Time management and concept of Sanatan Dharma

Time management and concept of Sanatan Dharma

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter temperswider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.”

Nature has given human being a very limited time to live. In one life, within that limited time-span, one has to perform thousands of activities and fulfill many responsibilities in different areas at different phases of time. Success in life is often measured by time. One who wastes time in a way wastes life. There is a need to utilize every moment in a positive way and live every moment of it purposefully. Every day is a day of new beginnings, new opportunities and new achievements. Procrastination, idleness and aimless drifting can prove to be very costly for human beings.


One of the most basic and urgent problems of twenty-first century is to understand about time-management – how to utilize one’s valuable time properly and purposefully. How it can be utilized effectively, constructively and productively?

A human being is an entity of body-mind complex. In addition to capacity to see, hear, touch or eat, which animals birds mammal etc. also possess, nature has given the power to speak, mind to think, intellect, logic (analytical/reasoning power), skills and talent. It is both inherited and honed by self-learnt practiced habits by association, education, society’s norms and culture and sensitivity. Human life goes waste if one does not utilize valuable time in right perspective.

Why utilization of time necessary?

Time managementUsually in modern times, at the end of the day and ultimately towards the end of life, many people regret that they have not spent their time properly and therefore could not enjoy their life meaningfully. It appears to them as if they had been caught in the pool of material pleasures so much, that they could hardly manage to come out of it till end.

People usually spend their energies and most of the time in anticipating and preparing for the future and making it more secure and comfortable. Not only that they have wasted most of their valuable time and energy in pursuit of worldly objects in the form of wealth, status, authority and power. But also they have become insensitive. They have failed to realize the true purpose of life.

People generally devote their time on whatever appears to them more attractive and important in different phases of their life. If they manage their time in a proper way, nobody can stop them from enjoying the life fully and from moving forward physically, mentally and spiritually. And at the end of their life, they could be fully satisfied.

Concept of Time-Management developed in India

Experiences of Indian philosophers, learned sages and intellectuals, belonging to different communities at different points of time have led them to develop a compact life package of time management. It is founded on the essence of basic eternal values. It is known in India as ‘Sanatan Dharma’.

This complete compact program of time-management for all phases of human life has been developed after a deep thinking. It is mainly based on the ethos: “To each according to his needs and from each according to his capacity”, “tolerance”, “live and let live” and “Vasudhav kutumbakam” (the whole world is your family).

The program of eternal values is meaningful at all the time for the whole of humanity anywhere in the world. Even today it is as relevant as it was earlier. Its messages are usually the general norms of conduct, universal, eternal, applicable to all human beings and much above race, caste or creed.

Sanatan Dharma nurtures over nature, basic human instincts. It assigns duties and jobs to be done at various stages of human life and defines how to do it. It saves people from confusion and guides them to do their tasks without difficulty. It leads to a quality of life and ultimately facilitates achievement of “Sachchidanand” (Bliss, consciousness and knowledge).

Goals of human life

“Sanatan Dharma” sows seeds of empathy, compassion, and encouragement and guards humans against selfishness greed and egoism. It gives purpose to each stage of human life. According to Hindu Philosophy, primary goals of a human life are Dharma (adherence to an ethical way of life), Artha (earning money), Kama (fulfilling desires) and Moksha (preparing oneself for life after life and seeking enlightenment and salvation from the cycle of birth). Wealth and desires lead to worldly pleasures and Dharma and moksha to liberation. Sanatan Dharma tells in general how to keep a balance between the two and at what point of time of human life.

Why Sanatan Dharma?

Earlier, when human life was not so complicated and men were closer to nature, people could follow the principles of Sanatan Dharma without much difficulty. With the erosion of moral and social values, as life has become more complex, it has become difficult for people to practice it.

Different Phases of life

Happy Indian FamilyAccording to Sanatan Dharma, there is one pre-stage followed by four stages in human life. These stages are: 

Pre-Stage – Childhood (Age of innocence) – This is the most charming and creative stage of human life both for the parents as well as the toddler. Society through family contributes. A child’s time is spent in learning first lessons in human values and relationships within a family. During this period, toddlers need full-time attention, love and care of their parents.

