Parenting Principles from Bhagavad-gita
Parenting Principles from Bhagavad-gita
Hare Krishna !
I’m happy to be here with all of you. I was told that many of you are especially concerned about passing on a spiritual culture to the next generation, to our children.
So I’ll be speaking on the topic of ‘parenting principles based on the Bhagavad-Gita’. And I’ll speak about this in such a way that this is not just for parents but also for children who are here.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, the relationship between the speaker and the seeker, between Krishna and Arjuna is initially fraternal. They are friends. However at the start of the Bhagavad-Gita because Arjuna becomes confused, not knowing what to do. So friends- the relationship is normally horizontal, whereas because of his confusion Arjuna recognizing the need for guidance for enlightenment, subordinates himself. The relationship between becomes somewhat vertical. In 2.7 Arjuna surrenders and he says that påcchämi tväà dharma-sammüòha-cetäù, I want to know what is Dharma, He is not asking here about some religious ritual that is to be performed. He’s in the battlefield where biggest war of his life ** him. So Dharma when he is asking, he’s asking about essential nature, what am I supposed to do? What is the duty that will lead me to my destiny? So that is a question which resonates across time, place, and circumstance. The Bhagavad-Gita where just a call for war, it would not have had ** for millennia across cultures, across civilizations, across countries. It’s essential question is how are we to live? dharma-sammüòha-cetäù What is the purpose of our life? How are we to fulfill that purpose? And Krishna delineates and responds a majestic worldview which reveals to us systematically our place and purpose in this world. And interestingly Krishna concludes the Bhagavad-Gita, not with a command, as much as with a call. Command means you do this, and call means He’s inviting.
So he concludes in 18.63 by saying,
yathecchasi tathä kuru
now deliberate what I have said, and then yathecchasi- as is your desire you do that. So here we see although Krishna is God and the Bhagavad-Gita clearly establishes Krishna’s divinity, still Krishna does not demand obedience, rather Krishna respects human independence. The Bhagavad-Gita reveals a God who respects human independence and appeals to human intelligence. The whole Bhagavad-Gita is not a series of dictatorial dictates. I am God; you do this. No! When Arjuna asks intelligent questions Krishna gives reasonable answers.
So in fact in the middle of the Bhagavad-Gita in the 11th chapter Arjuna himself uses the metaphor of a parenting a child.
tasmät praëamya praëidhäya käyaà
prasädaye tväm aham éçam éòyam
piteva putrasya sakheva sakhyuù
priyaù priyäyärhasi deva soòhum
So Arjuna had a very friendly relationship with Krishna and yet when Krishna reveals universal form in the 11th chapter, the majestic form,
dyäv ä-påthivyor idam antaraà hi
vyäptaà tvayaikena diçaç ca sarväù
dåñövädbhutaà rüpam ugraà tavedaà
loka-trayaà pravyathitaà mahätman
Right from the sky down to the earth all directions have pervaded. Arjuna could see the whole world at one place.
tatraika-sthaà jagat kåtsnaà
çarére päëòavas tadä
In that one form Arjuna saw the whole universe. It was such a stunning sight; Arjuna had to rethink his relationship with Krishna.
Suppose you meet an old friend after many years and you hug each other and you start chatting friendly, and then suddenly you come to know that this friend has in the meanwhile become the president of the America. And still you are friend but the whole dynamic changes.
So when Arjuna understands Krishna’s divine position he says I beg forgiveness, I treated you just like equal, I treated you casually. I sometimes teased you. And teased you not as alone, but teased you in front of others.
yac cävahäsärtham asat-kåto ‘si
eko ‘tha väpy acyuta tat-samakñaà
tat kñämaye tväm aham aprameyam
Please forgive me oh Lord and then he uses three metaphors while seeking forgiveness. And he says,
piteva putrasya a parent may forgive a child, sakheva sakhyuù or a friend may forgive a friend or he says, priyaù priyäyärhasi a lover may forgive a beloved. So essentially, more the relationship here is, he’s saying is, as a parent forgives a child, please forgive me oh Lord.
