As parents, our lives are mostly ruled by our children. And our greatest desire is to see them happy in life. We will sacrifice anything in our own lives to bring them lasting happiness.
We take immense care of them and plan their future right from their young age. We ‘expose’ them to art, music, dance, sports, drama, science, math, writing and so many other fields through classes and camps, with the expectation that they will demonstrate an interest in some field and excel in it. We send them not only to Kumon and math learning centers, science classes and spelling/geography bees but also to imagination and invention workshops, soccer/basketball/tennis camps, 5K runs, service projects and debate competitions for overall development.
We do all of this because of our love for our children and our desire to see them succeed and do well in life, as we believe their happiness lies in their being successful.
But in the process of trying to ensure their material success, we sometimes forget to give as much importance to strengthening them internally, to helping them understand where true happiness lies and enabling them to take a larger view of life. In short, we miss instilling in them the all-important faith in God. And love for Him.
So why is this important?
For now, let’s leave alone higher reasons such as it will help them find meaning in life, realize the ultimate of purpose of life, flower love for all beings, etc.
Let’s think practical. We know from our own experience that life is not always easy. In the years to come, our children will have to face failures and shortcomings; stumble, fall and hurt themselves; experience not-so-positive relationships in many spheres of life; perhaps go through the distress of seeing their dreams and expectations shattered by people or circumstances; and even maybe suffer intense pain, physically and emotionally. And chances are, we may not be around to help them in such times. They may not reach out to us; or we may be in a different city/country; or – fact of life – we may be dead and gone, or simply too old and sick to help them.
Who will our children then turn to in such times? If they do not have someone trustworthy and strong to turn to in times of anguish, their life could take a turn for the worse, including being affected by the most prevalent and dangerous disease of depression.
So who can they turn to? Enter God and Guru. A staunch faith in the ever-present God is the best gift we can give our children, the finest seed we can sow in them. God is with them (and us) all the time. He is ever ready to answer a deep, heartfelt call to Him; if only they know to call out.
God is not a theoretical concept. God is Reality. He is Truth. He is really there. And the way we know that for a fact is because of the Guru. Because of the numerous God-Realized saints who have always been around, down the ages, showing us His presence. And because of satsang (association with such saints and their devotees who have unflinching faith in them).
God’s presence and a personal connection with Him can be felt only if we are in constant association with those who feel His presence, and if we constantly hear about Him and His glories. And only when one has a personal connection to God can he or she call out to Him in times of distress.
If we really want our children to be mentally and emotionally strong, we have to give them the gift of true satsang.
This is not just about visiting temples regularly or performing elaborate poojas. That is good, but not enough, as without a real personal connection to the deity, just watching rituals or going through religious motions will not sustain or grow devotion.
And it is not about just having them attend Indian culture heritage classes. That is a great first step too, no doubt. And some of the programs genuinely focus on sowing the seed of devotion and faith in the young minds.
But giving our children the gift of faith really means giving them the gift of real satsang – taking them frequently to the presence of sadhus and saints who speak of nothing but God, taking them frequently to gatherings where there is nothing but talk of God and singing of His Names and praises, taking them frequently to the presence of the Guru.
Nothing can implant that faith more deeply than constantly hearing people speak about God. Only through satsang will they understand and appreciate that God is always there for us; that we only need to call out His Name and He will take care of us; that His Divine Name is an all-powerful protection that will shield us from all ills. And only when they know all this for a fact, will they fall back on this whenever they need that support in life.
We love our children and do so much for them. While nourishing their body and intellect, let us not fail to nourish and strengthen their mind and faith too. Let us give them the greatest gift of satsang.
Nisha Giri, Houston TX