Keeping Family Traditions

Arjuna“Due to the evil deeds of the destroyers of family tradition, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 1.42)

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Bhagavad-gita, 1.42One of the many virtuous qualities of a person in the mode of goodness is austerity. In the mode of goodness one sees things as they are, sort of like having a clear lens instead of a foggy one. Not just being able to identify the sunlight or make out different bird calls, in goodness one specifically notices the spiritual component in all life forms. Such a vision is very difficult to acquire, as many factors compete for the attention of the potent life force within. Austerity particularly is tied to regulated sex life, and from this austerity so many other good things come, including progeny that follows family traditions.

Let’s pretend that today you are quite satisfied with your family situation. Your grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents are all pious people. You love how they raised you. They instilled values in you that serve as your foundation. These values guide how you behave in life. Though at a young age you didn’t understand all the rules, regulations, rituals and traditions, you followed them anyway due to the respect you had for your elders. Today you understand the role these things played in making you the person you are.

Mother Yashoda with KrishnaEventually the responsibility shifts. The student is the future teacher. The child is the father of man, as the saying goes. Now it’s your turn to keep the family line going. How will you handle this responsibility? How will you avoid messing everything up? Children are free thinkers after all. They are independent beings, though initially dependent on the protection of the parents. How are you going to force anyone to follow you? How are you going to compel the dependents to be good people?

Well, think of it another way. If you had sinister motives and wanted to destroy family traditions, how would you accomplish it? If you see others in society behaving so nicely, how would you help to turn the tide in the subsequent generations? Obviously, the easiest way is neglect. Don’t care about the children. Don’t teach them right and wrong. Don’t guide them along the proper path. Whatever they want materially, give it to them. If they mess up, tell them, “It’s okay, it doesn’t matter.”

The easy way to do this is to not love the children at all. What is the surefire way to get unloved children? Unwanted children, of course. If the future generation in your family is not even wanted, if it appeared by accident, there is an easy excuse for not providing guidance. Without proper attention, the family traditions vanish. The basis for your present character goes missing in future generations.

Ice cream cakeTake this same concept and apply it to society as a whole. A society full of unwanted children has no culture at all. Instead, they are left to formulate their own rules, as if they are smarter than everyone else. They will deny the existence of a supreme being. They will follow some sort of religion for sure, but it will be manmade. The new sins will be failing to recycle and driving a gas-guzzling automobile. Distinctions will be made on race and ethnicity. The immediate satisfaction will rate higher in priority than the future good. Therefore any imposed short-term hardship, especially in children, will be considered cruel. It will be as if the children are running the show, where they’re allowed to stay up late, eat ice cream for every meal, and never attend school.

We see that the basic austerity of avoiding illicit sex gives so many ancillary benefits. In addition to allowing one to see things clearly, it gives the best chance for keeping family traditions going. Those traditions may be trivial or significant, simple or comprehensive, but at least they provide some foundation to guide behavior. Without them, the children may as well grow up in the jungle amongst the animals.

The other three main qualities of a person in goodness are compassion, cleanliness and truthfulness. All four combine to give the best chance for advancing to the mode of pure goodness, where the origin of matter and spirit is seen all the time. That vision is the best one to have. The eyes in that vision are anointed with the balm of devotion, and with devotion one extracts the sweet nectar out of everything. Nothing can be separated from the all-attractive Supreme Lord, as even His basic regulations intended for the non-devoted aspirant bring so many benefits.

Lord KrishnaIndeed, in studying all of the modern day movements that are rooted in godlessness, one sees that there is some breakdown to the family that results. The founders of such movements often had this as a stated objective, so no one should be surprised by the results. In the bona fide principles passed on since time immemorial through both family tradition and disciplic succession of spiritual teachers, the goals never have to be hidden. There are no secrets, as the teacher who is in the mode of goodness follows honesty. He plainly says that austerity will lead to good things, which will include a society full of wanted children. Wanted is always better than unwanted, as the first will get some attention and the second will not. Would you expect a plant to continue to grow without attention? Surely too much attention can harm it as well, but total neglect is never a superior choice.

The goal of all Vedic injunctions, which are the oldest guidelines of religion known to man, is to bring a person eventually to the devotional consciousness, which is the original one. Above all practices, rituals and regulations, it is devotion to God which makes one’s life fruitful. In the present age, where so many unwanted children roam due to the difficulty of acquiring austerity, there is still hope. It is through the constant chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Pleased with family situation now,

But maintain tradition forward how?


To learn opposite turn first take,

How all traditions easily to break?


Easy, just no love to anyone give,

Without restriction allow them to live.


Even with society of children unwanted filled,

Chance for hope, discipline in chanting instilled.

Categories: four regulative principles

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