The Bhagavad-Gita when Krishna is speaking to Arjuna He takes more or less like a parental role, the role of a Guru is parental. Just a parent gives guidance, the Guru gives guidance. But even while and Arjuna also accepts this that you are like a father forgives the son, You please forgive me. But still we see Krishna does not dominate and demand, rather He appeals to the intelligence. In the Bhagavad-Gita there are two streams of thoughts that underline Krishna’s message. One is enlightenment and other is encouragement. Enlightenment tells us what we should do. Not just what should we do, why should we do it? Along with that encouragement gives us the confidence that we can do it. When there is only enlightenment without encouragement, this is, ‘what you should do’, ‘well, I can’t do it’. When actually that enlightenment is alienating. Because people just feel he says it on a high in a model pedestal, and shoot down commands at us. So it alienates.
On the other hand if there is only encouragement without enlightenment, now whatever you do is very good, you’re a nice person, things are fine, then when there is only encouragement without enlightenment, then there is no upliftment. We do not actually benefit the person the way we could have benefited.
So these two dynamics apply in a parental relationship also. Broadly speaking the parents can be classified into 4 categories. Parents are expected to, on one side offer love to their children, and the other side is also offer guidance. Offer guidance also means discipline. ‘This is what you should do. This is what we should not do’. And when something wrong is done some disciplining has to be done. If we consider 4 quadrants, love and discipline.
There are some parents who offer neither love nor discipline. The children live in their world and the parents live in their own world. The parents are watching TV all day or they have their jobs, they go for jobs and come back and children are doing their own thing, so this is last quadrant. This is very unfortunate; offering neither love nor discipline.
The 2nd category is that the parents offer love but no discipline. The first are negligent patterns; neither love nor discipline. Second is they offer love but no discipline. So this is permissive parents. ‘I love you, therefore how can I correct you? Whatever you do, I will keep loving it’. Often this is thought of as if you should love, you should let the person be free, yes that is true. We should give freedom but also there is a responsibility when there is love. Now if a mother says that, ‘I love my side and I let my child whatever she wants’ and the child is going and standing in the middle of the traffic on a square, ‘oh my child wants to be there, I love her I let her do it’. And the government child services will come and say, ‘no you’re not fit to love your child’. So permissive parenting where there is only love and there is no discipline; that is incomplete. And that often leads to children harming themselves. The parents are not doing anything.
The other is that is only discipline and no love. ‘Do this, don’t do this!’ And that is authoritarian, that becomes dictatorial. Because the children are subordinate to their parents and they may go down and obey but when they grow older they just rebel. A huge gap comes between the parents and the children. Because the children feel that I was never loved. I was just dominated. So this is authoritarian.
So the authoritative parents are those who offer both love and guidance. So going back to the Bhagavad-Gita when I talked about love and discipline; Authoritative parents offer both love and discipline.
So from the Bhagavad-Gita’s point of view there is encouragement and there is enlightenment. That’s similar to love and discipline. So that means that discipline I’m correlating with enlightenment. Discipline doesn’t mean just punishing. ‘You did wrong, so this is the punishment’. No! Discipline also means actually telling why something should be done.
So in the Bible there are the 10 Commandments. Thou shall not kill, thou shall not do that. Yes these commandments in one sense are important foundational moral guidances. But the Bhagavad-Gita however is not so much a book of Commandments as it is a book of choices. Choices and consequences. In 18.58 in the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna says,
atha cet tvam ahaìkärän
na çroñyasi vinaìkñyasi
mac-cittaù –‘If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all obstacles by My grace. He is saying if you become conscious of Me this is the consequence. atha cet tvam ahaìkärän If you don’t do this, na çroñyasi vinaìkñyasi you will be lost. If you don’t become conscious of Me you will be lost. Now it is up to you what you want to do’. So Krishna gives choices but along with choices he tells consequences. By telling the consequences He makes sure that Arjuna can make educated, well-informed choices. The example of permissive parents is there right in the Mahabharata, of which the Bhagavad-Gita is a part. And that is Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra was not himself a very evil person. He had some shades of attachments but his son Duryodhana was evil and he simply couldn’t say ‘no’ to Duryodhana. And because of that Duryodhana manipulated Dhritarashtra. So here when Krishna is saying Arjuna that these are the choices and these are the consequences. So that is the education or that is we could say that enlightenment.
So when we see the world enlightenment is used when there is spiritual truth or higher or universal truths. So enlightenment can seem a very big thing. More accessible level we can call the same thing as education. This is what you should do and this is what you should not do. And why? That is very important- education. Now along with that Krishna also offers Arjuna encouragement.