Good values in toddlers are inculcated at home, within the family and society under the loving care of parents. They are learned by living and practicing, not by preaching or teaching or through text books. It can not be tested by written examinations.

During their growing up years, constant and close interaction with parents, neighbors and other family members teach children how to deal with different people and maintain good relationship with other human beings in the society.

Parents’ duty at this stage is to create a suitable atmosphere for learning and motivating children to develop their faculties in full. It is a very precious gift of nature to the parents to enjoy the growing up process of their own creation.

Each and every activity of a toddler gives immense pleasure to parents and makes their life very enjoyable. Also, it gives parents an opportunity to shape the personality of their off-spring according to their dreams.

As far as toddler is concerned, his/her personality and capabilities are developed for entering into life under the loving care and supervision of the parents.

Stage I – Time of learning (Brahmachayya Ashram) – First stage of active life starts with the task of learning and acquisition of knowledge. Individual is a recipient and has no obligation towards anybody at this stage of life. Society is giver, which rears, protects and gives its best as heritage to an individual.

It is the time to cultivate of social values in growing up children and adolescents. Their task at this stage is only to devote all their time and energy in learning and acquiring knowledge. They are advised to lead a simple without bothering for worldly pleasures/comforts. It is a time in a person’s life to live in strict discipline. Obedience is expected from learners.

The task of parents/elders/teachers is to guide them to control their senses, mind and intellect, so that they could get adjusted in a better way to real life’s environment in future. They are expected to impart knowledge, shape the attitudes, cultivate in them skills and build the work habits to youngsters. Both the mental and moral faculties of growing up children need to be developed in order to build strongly their personality and character.

Happy Indian familyStage II – Tasks and time-management for adults (Grihasthashram) – In this phase of life, an individual is a contributor, a trustee and a manager of social estate and society is the recipient.

After completing the stage of learning, a human being enters into active life. Indian philosophers and Epic writers gave maximum importance to this phase of life. Of all the phases of life, youth is the most energetic, enjoyable and honorable period of an individual’s life. It offers opportunities to a person to practice, whatever one has learnt so far. It is also a stage for practicing social values. It is the time when a person gets a real ground to earn and fulfill one’s dreams and ambitions in life.

A person is advised to lead a married life and enjoy it fully. One can to spend time and energies to utilize fully ones intellectual and physical capabilities. But they own heavy responsibilities also. An individual is in direct contact with the whole society.

Youth are supposed to make direct contribution to the society consistent with the dictates of their own knowledge, capacity and conscience. They are supposed to support and give protection to all the family members and dependents – meaning elders, children, members of extended family and strangers in need of help.

Besides, responsibility of looking after the management and fulfillment of the needs (like finances, security and safety) of all social and educational institutions falls upon youth, directly or indirectly.

Stage III (Vanaprastha Ashram or Retired life) –  Both society and individuals are the givers and recipients at this stage of life. Society can benefit by the experiences and knowledge of the elderly people. And elderly people get the support of youth.

It is the bonus time for a human being to enjoy life. One becomes free from familial liabilities. Now material gains are not the aim. The best part is that at this juncture of life, elderly persons have nothing to loose or worry. Most of the reasons of their stress and worry regarding career, finances and familial liabilities are over by now. Most of the desires are fulfilled by the time, they attained the age around 50-55. One can feel satisfied during this period.

This is the time in an individual’s life, when an elderly person can retire from active life-style and work in an advisory capacity. One can spare time, opt for a relaxed life style, fulfill ones unfulfilled dreams and lead a retired life.

Elderly manLife gives a second chance to an individual to pursue ones interests without worry. The task of an elderly person at this stage is to give the benefits of his/her experiences to younger generation and to provide extended care or help to them.

Elders can help youth of the day in taking decisions, if asked. Elderly people are supposed to maintain discipline within the family and in the society. They are advised to do good deeds, get involved less in family matters (because householders are mature enough to take care of it) and more on social service. They can take care of and help weak and helpless persons like poor, widows or destitute within their surrounding areas.

