“The Haryashvas, the sons of Prajapati Daksha, were very well behaved, cultured sons, but unfortunately, because of the instructions of Narada Muni, they deviated from the order of their father. When Daksha heard this news, which was brought to him by Narada Muni, he began to lament. Although he was the father of such good sons, he had lost them all. Certainly this was lamentable.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.5.23)
नाशं निशम्य पुत्राणां
अन्वतप्यत कः शोचन्
सुप्रजस्त्वं शुचां पदम्
nāśaṁ niśamya putrāṇāṁ
anvatapyata kaḥ śocan
suprajastvaṁ śucāṁ padam
Friend1: There are two ways to view this: a child spontaneously interested in bhakti-yoga.
Friend2: How spontaneous are we talking here? They say the holy names out of nowhere? They had to get some guidance in the first place, some exposure to the Divine life.
Friend1: Let’s say that there isn’t much persuasion. Only listening once or twice to a bhajan glorifying the Supreme Lord. Children are open about their preferences. They are not afraid of outside scorn like with adults expressing their political beliefs. This is not like the person attending a hockey game wearing the sweater of the visiting team.
Friend2: Oh yeah, you could get seriously hurt doing that. Not just people hurling insults, but the other fans might throw objects or instigate a physical altercation.
Friend1: One side is happy with the child’s preference. They like the fact that there is an interest in something beyond the typical.
Friend2: Video games. Candy. Toys.
Friend1: Sure. The other side is not so happy.
Friend2: Why is that?
Friend1: They view spiritual life as giving up. It is coupled with the tragic end to life. When contemplating life and death, religion is always part of the mix.
Friend2: And so a young child should not be interested in the end of life? They are just starting out, anyway. Why ruin the fun?
Friend1: Yes. Exactly. If the parents do anything to explicitly encourage the child, such as reading sacred texts like Shrimad Bhagavatam and Ramayana with them, strong accusations arrive from different directions:
“Why are you turning them into a sannyasi? Didn’t you attend school? I remember you playing sports as a youth. Let them grow up like a normal person. Get married. Have children. They can think of renunciation after that.”
Friend2: That is always the excuse; wait until later. Yet rarely does death give sufficient notice of its arrival. Even then, it might be too late. The consciousness is focused on everything indulged in during the many preceding days. The conception of life carries forward into the subsequent birth, like the air transporting aromas from the garden-area to someplace in the distance.
शरीरं यद् अवाप्नोति
यच् चाप्य् उत्क्रामतीश्वरः
वायुर् गन्धान् इवाशयात्
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
Friend1: What is the counterargument, though? How do you handle being on the receiving end of such an accusation?
Friend2: It has been leveled since the beginning of time. Narada Muni, the traveling saint, got cursed as a result. He taught children of Daksha, one of the progenitors of man. After hearing from Narada, the youths chose to remain celibate for life.
Friend1: Daksha was so angry that he cursed Narada to never be able to stay in one place for too long.
Friend2: Which the saint then used to his advantage, and also the benefit of the entire world, thanks to the extended preaching inspiring the likes of Valmiki and Vyasa.
Friend1: People will not be happy. Sometimes even the parents and grandparents take offense. They don’t want the future generation to turn into oddballs, as they see it.
Friend2: The justification is rather straightforward; to me anyways.
Friend1: What is that?
Friend2: I have found a way to be happy in any situation. I know of the effect of intoxicants. I know the futility in chasing after money and influence. I also have firsthand experience of the other side, the Divine life.
Friend2: Which starts out as a discipline distinguished from other ways of life and ends up being the only way. I may accept the routine of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The guru gives me the encouragement.
Friend1: The seed of the creeper of devotion, bhakti-lata-bija.
Friend2: Through their guidance I am able to advance. At some point it reaches the stage where I can’t live any other way. It is my reason for getting up in the morning. It is what sparks the fire inside of me. I appreciate nature so much more as a result. I have immense respect for other living beings, extending to the non-human species. All because I am connected to the Supreme Lord in a mood of love. It is an ever-expanding reservoir of bliss.
Friend1: That is a nice way to put it.
Friend2: I have all of this now, and so why wouldn’t I want to share it with my children? Why wouldn’t I want to give them the same secret to happiness? Actually, I should be considered a criminal for withholding it from them. It is my duty. I have an obligation to rescue them from the cycle of birth and death. Who cares what anyone thinks? Let them stay mired in misery and discontentment. Let them keep searching for the happiness that is only found in Hari-sharanam, which thankfully I have the chance to offer to others.
Guru teaching how to live,
Which now to others to give.
Who cares if everyone against?
Where lives in misery spent.
This chance the children taking,
When to bhakti routine making.
After Daksha’s children addressed,
Narada cursed but actually blessed.