So few verses later Krishna tells Arjuna in 18.64, so I said 18.63 Krishna tells Arjuna now deliberate deeply. Deliberate and decide what you want. So one of the prominent Gita commentators Srila Vishwanath Saraswati Thakura, he says at this point Arjuna becomes lost deep in thought. Krishna had said this in the 3rd chapter; Krishna had said in the 6th chapter and in the 9th chapter, in the 18th chapter. What exactly am I to do? And when Krishna sees Arjuna in such a pensive mood, the compassion Krishna’s heart overwhelms. And now Krishna tells Arjuna I will make things even more clearly to you.
çåëu me paramaà vacaù
iñöo ‘si me dåòham iti
tato vakñyämi te hitam
sarva-guhyatamaà bhüyaù- ‘I will speak the most confidentialknowledge to you. And çåëu me paramaà vacaù these are the topmost words, two superlatives He’s using sarva-guhyatamaà and paramaà vacaù and why am I speaking this iñöo ‘si me dåòham iti I love you very strongly, I am determined to love you. In this world many people are determined to forget God. But God says I’m determined to love you iñöo ‘si me dåòham iti tato vakñyämi te hitam. Therefore I’m speaking these words to you and then He gives us concluding call,
mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja
ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo
mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù
-‘just surrender to me and just become devoted to me. And then He concludes the Gita He tells Arjuna now in 67th and 68th verses of 18th chapter, He says, ‘now please preach this, please share this message with others then you will attain the supreme auspiciousness’. Now somebody may say preaching is very difficult. I can’t preach it. Say suppose imagine somebody has fallen deep inside a well and then somebody from outside who throws a rope hold on to the rope and come out. He says, ‘I can’t come out’. Then Krishna gives the next level, ‘if you can’t preach at least study this message’. In 18.68-69 He says preach the message in 18.70,
adhyeñyate ca ya imaà
dharmyaà saàvädam ävayoù
iñöaù syäm iti me matiù
He says that at least study my message. So that’s like a person say okay you cannot climb out using the rope you just hold onto the rope I will pull you out. Somebody may say I cannot even hold onto the rope. It strains my muscles so much. So then Krishna gives a next level He says okay if you can’t study just hear the message. He says just like okay the person from outside sends a bucket down, just sit inside the bucket I will pull you out. So after this in 18.72 Krishna tells Arjuna that He asks,
kaccid etac chrutaà pärtha
praëañöas te dhanaïjayaoh
‘Arjuna have you heard it attentively. Is your ignorance and illusion destroyed? Have you understood what I have spoken?’ So the mood of this is that Krishna is so concerned that Arjuna understands that Krishna is implying over here that oh Arjuna if you may not understood any part of it I’m ready to repeat. If you have not understood the whole message, I’m ready to repeat the whole Gita. He inquired have you understood? So Krishna is not like a professional teacher who just has a job to do giving some blessings. Many times the professional teachers they teach in such a way and students understand something, students get dazzled, oh this teacher is so brilliant and I’m so foolish. I don’t understand anything. If you ask some questions the teachers often say that okay come to my private classes, pay extra fees then I will teach you.
So Krishna is not like that. Krishna is concerned. So here sometimes you know parents say, ‘I told you that why didn’t you do it?’ No! If you have told and the children have not done it then that means they haven’t understood its importance. They haven’t understood its necessity. So it’s our responsibility to explain especially when children get into the teenage years, that adolescence is a turbulent period. It’s practically like hell breaks loose in the mind. Not only can parents not understand children; children can’t understand children. They themselves don’t understand. Why did I do like that? And when they themselves don’t understand why did I do like that and others blame them. Then the normal human psyche is to try to defend himself, just like if somebody is hitting us then we will try to bring some in between to protect ourselves. So when children in their adolescence they themselves can’t understand why have I become angry? why have I become moody? and not only is that that may be there in children at an earlier age also now they have grown up; now they have a greater level of independence, and with that independence comes greater responsibility. So when they don’t understand what they are doing, why they are feeling the way they are feeling, why they are acting the way they are acting and when others blame them for acting that particular way then because of the natural defensive of the human psyche that children knocked down,**and then the communication between the parents and the children breaks. That is what we call as generation gap. That’s not a generation gap, it becomes like a generation Valley. Nothing seems to get communicated. So here we have to recognize ultimately how can we influence another person.
The problems that we face in life fall in 3 broad categories.
There are direct action problems.
There are indirect action problems.
The direct action problems means, for example I promised to do something and I did not do it. And that created a problem. Then the capacity to do the corrective action is in my hands. That is direct action problem. So I make that corrective action and the problem will get solved.
