Our Children - Our Future
[A talk given by H.H. Swami Chinmayananda on Nov. 1.,1987 at the Jamnabai Narsee School as a part of Narsee Monjee Birth Centenary Celebrations. ]
The present, added on to some period of time-becomes future. The present plus time is the future. So our present work plus the time in which we do and achieve things together becomes the future world. The future is not a continuity of the present world - it can never be. The present world is being handled, dandled, destroyed and created through this given period of time, and what remains will be the future world - good or bad, created or destroyed.
When we say that today's world is to be the future world, what we mean is, today's people and their contribution is that which is going to mold the world, its ways, and its life for the future. Today's people may not remain and survive in the future, but the expectation is, today's children will survive. Naturally, therefore, if the present children are molded in their attitudes, in their values, in their ideas, and in their ideals, we can expect a better and more organized world of tomorrow and achieve the design for the world that we hope for at this moment.
This future design may not come in our own life time, as it needs a long period of time for the changes to come. Change it will, but what kind of change is determined by the growing generation. Therefore, when we say that today's children are our future, we mean that we must strive now to mold the children to think correctly, to judge rightly, and to have the heroism to live up to those convictions.
Today, India is in this sad condition because in the past the children seem to been neglected. In the past I feel they must have been neglected because of the texture of the people I see around today. There seems to be no intellectuals in our country, and a country without intellectuals has no future. All the progressive countries in the world are such because their progress is guided by, decided by, thought of, and planned by the intellectuals of the generation. In our country today, however, wherever I look, I only see animal human-beings, extremely selfish, never caring for other people or having a vision for the country, a love for the nation or a love for the people. These higher ideals have all been dried up. We seem to be like cattle - each one wanting to fill up his own belly, and perhaps breed vigorously! So the population increases and all the consequent problems arise.
So, whether in the political field, social field, economical field or even science field, India's contribution has been almost zero. We cannot be proud of our present times. How is it that we have fallen so low? Is it not because we have neglected to tend the present generation when they were young? That neglect of the past is shadowing us today and making today's world an ugly one - a very miserable and sad situation. Do you want in the future also, the country to be under a cloud of stupidity and selfishness or do you want a brighter world for our children to grow in?
We only suffer. We cannot come out of it immediately now; it is not overnight that things happen. It is not revolution that we are thinking of - but it is the evolution of a country's culture, its social status, its individual character. It is a slow process. So if the future is to be bright, we have to mold our children to think, not in our pattern which is disastrous - we have understood, but in a new pattern with a new inspiration, and with a new vision in their minds. Can we do it?
Everybody will accept the idea that our children are our future. True. But the implication of the idea, we have not realized or started thinking about. This understanding cannot happen just because some textbooks have been changed or because a lot of blabbering is going on in the newspapers and televisions - that there is going to be 'value-based' educational systems started around the country! Mere talk is not sufficient - it will not help.
We, the parents, must change. Children learn not from books. These higher values cannot be imparted to the students by institutions, by a society or a community, or even a committee. They imitate their parents. Unfortunately! Therefore, if their parents are vulgar...! In Ravana's kingdom every child will want to strive to become as vulgar as Ravana! In Hiranyakashipu's land everybody is another chhota Hiranyakashipu!
So it is said when Hiranyakashipu went to do tapas in the in the forest, Indra took the opportunity to do an experiment. He felt that if even one Hiranyakashipu was to great a threat to the good values of life, what would happen if every child growing up in that land wanted to be another Hiranyakashipu. Therefore, he collected all the pregnant ladies and took them to heaven where in that new atmosphere the children could be molded to become better people; the genes had gotten so bad that they had to be revitalized.
At that time, Devarishi Narada came along and in order to try his own experiment he requested to be given only one specimen - one pregnant lady - the queen of Hiranyakashipu. Narada took the queen to Vasistha's ashram where she was allowed to listen, day and night, to the discourses of Vedanta. In this way, though she herself may have understood very little, she was exposed to Vedantic ideas from the seventh to the tenth month of her pregnancy, and thus the child within her was remolded, not outside, but in the mother's womb - a pre-natal education.
