Man's quest for the elixir of immortality goes on,
and old age continues to shatter his hopes.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?
"Not me, that's for sure," I muse while a grim countenance stares back at me from the bathroom mirror. As the years advance, crow's feet spread from the comers of the eyes, varicose veins discolor the once clear skin, and the teeth are a constant concern. In the medicine cabinet are fortifiers for the over-forties and tonics to cure falling hair—just a hint of things to come.
Old age, the "daughter of time," encroaches upon us all, whether we like it or not. This unwelcome lady is attended by many maidservants, such as deafness, arthritis, and senility. Her first flirtation staggers our steps and slackens our skin. We make futile attempts to forestall her advances with cosmetic surgery and organ transplants. Old ladies with pink permed hair and powder masks carefully disguise body odors with heavy scents and wear gloves and glittering rings to distract our eyes from their withering skin.
Alas! All this is vanity, a sad masquerade for old age. She is irresistible and compels us to surrender to her increasing demands, until as unwilling victims we are easily delivered into the hands of death.
There is nothing as effective as old age for dispelling the myth of eternal youth in this world. Even the yogi, who by virtue of breath control lives for hundreds of years—he too must eventually vacate his mortal frame.
Yet in spite of the facts being what they are, the aspiration for eternal youth is intrinsic to each of us, just as sweetness is present in each grain of sugar.
Is eternal youth an impossible dream, an imagination contrived to defeat despair? The perfect answer is given by the perfect person. Lord Krsna , God Himself. In Bhagavad-gita (2.20). Lord Krsna addresses Arjuna. His dear friend and devotee:
na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire
"For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain."
The terms young and old refer only to the temporary body and not to the soul. One who is free from bodily consciousness can discover the ever-fresh nature of the soul.
The key to this desirable state of consciousness is to understand that as spirit souls we are eternally fragmental parts of the supreme spirit soul, Lord Krsna, and that our natural relationship with Him is one of loving service. When we act on this knowledge, we can enjoy unlimited happiness in relationship with the Supreme Lord.
Lord Krsna, although the oldest person, is celebrated as nava-yauvana, an eternally fresh youth. He is Govinda. giver of pleasure to the senses, and He is Adi-purusa, the original enjoyer. Thus Krsna is the fountain of eternal youth from which we desire to drink deep. If we enter His loving service. especially by chanting His names, we gain His association and become rejuvenated.