Second category of problem is in direct action problems. In direct action means that somebody else is behaving in an improper way. I cannot force them to do this. So I can only inspire them. How to inspire? That I’ll talk in a little later.
The third is the no action problems.
For example we want to go out and suddenly we there is a storm. There is nothing we can do about it. No action. Quite often frustration is caused because we don’t identify the category of the problem. That means if something just cannot be changed you just have to accept it. Accepting it does not mean being passive. Accepting it means learning to channelize our energy. Now tolerance is talking about in the Bhagavad-Gita as a virtue. Immediately after enlightenment Krishna gives the first dose of enlightenment when He tells Arjuna you’re not the body you are the soul in 2.13 and immediately after that in 2.14, the first thing is that therefore what should you do is tolerate. täàs titikñasva bhärata Therefore tolerate, there will be happiness there will be distress. Just like there is summer and cold, similarly there will be happiness and distress oh Arjuna tolerate it. So tolerance essentially means calling of our war with reality, why is it raining? Why is this storm? You can’t stop the storm outside but you don’t have to let the storms outside create a storm inside. We don’t act; we just have to accept it.
So if we don’t recognize the nature of the problem then our energy gets wasted in things which we just can’t do anything about. So the children going into the age of adolescence and their behavior suddenly changing, sometimes parents say oh my sweet little boy where did you disappear? What happened to him? A gentle little girl, what has happened to her? Where has she gone? So that change of going into adolescence and facing all the turbulent passions of adolescence that is no action problem. We can’t change it. We have to accept it.
So if we try to deal as the children grow up and if you try to deal with them in the same way you dealt when they were younger, then that is counterproductive.
So now that brings us to the direct action and the indirect action. In direct action problems means that there is some problem which is coming because of some improper behavior and conduct from others. But we can’t control others. So what can we do, we can inspire them. Now inspiration is sometimes seen as something very abstract and intangible. What exactly is inspiration? So although inspiration ultimately is not reducible to any specific things but we can analyze it into broad ingredients.
So basically how can one human being influence the behavior of another human being? There are three main ways. One is provide knowledge second is set example, and third is give facilities.
Provide knowledge: so for example let’s start with some say parents want to teach their children how to ride a cycle. So provide knowledge, okay this is how you should balance, this is how it should not make sudden turns, you should not press the brakes suddenly, you should not paddle too fast. This is broad providing knowledge.
Setting an example: sometimes children are very afraid. If I ride a cycle I will fall down. Parents ride a cycle, see it is not very difficult. And then after that it is not that the parents directly give the cycle and let them go on the highway. You provide the facility. And if there is a yard somewhere or some other safe zone where they can practice. And by this you can train the child- how to ride a cycle. Riding the cycle is relatively easy, but riding the mind isn’t. We have a mind and especially adolescence. All of us have a mind and all of us have intelligence. So the mind is more emotional, more impulsive, more short-term, is governed by its feelings and the intelligence is more rational, more objective, more thoughtful and these two are the components of the subtle body. According to the Bhagavad-Gita, we have a Gross body which is what we see. Just like a computer has a hardware software and the user. So like that there is a gross body, and subtle body in which mind and intelligence are components and there is the atma, there is the soul. So normally when we see children growing basically we see the biological growth. Okay now they were pretty and now they have become teens. They have entered into adolescents or they have entered into youth. This is the change which we in the external gross physical body. But along with that the subtle body also changes. So when children are small, children are usually mostly mind and **little intelligence. If they feel like crying they start crying. They feel like laughing they start laughing. So they are mostly mind and a very little intelligence. Now there are some grown-ups also who are like that. Biologically we may grow up but that does not mean psychologically we have grown up. So sometimes people are so childish. So that is the psychological growth has not happened. But generally when we come to the adolescence, the integrated human person is where the mind and the intelligence are in harmony. So mayy arpita-mano-buddhir mäm evaiñyasy asaàçayaù
