Aditya, Friday, September 29, 2017 3:14 am

Raising Children – A Hindu Perspective

How do we successfully raise our children in modern society?

Before we can answer this important question, there is an even more fundamental question we must ask: How do we define “success”? In other words…What do I need to be a “success” in life? Is it…money, power, good job, top exam grades, property, health, fame, popularity, intelligence, car, the new iPhone 6?

Interestingly, the Vedas (ancient Hindu Teachings) answer this question by saying none of the above listed things make a person successful! This is a very bold statement of the Veda given that many of us base our entire lives around chasing these things in order to achieve “success”.

So what do the Vedas say make us a “Success”?  It’s simple: being a kind and honest person. This is true success. Being humble and at peace with oneself. This is true success. Being a person who is compassionate and helpful towards all (Veda: daya-sarvabhuteshu). This is true success. The Vedas say, this kind of ‘success’ gives us a deeper and more lasting happiness in life.

So you can see that the Vedic definition of success simply relates to being a ‘good person’ and inner happiness. The popular definition of success relates to material possessions/accomplishments. This is not necessarily connected with being a good person. For example: you could be a very wealthy, popular, intelligent person…but still live a life of cheating, selfishness and unhappiness. This person is not a success according to Veda. In contrast, you may be a simple person with not much money or fame, but has lived a very honest life throughout. Veda would call this person a great success for their honesty and humility. Money is irrelevant to success. Intelligence is irrelevant to success. (Note: This doesn’t mean money or intelligence are bad, it just depends on if you use them for selfish or selfless means). The key to success is what Veda calls ‘Dharma’. (Bhagavad Gita: svakarmana tam abhyarcha siddhim vindati manavah. Tait Up: Satyam Vada, Dharmam Cara). 

What is Dharma? It is the values mentioned above of a ‘good person’. The Bhagavad Gita (13.7+), beautifully lists 20 values of a ‘good/successful’ person, summarising what the Vedas also say – Humility, Compassion, Patience, Honesty, Respect, Cleanliness, Emotional Steadiness, Self-Control, etc.

So now we understand the definition of success as ‘Dharma’, how do we raise our children to become successful and follow a life of Dharma?

1)    We must raise ourselves, before raising our children.

If parents do not follow Dharma, their children will not either. This is because young children learn through imitating their parents’ behaviour, which modern western psychology also supports. Child is the father of man (Freud – Psychologist). Therefore to teach the value of honesty to a child, you must behave honestly. Just saying ‘be honest’ is not enough. Hence adults must be very self-aware of their behaviour in front of kids.

2)    Encourage good habits from young

Our Hindu scriptures teach us that habits form via repetition of a thought/action. This repetition leaves a ‘footprint’ in our minds which becomes a habit when we are older. And a child’s mind is very easy to leave footprints in, whereas adults’ minds are not so easy. Just like when you walk over the same grass in a park again and again, it starts to leave a ‘path’ in the grass just through repetition. The ‘path’ is like a habit in the mind, and the repeated walking is like a repeated thought. So encourage good habits from a young age.

3)    Encourage Talents

The Vedas say ‘you must not neglect your talents’ (Tait Up: vibhutyai na pramaditavyam). So we must nurture a child’s natural talents – whether it be academic, sports, music, art…anything!

4)    Good Friends are key

Vedas emphasise the huge effect of the people around us on our thinking. This why having ‘good company’ (sat-sanga) is so important at a young age, to inspire good thoughts and good values.

5)    Give more than you get

Children (and adults!) must have a value for giving more to others than they take. Giving time, care, money, food, emotional support, prayers…anything. How do we teach our children this value? Do some charity and gently expose kids to those less fortunate than them, to evoke a feeling of compassion. Even if it may be painful at first – this is a healthy pain if leads to compassion and makes us feel more grateful for what they have.

 

Om

Aditya

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