Old persons become physically weak. Therefore, traditional culture and values guide youth to take care of aging parents and give physical help or any other kind of help to their elders, in whatever manner, they can. Elders have already given to younger generation their youth and now is the time for the old people to enjoy life and be carefree and for youth to give them physical, emotional or if required financial support. It is a great cause and gives one a great feeling.

Final stage, Last of life (Sanyas) – It is the time for complete detachment from material world. Human beings are advised to try for complete withdrawal, resignation and renunciation. One should prepare oneself for life after life by loosening earthly bonds. Realization of spirituality and wisdom is the aim.

At this stage a person is completely free from any obligation. Youth meaning sons and daughters are supposed to take care of senior citizens like they take care of their own children. It is said in India that behavior of a child because of his innocence and an old person because of his physical incapacity is the same. Therefore, old persons of a family also need same amount of love and care in order to get a feeling of being ‘loved and wanted’ by their own people.

During agricultural societies, when human beings were closer to nature, it was easier for human beings to channelize their life style according to the dictates of Sanatan Dharma. Modernization of social institutions and value system has changed the scenario.

Modernity and compact program of Sanatan Dharma After industrialization and technological developments, human life has become complex with full of tensions and challenges in almost every walk of life for all sections of society. Managing time to fulfill the liabilities of different phases of life and at the same time enjoy life to one’s fullest satisfaction has become very difficult.

In an attempt to overcome nature by human beings, simplicity in thinking, in work-style, in living day to day life or even in maintaining harmonious relations with fellow-beings has become difficult, almost impossible. It has become difficult for a person to keep thoughts and actions free from greed or ego. There would be confusion, rise to desire, anger, delusion, loss of wisdom and spread of indiscipline in society. Rising number of all kinds of crimes is a sign of societal lawlessness.

The more people drift away from nature, more stressful, feeble and strenuous their life becomes having no internal harmony or peace of mind. There is chaos every where. One witnesses a severe crisis of Character. There is lust for glamour, power and position. Rivalries are increasing to attain and retain power and position through position, wealth or muscle power.

Riches, success and achievements may bring name, fame and pride, but do not bring happiness and satisfaction. If lack of money and success create sorrow and suffering, its possession does not bring happiness either. One need not abandon the pursuits of riches or success.

Men of character, learning and scholarship no longer enjoy the respect of society. Instead of deserving candidates, the power seekers find special place in power echelons.

Weakening of self-control systems are to some extent responsible for mismanagement of time and centralization of control systems in the hands of a few persons. Scientific progress has now endowed human beings with tremendous power both to preserve and destroy, but at slightest provocation, he does not hesitate to unleash destructive powers accessible to him.

Many problems of managing time properly in modern times are: 

“Home, sweet home” – In modern age, erosion of traditional value system is breaking down familial bonds. Family, making “Home, sweet home” and last port of emotional refuge for centuries, is no longer remained a cushion for many. Today heroism, glamour and self-gratification is taking prevalence over social responsibilities. It is putting permanent impression on children’s mind.

Only Self matters – A disoriented form of urban professionalism has developed where nothing else but only self matters. People are in a hurry to attain their goals and end seems to justify means. This has led to a situation, where nobody wants to give up or sacrifice anything for anybody be it ones own children or parents.

Culture of ‘inclusiveness’ –The erosion of family values and decay of ‘social value systems’ has been a matter of concern in USA and the Western countries, where people and leaders regularly call for the restoration of traditional family norms. Many Indians families are greatly influenced by the life style of Western countries. While following their footsteps, there started a lack of stimulation at home in many Indian families as well. Modern families in India still intend to develop the culture of ‘inclusiveness’ and not that of ‘exclusiveness’ in children, as has been invariably seen in Western societies.

First casualty is child care – Child-care has become a big dilemma now during the stages of pre-birth, infancy, childhood and adolescence. Usually even after marriage, most of the time of both the parents is spent in offices in the hope to earn more and more money, power and authority and to move forward in their career. It has become difficult for a modern woman initially to conceive and then take proper care of her baby in the womb continuously for nine months because of overstrain.

More stress on physical needs – Usually, when a baby is born, thinking of meeting their child’s physical needs, parents tend to gloss over their psychological ones. In nucleus families, both the parents remain too busy, working 24×7 workdays.

