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…
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.
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.