A Lesson to the Parents

by Swaran Kanta Wadhawan

In modern times, the minds of people are still the same as they were in the past, but due to changing civilization, education, science and technology (and all the by-products of these) people want to possess more and more objects.

Another feature of present day world is that people's lives have become so fast and competitive that they have very little time for rational and objective thinking.

For example, they rarely check on :

1. The validity of their judgments

2. The rightness of the course of action taken.

3. The cause of their likes and dislikes.

4. The genuineness of their motives.

5. The rightness of their demands and desires.

6. The impressions their behavior leaves on the minds of others.

7. The consequences that their words, deeds, and (for that matter) even their thoughts, will have upon themselves and their friends and family.

In the name of reasoning or rationalization, the only attitude, our brothers and sisters of the modern world project is:

A. "I am right,"

B. "I know better,"

C. "I am your Senior, you are my subordinate, you have lesser experience,"

D. "I will do what I like,"

E. "This is under my power and authority."

With this background at the intellectual, emotional, and gross level, there will always be a conflict between the two adults, and more so between the parents and children, who have to stay together in close proximity always, and this is the subject matter of our discussion and write-up here.

You must have heard the story of 'Nachiketa,' a character focused upon in the 'Kathopanishad'. When he saw his father offering to the Brahmins those cows which were too old and useless--neither could they calve nor could they ever give milk---he just pointed out to his father:

"Ponder over the acts and deeds of our forefathers and observe the behavior of other great sages and great men. [They never break their principles or twist the truth to justify their actions.] This mortal individual ripens and is born again, just like the grain that ripens and turns into a new plant. [Everyone dies, and everyone is born again. There is nothing gained by the unrighteous who live by lies, and nothing lost by the wise who put their life on the line to speak and live the Truth.]"*

*(Note that the text appearing within the brackets [ ] has been added by the editor for clarification, and is the editor's interpretation.)

With this advise, Nachiketa wanted to remind his father of the path of true knowledge and not to cheat whilst giving daan (charitable offering) to the Brahmins.

The question is - why did Nachiketa give this advise to his father?

The answer is very simple to understand. He always felt and observed that his father is the most important personality of the society. He practically worshipped his father, since he had received a lot of 'Gyan' (knowledge) from him and accepted it not only as being absolutely correct, but also as a command. He obeyed his father always. He was always willing to sacrifice his life under his command without a second thought.

But when he saw his father himself deviating from the right path and giving useless cows as gifts, he felt his faith in his father shattering. Just to remind his father of his own teachings, he advised him as above.

Today also we find all children in the position of Nachiketa. I firmly believe that the children of today are also like Nachiketa :

1. Ever ready to obey their parents.

2. Ever willing to bow before their parents with utmost respect.

3. Ever wanting to learn from their parents by treating them like their 'Guru'.

4. Always desiring to serve their parents with all good means and earnestness. . . .

BECAUSE, for a child, his parents are the highest authority in both knowledge and the experience of life. . . .

BUT the child of today gets disillusioned and feels that his faith in parents is badly shaken and shattered and the confidence destroyed when he observes:

A quarrelsome attitude of his father towards his mother or vice verse,

A querulous attitude of his father and mother towards the society,

A disrespecting, disobeying and a non-sensible attitude of his parents towards his grand parents,

The way his parents regularly reject him in favor of their own plans and mind games, and respond negatively to his wishes, suggestions, and ideas,

The strong likes and dislikes of his parents, which they adhere to without any commonsense explanation regarding the causes and effects thereof,

The unkind and cruel attitude of his parents towards humble poor people, and biased attitude towards rich persons, relatives and friends,

The 'unreasonable' reasoning process of his parents,

The eating habits of his parents (such as drinking of liqour or eating flesh, etc.). Or, if they are vegetarians, their inability to explain the good effects and scientific basis of abstaining from drinking liqour or eating flesh etc.

With all these backgrounds impressions, a natural affinity between the parents and the child ends up in an 'unnatural' antagonistic attitude, because he feels:

(i) cheated by his parents

(ii) betrayed

(iii) that the parents have been giving him wrong advises to be noble, good, and to move on rightful path, just to turn him into their slave because they have themselves never practiced all such noble preaching

(iv) while comparing his parents with those of his friends, he feels that the parents of his friends are superior.

In View of the above . . . .

Everyone should try to assess the real state of affairs in his/her own house. If you wait until your children revolt against you and your family—due to these complexities created only by you—it may be too late. To engender true loyalty and respect in our families, we need to be loyal and be self-respecting ourselves (i.e., have high principles and put those principles into practice).

Nachiketa didn't revolt. He advised and showed the right path to his father because he was well-trained in general principles. Therefore, instead of developing a negative approach he became positive and tried to save his father from proceeding on a path unbecoming of him.

The modern parents commit innumerable mistakes innumerable times a day, and yet they preach the opposite to their children. Nachiketa's father always lived upto what he said and preached to his son. (Possibly, this was the first time the highly principled father of Nachiketa ever fell from his high stature, and maybe this was the first time Nachiketa ever advised his father.) But if the parents continue to do wrongs and then justify themselves, the children will automatically revolt.

As a last wish . . .

May we all get sons/daughters like Nachiketa who can point out our mistakes for our good.

May we become like Nachiketa's father, giving the principled education (the real 'higher education') of high thinking and simple living to our children.

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