Barring a few stray cases, life is very difficult and strenuous for young parents having babies/toddlers to take care of. Their problems relate to time-management. They are over-burdened throughout the day. They work a bit here and a bit there, while fulfilling the responsibilities of both at home and of workplace.

Support systems – Many couples seek the support of their elders. In that situation, usually lots of tensions arise in the lives of both the young couple and their elders become difficult. Old people could hardly do justice to the tasks of rearing up the small kids and performing day today household chores because of their failing energies.

If young parent depend on servants, they are expensive, unreliable, untrained and do not stay around for long. Nanny, crèche or day care centres are usually overcrowded and are run more on commercial basis rather than paying attention required for proper upbringing of children. Most of them lack capability or inclination to do the job sincerely.

Enjoy life – It seems as if modern youth have been caught in a mirage. In the hope of making the future of their family more secure, comfortable and happy, they have made life very complicated. They can hardly do justice with the task of proper upbringing of infants and toddlers within the limited time of twenty four hour a day.

Neither they find time to enjoy small pleasures of life and watching their child grow, nor they get enough time or pay attention for proper rearing up of their own children, that too at that point of life, when their children need them the most. As a result, parents get disconnected with children’s world, habits and mannerism.

Problems of Stage I

Can modern parents spare enough time to do full justice to the task of youngsters learning? Once schooling of children starts, parents depend heavily on educational institutions. They leave the task of preparing the youngsters to face the challenges real world on authorities of educational institutions.

Over-pampering of children – They believe more in pampering their children in order to save their skin from crankiness and tantrums of youngsters. They allow their sons and daughters to do whatever they like. Easy availability of and access to money tempts children to bad habits. It usually breeds in growing-up children intolerance, makes them self-willed and tempts them to adopt undisciplined life style. On the other hand, dictatorial handling of children during their tender age also does not work.

During adolescent period, lack of time, lack of parental loving care and attention at home, tense relationships within family, because of both the parents being overloaded with work and responsibilities, leave undesirable effect on child’s psyche. Usually children develop the feeling of alienation and revolting indulgence. Easy availability of and access to money tempts them to bad habits.

Anti-establishment feeling – Generally dictatorial handling of adolescents and youngsters develop the feeling of alienation and revolting indulgence. Many of them not only become uncommitted to values of their parents or the ‘establishment’ but at the same time, but get confused about their own values and sense of identity. Some of them become victim of drug addiction (an evil, which has come across as shockingly and poignantly) in order to escape from problems that may be real or imaginary.

Capacity of educational institutions to give direction to growing-up children – If families and communities could not find time to inculcate good value systems in future citizens of India, how can they expect from educational institutions – outside agencies – to perform the job well? In the absence of families taking up this responsibility, this responsibility shifted to educational institutions/schools. These are supposed to become places, where discipline and good values are supposed to be inculcated.

From schools required values are expected to be reinserted into society. For inculcation of desirable value-systems, modern society should not totally depend on formal educational institutions. Teachers are also over-burdened because of knowledge growing at a very fast speed in this electronic age and increasing numbers of students. They can not pay personal attention to all the students in the class-room.

Emotionally broken – The net result is that youngsters educated even in best educational institutions of world could become capable to stand on their own feet with confidence. They can become politically and economically independent. But quite often, they end up in life “Bowling Alone (in sociologist Robert Putnam’s memorable phrase)”. They remain unhappy most of the time in their life.

Problems of Stage II

Erosion of family value-systems – Earlier the times were different. In modern times traditional way of thinking and living has been changed in a big way. Erosion of family value-systems and ‘community life’ has been a cause of worry in modern world. Intelligentsia and leaders, allover the world, regularly call for its restoration.  It has been felt that its depletion in economically advanced countries is a significant reason why people in those countries are not happier even when they are richer.

Too busy – A modern youth remains too much involved and busy one can say up-to the age of 55 or so in facing ruthless competition to achieve success and achieve high status in society. Most of ones time is spent in meeting the challenges of life, facing ups and downs of career and married life, and worries about future.

