Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What sanskaras do you wish to give your child?

Easier said and done but parents have a duty to pass on the right values to children. Do you have your list prepared?

Some years ago, at a PTA meeting , a school teacher mentioned the importance of passing on the right sanskaras to children. That set parents thinking and we all looked quizzically at each other. What sanskaras have we passed on to our children's? All of us felt we had done our best to inculcate the right values by example, but had never really thought of it in quite this way. The teachers statements had certainly set us thinking in that direction now. Are sansakars more than just "values”? What sanskaras would we really like to inculcate in children as they grow up and prepare to face the world on their own? Are the sanskaras on one family, community, religion or nation different from those of another?

Sanaskaras, to my mind are set of values, principles, and practices that we inherit from our family, culture, religion and the history of our nation. These are , in effect , the essence of all good that we have been taught or learnt from experience, passed down from one generation to another. Most sanskaras are transferred through examples, but it is also a parental duty to be conscious of what we are teaching our children and being able to furnish the right explanation for it. So what are the sanskaras you would like to pass on to your child? Here is my list:

sanskarSense of integrity: Honesty should be the foundation of our life structure. Children should be taught the importance of being true to your own self as well as to others. A person who follows the dictates of his conscience is the one who can sleep peacefully and live peacefully.

Love and respect yourself: before you can learn to love and respect others, it is very important to be able to love and respect yourself. That can only come with acceptance of all that God and Nature have given you and being content with it. It can come with following the dictates of your inner voice. Never downgrade yourself, nor imagine yourself any lesser than another.

Being sensitive to others: Children must be told the importance of being sensitive o other peoples needs and feelings. Charity is an important virtue and comes from a heart that is warm, loving and accepting of all. In a book I am reading presently, The Tailor’s Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma, the father, Sir Saraswati Chandra tells his son Yogendra, “Be the tailor’s needle, which passes through every cloth without making distinction”. So the son makes it a point to treat everyone- native or foreigner, have or have not , fellow Hindu or religious other- with equal respect.

Fulfilling your potential: Winning is not always an option: it is far more important to know that you have done your best in whatever you do! To avoid wastage of effort and time, it is important to understand your inclinations and have a idea of the purpose of your life. I would add to this good grooming , always looking your best, keeping a fit and healthy body, articulating well and having social confidence. To quote  The Tailors Needle once again, “Among the social graces that Sir Saraswati taught his son, effective speaking and good listening were important. He wanted all his children to grow up into sensitive people.

Educated yourself: Arm yourself with knowledge, for knowledge is power. Children must be encouraged to acquire as much as learning as they can. Arming themselves with degrees is as important as increasing the scope of knowledge by reading further and trying to acquire knowledge in areas that interest them or are relevant to their field of work.

Act on your conviction: Children must be encouraged to be brave enough to strike out into the world rather than just be fence sitters. Be a doer, not just a participation in life.

Sense of fair play: It is important that children grow up with a sense of justice. In case they do something unfair, they must be encouraged t make amends. Standing up for what is right is equally important and the should be encouraged to take stands on behalf of those less privileged.

Making choices: Life offers plenty of options all the way through and much of the way we lead life is dependent on the choice we make. Children must be taught to think through options and use their faculties in the best manner before deciding on an option. They must also be taught to stick to their decisions but when the situation demands also be flexible and intelligent enough to change it.

Of course making a list of the values you wish to pass on to your children is far easier than helping them imbibe it, or even following it yourself . For most children resist learning and a child learns best by example. When they protest-as they will perhaps like Sir Saraswati, we too can say “They are not mere words:they contain human experience and wisdom!”