Past presented

05 Sep

I am reading the biography of my great-grand father. He became a sanyasi, a staunch follower of Shankara , believing in Advaita , has ashrams , the works…. He started sanyasa at age 68, after finishing all his duties/responsibilities as a father.I am definitely proud of him and will post a blog once I finish reading the book. I want to capture a few thoughts in various posts…

Late 1800s:

    When reading about his lineage, it stated that he was one of 16 kids born to his parents. Sixteen !!!!? Yes, you heard it right.The book says,”Nanjundiah ( my great-great-grand dad) was very unhappy that many of his children were dying and so had 16 kids , out of which eight survived and Subbaraya( my great grand dad) was the sixth.” In those days, there were no medicines to treat the various diseases including plague, malaria etc. It was taken for granted that at least a few would die and so , the main argument between parents was on deciding how many to procreate and when to stop.Also, I suppose that is the only recreation they had, all at the cost of the mother’s health. The kids that survived were definitely the stronger ones with lot of genetic immunity.My great-grand dad died at the age of 95.

1900s ( First half of the century):

    In the 1900s, apparently no Cs and people were still bent upon increasing the population and I am sure India would have felt like a vast nation then. My GGdad , not being too interested in Samsara and losing his wife at an early age had a total of only four surviving children,one of which is Sukanya, my grandmother. Even when she was born, not all diseases were treatable , but the genes were strong and believe me, she was one of the most resourceful ladies I have ever seen with tremendous stamina, though very small built.
    My grand mother gave birth to umpteen kids, out of which eight survived with one of them being my mother, all hale and healthy. By then, bacterial infections were treatable and most of them survived. Not accounting the miscarriages.Again, all at the cost of my grandma’s health.These eight kids( my uncles and aunts) have reasonable genetic immunity and are going strong. My grandmother died at the age of 80.

Second half of 1900s:

    Procreation was still in full swing in my Granny’s generation. In fact, my mom’s youngest sister(my aunt) is a few days younger than my cousin( the eldest’s daughter). Imagine both the mother and daughter being pregnant at the same time. Yes, it happened a lot and people went about it, without batting an eyelid. My mother is a strong woman too and her immune system is actually far better than any of her daughters. She has had two miscarriages and given birth to three daughters.She will be 65 this year.

Late 1900s:

    By then, India’s population was on the brink of explosion and so the daughters decided to limit it. My eldest sister has two, second one has one and I don’t have any.Lot of improvements in technology where you could cure almost everything despite a plethora of new diseases. My sisters have small health issues cropping up. With all my issues,I will be in cloud nine if I can live up to 50.


My take out… We all started with very healthy genes from our ancestors, which seems to have got diluted over the generations ….. maybe, we should stop procreating,live healthy and save the world.


Posted by on September 5, 2009 in Life Philosophical Thought



11 responses to “Past presented

  1. Sri

    September 6, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Very interesting. Never knew of anyone (first hand) who wrote biography.

    This leads to different question. Without lineage information it becomes really difficult to know about our family history…

    Nicely written… I hope you write more once you finish reading

    • shoba

      September 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm

      Yes, I think I am fortunate that my great-grand-dad has a biography written by people. The original biography was written by one of his disciples and someone translated it from Kannada to English and so,I went to the Karyalaya and bought the book during my visit to banglore.
      My GG Dad also has written lot of books in Kannada and Sanskrit including lot of Math and was a well-read scholar. Cool,huh??

  2. Manohar

    September 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    If we completely stopped procreating that would be the end of a species (i mean if everybody practised it). But in today’s context where running out of resources is the norm and procreating is the norm (I mean- not everybody is going to stop procreating), it makes sense to adopt the less fortunate children.

  3. Saumya

    September 8, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Wow……it’s so awesome to have someone who has chronicled life in their times in your family.

    Just building the family tree will be such a wonderful task.

    • shoba

      September 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      I know !! I am doing big time CP , showing the book to whoever is visiting.. πŸ™‚

  4. Sri

    September 8, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Wonderful OR not-so-wonderful! – depends on our ancestors (I know of one of my great-great-uncle as womenizer πŸ™‚ )

    Talking to my in-law, one common (obvious) pattern is, respect is valued as virtue. Just from outside it may look like heirarchy & age is respected, once you scratch the surface, it seems like people who are (perceived) principled are valued & respected.

    Teachers were passionate and proud to be teachers, due to the underlying respect part I think (money, lack of other opportunities could be other reasons!)

    • shoba

      September 8, 2009 at 3:44 pm

      I am sorry I don’t understand your comment….How is respect connected with the post? Please clarify.

      • Sri

        September 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

        Oh! It is relevant in a direct way. I was thinking about that period and how people lived etc. and it spilled out in a comment form.

        If you start asking for relevance, the comment flow may dry up πŸ™‚

        • shoba

          September 8, 2009 at 8:59 pm

          Please keep commenting. πŸ™‚
          Ok, now I get you.( I think?)
          Bottomline, teachers are not as respected as they were before. Actually, this gives me feed for another blog ….as my GGdad was a teacher himself and the book covers quite a bit about his teachers.

  5. suresh

    September 9, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I think procreation should be decoupled from the act of procreation… I think, one of the main reason reason why there was more procreation in the past was also that there was no way to control it through artificial means…

    Also, may be, it didn’t cost them as much to bring-up kids. Imagine a family in bay area with 10-15 kids in today’s world, assuming people were suddenly devoid of any other form of recreation, will they choose such a path…:)

    • shoba

      September 9, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      act of procreation…. LOL πŸ™‚


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