It is that child who, as soon as he was born and brought back to the palace, became the great Prahlada! Though nobody taught him in this world, he was convinced of the higher values of life. His father was only anxious that he should become another Hiranyakashipu, but because of the pre-natal spiritual training, that one solitary little baby stood against the entire materialistic culture that was developing in the country at that time. He brought the country back again to the healthier and eternal values of the Upanishads.
But what is pre-natal education that mothers are giving their children today? Cinema, Video, those stupid big books, Hotel, Airport! These are the ideals you are feeding the children and when they come out as rakshasas you say, the children have gone astray! We don't understand what has happened to the world! It is our mistake. Let us have the square shoulders to accept that we are responsible for this terrible, monstrous age in which we are living at this moment.
So one little child can change the entire history of the country. That is how all the great men of the past were made - a Shivaji, an Einstein, a Tagore, a Mahatma Gandhi. From childhood onwards some ideas were inculcated into them and all of them, invariably, declare and shamelessly insist in their autobiographies and biographies, that for the greatness they achieved or for whatever good they were able to do, they were indebted to their mothers.
It is always the mother at home who gives the values and ideals to the child, who molds the mental thinking of the child. And when the mothers have left home and started wearing pants...! What do you expect? Your children are the future and the mothers are the molders of the children; if the mothers are monsters, what is the future going to be?
You may not like what I am saying, but I am on a platform where truth is to be brought out. Nobody else will do it because they all want a vote! I don't want a vote! I don't want anything from you.
So then friends, when we sit down and try to analyze how to remold and recast our future, we see that it is certainly through the children of today who are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. And we must supply them with a vision. But when the parents have neglected the child look at the vigorous dynamism of a Hitler, how crooked and ugly it became, and how through him the entire moral calibre of the whole of mankind has been brought down a few natches since the second world war: One solitary individual with a unhappy childhood, the neglected child of a cobbler - how he brought about disaster in the world outside.
Only when a plant is young and we are sincerely watching it, we can train the plant to grow straight. A plant can be trained but not a tree. If the tree has got a bend, it has got a bend - full stop! Then we can only trim the branches but not the trunk. Similarly, training of our children can only be done between the ages of 6 to 12, between ages 12 to 18 also can be done to an extent, but after 18 the tree has become set and one will have to go through fire in order to become hot and plastic enough to change. Once we have gone beyond the younger ages, it is not so easy to change our pattern of thoughts, our angle of vision, our attitude to things and beings. So early childhood is the time for training and mothers are mainly responsible.
The father can only come into the house like a storm in the evening, beaten out and wounded, angry with the world. He wants to explode somewhere or other but he dare not at the office; so if the children are in front of him they are the victims. But the mother cautions them saying " Get out and play It is coming!". She herself receives his anger with a smile or just stands silently, two tears running down her cheeks. Then perhaps a neighbour comes to borrow sugar, the father is in bad temper and yells "What do you want!" The mother, however, slips to the back door and secretly gives the lady the up of sugar she needs.
You see, for the child who is watching all this, his whole moral education is over with these two incidents. It is not many incidents that are necessary. Even if the father does sit down with the child for 10 minutes, what will he talk? Not the soft things of morality. He can only pump into the child the ideals of ambition, greatness, success "Beta, you must grow up and become a doctor, an engineer, you must earn a lot of money and have your own place, etc."
It is the mother alone who imparts the soft values, who gives to you the ideals of charity, goodness, tenderness, affection and forgiveness. She never imparts by giving you a discourse, but in her life the mother demonstrates these ideals and the child sees it, the idea becomes embedded in him.
But when the mothers themselves are wanting to grow mustaches and fight with man, the poor children are left - the soft touch gone. When the mothers have lost touch with the spiritual values of the country and the adult's lives have become loose and unethical, all the children also will be lowered down.
When the same children become youngsters they start looking around and they find that the values that have been given to them are all hollow, empty. They don't feel satisfied, but they dare not fight with the system around them. They want to escape. And how do they escape? Through drink, drugs. Are you not, then directly responsible for driving the youngsters to these self - ruinous, suicidal escapism? You think.