Krishna says offer your mind and intelligence to Me. Basically integrate the mind and the intelligence. When the children enter into the teenage years, at that time both the mind and the intelligence grow. How does the mind grow? The mind grows in terms of the corresponding to the growth of the body. When children come to their teenage years at that time puberty comes in. The sexual desire awakens and it’s a completely new experience and it just makes the mind extremely agitated, biologically hormones start getting secreted in the body and emotions because of this whole new feature of life that is opening, the emotions become very turbulent. And the intelligence on the other hand what happens to the intelligence, it usually grows, goes into A mode of rebellion. Why is that? When the children are small, at that time that the parents are almost like God to them. Everything that the children need it is the parents are providing. Especially small babies are there, if the mother just goes away for free moments the baby starts crying. Because they feel my mother is not there then it is the end of the world. Who Am I? What am I? Where am I? What am I supposed to do? They are very scared. So initially there is this whole conception, maybe it is not consciously articulated because the children are so small, but they think that my parents are perfect in every way. And when they come to the teenage years they gradually start seeing, oh my parents are not all that perfect. They also have their problems. They also have their faults. They are like this, they are like that. And unfortunately the culture in the media often exploits. This emotional vulnerability of children or of teenagers and manipulates their emotions. That believe in a culture where – purchase this, get this, buy this, acquire this. No there are some countries where there are laws banning advertisements to very small children. Because the children don’t have the intelligence to discriminate, to discern whether this advertisement is bona fide or it is mallifying. So we live in a culture that bombards the children with desires. Get this toy, get this watch, get this gadget, get this bike and it is not possible for any parents to satisfy all the desires that are there in the adolescent mind. So even if the parents don’t have any faults, just the fact that the parents do not provide the children all that the children want. That itself becomes the big fault in the eyes of the children. In this way the same mind that had almost considered the parents to be like perfect, like God; now it goes to the other extreme and it goes into rebellion, where the children start resenting the parents. ‘You don’t give me, this you don’t give me that’. And it is not just that they have become bad but it is just that the desires have become so turbulent that at that time that is just a biological- psychological phase that one is going through while growing. So now I was talking about how we can influence other people. So I said one is provide knowledge. ‘Okay you do this, these are the consequences’, and along with that second thing we can do is set example. Set example means ourselves model the right things. In childhood knowledge is more caught than taught. Taught means you do this and you don’t do this. That’s teaching. But caught means you see actions. What are you doing.
Once a husband and wife had a big quarrel. And then they couldn’t resolve the quarrel, they just went to sleep. So then the husband wanted to wake up early in the morning so he wrote a note to his wife, he did not want to talk with his wife before sleeping. So he wrote a note saying wake me up at 6 o’clock. And then morning he got up and he saw it was 8 o’clock. He got so angry and he saw his wife had long ago woken and gone out. So he was about to explode and then he saw right next to his bed there was a note it is 6 o’clock wake up.
The way we act is what influences other much more than what we tell them to act. So this applies even in relatively husband wife relationship that is more horizontal what to speak of a vertical relationship where children feel that my parents are controlling me, dominating me then they try to get back in whatever ways seem practical. So there is setting an example is extremely important. So the children see that the parents are doing what they are talking. They are walking their talk and that inspires them. And lastly is providing facility. So I’ll come back to these three points once again. But here I will bring out a point, I will talk about a pastime from Ramayana, and then I will come back to our subject.
In the Ramayana all the characters central characters are divine, but still each of them has its own personalities. So Lakshman is impetuous. He is short tempered. So when Rama, Lakshman and Sita are in the forest in Citrakuta at that time suddenly they hear turbulent sound and then they notice and then they think this is some Army marching over here. So Rama tells Lakshman climb up a tree and see who is coming. They see that is Bharat, it is the Ayodhya’s army coming. You can see the insignia of the army. When they see huge Army is coming, with full military’s strength, Lakshman blazes up and he thinks that wicked Bharat is not satisfied with his mother having exile you, now he has come to kill. But I will single handedly kill him and I will destroy the whole army if it tries to threaten me. Today the Citrakuta forest will drink the blood of wicked Bharat. Rama says cooldown, Lakshman you know that Bharat’s love for me is as much as is your love for me. So why is it when you know this you become so angry with him? Is it that in a rush of emotion you came with me to the forest? The but now the reality of the austerity of the forest life is getting to you and so now you are thinking that Bharat is enjoying the luxury in the kingdom and I am suffering austerity in the forest. So therefore you are resenting Bharat and that is why you are angry with him? If that is the case when Bharat comes I will tell him to stay in the forest and you can go and rule in the kingdom. When Lakshman hears this he becomes mortified, he fell silent. Then actually he sees how selfless is Bharat’s love for Rama and how Bharat takes Rama’s sandals in **. So now he is ashamed of his words, of his initial outburst. And afterwards when the Army has gone back, Rama and Lakshman sitting, and Lakshman says in introspective mood, Lakshman asks taking the role of a younger brother Rama, ‘why do I get angry so quickly?’ So Rama says, ‘you are sentimental’. Then Lakshman gets perplexed and he says, ‘are sentiments bad?’ So Rama says, ‘no not at all. Sentiments are the ornaments of life. They bring joy, meaning to life. But we need to choose those sentiments that take us towards Dharma and we need to reject those sentiments that take us away from Dharma’.
