Saturday, February 11, 2012

The "Centenary Men"

We stated with  identifying "Five Milestones in LIFE" and crossed "First and Second Milestones".  We took a view of  "The 1000th FULL Moon".  We saw the arrival of the great grandson in "Welcome, Great Grand Son". (Please click on the respective titles to read them).  That brings us to the ultimate peak, a life completing the full period of 100 years for the physical body.

There were innumerable stalwarts and great people who achieved a lot at a young age.  They did not live long but the society and mankind remembers them even today for their tremendous contributions in various fields.  Living for 100 years is not the only achievement.  But it is an incredible achievement; a successful test of endurance and a sign of life lived well over a long period of time.  Only a very small percentage of people reach this level.   Some of these "Centenary Men" have made notable achievements during their life time and every single day of their life is a testimony to a fruitful life.  They combined longevity with hard work and discipline in their lives.  Of course, there may have been a few who lived for 100 years and had nothing to show except that their heart pumped without a break for that length of time.  Even that is no mean achievement, to maintain the physical body in working condition that long.  But there were many who were known for their long lives as well as a matching lengthy list of achievements.  Let us celebrate the memory of such great personalities and draw inspiration from their lives.

As regards the shanti karmas after crossing this milestone, the usual rituals done in most of the earlier levels hold good.  The Presiding deity and other deities are invoked in the kalashas and worshiped in the prescribed manner.  Special mention is made of the Centenary at appropriate stages.  Sprinkling of holy water is done with golden flowers or ornaments in a sieve.  There will be the long queue of relatives and friends waiting for their turn to prostrate before the "Centenary Man" and seek his blessings.  The usual sumptuous feast will always be there.  The atmosphere reverberates with a feeling of achievement; not just the achievement of one man, but of everyone around!  An achievement of being able to be present and participate in such a rare and unique function.  Participation in a function about which one can take pride and remember for a long long time.

There are many lessons that could be drawn from the lives of the Centenarians.  A common thread in the lives of all these people is "Discipline".  Discipline in their food habits, activity levels and keeping the body and mind in shape and together.  These people have proved by practice and showed in reality that our vedic blessings like "Shatamaanam bhavati....." and  spiritual expectations of "Jeevema Sharadh Shatam, Pashyema Sharadh Shatam....." are not mere slogans or wishful thinking.  They are based on successful past experience and sound logic.  The mere fact that a majority of humans are unable to reach this level does not invalidate the very goal itself.  But achieving this goal is not a matter of chance.  It needs dedicated efforts.  For this one reason at least, they deserve our thanks and gratitude.  Our thanks and gratitude is also due to the family members of all Centenarians, sometimes and often of three generations, who have traveled with them on the long path for different lengths and at different times.  Some of them would not be physically present at the grand finale.  But they are to be remembered for their contributions.  Proper care, especially at advanced age, is very crucial and those who provided this basic requirement are indeed a key to such celebrations.      

There can be a question now.  Is there any other milestone thereafter?  We have to respect the laws of nature and the limitations of the physical body.  It would already have been pushed to its limits by this time.  We do hear that some people have lived longer than 100 years.  Many of these claims are difficult to verify as there were no proper birth records a hundred years ago.  There is an Organization by name "Gerontology Research Group" which verifies longevity claims and authenticates them.  Guinness book of World Records also verifies such claims before accepting them.  They maintain a list of such people called "Super-centenarians".  One Jeanne Calment of France lived for 122 years and 164 days!  There were authentic records in her native city, Arles in France.  Technically speaking, if some shanti karma is to be celebrated in our area as per the practice discussed in these blog posts, it should be at 120 years when the person enters the third sixty year cycle of the Lunar years.  That is more academic than in practice.

One friend of our family was blessed with a great grand son some years ago.  All her friends arranged a function  near Bangalore to celebrate the event in the form of a social gathering.  I was asked to speak about the significance of these celebrations.  I spoke for sometime on these five milestones and in the end asked them whether it is possible to cross all those milestones and whether they actually knew somebody who crossed all these five milestones.  There was a unanimous shout that it is not possible.  When I mentioned that there was one person who did so and that I was also present at the celebration, they were all excited.  When the name was mentioned, they all said they knew the person very well.  Justice Nittoor Srinivasa Rao,  former Chief justice of Karnataka High Court and India's first Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) was one such rare example.  When his centenary was celebrated he was surrounded by innumerable relatives and friends.  I was also one among the fortunate ones to be present.   His was an example of successfully crossing all the five milestones including the rare "Prapoutra darshana".   


  1. Many people observe their rituals without really understanding their significance. You have explained them very lucidly. I will go through other posts mentioned in this article.

  2. Recently, that is on March 7th 2013 Kanakabhisheka was done to my mother after the birth of my grand son and my brother's grand daughter. What was rare about this function was that it was a mass Kanakabhisheka done to 9 people who were very dear to my brother and his wife and my husband and me and my daughter-in-law. They were my mother, father's brother and his wife, my husband's two aunts,my brother's wife,s mother,my daughter-in-law's grandfather. All these 7 people belonged to 4th generation backwards. What was rarer was the other two people, my mother's mother and my broher's wife's grandmoter belonged to 5th generation backwards. The two Kolu Ajjis and the 5 mutthajjis and 2 mutthatas being showered the 108 golden flowers by the two greatgrandchildren for the 7, great-great grand children for the 2, was a satisfying and a very happy experience for the whole family.

  3. Congrats Murthy Sir for completing the Century by narrating about the Centenary Celebration towards the end. All the five narrations were neatly done blending the right proportions of 'lowkika, sampradaika and paramarthika'. In our family circles I am proud to say that my distant cousin (same Gotra and same native place and beyond that nothing more known) Well known writer Late Prof. A.N.Murthy Rao was a centenarian. 8 more years......God willing...... I hope my respected Mother Smt.Sharadamma (92) will also be centenarian. What an occasion it would be if you will be the learned guest speaker on that occasion! Lakshminarayana K