Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati
What is the best way to help children develop their potential?
In India, the vedic tradition introduces children to the practices of yoga at the age of eight. Until this age, the child is with the mother, who is the guru. It is a very important period for the emotional development and bonding.
At the age of eight, the child is introduced to yoga through the practices of surya namaskara, salute to the sun, nadi shodhana pranayama, alternate nostril breathing, and the Gayatri mantra. These three practices play an important role because at the age of eight a significant event occurs. The pineal gland, which is responsible for the aging process, begins slowly to decay. This decay is gradual and continues right up to the age of eighty or ninety. The three practices have a counter-effect on that decay and are responsible for the physical health and mental well being of the child. They develop clarity, focus, confidence and the capacity to make correct decisions.
Nowadays, many mothers say that children are distracted, dissipated, have no focus and don’t want to study. Yoga would help them, because it is not just a spiritual practice or system which will bring children closer to God but an essential practice in order to become accomplished in life.
The Gayatri mantra is not the name of any god or goddess from a strange land. Sound frequencies are an important medium and influence the brain and body. Music can transform you immediately. If you like the music, you may even go into ecstasy, but if you play loud unpleasant music, you will get a headache. Sound is so powerful that it can create an avalanche or shatter glass.
The Gayatri mantra is introduced to enhance creativity, insight and clarity. Surya namaskara and nadi shodhana pranayama create the best condition for the physical and mental energies of the child and when given at the age of eight, they will make a great difference.
Unfortunately, today many parents don’t have the time to introduce their children to such important practices because they have studies or holidays or a hundred and one excuses. However, children are being deprived of something important, and parents should pay attention to introducing these three practices. Nothing more is required.
—Harrogate, England, 16-19 July 2009
What is the duty of parents?
Parents have the duty to feed and clothe their children and give them exposure to positive influences. The children have to manage the rest, because you only gave birth and a body, but not the soul, the atma, which has come from somewhere else. It has come to express itself and no matter what you do, you cannot prevent that. If you want your children to have a certain quality, you should have thought about it at the time of conception. If you want children who are never naughty and always sitting quietly, then you should have thought beforehand. However, children should be naughty because children who are not naughty are idiots and intelligent children are naughty. Children are a test for their parents and have come to teach them patience and self-control. Therefore, parenthood is a sadhana.
You must always give children a lot of love. They are intelligent and watching you quietly all the time. They know exactly how to manage you, what makes you angry or happy, when you are genuine and sincere and when just pretending. You cannot pretend love with children, because they know it at once. If anyone can correct parents, it is their children.
Parents think that they are always right and children wrong. However, we were children once and giving trouble to our parents. Therefore, whenever children cross the limit, just sit back and think of what you did when you were a child and then you will forgive them.
Children are bundles of energy and deplete it by doing a lot of mischief. However, if the energy is regulated, they can direct it to higher centres, become creative geniuses, responsible members of society and have a positive personality. When they grow up, they can be good teachers, businesspeople, engineers and good parents which is in itself a great achievement.
It is the duty of parents to ensure that children receive proper direction, goals, training and discipline. Children are not just objects of attachment or toys to enact the unfulfilled dreams of their parents. They have to create a masterpiece out of a child, and that can be done with the practices of yoga.
—Bija Yoga, Brittany, France, 6 June 2010
How will children find their destiny?
The spirit is universal and has no gender, religion or nationality. It is the universal seed with which you have come into this world and it is important to acquaint yourself with it, because the spirit is your source and seed. When children are born, they are divine, spiritual and closest to God.
It is only when we grow up and are exposed to the world that we cultivate the qualities which take us away from the spirit. According to the exposure we have and the environment we live in, we become clever, cunning or crooked and move further away from the spirit.
It is important that parents give children a spiritual environment, so that they can cultivate spiritual awareness even while living in the world and trying to meet the demands of life. Children should be exposed to mantra, asana and pranayama from an early age onwards. It will give them a strong foundation, healthy body, positive mind and strong values to face any difficulty in life.
You have to train children from a young age, because they are like the pure, clean canvas on which you can paint anything. Some children may resist, but it is your duty to give them exposure to every kind of life and then let them choose what they are destined for. Children will make their own choice, and you have no role to play in that. Do not try to force them to go to church, pray to God or do yoga because they will make the right choice according to their destiny. Children come with a destiny and have their karmas and you cannot change it.
Children should be given the freedom to think for themselves and be made capable, strong and independent through every kind of exposure. Let them go to the discotheque and night club. I believe in the strength and power of the human spirit, and definitely, at some time, the individual will wake up to the reality of life. Therefore, just leave children to their own destiny.
—Montescudo, Italy, 13 June 2010