“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.5.18)Download this episode (right click and save)
One of many notable truths descending from the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of Vedic wisdom tasted by the parrot-like Shukadeva Gosvami, is that one should not take up one of the traditional leadership positions unless they can deliver their dependents from the cycle of birth and death. Husband and guru are some of the more obvious ones, and included in the list is father. From this one truth alone we get an idea of how to view the next generation and where to direct their interests.
Imagine this situation of two friends talking.
I have some good news to share with you.
I finally became a grandfather for the first time.
Oh, that’s wonderful. Congratulations.
Thank you, thank you. I tell you, looking into that kid’s eyes, holding it for the first time, I was reminded of why we care about the direction of the country.
I hear you.
Lately I’ve been real down. Things aren’t going so well. This younger generation has no hope. They have no opportunities.
And it seems to only be getting worse.
Exactly. And see how educated they are.
I know. It’s astounding. People from our generation weren’t this educated at their age. We didn’t all go to college.
What are those degrees doing for them? They can’t make it on their own. They have to live at home with their parents.
It’s all due to the policies of the government. They’ve ruined everything.
Exactly. That’s why I care. It’s for my grandchildren. I want to make sure they have a better life.
It’s the timeless desire, is it not? Parents always want their children to have a better life; to improve upon the standard of living. Right now things are going backwards.
Indeed, it is natural for the parent to desire better for their children. They wish that the same mistakes from their own lives aren’t repeated. Upon an accurate critical analysis, though, what exactly needs to be improved upon? If the previous generation made it through life just fine, being able to eat and have a place to stay, is the younger generation successful if they make more money? Taking situations that contrast more, if one generation lived on a farm and the other lives in a suburban house with electricity, appliances, television, smartphones, and fancy cars, has anything actually improved?
Those who are aware of the spiritual science understand that the only way to improve upon the previous generation is to reach full enlightenment. There is potential for the human being in this regard. If this weren’t the case, there would be no such thing as adulthood. The child would remain a child forever. They would remain innocent and fun-loving, not having a care in the world. They would never consider austerity, truthfulness, cleanliness, or compassion. Adulthood is the gift from the higher nature precisely to facilitate realization of the Absolute Truth.
The guardian who can shepherd the dependent into that maturest stage of understanding has truly done their job. So what is required for that understanding? Surely the body must be maintained. As the famous Poor Richard once said in his yearly Almanac, it’s difficult for an empty sack to stand up straight. If you’re starving, you won’t have the energy to think properly. If you’re always worried about where to sleep for the night, you won’t have time to understand the difference between matter and spirit. If you’re attacked by a disease, how will you keep the mind right for concentrating on the origin of all things?
“This human form of life is meant for austerity, and austerity means controlling sex, food intake, etc. In this way time can be saved for spiritual activity, and one can purify himself both externally and internally. Thus both body and mind can be cleansed.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.28.35-36 Purport)
So how is the person in authority supposed to get the dependent to reach the goal of life? Obviously austerity is the first step. It is said that the human life is especially meant for austerity. In times past, the advanced thinkers would leave home and take up permanent residence in the forest. Such escape is hardly possible today, but there are still ways to impose limits. After all, the good parent wishing material success for their children erects boundaries to behavior. So with the goal of God realization, the same limits can be imposed.
But there is a secret weapon that helps to cure even the most spoiled child. That secret is the holy name. It has so much potency that nothing can be used to measure it. The Supreme Lord is described as aprameya, which means that no instrument is available to measure His potencies. So that attribute gets passed on to the name used to address Him. There are many names, but the most potent according to the Vedic tradition is Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” Rama is the next most potent, and together with a call to the energy of God, these names are found in the sacred formula known as the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
If a representative of the principles of the Shrimad Bhagavatam were to enter the previously referenced conversation he could offer the following:
“Just say the holy name to your grandchild. Whisper ‘Krishna’ into their ear as much as possible. Sing the maha-mantra to them while they are falling asleep in your arms. Look into their eyes and hope that one day they will vigorously take up bhakti-yoga, which is the true mission of life. That service will make them happiest, since it is endless love. Through constantly glorifying the author of everything good in this world, they will maintain their childlike enthusiasm throughout life. This is something so many wish for but hardly anyone gets. And you, as their grandparent, will earn so much credit. Your deeds will match your selfless desire to give them a better life.”
Lack of hope in them you detect,
Not much improvement they expect.
For next generation wishing so much,
How to improve your guiding touch?
Bhagavatam simple principles for guidance giving,
Rescue dependents, no more in rebirth living.
Unmatched potency in holy name’s sound,
Give it to children, hope for bliss abound.