“When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupt, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrishni, comes unwanted progeny.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 1.40)
स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय
strīṣu duṣṭāsu vārṣṇeya
“One of the complaints you’ll often here from children growing up in more traditional settings is that they were limited in their upbringing. Not that sufficient quantities of food and clothing were lacking. Not that they were necessarily poor.
“To get an idea, let’s contrast with a question often asked of children in more industrialized nations. The teacher will pose the question of what the child wants to be when they grow up. Well, transitioning back to the other societies, the children never hear that question. There are so few options for future employment that no one gives it any thought.
“If they are a female, then they are expected to get married at a young age. A sort of sacrifice, if you will, a father giving away in charity for the benefit of another family, which in turn keeps society functioning.
“I believe Arjuna makes a similar reference in Bhagavad-gita. Avoiding varna-sankara, which is the mixing of the different groups. In other words, have marriage by dharma instead of kama. Limit illicit sex so that the children born in this world are wanted and cared for.
“A person may argue that it is cruel to limit children in this way. Shouldn’t they be told that the sky is the limit? Expand beyond children and just see how many impositions religious systems apply. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Conduct this sacrifice. Limit your diet.
“Shouldn’t we encourage people to explore, to cross beyond the horizons, to dream big? Shouldn’t we be telling them that they can be anything they want instead of constantly giving the grim reminder of impending death?”
There is another side to that encouragement, which remains unspoken. In an honest presentation, the children would receive the complete picture. Not just the boundless potential of enjoying life in the way they choose, but also the aftermath.
Namely, what happens if you do achieve your dreams? Imagine you reach the pinnacle in your respective field. You are a world famous doctor, lawyer, politician, inventor, athlete, or actor. What happens next? Are you happy? More importantly, are you any happier than the person who came in second? Are you better situated than the person who lived in relative obscurity, anonymity to the point that no one would recognize them on the street?
The followers of the bhakti tradition would argue that their teacher opened up the universe to them. What others see as restriction is merely training. Mechanisms for removing the illusion that is maya, which results in a toggling between bhoga and tyaga, enjoyment and renunciation.
My guru opened my eyes to the unlimited because they describe the one person who is without limits. His glories are endless, ananta. He has no beginning, anadi, and He is also the original person, adi-purusha. His features are so amazing that no instruments can get an accurate measurement, adhokshaja.
These glories are not limited to Himself. His servants exhibit similar boundless potential and achievement. Someone like Shri Hanuman is glorified to this day. You could write a poem or essay in his honor for a particular trait or activity. A first draft, then an edit, and then ready to be sent to the publisher, hopefully to be shared with the world.
You could repeat the same day after day for hundreds of years and still not be short of material. That is a single person, and the Supreme Lord has countless dedicated servants, some of whom are roaming before us in the world at present.
Only in bhakti life is there true independence, which has the foundation of full dependence on God the person. This is called sharanagati, surrender at the lotus feet. I know that Arjuna’s teacher will protect me, and in that safe and secure position I continue to stay with Him, ready to jump into whatever adventure He sends me.
Ready next adventure to see,
To wherever sending me.
Because guru proper way teaching,
Potential in sharanagati reaching.
Where someone like Hanuman praising,
And daily the spirits raising.
Eyes finally opened wide,
Found boundless inside.