Is a devotee’s grihastha-ashrama a failure if the children don’t become devotees?
Transcribed by: Geetanjali Nath
QUESTION: Is a devotee’s grahastha ashram a failure if the children don’t become devotee? Ultimately the purpose of doing everything is to practice devotional service
ANSWER: Not at all. I do not know where such extremist and incorrect idea comes from of the standard of success, but this notion of success is not true, either from the karma yoga point of view not from the bhakti yoga point of view. From karma yoga point of view, the standard is ikarmaṇy , ādhikāras te, mā phaleṣu kadācana, mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr, mā te sańgo ‘stv akarmaṇi. Bhagavad Gita 2:47, Krishna says that ” ma phalesu kadacana” , do not be attached to the fruits, So do not be attached to the fruits means , as parents if you are karma yoga a duty of taking care of your children we should not be attached to the fruits . So that does not mean only the material….. Child should become famous should very scholarly should come in merit list, should go to America. It does refer only to this, it also refers to spiritual results. The point here is to help us develop detachment, to help us realize that we are not the controller that we are not the ultimate doers, and to thereby realize our disconnectedness from matter and to realize our spiritual identity. So from the karma yoga point of view, being detached is itself a fruit so that we can perceive and pursue, we can see and then seek higher spiritual reality. So that’s not true from the karma yoga point of view. Now from the bhakti yoga point of view, sumsidder hiritoshinam. …………………So Bhagavad Dharma verses 1;2:6 to 1;2.20, first canto of Bhagavatam. The whole process of Bhagavad dharma is given in summary, and there it is said that all the activities in the Varna and ashram, what is their purpose? The success is not that other people become devotee, it is that Lord Hari becomes pleased. And what does Hari pleased by? we know He is bhava grahadi. He is pleased by our intentions to serve Him. Our intentions to please Him. Our intention to want to glorify Him. So the success of any ashram is in the sincerity of the intention and in the progressive purity of our intention. So we cannot have purity immediately, but at-least you are sincere, Krishna i want to do this to pleasing you, and then you want to have purity eventually; So that is the standard of success, because that will please Krishna. Sincerity and purity pleases Krishna. Now if we just go by this external standard of success then we could say that, we can develop a very mistaken attitude that can offensive also. there are many great personalities whose children did not become devotees, The Chaitanya charitamrita describes how Advaita Acharya’s sons did not become devotees, leave alone not become devotees, they became mayavadis, and these were traumatic events in the formative phases of the Gaudia’s history which created sea sonic waves , created earth quakes practically within the gaudia community. So now of course, the brand of mayavad which …………..Advaita’s sons was peculiar , they considered because Advaita Acharya had been the person who called Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, so Advaita Acharya was greater than Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and actually Advaita Acharya should be the object of worship and not Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and that was their peculiar brand of what ………………goswami calls as mayavad. But the point is that they did not become devotees, although they were sons os Advaita Acharya.
So are we going to say that Advaita Acharya’s grahasta was unsuccessful? No. Now for that matter Prabhupada, it’s not necessary that all of his children became serious devotees. They had their difficulties and for that matter, when Vrindavan , when his son came to meet Prabhupada during in last days, in 1977, when Prabhupada was in Vrindavan. Prabhupada did not tell him chant Hare Krishna regularly. Prabhupada told him to improve his financial situation, to do his business better and gave him some tips, and things like that , why ? because, that was what was required for him. at that particular time. So now of course, not saying that Prabhupada’s sons were not devotees, but the point is that we can make a very serious mistake if we start judging others that way, especially great souls. and similarly that is not the , that is only one criteria for judging. Now if we go by this such material calculation, then are we going to say that say… if some devotee preaches and does not make any devotees , then is that , preaching is useless ? No making devotees is one standard of success, this is not the only standard of success. So the important point is to recognize that any service that we do , it should lead to increasing our sincerity and our purity of our desire to please Krishna. So this is from the philosophical prospective, but from the practical prospective it could be very damaging for children, if they feel that our parents will not be there for us when we are in trouble. To come extent the parents love for the children has to be unconditional, that means, whatever happens we will be there for you. So it may be that the children when they go to their teens, they may choose not to practice bhakti, but that does not mean that the parents should stop loving, In fact the parents whatever Sanskara they have given in their childhood, they will become the basis for the children to come back to bhakti eventually. So we shouldn’t think of success in bhakti, now we talk success in terms for successful results for us, that is our own purification. Now what about successful results for others, successful results for others means in terms of …………….., its not only that they have to become bhaktas immediately, it may well be that whatever samskaras we have given them, they will take some time for those seeds to mature and they may need to go through some experience of material life to recognize its anti-nature and its futility ultimately, and then to turn towards Krishna. and if they are not given that space then they may just practice bhakti nominally and resentfully and that is not going to lead to their spiritual advancement, and that is certainly not going to make them happy. So Krishna gives every soul free will and Krishna gives every soul the room to execute that free will, not unlimited room, but some room Krishna gives. So similarly as parents, as long as the children are under the care of parents, they surely need to have some regulation, so that the children are protected. But once the children grow up, once they go into the teens and they become legally , now they are not minor and then they go beyond eighteen then they are own independent persons. and they may not listen to their parents. So if they want to experience material life, then the parents , rather than considering the children simply as meant to the trophies of our success, be it material or spiritual. We need to recognize , they are in their own right persons, and they have to go through their own spiritual evolution. So we need to give them room and we can still offer them our love what ever way it is best suited and over a period of time because of childhood samskaras, they will come back to Krishna. they will know that Krishna is the ultimate shelter, because for one who has tasted the joy of bhakti , the memories of Krishna’s sweetness doesn’t go away. So mukunda semangani, rasadgrahojana, the Bhagvatam says in the instructions by Vyasadev that rasadgrahojana, one who has tasted the rasa , does not go away, will now experience the material existence same way as materialists people will experience, and will come back to Krishna soon. So the important point is that we keep the door for Krishna open for them by our open relations with Krishna and also we try to open other doors towards Krishna for them by helping them find a friend circle, a social circle, within the devotee circle, as there may be youth groups , youth forums, where they can people according to them who are like minded like them and who are of the same age group and then they can practice bhakti, and we don’t have to necessarily expect them to practice bhakti according to the same way that we have practiced. Every generation has its own cultural situation, and every generation has its own psychological inclinations. and so the younger generation may practice bhakti slightly different way, and we can accommodate that and we should not think that just because they don’t conform to certain standards, that means they are not devotees. So if we give them room, it is quite likely that they will practice bhakti, if not immediately, in in due course of time, and they will do it non resentfully, they will do it voluntarily and joy fully, and even if they don’t become devotees in this entire life time also , or as long as we are alive, still in that case also, the seed that we have sworn, that will never go waste. ……………………….So with whatever progress one has made in the transcendental path , that is never lost. So that applies not only to our practice, but also to whatever help we have given to others in their practices of bhakti also. So that will stay in their eternal credit and that will bring them to Krishna eventually. So certainly we can pray and we can strive to ensure that our children become devotees but we shouldn’t see that as the only standard of success, or the absence of that, as the defining standard of failure. bhakti is much more subtle and profound and if we are practicing bhakti sincerely if we have done whatever we could have in the circumstances to help our children, we have our condition we have our time limitations, So Krishna does not expect perfect example from us, but whatever the example we can, if we give that example , then Krishna will see that and Krishna will grant us spiritual success, irrespective of how things work out in our lives, and eventually things will also work out wonderfully for those who we love and they will also come to Krishna , sooner or later. Thank you.