Three Places In Shrimad Bhagavatam Where Parents Can Get Advice

[Krishna's lotus feet]“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.” (Rishabhadeva, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.5.18)

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गुरुर् न स स्यात् स्व-जनो न स स्यात्
पिता न स स्याज् जननी न सा स्यात्
दैवं न तत् स्यान् न पतिश् च स स्यान्
न मोचयेद् यः समुपेत-मृत्युम्

gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daivaṁ na tat syān na patiś ca sa syān
na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum

Parenting is not easy, especially in the modern day. While it is likely to consider oneself advanced for living in times with machines that take care of so many daily chores, there is also an accompanying increase in anxiety. The news of the upcoming birth of a child can be dreaded for some people.

Is there enough money? What about time? Just a single person entering the equation causes a chaotic condition. In times past the reaction wasn’t the same. News of a pregnancy was likely welcomed. There wasn’t fear of how to maintain or provide. Family and friends were close by to help.

There are so many difficulties in just the early years, but what about beyond? What is the goal of life? In what direction should the parents steer the child? Independence in adulthood means free will, but the wise understand that the events and instruction provided during childhood play a large role in how the adult behaves.

Fortunately, there is the ancient text known as the Shrimad Bhagavatam to consult. Though composed in the Sanskrit language, with the verses in original form preserved to this day, due to the efforts of benevolent saints the same is available in a translated form. Among other things found in that ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic literature is instruction on parenting, presented both subtly and explicitly.

1. The Dhruva story

Your son has suffered a terrible insult. They can’t let it go. It relates to their father, after all. Not a typical situation, the issues within the family get further complicated when the “nuclear” dynamic gets stretched. Multiple mothers. More than one father. Children from another marriage living under the same roof.

Dhruva was insulted by the step-mother. Not a product of divorce or remarriage, in ancient times it was not uncommon for kings to take multiple wives. They could provide protection and the women were chaste and devoted.

Though the son of a king, Dhruva was told by one of the queens who wasn’t his mother that he could not sit on the lap of the father. That was reserved for her child. Dhruva would have to wait until rebirth to earn that right.

Dhruva felt scorned and so his mother stepped in. She advised him to seek the favor of the Supreme Lord, and so the boy went to the forest to meditate on Lord Vishnu. That was the only remedy to the situation. The boy was after revenge, which was a material desire, and the mother inherently understood that Vishnu would make things right; she was his first guru, though not officially acknowledged as a spiritual master.

[Dhruva meeting Vishnu]The instruction turned out to be valuable because after meeting Vishnu face to face, Dhruva’s life changed. He forgot about his original purpose entirely. The mood flipped from anger to happiness. He had a different outlook, and the cause of the transformation was meditating on the Supreme Lord. The lesson to parents is subtle yet straightforward: even if a dependent should have material desires, the best option is to have them approach the personal God directly, for His association has a purifying effect.

2. The Prahlada story

Once the child is born there are countless ways to influence. Restrict from dangerous behavior. Feed certain foods. Maintain healthy association. Provide proper instruction.

The Prahlada story teaches that there is a way to give purification even prior to birth. While in the womb, the likely fate for Prahlada was to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was of the demoniac mentality. Hiranyakashipu was a powerful king who hated Lord Vishnu. Naturally, the attitude influenced everything in the kingdom. Prahlada’s potential birth circumstances would be considered anything but auspicious.

Yet the boy emerged as a pure devotee of Vishnu, wise enough to provide instruction to his classmates that even the seasoned adult likely wouldn’t have. The cause was hearing from Narada Muni in the womb. The Veda-shabda is so powerful that it can act even without conscious application. The sound of transcendence, of the wisdom of the ages, which is actually non-different from the person it glorifies, can influence a child prior to their birth. Prahlada’s devotion had such potency that it ended up defeating the antagonistic, powerful father who had previously never met defeat.

3. Rishabhadeva’s instruction

This is the clearest instruction to parents as to the purpose of their institution. That is to say the reason for becoming a parent itself is given through instruction from a king to his sons. The guidance applies to any person caring for dependents.

A person should not become a parent unless they can liberate their children from the cycle of birth and death. Otherwise, there is really no purpose, as sense gratification is available in any species of life. Better to take birth as an animal and enjoy with freedom from anxiety for the allotted time in that specific body type.

Human life is something different entirely, and the parents can play a pivotal role in turning the consciousness towards the proper direction. It is that consciousness which will ultimately determine pass or fail with regards to liberation.

Like with Dhruva and Prahlada, the best way to make that liberation a reality is to give the association of the Supreme Lord. Fortunately, a trip to the remote forest is not a requirement. Enduring endless lethal punishment from a parent is not necessary, either.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Keep a transcendental atmosphere in the home with the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Purify with the sacred sound vibrations of verses from the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, Ramayana and other related works. No person can guarantee what consciousness another person will have while quitting the body, but the path of direct devotion to God is so powerful that He helps to ensure success.

In Closing:

After new parent became,

Seeking sound advice and sane.

Ancient text applying to today,

Bhagavatam showing the way.

Like Dhruva with Vishnu’s shelter in forest setting,

But after meeting revenge desire forgetting.

While in womb Prahlada hearing from Narada clear,

King Rishabha for dependents’ direction to steer.

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