Five Places Where Peer Pressure Influences Behavior

[Radha-Krishna]“One can understand the science of the Supreme Personality of Godhead simply by the parampara system. In this regard, Shrila Narottama dasa Thakura says, tandera charana sevi bhakta-sane vasa: ‘Let me serve the lotus feet of the devotees of the Lord, and let me live with devotees.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.9.42 Purport)

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It is the sincere prayer of Shrila Narottama Dasa Thakura to always live in the association of saintly people. The future is unknown; this is one of the impetuses for taking an interest in religion, or spiritual life. If you are inquisitive or already with some knowledge on the subject and seeking more, you may approach Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

चतुर्-विधा भजन्ते मां
जनाः सुकृतिनो ऽर्जुन
आर्तो जिज्ञासुर् अर्थार्थी
ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

Only He can control the future outcome for certain. It is natural to offer prayers to Him. In the vandanam process, we can ask to have the most auspicious birth not only in the next life, but every successive one thereafter, should they occur.

The Vaishnava prefers to live amongst other Vaishnavas. They are well aware of the influence from peer pressure, which can steer behavior in directions otherwise not previously considered.

1. School

The public service announcements related to substance abuse often target people attending school. The message will best resonate with them, as they are more impressionable. What they see others do, they might consider following.

In this regard His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada advises to take advantage of the tendency by showing devotional activities. Make that the model to imitate. Leave that impression with the children and they will hopefully be spared much heartache, despair and hopelessness in the future.

At school, if other children are into doing drugs, it is easy to join the pack. If someone offers you a cigarette, even if you don’t want one the path of least resistance paves the way towards addiction. Why make a spectacle? Why be the source of ridicule, when you can just give in for now and be done with it?

2. The office

Everyone is going out after the work day. This is to celebrate the birthday of a colleague. They’ve chosen a night club establishment as the venue. Perusing the menu, you see that there is little for you to eat. You rarely enter such places, also.

[party]The bigger issue is with adult beverages. There is the custom of buying “a round of drinks.” One by one, people take their turn. Not only do you not want to shell out the cash, but you have no interest in consuming such drinks.

But if you don’t go along, people will think you are weird. You will just be sitting there in the corner, all alone. No one to talk to, and everyone thinking that you don’t like to have fun.

3. At home

If you are the youngest in the family, it is natural to imitate the older siblings. If they are into harmful behavior, you will follow. Sometimes the parents are the ones setting the bad example. They smoke or drink on a regular basis. You are intrigued; curious about what it is they do that is prohibited for the children.

4. Among friends

These are people you’ve known for many years. Maybe you went to school with them. Perhaps they lived in the same neighborhood during childhood. Now you meet up on occasion, but they do not like to follow your restrictions on eating and beverage consumption. They are not interested in spiritual life; rather only on temporary enjoyment, which you know as preyas in Sanskrit.

Eventually, the conflict will have to be resolved. Either you join them or go your own way. The common bond that created the friendship in the first place vanishes as you choose the sat way of life. Part of the process is avoiding asat, or that which is temporary.

5. Television

There is subtle pressure applied in this area. You are not directly associating, but the mind is going someplace else all the same. There are different settings, characters with certain behaviors, and an overall scene of what is considered “normal.” If you do not follow the same, you will be the odd one out.

From this review we see that the overwhelming pressure in life is to go against God. Turn away from Him. Forget about all the serious stuff like life and death and the fate of the eternal soul. Enjoy now. Then you will be accepted by society.

[Radha-Krishna]Thus not only is the prayer to be born amongst Vaishnavas a plea for sufficient protection from the illusory energy of maya, it is a way to ensure that the like-minded will stay together and support each other. Everyone around me chants the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They study Vaishnava literature, and they are compassionate towards one another. They will help me if I fall down and I likewise the same.

In Closing:

Succumbing to illusion’s ground,
Rejecting principles falling down.

But if other Vaishnavas around,
Then best support group found.

Desired if also in the next birth,
Friendship of the highest worth.

Narottama in this way prays,
That always with devotees stays.

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