 years(?) In our own Gurumandala, Tantra Gurudev Shri Antdev ji Maharaj (in Photo above) in Bairagi Linegae is well beyond 110 years of age. There are so many places on the globe where majority of population lives beyond 100 years. For example there’s this island of centenarians by the name if Ikaria where almost every person (1 out of 3) lives above 100 years.
HUMAN LIFESPAN AS PER VEDAS IS 100 YEARS AND MORE
Each one of us wishes us for a long life and the question would be how much really we can ask for? As a student and teacher of ancient wisdom, it would be natural for me to refer this question to Vedic Rishis. Vedas are one of the most ancient scriptures available to mankind so if we examine the understanding of Vedas then we would know what was actual span of life in the times of Vedic period. In Atharva Veda we find prayers that are made to Sun God asking for certain blessings pertaining to granting us the full span of life. Out of the first eight mantras of 19/67 Atharva Veda, that are directed to Sun God the first one and last one are important as far as complete age (poorna Aayu) of human beings is concerned. The first mantra says –
Jeevema Sharadah Shatam | 1 | O Sun Lord, bless so that I live for 100 years.
The eighth mantra reads –
Bhooyasee Sharadah Shataat | 8 | O Sun Lord, bless so that I live beyond 100 years.
Let us take another Vedic text – Ishopanishad. Especially the second mantra of this Upanishad from Shukla Yajurveda is worth noting in our quest. It reads –
कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेत् सतं समाः |
एवं त्वयि नान्यथेतोऽस्ति न कर्म लिप्यते नरे || 2 ||
Kurvanneveh karmaani jijeevishet shatam samaah
evam twayi naanyaTheto’sti na karm lipyate nare ||2||
It translates as “If one wishes to live for 100 years, one should live engaging oneself in Karma (action/activity). The only way through which, one should live is, that despite doing karma one should not cling to (fruits thereof) it (Karma).“
See, its saying 100 again!
I personally find it more than convincing that 100+ years is a standard human life which can be further enhanced or reduced based on the quality of our everyday actions and way of living. Lets see what modern science has to say on this.
DOES SCIENCE SUPPORT VEDAS DEPICTING HUMAN LIFESPAN 100 YEARS AND BEYOND
While the average human life span tends to hover around 70 years in current times but that does not mean we are supposed to live only for 70 years. A modern hypotheses that takes DNA damage as a criterion for aging presents the possibility for humans to live as long as 120 years. This DNA damage theory of aging, clearly indicates we humans can successfully live up to 120 years of age provided we do not accelerate DNA damage due to our own self-damaging lifestyles. Is it not in coherence with the Vimshottari Dasha System of Indian Astrology?
Having attended to your suspicion we now move to your question about ‘How’. While scientists are working on DNA repair therapies and modifications in Genes to further enhance the life span of human beings, let us examine what knowhow already exists in systems of ancient wisdom to live that long as mother nature has programmed our bodies to survive.
SECRETS FROM YOGA AND AYURVEDA FOR LIVING BEYOND 100 YEARS
We should keep in mind that this creation itself is the celebration of mother nature therefore our lives should be reflection of the same spirit. Aligning all our physical and mental activities with the nature’s rules shall help us live a life that is free from all the struggles and unnecessary stress. Living thus shall support us in enjoying Radiant health, stay active longer and most importantly stay positive and enthusiastic about life itself.
Let us now discuss few most important factors that contribute to a long healthy life.
LIVING FOR A HIGHER PURPOSE MAKE YOU LIVE LONGER
Accept it or not, there is no real thing like ‘retirement’ from life. In fact aasharam system that was laid down by ancient rishis emphasizes that every phase of life right from childhood-youth to old age must be lived with a purpose in mind. There are four major goals of life human life, namely dharma, artha, kaama, moksha these are called purusharthas of life. For most of people their youthful days are spent in pursuing artha (money and materials required for living) and kaama (fulfillment of desires pertaining to sense pleasures) however the ultimate purpose of this life is to attain an inner state of contentment and joy wherein we fully accept the transient nature of this world, get fully prepared to let go this body and move on (embrace death joyously).
The pursuit of moksha is a continuous effort and while we continue to work on ourselves we must create noble reasons to engage in such activities that are linked to a higher purpose, a goal that is larger than life in itself. Look at the nature, it is here serving and feeding every single life-form in the world. Just like this, by anchoring our nature in sato-guna or benevolence it becomes possible to live for others.
Those who enthusiastically and joyously live for others, they never retire, remain always active – thus live longer!