Unable to pay attention to growing up children – Both the parents opting for a career have no time/no check/no interaction virtually with their growing up children. Both the parents leave the homes in the morning to work leaving their children behind at home for the whole day either with old parents or child-minder.

Aggressive youth – Lack of parental loving care and attention at home, tense atmosphere at home due to too much of work and easy availability of and access to money tempts them to bad habits. Most of the time, they develop the feeling of alienation and revolting indulgence. Later on, many adolescents resent aggressively dictatorial handling of their parents.

Anti establishment attitude – At many places and in many families, adult but dependent sons or daughters become uncommitted to values of their parents/elders or the ‘establishment.’ Some of them get confused about their own values and sense of identity. Some become the victim of drug addiction (an evil, which has come across as shockingly and poignantly) in order to escape from problems that may be real or imaginary.

Problems of Stages III and IV

No respect or understanding for old – There is no respect for old or understanding about their problems in modern society. Younger generation does not have time to spare for the already spent force. Elderly people especially those living alone are the soft targets for criminals.

Gross neglect by their own relatives and friends – Usually old people suffer from poor health and gross neglect by their own relatives and friends. They become victims of exploitation, verbal abuse, assault, foul/neglected behavior by their own kith and kin. Government also makes tall claims for providing security and conveniences to elderly people, but all remains in paper. The fact remains that very little has been done.

Erosion of the authority of elders within family – Usually in modern families, the authority or influence of elders of the family has been completely eroded. They have no say in guiding the future course of growing up children. Their advice usually irritates both the young parents and children. A well knit family feeling of interdependence amongst all family members including elders and a feeling of being wanted and being loved should be promoted.

Economic compulsions – Elderly people have to remain on their feet till the end. That involves lots of money and efforts. This is one of the reasons that even after fulfilling all their familial responsibilities, old people are forced to remain in active life till end and desire to earn more money to meet their medical and physical requirements especially because of the devaluation of rupee and rising prices.

Instead of working in advisory capacity, they remain actively involved, even in social, economic and political activities of the nation, where development work requires the energy of youth. Many times it leads them to greed, lure for worldly pleasures, or desire to pursue authority, power, position and wealth. Instead of making space for energetic young people, they themselves click to seats of power till end by hook or crook.

Age longevity – Age longevity and different kinds of new medical researches have aggravated the problems of this stage. Because of fading energies, it compels an old person to become more and more dependent on their sons or daughters. Also they become puppets at the hands of doctors and spend most of this time in hospitalization.

Way out

To prevent such harmful evils from spreading in the society, it is necessary that:

  • Parents shall have enough time for their children to provide them with secure and stable home environment.
  • Parents should devote sufficient time on their growing-up sons and daughters, guide them properly and provide to them a secure and stable home environment.
  • A well knit family, feeling of inter-dependence and a feeling of being wanted and being loved should be promoted.
  • Families have to share equally the responsibility to guide properly the youth of the day.
  • Adolescents must be kept busy with sports, hobbies and other useful activities that could slant them away from evil outlets.
  • Elderly persons should not indulge themselves in self-pity. Financial security is of course most important at this juncture of life.
  • Key to lead a fruitful retired life rests on good health, financial independence and positive attitude towards life.
  • Good planning for old age gives a person once more an opportunity to pursue their hobbies and do whatever they like but could not do so far, as they could not spare time for it.
  • Senior citizens need to be economically independent and make their own efforts and arrangements in order to live honorably, peacefully and safely.
  • They can certainly fulfill their necessities and solve the problems of help and security.
  • Good schemes of insurance, health care, communication, transport can be provided to them by the government to give them some physical relief.
  • But nothing can replace or make elderly people happy or satisfied except for love and close ties and day today interactions with kith and kin. Residing at an accessible distance from their sons and daughters homes would give them moral courage, psychological strength and help in emergencies.
  • Conscious non-interference in the life and family affairs of their sons and daughters could provide them peace of mind.
  • Loneliness may be there, but by cultivating hobbies like reading, gardening, listening music, meditating, visiting places, one can prepare oneself to handle time positively and will give happiness to them.

Namrata Chauhan, Alumna, Hansraj college,Department of History, University of Delhi.