When we were very young, there use to be puja at home every month. After the pooja, the priest used to give few things in my father's hands that include flowers, a coconut, betel leaves, a bunch of bananas, and some akshathas (rice mixed with kumkum) and would chant ashirvada mantra. I was curious to understand the meaning of mantras. The ashirvada mantra goes like this "Dhanam, dhanyam, pashum, bahuputralabham, shatha samvatsaram dirghamayuhu". It means, have wealth, plenty of food, cattle, many sons, and live for 100 years.
How relevant is this ashirvada mantra today?
First is dhanam, meaning wealth. Everyone want wealth, like wealth and tries to get as much wealth as possible. Material wealth is necessary to make a living. But it makes people fight with each other and as people get more material wealth they forget humanity, and becomes more selfish. Thus more Dhanam is a real problem.
As days pass, prices of every item increases, and it becomes difficult for many people to make a living with their income. Now cultivation of paddy, wheat etc. is going into lo, ass and we hear farmers suicide s they are finding it difficult to pay of their loans and take care of their family. Changes in weather also affects agriculture. So price of food items increase. Thus getting required Dhanyam becomes problematic.
The third one is cattle. Rarely we see cattle these days even in villages. In towns and cities, we don't see cattle at all, except in diary farms. Maintaining cattle is a real problem these days compared to olden days. It is really not possible for small families to have and maintain cattle. So people just go to shops and buy mils in plastic covers. Many times, the milk is adulterated; we take it without knowing that. Thus cattle is really not there with people these days.
The next item is 'bahu putra labham'. Many children. These are the days where many prefer atomic family with just one kid or at the most two. It is not that easy these days to bring up kids by giving right education and other facilities. More money is required to bring even one or two kids up. Thus bahuputra labham is an impossible.
The fifth one is dirghmayuhu... 100 years long life. Who wish to live 100 years these days? Human life is more of problems these days. Though everyone wishes for peace, but life is full of uncertainities and new problems appear every now and then in life. Many families find it difficult to run household with their salary. If children are weak in studies, they need tuition. Then medical expenses, etc. etc. Managing life becomes difficult, then who would like to live for 100 years?
One enjoys childhood under their parents love. School days are joyful, but have to work hard to beat competition and to meet goals. When one starts family life, age is already close to 30 and parents are close to 60. I think, none would like to live for another 40 years afther that. If there is no health problem, one can live for another 15 to 20 years.
Lifestyles are changing very fast. Food culture is becoming different. Genration gap in thinking between father, son and grand son are widening, and that poses many problems at home. To live peacefully, there is only one medium, that is love. Love makes one to adapt and adjust.
After seventy, our organs becomes our enemy. In early days people lived in forests by eating leaves, fuits etc. Now doctors advise to eat salads, fruits, and leafy vegetables, which is very similar to that kind of food. As age increase, sugar, pressure etc. becomes our companions. We are forced to eat sugar-less, oil-less, salt-less, chilli-less food. Many of us have to use stick as support for walking, need specs as support for reading, and sometimes hearing aids to hear. Some of us start forgetting things. How many would like to live like that?
We have to change the meaning of the ashirvada mantra. It should be change or we should interpret it as: Wealth, food to live healthy, drinking diary milk to improve health, one or two children who will give love worth of many many children and care the parents, and a life that gives happiness of a 100 years of life. I think, everyone likes a life till they can do their own work and strength to support their children.
So, let us interpert the ashirvada mantra this way.