So emotions and sentiments are more or less a similar. We all have emotions but those emotions can be expressed in a way that brings out the worst within us. All those emotions can be expressed in a way that brings out the best within us that brings out our higher side. So normally if we have a committed relationship and especially, the committed relationship is with someone who is good then the desire to please that person brings out our better side. Of course if we develop relationship with people who are not virtuous, who are having bad qualities then the desire to please them can bring out the bad within us also. That was unfortunately what happened to Karna. Karna was basically the virtuous person but because he was attached to Duryodhana and Duryodhana was evil, and in order to please Duryodhana, Karna participated in initially and then eventually himself initiated; all sorts of terrible things. So association that we have and association not just physical association, it is the emotional connection. The relationships that we have if we have a relationship that are with people who are essentially good then the desire to please them on one side or at least desire to not displease them that helps us to check our lower side and it helps us to bring out our higher side. And this also applies in a most empowering way to our relationship with God. Why is that? Yes, say if children are going to hostel for education at that time they often get exposed to a whole campus culture, it’s a whole new world of what they think is opportunity but often what is actually depravity. But at that time they may just ruing themselves. One of the things that prevents them, checks them, from the impulses that come from within, from the influences that come from without, one of the things is if they have a good relationship with their parents. My parents are paying for my education, they are working so hard and because of that children will think, ‘okay I don’t feel like studying, I just go and fool around but then what? There is a work pressure sometimes so much; the bread earner of the family, his job is so troublesome. Let me just quit it. No my family is dependent on me’. So because of that whatever the strain impulses that comes within us we check them. So in general if we have committed in a particular relationship that’s uplifting then that helps us to curve our lower emotions. At the same time say a child may not want to do something which displeases one’s parents but still the emotions are so strong at that time, especially in teenage, that one may almost feel helpless, one may be overpowered and this is where the relationship with God with Krishna becomes important. Because Krishna is omnipotent and the name of Krishna, the remembrance of Krishna, the devotion to Krishna it purifies us. There is a lower side and there is a higher side. So now as I said because of committed relationships we will try to reject are lower side and we will try to act on our higher side and that applies to any relationship. But in the relationship with Krishna we practice Bhakti, we chant the holy name, if we devote ourselves to Krishna then what that contact with all pure Krishna does is that it weakens our lower side and it strengthens our higher side. The anger that is there, say the anger, we may say is self-controlled and control yourself. Yes that is good, we have to control ourselves but we need some inner strength to control ourselves.
Sometimes we think that self improvement simply a matter of willpower. Somebody is not able to do something right, you just have more willpower. Yes willpower is important but we have to understand that the various passions that the mind goes through they are like diseases of the mind. So lust, anger, greed, envy, pride, illusion- these are the six categories which the Gita makes of the negative emotions that may come in the mind. So these are not just psychological in the sense of being just thoughts out there, they are also in a sense pathological. Pathological means that they are diseases, and they need the treatment.
I have a slight cough right now, if I have cough, it is not that when I get the urge to cough I can use my willpower and suppress the cough. Yes I can do it in a little bit but not much. Say somebody has upset stomach and has to response to the nature- then use your willpower. You cannot use your willpower that time. The disease cannot be cured merely by willpower. The willpower is necessary but the willpower has to be used to take the treatment. If say I have a cough, I cannot just use my willpower to suppress the cough, I have to use willpower to avoid taking those foods which may aggravate the cough further. And I have to use will power to take medicines even they are bitter. So willpower alone is not enough for even dealing with the passions of the mind and if we tell people, if parents say use your willpower then often that again alienates them; because they feel as if something that I can’t do. It is like a child who can lift 5 kg and their parents are telling to lift 25 kg. He can’t do it. So in general all of us for battling with our lower self and for strengthening our higher self we can use willpower to some extent. But especially during turbulent phases in our life and as I said that the adolescence is one turbulent phase, in that willpower alone is not enough. We need divine power. We need the power of God. If children having provided spiritual Sankskaras, some connection with God in terms of the spiritual music, going to temple, taking darshan, having some exposure to the pastimes of the Lord, Rama Katha or Krishna Katha, then that creates impressions. They may not even understand but these impressions as very valuable. Just my parents are telling me to do it so I’m doing it. And they may go through that at that time. Because my parents are telling, now when they come to the teenage years at that time they start asserting their independence. And this asserting independence is in both ways; emotionally and intellectually. Emotionally they fell like, ‘I want to explore the world, why are you restricting me’. And intellectually they start questioning ‘why should I do this? there are so many rituals. What is the point of it all?’ And if the parents at that time give the answer, ’this is our culture that is why you should do it’. That is a very unsatisfactory answer. ‘Okay it is your culture, why should I **my culture? No I want to live my life.’ In fact sometimes if there is too much of a gap between parents and children then the children reject the parent’s culture not because they dislike the culture but because they want to hurt their parents. They want to get back at their parents.
