“They pray to God to grant them blessings: ‘May You garner fame and return victorious. May You not lose a single hair while bathing.’” (Janaki Mangala, 29)
Friend1: When you see your kid for the first time, right after birth, there are some pretty heavy feelings.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: Protection. You want to do everything you can to protect the child. Keep them away from harm. Let them not suffer, at all.
Friend2: That is completely natural. I know you don’t like me going off on tangents, but your sentiment reminds me of how people in Ayodhya felt a long time back.
Friend1: Towards their children?
Friend2: That’s the thing, these were two sons to the king, Dasharatha. Rama and Lakshmana were called away on duty.
Friend1: You make it sound like they were in the military or something. You know that is a form of punishment today; to straighten out kids that are troublemakers.
Friend2: The brothers were trained in the military arts. Since Rama is an incarnation of God, He exhibited amazing ability at a young age. That is why the sage Vishvamitra called on them. He and other sages living in the forest were being harassed by Nishacharas. These are man-eating night-rangers. Anyway, Lakshmana came along because he always followed Rama. When the two boys were leaving, people in the town prayed for their safety.
Friend2: Just imagine that. On one side you had Vishvamitra who was employing them as something like bodyguards. On the other side the people did not pay attention to that. They prayed that not even a hair on their heads would be harmed.
Friend1: I guess this isn’t that much of a tangent. What is wrong in thinking that way for the children?
Friend2: Who said it was wrong?
Friend1: I know that you’re supposed to liberate the dependents from the cycle of birth and death. I’m assuming that spoiling them isn’t going to cut it.
Friend2: Well, you mentioned that you didn’t want the child to suffer. The greatest suffering is repeated birth and death. That is what liberation solves.
Friend1: Okay, that is in the long-term, but what about right now? You understand that this sentiment is what drives parents to push their children into high-paying fields. They want the child to be self-sufficient in adulthood, not having to worry about money.
Friend2: I am well aware.
Friend1: Is that misguided?
Friend2: Not at all. You would rather children grow up to be beggars?
Friend1: But money isn’t everything.
Friend2: Of course not.
Friend1: You are confusing me.
Friend2: Listen, just don’t think that once your child gets a good job and settles down that the work is complete. There is much further to go. Character is the most important. Look at Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They were wealthy and powerful kings. Would you want your children growing up to be like them?
Friend1: Absolutely not.
Friend2: But they didn’t have to worry about money. They had plenty of food to eat. No one else had to take care of them.
Friend1: They lost everything in the end.
Friend2: Exactly. The material nature dictates that what goes up must come down. Gains are paired with losses. Better to work for a good character, which comes automatically through practicing devotional service, bhakti-yoga. There is the special benediction of receiving assistance directly from God. Hiranyakashipu had a son named Prahlada. The boy was not interested in gathering material power. He did not care about ruling a kingdom. That ended up being his future anyway, but his character remained the same. By surrendering fully to Krishna the boy did not lack anything. Meanwhile, for the father there was a great and tragic reversal of fortune.
Great job as adult to get,
In financial security set.
Work of parent properly done,
Since having destitution none?
Character concern more pressing,
Needs of spirit within addressing.
Hiranya and Ravana though with might,
In end lost everything in sight.