“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)
dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ
kāmāt krodho ‘bhijāyate
Friend1: I’m worried about my kids.
Friend2: Did something happen?
Friend1: Nothing in particular, but I see things on the news and I can’t help but be concerned.
Friend2: What exactly are you worried about?
Friend1: I’m not sure if I can explain it properly.
Friend2: Give it a try.
Friend1: It’s twofold. To start, there is the aspect that they are much younger. This means that they are less experienced. They will certainly make many mistakes in life.
Friend2: Oh, I’ve thought about this one too. It’s as if you have to let them make the mistakes, even if you know better. You have to watch their youth and inexperience play out.
Friend1: Exactly. I’m not going to hide things from them, but I shouldn’t get really upset every time they mess up. After all, they won’t truly believe me until they see the consequences to their mistakes in real life.
Friend2: God bless all the parents out there.
Friend1: The second thing relates to anger. I hear about these awful things that crazy people do. I see how common divorce is. I know what the root cause is, and I want to make sure my kids don’t fall into the same trap.
Friend1: For sure, but there’s something more specific. As you know, the more a person engages in material life, the angrier they get. It’s counterintuitive, but we have both shastra and personal experience to back us up.
Friend2: There’s that verse in the Bhagavad-gita where Krishna describes how unfulfilled desire turns into wrath, then anger, and eventually loss of intelligence.
Friend1: That’s the verse I keep thinking of. Desire, or kama, is guaranteed to be unfulfilled. We are not Krishna, after all. We can’t succeed every time. We are not Achyuta, or infallible.
Friend2: What exactly is the issue here? You want your kids to be free of kama?
Friend1: I don’t want them to be spoiled. I don’t want them to be angry at the world all the time. I want them to understand the importance of keeping desire in check. How do I get these points across to them?
Friend2: Listen, every individual has free will. You can’t force anyone to think a certain way. In the past there was the varnashrama-dharma system, which is the more accurate definition to the term “Hinduism.” The objective was to keep material desires in check from the very beginning of life. The children lived with little possessions during their schooling years. People today would consider those conditions to be torture.
Friend1: You can’t really replicate that in modern times. The concept of the “standard of living” negates any opportunity for renunciation during childhood. It makes the job that much tougher for parents.
Friend2: Listen, your best bet is to keep them exposed to the holy names. Let them always hear the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. What to speak of children, this is the most effective means of controlling desire in full grown adults.
Friend1: Isn’t that too simplistic, though?
Friend2: It is, but that’s because we can’t fathom the true potency of the spiritual sound. Aum is the original sound, and it directly represents the Supreme Lord. The holy names of Krishna and Rama address Him in a mood of love, and Hare calls upon His energy to lend further support. You’d be surprised at how effective this sound vibration is at keeping people in line.
Friend1: If my children hear this mantra on a regular basis, their desires will be controlled? What about learning the philosophy?
Friend2: You can’t guarantee the outcome, but this approach has the best chance to get what you want. Try your best to not spoil them, to teach them the value of renunciation. At the same time let them hear the holy names and allow for the attachment to Krishna to blossom. The idea is to transform the nature of desire, to turn kama into bhakti. Then you avoid unnecessary anger, which will hopefully keep them away from dangerous behavior.
Friend1: That seems like a good plan.
Friend2: It works for adults, too. There are countless examples in history. There was the famous Valmiki Muni.
Friend1: The author of the Ramayana?
Friend2: Yes. He was a highway robber in his early life. Then he met Narada Muni, the traveler of the three worlds who spreads the message of the Supreme Lord.
Friend1: This was in adulthood?
Friend2: I don’t know the exact age, but Valmiki was supporting his family through his thievery. Narada did not go into a long discourse. He brought up some logical points to gain the robber’s trust. Narada then advised him to chant the name of Rama over and over again. It so happened that the only way the robber could do it was to say the name backwards.
Friend2: Yeah. And so the robber chanted for so long that an anthill formed around him. Narada Muni came back and then gave him the name Valmiki after seeing him. If you think about it, that situation was way worse than what you see with children. The kama was so strong that it led to theft. Still, the power of the holy name was stronger, and through chanting it the major errors were corrected. There was the added benefit of full devotion to God.
Tragic events reviewing news course,
Realizing that in each anger the source.
From Bhagavad-gita’s words to trust,
Then known that initial cause is lust.
How in the children behavior to prevent?
So much around them, parents to lament.
Nothing guaranteed, from holy names just learn,
Its potency even towards piety a thief can turn.