How to reverse ageing and prolong life? -1
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

How to reverse ageing and prolong life? -1

June 1, 2024

Formula: Diet-exercise-fasting

Man has always been worried and concerned about ageing and death. His longing to be immortal is as old as the time of Adam and Manu.

Normally ageing precedes death, except in cases of natal death. Hence, man hopes that if ageing is reversed his longevity can be prolonged. But die he must. He will not be able to join the ranks of immortal Gods. That is the law of nature, like the law of gravity. Man can’t defy it — monarch or monk. Neither medical science nor prayers suggest success of man in attaining these two aspirations for million of years.

Which is why a poet remarked that the secret of nature, like love, is only half revealed. May be God, whom we believe to be Almighty, himself is powerless when it comes to making man immortal!

But man’s ingenuity will not dismiss this phenomenon saying ‘grapes are sour.’ No. He has invented soul with so many nuanced attributes. In Sanskrit it is called Atman. It is embodied in man’s body, so we believe in ‘body, mind and soul.’ Body will die, along with it the mind (brain) but not the soul, Atma, the Prana Vayu, life breath, Jivatma, which does not die. Rather it escapes, like a prisoner from the jail, to the divine realm where immortal Gods live and becomes immortal! Which is why Bhagavad Gita says: Weapons cleave This not; fire burns This not; and water wets This not; wind dries This not.

Now O, man. This as such, thou should not grieve.

Therefore, man is concerned with ageing and prolonging this mundane life, not as much about Atman. After Death of this physical body, Atman remains immortal !

Kahlil Gibran too speaks similar language when he says that the river (here man) needs to take the risk of entering the ocean. In its disappearing (death) into the ocean the river (man) becomes the ocean, eternal (immortal).

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Let this hocus-pocus be as it may. Let me now introduce you to a wonderful talk on ‘Ageing and Longevity — Understanding the Science and its Implications’ by our city’s well-known Physician Dr. C.D. Sreenivasa Murthy, MD, last Saturday at Kamakshi Hospital, Saraswathipuram, Mysuru.

In simple words, ageing means a process of becoming older. It is defined as a biological, physiological, environmental, psychological, behavioural and social process. In short, ageing is caused due to the genetic order of the body and the surroundings we live in.

In an oration that lasted for over an hour followed by interaction to a small gathering of doctors and para-medics, Dr. CDS, as he is popularly known, covered the vast spectrum of the subject based on David A. Sinclair’s book ‘Lifespan.’ His work on showing the ageing process may lead to significant medical breakthrough, including in dealing with the deadly disease cancer.

No wonder, US President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address in 2016 said it all: “For the loved ones we have all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.” In India it is ONLY the Tatas who are doing this most humane service. Which is why the Tatas from Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata, the Founder, to J.R.D. and Ratan Tata are all remembered and cherished. Obama acted on his commitment to ‘make America the country that cures cancer’ by placing the then Vice-President Joe Biden (now President of America) in-charge of the effort.

The Opposition Republicans, who were the staunch enemies, had “troubles holding back the tears” at such a decision of Obama. Well, can we imagine our Opposition in Parliament having such emotion when Modi makes such announcements? Perish the thought. We have seen the conduct of the Opposition when Modi took on the challenge of the pandemic COVID-19 and even succeeded in producing a vaccine that saved our people and many poor countries in the world.

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To some, ageing, getting diseases and meeting death, are natural phenomenon. Therefore, any research work to undo what is natural to a human is unnatural and immoral. If this is the thinking, then exploration of the space and the universe is also a wasteful work. No wonder, as recent as 2003 the US President’s Council on Bioethics warned against ageing research affirming that it went against “the human grain” and violates the purportedly orderly cycle of birth, marriage and death.

A question was asked that if our life expectancy is guaranteed at 80 and above at the time of marriage, would one be inclined to swear lifelong fidelity “until death do us part?” This might be the case with those leading a life of unhappy marriage. As for those who are happy with their spouse, it would be another extra 50 or more years of happy marriage !!

Dr. CDS explained at length the three main secrets to slowdown ageing and to increase the longevity — diet, exercise and fasting — with examples from our religious customs and the prescription by David A. Sinclair, the author of the book Lifespan.

He also gave an overview of ageing physiology. When does one discover that he or she is ageing. When a white strand of hair is noticed either on the temples or chin or head. When hair begins to thin making way to turning bald gradually; wrinkles show up in the skin; impaired vision, so on and so forth.

But take solace in the thought that ageing is not a disease and  a disease-free longevity is a bonus for one’s life.

Incidentally, the oration of Dr. CDS reminded me of what I wrote about old age and long life during the peak period of COVID-19 in July 2021. Let me publish here some excerpts of that Abracadabra titled ‘Secret to a long life’ even at the risk of inflicting a repetition to my readers.

[To be continued]

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