So when they come to the teenagers at that time it is important that when the parents set up proper example. All this I’m talking about the lower and higher emotion. I’m trying to talking about what are the components of inspiration? One is education, 2nd is setting an example, 3rd is providing facility. So right now I’m talking about the second point i.e. setting an example. So if the parents want the children to be able to pass through turbulence phase of adolescence properly, they will be scarred. That phase is such that there will be scars but there can be superficial scars or there can be irreparable scars. It is going to be turbulent phase. If the parents want the children to pass through the phase not without becoming ** then they need to set an example of spirituality.
So if the parents are studying scriptures, are going to the temple, are themselves being spiritual then that example will inspire them. ‘Yes my parents walk as talk’. Otherwise the children see that, ‘my parents are just materialistic but when I want to be materialistic in my way they say, No! This is bad, but it is the same thing. You are materialistic in your way and I’m in my way, means according to my generation, but the parents say this is too much; you do like this but not like this’. Why? Then there is no answer to that. We just say our way of living but they don’t buy that answer. So when there is spiritual example that is set not just the spiritual example that is set along with that there is spiritual impressions that are there from earlier then that importance them to fight against their lower passions. They don’t even have the impedance to fight against them.
And the third is facilitation, provide facilities. Now one of the most important facilities if the parents want their children to adopt their culture is that they need some circle of their age which is also spiritual.
Because when I became a monk, at that time I wanted my parents also to wake up spirituality, to start practicing Bhakti but of course they were quite heartbroken because they had dreamt that I’ll become very well-educated, I’ll go to America and instead I became the anti-thesaurus of their dreams. I become a monk. So we had a lot of the service and that time of course my father is very happy now that I have come to America, in a different way. But initially we had a lot of tussles; I asked a senior monk H.H. Jayadvaita Maharaja, ‘you know how I should share Krishna Bhakti with my parents’, so he told me, ‘by letting anyone except you share it with them’. He said that your parents have seen you when you were a small baby, they have seen you through all the phases, they cannot see you as their teacher in any way. So let’s others share with them. And that is what eventually happened. And my parents became quite spiritually inclined.
So the same applies with respect to spirituality in the relationship with the parents and the children. I was talking from this relationship child and a father. But similar dynamic applies to father and child also that means it is natural function of parents tell the children. ‘You should do this. You should not do this’. And when they come to the teenage years the children will be natural rebel. So if it is only that the parents are telling the children, ‘you should be spiritual, should go to temple, should chant the names of God, you should do this, you should do that’. Then children will reject it as a part of their teenage rebellion. But if they see that other children of their age they are also practicing this. They say why do you practice this? What makes it take? And then if they have that social circle then there they practice it in their terms. In a way that makes sense to them, to their head and to their heart. And that way they get the inner strength by which they can fight their lower self.
In Pune we had a very nice devotee couple and their son when he came to teenage he became extremely rebellious, just rejecting practically everything that his parents say. The parents were very distressed. So somehow I was quite friendly with that boy, so I told him once, he had a dream of going into IIT, IIT is one of the top colleges in India. And he couldn’t make into IIT. So I told him I’m going to go to IIT to give classes, why don’t you come with me? He thought okay this way at least I see IIT, so he decided to come along. And then when he came to, IIT he saw the students none of them had been born and brought up in a devotional culture. They had become introduced to Bhakti during their IIT days. And he saw them practicing Bhakti in such a serious and dedicated way and now for him these students were like heroes. Because they had cracked IIT, and he had not been able to crack and now when he saw these IIT students are practicing Bhakti then he started practicing it not because my Parents are telling me but because these boys are doing it. So he just came for one trip for 10-15 days and then when he came back his parents called me what did you do to him? Because they saw so positive change, I said I did not do anything. I just provided a facility for him. So what happened is he got a social circle where he could see people of his generation, of his age, of his mentality practicing Bhakti. And that inspired him to practice it.