I am not accusing you though. I can't accuse because you never meant it. There is no motive behind it. But thoughtlessness has created this aberration in our society.
It is time now, therefore, that the ladies start learning the cultural values of the country - for the sake of the children and the future. Or, the only other alternative is to stop producing children - let the young girls become nuns. Just as when we have got a disease and so refuse to marry and beget children because they to would suffer; similarly, we are not psychologically prepared the responsibilities of motherhood. However, this is very difficult. Therefore, the other obvious choice is to learn the scriptures.
Don't you think that the television program of Ramayana has changed the colour of thinking in this country to a large extent? In Delhi, where I was just now, at that time on Sunday morning there was not even any traffic on the road. Everyone seeing Ramayana.! They didn't want to miss it. Why? In that old story you see the greater and nobler values being demonstrated which you are silently and expectantly hoping for in the youth of today. And you are charmed by it, because it belongs to the very genius of the country!
So, it is not so difficult to impart these ideas to the children. But we need workers - mainly girls. For it is only the motherliness of the lady that can impart these things to growing children.
So all schools must start a program, a period during the week to give special training to the teachers in how they may, whenever possible in their classrooms, make the children understand that there is an unseen hand which molds the affairs of the entire universe.
Why are you afraid to have such programs? Christian churches can do it, Islam is doing it in their schools; how is it that the Hindus alone cannot do it? And if the Hindus have no morality, India has no morality because in this country 82% are Hindus, the vast majority. However great the minority is, the country is what the majority are. Is it not?
Nowadays, however, children grow up as an unnecessary byproduct and the parents don't know what to do with them in the course of living. Between the father, the mother, and child, there is no inter- relationship. Breast-feeding has stopped - and that is the time when the mother intensively contemplates, looking into the eyes of the child, and they become intimate at the mental level. The infant also, while suckling, looks into the face of the mother. They feel extremely devoted to each other. But now that entire system is gone. We have to bring back the system which is healthy, which in our neglect we have thrown away.
Lastly, it is not sufficient only that the children be trained in the higher values of life. We must teach them to have the courage and heroism to live upto their convictions. That is another very important thing in India today. It is not that we actually have no intellectuals - we do; but unfortunately they are all impotent. Impotent intellectuals and congenital idiots are equally useful to the society. Meaning, they are not useful at all. Nobody has got the guts to think independently and to declare to the government what they are thinking. They are very eloquent in the coffee-houses, restaurants, etc., but will they tell the government? Never! Why? Because they are afraid that if they stand against the direction in which the world is going round and declare with logical reasoning how the present policies are wrong, their security will be in jeopardy. Think. When you are afraid, that intellectualism is no intellectualism at all.
In a country like Russia where we know that if you say one word against the government you will be prosecuted mercilessly - yet, how many dissidents are rising there? They are called honest intellectuals. A real intellectual cannot keep quiet when he sees an injustice, and he doesn't care what the consequences are!
Therefore, we must teach the children not only to have right values and convictions of their own but also the heroism to live upto them. If that kind of training we can impart to them - even to one child - we have proved that today's children are our future.
We are neglecting the children unconsciously. I don't say that Hindus or Indians are brutes, that they are deliberately destroying the children. No. But in your thoughtlessness, lack of correctly viewing things, you have become only machines to produce children. You expect the government to feed them and feel that you have nothing more to do than to bring out another child next year. Think. That is not motherhood or fatherhood. We have to take responsibility for molding and beautifying the child, prepare him to face the world of tomorrow and to lead and guide the world of the future. It is a tremendous responsibility. Once you realize the responsibility you will be handling the children more intelligently.
Even animals and birds train their children properly! Is there a bird that has neglected its young and not taught them how to be balanced on their wings! The mother spends time for it. It is only among intelligent human beings that the parents neglect their children.
Don't point out that it is a political situation. Political and economic situations are lived by whom? By people. So it is the people who create the good or bad destiny for the society or the country. And the people were once children: but when not molded carefully they become ugly in their character, in their attitude, in their behavior, and as a result the chaos comes.
The remedy is us. We are not giving enough respect, reverence, true love or affection to our children. Nature herself will guide every mother in how to train the children.