Chapter 19 — Blemishes of Boyhood

Rama speaking:—

One receiving his birth in the unstable ocean of this world, disturbed by the waves of the turmoil of business, has to pass his boyhood in sufferings only.

The attendants of infancy are a lack of strength and sense, diseases, dangers, muteness and sensual desires, joined with longings and helplessness. Childhood is chained to fretting, crying, fits of anger, craving and every kind of incapacity, like an elephant chained to a post. The vexations that tease the infant breast are far greater than those which trouble us in youth and old age, or disturb one in disease, danger or at the approach of death. The acts of a boy are like those of young animals, always restless and snubbed by everybody. Hence boyhood is more intolerable than death itself.

How can boyhood be pleasing to anybody, when it is a semblance of gross ignorance, full of whims and hobbies, and ever subject to improper behavior? Silly boyhood is in constant dread of dangers arising at every step from fire, water and air which rarely cause problems in other states of life. Children are liable to very many errors in their plays and wicked frolics, and in all their wishes and attempts beyond their capacities. Therefore, boyhood is the most dangerous stage of life.

Children are engaged in false pursuits and wicked sports, and are subject to all other foolish childishness. Hence boyhood is fit for the rod and not for rest. 10 All faults, misconduct, transgressions and heartaches lie hidden in boyhood like owls in hollow caves. 11 Shame on those ignorant and foolish people who are falsely led to imagine boyhood as the most pleasant period of life.

12 How can boyhood appear pleasing to anyone when the mind swings like a cradle towards every object of desire, however wrong it is deemed to be in both worlds? 13 The minds of all living beings are ever restless, but those of young people are ten times more at unrest. 14 The mind is naturally unsteady, and so is boyhood. Say what can save us from that state of life when both these vagrant things combine to our destruction? 15 The glances of women, the flashes of lightning, the flame of fire, and the ever-rolling waves have all imitated the fickleness of boyhood.

16 Minority seems to be a twin brother to the mind. They are similar in their unsteadiness and frailty of all their purposes. 17 All kinds of miseries, misdeeds and improper behavior await on boyhood, as all sorts of men hang upon the rich. 18 Children are always fond of new things, and when they fail to get them, they fall to a fainting fit, as if from the effect of poison.

19 A boy like a dog, is as easily tamed as he is irritated at a little, and he is as glad to lie in the dust and play with dirt. 20 A foolish fretful boy with his body daubed in mire, tears in his eyes, appears like a heap of dry clay soiled by a shower of rain.

21 Children are subject to fear and voracious appetites. They are helpless but fond of everything they have seen or heard, and equally fickle in their bodies and mind. Hence boyhood is a source of only troubles. 22 The foolish and helpless child becomes sad and sour when he fails to get the object of his fancy and thwarted from the thing desired. 23 Children have much difficulty to get at the things they want, and which they can ask only by indistinct words. Hence no one suffers so much as children. 24 A boy is as much irritated by the eagerness of his whimsical desires as a patch of ground in the desert is parched by the summer heat.

25 On entering school, a boy is subjected to corrections, which are as painful to him as goading and chains to an elephant.

26 Boyhood, ever fond of toys and trifles, is continually afflicted by a great many whims and hobbies, and a variety of false fancies. 27 How can it be said that senseless childhood is a happy state of life when the child is led by its ignorance to swallow everything in the world, and to wish to lay hold on the moon in the sky?

28 Say great sage, what difference is there between a child and a tree? Both have sensitivity, but neither is able to defend themselves from heat and cold. 29 Children are like birds, subject to fear and hunger, and ready to fly about when impelled by them. 30 Boyhood is the home of fear from all sides; such as from the tutor, father, mother, elder brother and elderly children, and from everybody besides.

31 Hence the hopeless state of childhood, full of faults and errors, and addicted to sports and thoughtlessness, cannot be satisfactory to anybody.