So in India and outside India whenever, now most of you are expatriates. So there are many spiritual organizations which try to offer the spiritual culture whether it is in India or outside. So one of the things I have found special about ISKCON was that there is systematic education offered or systematic facilities offered at various levels. So like here close by in Alachua there is a school for children – Bhaktivedanta Academy, where they have a very congenial cultural setting in which the students get education. There is a small community over there where according to the need the community has created the facility. As community grows more and more facilities will be created. So it is the parent’s responsibility to create this kind of facilities or to take efforts for that kind of facilities are provided in some way or another. And when that is done at the end of it all still we can’t control. Krishna says yathecchasi tathä kuru ‘as you desire so you do’. So though we cannot determine how others will act. But we can do our best in making sure that others can make the right choices.
So one thing I talked about is not just setting an example in terms of coming to the temple or being spiritual in one’s own way. But also the youth start asking the questions and then if you say these are our rituals we practice it. Know why should I practice these rituals? So we need answers. So the philosophy of Bhakti which is there in the Bhagavad-Gita that actually systematically answers questions.
I studied the Bible, I studied the Koran, studied several religious books one of the things that I have found special about the Bhagavad-Gita, is that this is the only book where God answering questions. The Koran is a very unidirectional revelation. Mohammed is said to have gone in mystical trance and at that time the Gabrielle or the ** entered into him or gave some message to him and he spoke it out. And different people heard it and almost several decades after Mohammed died then his followers compiled it altogether and made into a Koran. There is no question-answer; there are just the revelations that are coming. They also came in a different way and later on they were organized in a different way. As far as the Bible is concerned, if you see the old testament, that is mostly the account of the people of God. The Jews who got the promise land how they left Egypt and how they went through various different adventures and eventually they came to the promise land and there were several generations of adventurers over there. So again there is sometimes some super natural intervention of God in terms of God may part the sea for his followers to go through, God may provide Mannah nectar like thing, God takes one’s bread and multiply it into many. But again there is no question answer. There is no serious philosophical discussion. Certainly there is no God answering the questions. In the New Testament it is primarily there is ** there are the Gospels where it is the Luke Matthew, in gospel they talk about the life of Jesus. And then the major part of the New Testament is the ** of Paul, where Paul is writing letters to different people telling you should do this, this is how you should live faithful to Jesus. My point here is not to minimize any Scripture, it is just to analyze that the culture of questioning and answering in spiritual circles is most exemplarily demonstrated in the Bhagavad-Gita. With God Himself answering questions. Nowhere in the Bhagavad-Gita does when Arjuna asks a question, Krishna says, ‘no, don’t ask questions. No, I’m God just accept this’. Nowhere does he do that. So the questions that the natural the human mind will come up with, they have answers. So if we ourselves studied the philosophy then we will understand the answers, we can provide answers or if we connect our children with a spiritual forum where they can get the answers, then they can move onwards. Nowadays becomes more and more of a trend to lumping the relation. In India, I don’t know whether, the couple of years ago there was this movie OMG and recently there was a movie PK. and these movies were basically caricatures of religion and when both these movies came up I immediately wrote a small books responding to them. So in OMG- reanswering the questions, so what the questions were raised in the movie I answered those questions. For the movie PK also I answered those questions in a book. So the point is that when there are questions we need to provide the answers to them and that requires philosophical education. So if we study the philosophy, if we set an example and if we make endeavors to provide facilities, we have done all that we can to help our children to make right choices. And then even if they make some wrong choices for some time but they will have that inner substance to come back on track. So that is how what the Bhagavad-Gita offers us is a model as they say is Krishna initially I said Krishna tells Arjuna; now you do what you want. But Krishna didn’t leave at that alone. Krishna expresses his affection. He says I will give you the most confidential knowledge and I’ll make it easy for you. I gave the example of offering the rope and then offering a bucket. So that is what Krishna is providing the facility. So if we provide facilities, if we set an example and if we provide knowledge then surely in due course we will empower our children to become the best that they can be.
Thank You very much!!!