SMILE ADDS YEARS TO YOUR LIFE – BE HAPPY
Smile is that radiant ornament which a human face has been adorned with by nature. We instinctively smile when we meet other people. Smile is an assurance for others that you are no threat to them. Smile on your face indicates you are happy with your own life. A smiling person is naturally able to spread happiness around. Smile and laughing has been found to a natural booster of our immunity.. Laughter is an expression of inherent sense of humor that declares – not everything happens here with a reason or a purpose; that life is unpredictable.. that this Norwegian research study which took 15 years to show that laughing reduces the risk of heart diseases by 73 percent and 48 percent less risk of death from all causes is laughable (who can laugh for 15 years??) .. that we can fail despite doing everything right.
We need no experts to prove that smiling improves overall feeling but this is the age of scientific temperament and some science-soaked brains would probably require a double-blind research to establish it beyond all doubts that ‘Having food satiates hunger’ (smiles). If you are also one of them and need more proof on how smile can add to our years of life then a research at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan should come to pull you out of your dark hole of ignorance and enlighten you about the ‘power of smile’. This research showed that if you mostly live with no smile at all, you live for roughly 73 years, with partial smile you are most likely to improve your chances to live up to 75 years of age but if you grin is so wide that it has been able to itch deep creases around your eyes then you are most likely to live around the age of 80 years.. Amazing! Isn’t it?
Smile improves our relationships. So don’t just keep yourself limited to the keying-in abbreviations like LOL and ROFL over the chats, in reality keep a broad smile on your face and laugh out loud.. You shall end up adding 7+ smiling years to your life. Its not a joke that laughter has been called ‘the best medicine’ but not the type that is ‘practiced’ in ‘laughter clubs’ rather that which flows from within in response to awkward and illogical situations presented to us in day to day. After all intelligence is not everything, btw intellect too needs rest sometimes!
A genuine smile is also referred to as ‘Duchenne Smile’. It engages all the muscles of your face from lips, cheeks to eyes. If you have forgotten to smile and wish to ‘learn to smile’, I invite you to join any of our programmes there you will be taught the secret to restore your genuine smile.
EAT, SLEEP, SHIT AND PEE WHEN YOU GET THE FEELING
“What is enlightenment?” the curious student of a Zen Master asked.
Master replied “When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.”
Living with the natural flow is what makes our lives free of struggles, tensions, stress and dis-ease. Life of ease keeps away the disease.
You should have your meals only when you feel really hungry. It helps in proper digestion of the food and also lesser toxins are produced for body to handle. The question might come in your mind, what type of food should I have? Well, vegetarian diet always helps. In some studies a compound by the name of Spermidine has been found to be the extremely effective in stopping senescence of human cells. This anti-aging chemical naturally occurs in whole grain foods. I suggest few superfoods that you must include in your diet every day – Raisins, sprouts especially Wheat germ, Desi Indian Cow milk products, Amla (Indian gooseberry), Aged cheese, seasonal fruits and Chyavanprash with swarn bhasma. Cooking and serving in aluminum pots/vessels should be avoided. This was a bit elaborate opinion on food however its better to be aware. Lets focus on other physiological functions.
In fact all other bodily urges should also be dealt with keeping the same principle in mind. There must be a reason why these are called ‘nature’s call’. These bodily activities are to be carried out keeping an eye on the cycles or the nature. As per Ayurveda stopping the vega (urge to shit, urinate etc.) is a silent killer. Lot many diseases can develop if we engage in this ‘stopping business’. Holding poop or urine in when body is already signaling to get rid of it, affects our health not only by assimilation and absorption of toxins but also because such abnormal response to the body’s natural call affects many physiological functions and health of related organs.
Some of you may still ask, what if I feel hungry all the time or I have to visit loo 5 times a day. The night folks will come back and say “I don’t get sleep at night but comfortably sleep in through the morning till noon” and so on. Look! You are not following nature’s signals here. These anomalies need medical and disciplinary interventions. Better, adopt an active lifestyle. If that doesn’t help check with a doctor. Help yourself and try to align your routine as per the Sun-Moon cycle. Such abnormal patterns can be restored to a state when these would be in sync with the nature’s rhythms leading to health and all round success in life.
PERIODIC FASTING IMPROVES LONGEVITY
Although it may sound like a contradiction to ‘follow the urge’ dictum but great Indian sages have given out these golden rules based on their deep study of every aspect of life.
Fasting has been practised since ages in many religious traditions including Vedic, Sanatan culture. It is not without a reason Hindu Lunar Calendar is populated with so many festivals and fasting occasions. Fasting is associated with inner-cleansing at the level of body and mind but that does not mean you can ignore cleanliness at the outer level. Keeping your body and habitat clean and clutter free helps you live a life that is free of unwanted burdens. Fasting is about the same cleanliness drive being extended to your real home – the body and mind where you live. Are scriptures making it up? No, even modern researches have proven it beyond doubt that conducting oneself through the regular fasting (i.e. once a week) you ward off many diseases and pre-mature aging.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE FASTING REGIME FOR ANTI AGING – CHANDRAAYANA VRAT
Now a days the ‘intermittent fasting’ is being discussed more than it would have ever been in the history of mankind. I am of opinion that people of hunting age would have been ‘suffering’ from this syndrome of ‘intermittent fasting’ due to unavailability of the prey (food) thus out of compulsions were practising intermittent fasting anyways. Jokes apart, in reality by fasting we give rest to our digestive system and allow our body a window in time to expel undesired toxins from the body. It helps rejuvenate our whole body and mind.
