Who doesn't want to live a long, happy and healthy life? There is so much to enjoy and experience on this physical plane of life on earth.

Caraka, the ancient Ayurvedic physician wrote that the span of life is variable in different ages of time (called Yuga in Sanskrit) such as the Stone Age, Iron Age and so on. According to the Hindu Vedas or scientific encyclopaedias, time on earth repeats itself in four cycles of Yugas.

In Satya Yuga, or the Age of Truth and Purity, people were uncomplicated, religious, full of spirituality, devoted and cheerful.

They obeyed the laws of nature and maintained human virtues and social values such as truth, compassion, mercy, goodwill, charity and celibacy. They fasted from time to time, had strong, healthy bodies and minds and could maintain a cheerful demeanour.

They had advanced knowledge about life, the mysteries of nature and the supernatural.

Love and forgiveness was their strength. They enjoyed healthy living and lots of energy because they lived in harmony with nature and the creator. There was little illness, little fear and little negative emotion. Their average life span was 400 years.

In Treta Yuga, which followed, people grew wealthier and started living a lavish life, overeating rich foods.

They became insecure, malicious, greedy, jealous and, therefore, fearful. People began to grow dull, obese, lethargic and fatigued.

Passion, anger, greed, conceit, violence, anxiety and over-excitement started gripping their minds and these negative forces started affecting their health.

As a result, their average life span was reduced by a quarter, to about 300 years.

In the third block of time, the Dwapar Yuga, people become even more selfish and self-centred.

Lies and deceit became more common, as did robberies, burglaries and rape. Positive virtues such as compassion, mercy, benevolence and understanding of others abated. The foods people ate became more unwholesome.

The minds of people were clouded by even greater confusion and people started experiencing more frequent illness of greater variety. The average span of life reduced by a further quarter to 225 years.

In the fourth block of time, the Kali Yuga, the age in which we are living, all the good qualities of life and human beings have hit rock bottom.

Our thinking and eating habits and lifestyles have adopted a dimension that defies logic. Human values have started to disappear as self-interest and individualism have grown.

Lack of sharing prevails, our intellect grows even more clouded and confused and we are losing our sense of objectivity, truth and devotion.

While we are at the pinnacle of technological achievement and progressing fast towards even more exciting discoveries, have we forgotten to discover ourselves?

Our life span is supposed to be about 170 years of healthy, enjoyable experience on earth. Have we lost it?