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Raising Hindu Kids ?

Give Them A Reason To Believe

Raising Hindu Kids ?



Indian Hindu parents are to be given immense credit. The daily challenges that typical Hindu parents face in encouraging their children to maintain their commitment to Hinduism are enormous and very well-known.

Little Understanding

Hindu parents try their best to observe fidelity to the religion of their ancestors, often having little understanding of the religion themselves other than what was given to them, in turn, by their own parents.

Hindu YouthJust a Family Tradtion

All too many Indian Hindu youth, on the other hand, find themselves un-attracted to a religion that is little comprehended or respected by most of those around them – Hindu and non-Hindu alike. Today’s Hindu youth seek more strenuously convincing reasons for following a religion than merely the argument that it is the family tradition.

Youth Demand Explanations

Today’s Hindu youth demand, and deserve, cogent philosophical explanations about what Hinduism actually teaches, and why they should remain Hindu rather than join any of the many other religious alternatives they see around them. Temple priests are often ill equipped to give these bright Hindu youth the answers they so sincerely seek…mom and dad are usually even less knowledgeable than the temple ‘pujaris’. What is a Hindu child to do?

Parents’ Dilemma

As I travel the nation delivering lectures on Hindu philosophy and spirituality, I frequently encounter a repeated scenario. Hindu parents will often approach me after I’ve finished my lecture and timidly ask if they can have some advice. The often-repeated story goes somewhat like this:

7e940468b6d14a298e01e885c5c50347“We raised our son/daughter to be a good Hindu. We took them to the temple for important holidays. We even sent him/her to a Hindu camp for a weekend when they were 13. Now at the age of 23, our child has left Hinduism and converted to the (fill in the blank) religion. When we ask how could they have left the religion of their family, the answer that they throw back in our face is: ‘but mama/dada, you always taught us that all religions are the same, and that it doesn’t really matter how a person worships God. So what does it matter if we’ve followed your advice and switched to another religion?'”

Many of you currently reading this article have probably been similarly approached by parents expressing this same dilemma.

All Religions are the Same?

The truly sad thing about this scenario is that the child is, of course, quite correct in her assertion that she is only following the logical conclusion of her parents’ often-repeated mantra of “all religions are the same.”

If all religions are exactly the same, after all, and if we all just end up in the same place in the end anyway, then what does it really matter what religion we follow?

Hindu parents complain when their children adopt other religions, but without understanding that it was precisely this highly flawed dogma of Radical Universalism, and not some inherent flaw of Hinduism itself, that has driven their children away.




Parents Not to Blame

My contention is that parents themselves are not to be blamed for espousing this non-Hindu idea to their children. Rather, much of the blame is to be placed at the feet of today’s ill equipped Hindu teachers and leaders, the supposed guardians of authentic Dharma teachings.

In modern Hinduism, we hear from a variety of sources this claim that all religions are equal. Unfortunately, the most damaging source of this fallacy is none other than the many un-informed spiritual leaders of the Hindu community itself. I have been to innumerable pravachanas, for example, where a benignly grinning guruji will provide his audience with the following tediously parroted metaphor, what I call the Mountain Metaphor.

The Mountain Metaphor

“Truth (or God or Brahman) lies at the summit of a very high mountain. There are many diverse paths to reach the top of the mountain, and thus attain the one supreme goal. Some paths are shorter, some longer. The path itself, however, is unimportant. The only truly important thing is that seekers all reach the top of the mountain.”

While this simplistic metaphor might seem compelling at a cursory glance, it leaves out a very important elemental supposition: it makes the unfounded assumption that everyone wants to get to the top of the same mountain! Not every religion shares the same goal, the same conception of the Absolute (indeed, even the belief that there is an Absolute), or the same means to their respective goals. Rather, there are many different philosophical “mountains”, each with their own very unique claim to be the supreme goal of all human spiritual striving.

When we make the sentimentally comforting, yet unthinking, claim that “all religions are the same”, we are unwittingly betraying the grandeur and integrity of this ancient heritage, and contributing to weakening the philosophical/cultural matrix of Hinduism to its very core.

No Radical Universalism, Please!

Each and every time a Hindu upholds Radical Universalism, and bombastically proclaims that “all religions are the same”, she does so at the dire expense of the very Hinduism she claims to love. To deny the uniqueness and greatness of Hinduism leads, in turn, to a very unhealthy psychological state of self-loathing, a sense of unworthiness and a schizophrenic confusion on the part of anyone who wishes to consider themselves Hindu.

bhajanWhy Kids Lack Interest

This is especially the case for Hindu youth. The effects of this debilitating inferiority complex, coupled with the lack of philosophical clarification, that result from the denigrating influence of Radical Universalism are the principal reasons why Hindu parents find their children all too often lacking a deep interest in Hinduism and, in some cases, even abandoning Hinduism for seemingly more rational and less self-abnegating religions.