While different ways of fasting can yield different benefits one particular method supersedes In some of our self-transformation programmes we use an ancient fasting protocol known as ‘Chandrayana Vrat’. This particular fasting regime is one of the toughest but the most powerful fasting protocol that can be undertaken once or maximum twice in a year for age reversal. It completely rejuvenates your system, re-organizes your energies, cleanses the nadi-system when conjoined with appropriate yogic processes and most importantly it flushes out accumulated diseases from the body with very minor symptoms. If you wish to learn about it, consider attending Practical Shiva Sutras programme, you can understand more about it. There are four types of Chandraayana Vrat, commonly known as Yati Chandraayana, Shishu Chandraayan, Yava Madhya and Pipilika Madhya. Here in the programme (retreat) the most suitable one is recommended after evaluating your spiritual, energetic and physical health.
Whatever be your fasting protocol you must try to observe fast on period basis to improve your longevity.
CONSERVE AND DISCIPLINE YOUR ENERGIES – CELIBACY
Ancient sanatan system of Varnashram provides a framework for every individual to pursue a life that is lived to achieve the highest possible for anyone of us. There are four phases that have been defined as ashrams namely bhrahmacharya, grihastha, vAnaprastha and sanyaas. In may seem as if all the discipline of saving energies is limited to the first phase i.e. brahmacharya ashram which lasts for the first 25 years of age but that is not true. Even in grihastha ashram every person needs to discipline and moderate the sensual and sexual indulgence. So, by way of discipling your senses for all practical purposes even in grihastha ashram you can practise brahmacharya. But the question is ‘Why’? And is brahmcharya (mostly perceived as celibacy) limited to the context of sex?
Well, this question of why men need to save their energies and not pour them out in our pursuit of sexual or sensual pleasures has been meticulously answered in ancient scriptures of Vedic, Yogic and Tantric systems. In these systems the upward movement of sexual energy (and semen) has been linked to one’s capacity development for spiritual awakening. I am not sure if your wish to live 100 long years is for any spiritual goal so the motivation for conservation of semen may not be there at all. However, when we consider Ayurvedic principle of Sapta-Dhatus it may sink in much better. Lets see how?
As per Ayurveda the food that we eat goes through the following series of transmutations and gets converted into 7 dhatus. Those dhatus are –
- Rasa (Juices that get absorbed through digestive system in the form of plasma)
- Rakta (part of purified Rasa gets converted in blood and this blood then supplies the nutrition to every cell of the body)
- Mamsa (further part of processed Rakta then stabilizes itself in the muscles, tissues or flesh)
- Meda (The Mamsa or various organs then transmutes into adipose tissues, lymph and fat)
- Asthi (from Meda the mineral and calcium nutrition gets to the skeletal structure as bones)
- Majja (the bones then transmute into the bone marrow, that fills the bony spaces from within)
- Shukra (the part of the bone marrow then finally gets converted into semen)
Now, looking at the above sequence where the quantity of every consequent dhatu is dependent on the supply from the previous one shows how precious the shukra or semen is. Further this shukra or semen gets converted into another invisible radiance that is referred to ojas and at physical level it is known as immunity. At mental level ojas means self-confidence, will-power, enthusiasm and creativity. A lot is being discussed about NoFAP amongst the youngsters and youth who have experienced both sides of the coin. The ones who have succeeded in controlling the urge report back how dramatically their lives has transformed. When indiscriminately losing the vital fluid affects the young ones who are in their golden era of youth how would it impact those who have crossed their youth. Needless to say therefore, whether you take it or not but the Ojas is our overall capacity in life. Spend it as less as you can!
It would be unfair to believe that conserving semen is ultimate energy management. Your mind is the place where most of your energies are lost in chaotic thinking and undirected efforts. You must also learn some effective ways to manage and modulate your life-energies. These are pranayama, yoga and meditation etc. It will help you channelize your energies in the right ways for creating a blissful and healthy life and who knows if you did everything right you may live beyond 120 years also!
At the end let me clarify that there is much more that can be said about the subject and I have not covered so many points on disciplining one’s life to be able to keep one’s body strong till the time of departure from this plane of waking experience for as a believer of Principles of Sanatan Dharma, I would prefer to believe that it is immaterial whether we live for 32 years or 102 years, the purpose of living must be fulfilled. A life that is lived aspiring for the highest Goal attainable, is worth it or else what is the point in living for even thousands of years.
– Agyaatadarshan Anand Nath