Thursday, July 2, 2015

Why should one start devotion to God right from the childhood?

Today's world of education emphasis on the technology learning, personality development, learning and knowing of many languages, communication skill etc. But do these kinds of learning help in developing the inner personality of a child? The answer is of course not satisfying. The reason is, although the technology has put every aspects of life on a fast track, life itself is losing its naturality. Although at the end of the course of “personality development” the child is certified as outstanding, the development of inner personality is almost completely ignored.

The increasing numbers of children's psychological problems show that though we have very advanced education system, it has become more and more difficult for the parents as well as the teachers to understand the children's strange behavior. Children themselves get confused and feel insecure. Due to these confusions and insecurity they succumb to many dangerous paths.

The only answer to these difficulties lies in "character building of child'" or we can say the "inner personality development." We need to conquer the child internally. For that understanding of the significance of practising devotion to God from early childhood is essential.

In Shree Ram Charit Manas Tulasidas states:

प्रेम भगति जल बिनु रघुराइ, अभि अन्तर मल कबहु जाइ l
prem bhagati jal binu raghurai, abhiantar mal kabahnu na jai

“Except by cleansing with the water of loving devotion, O Lord of Raghus, the impurity accumulated within can never be washed away.”

Why should one start devotion to God right from the childhood? Some major aspects:

1. Child's mind is highly impressionable:

“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.” is a famous quote by a well-known child psychologist. It is at this young age, that the mind can be guided into the path of devotion very easily. As the quote mentions, this will last forever as they are etched in concrete. Our scriptures present numerous examples of how children who followed the path of devotion attained God Himself!'

At the tender age of five, Prahlad had darshan of Lord Narasimh! Despite being an asur by birth, Prahlad’s transformation also happened due to the guidance of sage Narad “to chant Krishna's name with full faith" and that too from the very beginning of childhood! Pleased by his great devotion, God took completely unimaginable form, just to protect His bal-bhakt!

Later, Prahlad too instructs all his demoniac classmates to chant the Lord’s Name and start devotional practices right from childhood. He says,

कौमार आचरेत्प्राज्ञो धर्मान् भागवतानिह l
दुर्लभं मानुषं जन्म तदप्य ध्रुवमर्थदम्

kaumara acharet pragno dharman bhagavataniha
durlabham manusham janma tadapy adhruvam arthadam

“Human form is important because God-realization is possible only in human form. A soul very rarely gets the human form and that too for a limited duration. Therefore, the wise, without wasting a single moment, should engage in the bhakti.”

At the same age, a determined and courageous prince Dhruv performed intense penance, thanks to the guidance of sage Narad. The Lord Himself appeared before this little boy and blessed him that he would become a great king and live a long life filled with devotion.

Meera, a small instruction of her mother at her very young age, to serve Lord Krishna turned her into a great Krishna devotee!

2. Child's mind is relatively free from worldly attributes and responsibilities:

The intensity of worldly desires and impressions are relatively on very shallow level in child's nature, and innocence is a helping mode for devotion. Therefore it is very easy to grasp the sweetness of God and its pastimes without unnecessary logic. Children are free from other distractions such as survival, earning livelihood, etc., and due to freedom from such responsibilities, they have more time, energy, and concentration for devotion.

3. Prahlad's answer to his father:  

When Hiranyakashipu discouraged Prahlad not to divert his energies and time in devotion to God, stating it to be a job for a person death bed, Prahlad answered very politely but his answer is an alarm to everyone.

He told his father “what is your definition for death?” Is there any guaranteed life span which can be counted in years? Death can knock at any time and will snatch this human birth which is an essential platform to practice the devotion. I can't afford to lose a single moment!

Moreover, the most important contribution of devotion is to inculcate virtues which are the basic character of human being. Kindness, tolerance, truthfulness, forgiveness, compassion are the byproducts of practicing devotion. When walking through the world, children who practice devotion wouldn’t fall prey to vices borne of competition such as jealousy, domination, depression, etc., but will glide through it with proper understanding and approach. Similarly, in every aspect the intention and motivation will be based on pure and serviceable intellect! And there is no need to explain about the result of purity and service!

Childhood is a golden time for practicing devotion to God. Gradually it would be weaved with inner personality so intensely that even while performing the worldly duties brilliantly, the inner self will stay connected to God continuously, forever!


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