The founder of SWAHA, the late Shankaracharyaji, was questioned once on the topic of parenting. His response was: “If I were asked by the Divine which form of God I would want to see, I would ask to see my parents for they are my Gods. The kind of hard work and sacrifice they have endured for me, I owe everything to them.”
This response is most instructive to both parents and children, especially today, where both speed along opposite lanes on the busy highway of life. How often has it been emphasised that the institution of the family is the bedrock of any society? It is not by chance that the seers of Hinduism, in structuring the syllabus for the life-long development of man, have placed parents as the first and foremost educators, followed by the Guru.
The current global news headlines screech about the spread of adharma. The questions to be posed are: Which of the societal knots has weakened? Who failed whom? Where do the corrective steps begin? The many social and educational re-building programmes being initiated within various fields may slow the whirlpool of adharma. Attempts to review schools’ curricula, to strengthen the focus on the teaching of religion and on character and values education must be applauded and will certainly improve discipline. However, such efforts are an attack on the symptoms of the ills and not the causes of degradation. In the drive to heal the social diseases in our ailing society, we are simply attempting to change the scenery, not the vision. Such measures, though providing short-term relief, can be compared to repainting a dilapidated building.
The pillars of Sanatan Dharma, satyam (truth), soucham (purity), dayaa (compassion) and daan
(generosity) are the foundation blocks upon which the house of social, intellectual, spiritual and physical development is built. These pillars are best cemented in an individual’s development when instilled from childhood by the first teachers, the parents. Chanakya’s famous quote, “Satyam maataa, pitaa gyaanam” – “Truth is mother, wisdom father”, emphasizes the pivotal role of parents in a child’s upbringing. Indeed, the ones who rock the cradle rule the world.
Mothers imbue moral and spiritual worth in their children. The father’s wisdom, like the dharma-rath or chariot of dharma, inspires his children to develop qualities of courage, valour, endurance and fortitude. Such qualities serve as a kavach, an armour, to keep them in good stead as they ride out on the highway of life. Together, parents mould the child into a model human being, ready to journey on towards perfection.
Research has shown that parents’ care and love of their offspring can prevent issues such as psychological maladjustment, substance abuse, depression, emotional disruptions and other similar problems, some of which are at the core of unacceptable social behaviour.
Once parents recognise and live up to the significant role they play in their children’s success, there is hope. Also, when children appreciate their parents’ sacrifices, honour the divinity in them and acknowledge them as their heroes, societal uplift is assured.