“Without Krishna consciousness, one wastes twenty years in childhood and boyhood and another twenty years in old age, when one cannot perform any material activities and is full of anxiety about what is to be done by his sons and grandsons and how one’s estate should be protected. Half of these years are spent in sleep. Furthermore, one wastes another thirty years sleeping at night during the rest of his life. Thus seventy out of one hundred years are wasted by a person who does not know the aim of life and how to utilize this human form.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.6.7 Purport)
Prahlada’s audience was quite young. They were not yet fully aware of the typical cycle of life. But how would Prahlada know? He was their peer. At only five years of age, what could he have learned? Actually, he was fully enlightened due to the contact with the saint named Narada. So inspired was he towards the Divine way of life that Prahlada was not afraid to share with his classmates.
The teachers certainly weren’t going to cover this topic. Even if they wanted to, it was strictly forbidden. Orders from on high, the aim of life is to enjoy the senses. Think first of material comfort. If there are any powerful figures controlling the universe, view them as kind of order-suppliers. Something like a store which you visit to purchase goods, make a formality of ritual and worship, for the underlying purpose of advancing the material condition.
One aspect of Prahlada’s teachings was the emphasis on wasted time. Man has conducted a similar analysis over the years, particularly with the area of sleeping. The son of the Daitya king emphasized that there is a certain time when everything should work in the favor of the sincere seeker of the truth. In other eras of life there is the increased chance of allowing the time to go to waste.
Prahlada was trying to make his classmates be the exception to the rule. Otherwise, who really remembers what they did in the first ten years of life? Maybe certain experiences stand out here and there, but rarely does any documented evidence exist, such as notebooks, journals or lengthy conversations with friends and classmates.
It is not the child’s fault. They were bewildered by the world which they newly entered. There is school for a reason. It is compulsory in most places due to the importance. The child does not understand, but the adults do. They see better into the future, that an education will serve a person well.
In this phase of life there is sporting and playing. Think video games, outdoor sports, spending time with friends and so forth. This is the natural way, as the adults often lament that youth is wasted on the young. The children have more energy, so they are almost inexhaustible in their engagements.
Ten years easily pass by in this phase of life. Rarely is there contemplation on the destined end to life, as so many changes take place. The mind focuses on the new environments and what should be accomplished moving forward.
3. Old age
Prahlada references the time when the body drastically starts to diminish. With financial advisors, the typical assumption is that the retired person will need their savings to last for at least twenty years. Death can arrive at any moment, but if life extends to the average expectancy, there needs to be sufficient money saved in order to pay for necessities.
Retired means that there is no work. This can be a voluntary decision, but there is the accompanying factor of deterioration of the body. The abilities are not the same. The greatest professional athletes of the past no longer compete in the arena. This is because their bodies changed. Youths entered the scene and they displayed superior ability in comparison to those on the way out of the sport.
If you incorporate sleep into the mix, then it seems that almost half of life goes by without any contemplation on higher matters. The human birth is especially made for this kind of inquiry. Sporting, playing, eating, relaxing, sleeping – these can take place in any kind of birth. There is nothing unique about sense gratification for the human being, except for the increased contemplation and associated anxiety on the subject.
Whatever time remains should be spent in spiritual life. That is Prahlada’s message. He revealed this due to his compassionate nature. He was not afraid to speak the same to the hostile father, who was the greatest atheist in the world. The Divine consciousness, connected to the Supersoul, understanding the personal side and the all-attractiveness of the Almighty, is the way towards transcendence. That devotional life is the best use of time and it brings happiness to anyone engaged, whether young or old, fully able or of diminishing capacity.
When close to life cycle finishing,
Body of capacity diminishing.
In youth focus only to enjoy,
Occupied with newfound toy.
Maturing playing sports and running,
Sleep then when tired becoming.
With so little time make the best,
Prahlada’s focus on spiritual quest.