“My father was a pure devotee of the Lord, and when I was only four or five years old, my father gave me a couple of forms of Radha and Krishna. In a playful manner, I used to worship these Deities along with my sister, and I used to imitate the performances of a neighboring temple of Radha-Govinda. By constantly visiting this neighboring temple and copying the ceremonies in connection with my own Deities of play, I developed a natural affinity for the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.12.30 Purport)
Friend1: I’ve been thinking about a particular teaching lately.
Friend2: Which one?
Friend1: Where it is the duty of the parents to raise God conscious children.
Friend2: Yeah, that’s a good one. Reveals a higher purpose.
Friend1: Right. Typically we first think of the material happiness of our children, like making sure they have enough money, enough food, and enough protection. This objective is a little different.
Friend2: Because sometimes having less possessions opens the door for spiritual awakening. If you’re not tied up with sense enjoyment all the time or if you have grown sick of it, there’s more potential for choosing the imperishable path of bhakti-yoga, which is the soul’s eternal occupation.
Friend1: So what I’ve been thinking about is that if the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles accept this teaching seriously, they’re essentially offering love and affection in the hopes that they’ll be forgotten.
Friend2: What do you mean? We shouldn’t forget what others have done for us. Though it’s easy for us to forget, still we shouldn’t. This is one of the ways that God is so amazing. Goswami Tulsidas mentions repeatedly how Shri Rama never forgets even a single act done for Him. He rewarded Jatayu, Sugriva, Vibhishana, Shabari and many others based on only a limited interaction. Gratefulness is a sign of godliness.
Friend1: No, that’s all true, for sure. Think about it this way. Bhakti-yoga means consciousness of God, right?
Friend1: So consciousness means thinking, no?
Friend1: So if I’m teaching a dependent of mine to always think of one thing, or in this case one person, obviously that will leave less time for them to think of me. Moreover, do I really want them thinking about me all the time?
Friend2: I see what you’re saying. Like what is there to think about really?
Friend1: I don’t want them meditating on my form. I don’t want them making a god out of me. I don’t want them worshiping one of my pictures every day. In fact, I’d rather they not be obsessed with any single one person. God, on the other hand, is meant to be thought of all the time. So if I’m doing my job as a parent correctly, then one day my child won’t have time to think about me. They will be consumed with thoughts of the Supreme Lord. They will remember how Rama always appreciates even a single kind gesture made His way.
Friend2: That is a very interesting point. Especially when we lose a loved one, we think about them for a while in the aftermath. Eventually though, in the healing process, we’re supposed to forget about them again.
Friend1: Forget as in not always being conscious of; but it never means discounting all that they’ve done for us.
Friend2: Right. We should always appreciate our forefathers. We are like animals when we exit the womb. Any good characteristics we have in adulthood are due to the training that the elders provide. Therefore we owe them so much. You could say we owe them everything, in fact.
Friend1: And the affection they offer is out of our hands. We can’t control who our parents are. This means that the good parenting is an extension of the Lord’s mercy. It is God’s hand shown in a unique way.
Friend2: So we can think of forgetting them later on in life in favor of remembering God as a way of honoring them too. It’s a way of saying “thanks.”
Friend1: Yeah, I mean if you think about it, we want our children to be happy, no? What can make any person happier than the association of the Supreme Lord? I’d rather my children be always remembering Shri Krishna and His various pastimes than constantly praising me. I’d rather they be focused on remembering Bhagavan all the way up until the time of death than constantly lamenting the loss of my association.
Friend2: I must agree with you. Just shows you how much appreciation the good parents deserve. It is a truly selfless act to raise a child in the proper way. More so with the grandparents and extended family, you don’t get to see the returns. The children fly off into another world, and your lone comfort is knowing that you played a role in their happiness.
Friend1: Yeah, even in the earthly pastimes of the Supreme Lord, which are still transcendental and not to be considered mundane, we see how the parents are left behind. Vasudeva and Devaki did not get to enjoy Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavana. Krishna appeared from Devaki’s womb in the jail cell in Mathura, but then He immediately was transferred to Gokula. Mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja became the foster parents and they got to enjoy Krishna and His brother Balarama for many years, but even for them there was separation. The boys eventually went back to Mathura and Dvaraka thereafter.
Friend2: Yeah, and then with Shri Rama, who is the same Krishna but in an incarnation form, there was the unfortunate passing of the father Dasharatha. He did not get to celebrate in Rama’s triumphant homecoming after fourteen years in exile. He did not get to hug his son Rama after He had shown His unmatched fighting ability. The king did not get to meet Hanuman and the rest of the courageous Vanaras who helped Rama defeat the evil Ravana.
Friend1: Yeah, so many lessons taught from those accounts of historical events. Association comes and then one day it leaves. Might as well make the best impact on others during the brief time that you have that association.
Friend2: And nothing makes a bigger impact than implanting the seed of devotional service within the heart and then helping it to grow by regularly chanting and hearing the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Parents to children so much love give,
So that hopefully one day forgetful to live.
Goal to make them of God conscious,
Fulfilling destiny of human life so precious.
How this kindness to repay?
No end to their glories to say.
From happiness of bhakti found,
Benefits to all ancestors redound.