Who, after all, wants to follow a religion in which it is claimed that the very basis of the religion is to exult the greatness of other religions at its own expense?

The Answer is One

If we want to ensure that our youth remain committed to Hinduism as a meaningful path, that our leaders teach Hinduism in a manner that represents the tradition authentically and with dignity, and that the greater Hindu community can feel that they have a religion that they can truly take pride in, then we must abandon Radical Universalism.

If we want Hinduism to survive so that it may continue to bring hope, meaning and enlightenment to untold future generations, then the next time our son or daughter asks us what Hinduism is really all about, let us not slavishly repeat to them that “all religions are the same”.

Let us Teach Them Sanatana Dharma

Let us instead look them in their eyes, and teach them the uniquely precious, the beautifully endearing, and the philosophically profound truths of our tradition…truths that have been responsible for keeping Hinduism a vibrantly living religious force for over 5000 years. Let us teach them Sanatana Dharma, the eternal way of Truth.

~ Dr. Frank Morales

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9 Responses to "Raising Hindu Kids ?"

  1. srilalitha  June 13, 2014 at 4:42 am

    every indian should do this ….

    Reply
  2. Kiran Bilakhia  July 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I cannot understand why parents do not realise that the religion that gives such inclusiveness will be damaged irreversibly by such a reaction to eg mixed marriages..The Abrahamic religions are exclusive and do not see the big picture and by their very nature are chipping away at Hinduism as a result of such ignorance by the hindu parents.Do they not realise that protecting the Dharma is for all of society and not individual ‘happiness’ and that with rights come responsibilites to protect ‘something’ so awesome and precious such as our scriptures and their unmatchable lofty philosophies formulated by our Great Rishi Fathers from the Shrutis to Smritis.They did not patent anything,nor had any self-interest but the good of humanity.As it is it seems there is a deliberate conscious effort to marginalise Hinduism in favour of Buddhism.Lords Shiva or Krishna or the Devi don’t do marketing so we have to for the Sanatan Dharma to survive!

    Reply
  3. evan  October 1, 2014 at 5:04 am

    BAPS.ORG is the best example of a Hindu community raising Hindu Kids. Just check out any one of there mandir and you will see the difference.

    Reply
  4. Girish  January 23, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Very well written article .. I recently started following this website and this sounds really very well articulated and moderated so as to make this generation understand .. I had relied on my instinct many at times for truth and it had paid me off big big times .. i take it as a super power of mine .. 🙂 I a very ordinary citizen have been rising this point ever since i got it in my instincts .. I was being seen as a fanatic by fellow hindus only .. Thanks for putting it in a very nice way ..

    Reply
  5. Atul Thakur  April 30, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Good article. I would add that Hindus are lost about their religion. I agree that our teachers in their quest to get more people or people from other religion in their fold call Hinduism a way of life. This is false. We need to start defining Hinduism as Religion that teaches us multiple way to connect with the divine.. One can chant mantras, do deity worship, do yajanas, do yoga, breath control, fasting, scripture reading and many more.. We respect many scriptures like the Vedas, Puranas upanishad, Gita etc.. So Hinduism is truly a democratic religion that is amazing. Hindu mantra have the power to change one’s life.

    I have given the pure RAM mantra to people facing problems in their life and it has helped them a lot. So it does work.

    Reply
  6. Darshnee Merchant  May 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Many thanks for sharing. One of reason also we didn’t learn about Hinduism in school , same as many other religious does in the world.As we know Hinduism is way of life , which other religion in Bharat and over see Bhartiya also following, but unfortunately they never ever accepted. Sanatan Dharma ki Jai .,….

    Reply
  7. R.S.Gadasalli  May 19, 2015 at 3:39 am

    All religions are same is a suicidal statement for Hindus. Sanathan Dharama is the most ancient and original. which is more than 3500 years old. let us look at the way how Church gets people every sunday for their congregations and how they collect money. let us follow them. let us make sure our priests are knowledgeble and know what to say and how to preach. Attempts to take over lands of Missionaries where Hindus are in a majority should be made. Widow remarriage and encouraging boys and girls who are marrying outside their caste should be done . we need lot of social workers to help in this process. Finding our places where missionariees are planning major conversions is the key to prevent massive conversions. Thanks to the dirty deeds of priests all around the world, the attendance in churches has gone down to 40%. But they have the solid backing of govts and philanthropists. We need this to promote our culture and religion.Temples should attract families and children of all ages. let the seniors start playing the role of match makers. Now we see very successful Indian doctors, engineers and others are getting targeted by caucasian females and the marriages always follow religious conversions. A Hindu marriage is only done to satisfy the parents and friends.

    Reply
  8. Ed Viswanathan  May 9, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Unless we teach us kids step by step all about our culture in very simple language they are not interested in following neither learning.

    That what I did in 1988 when my son was attending a Catholic elementary school in USA……My book AM I A HINDU? Which is a father and son discussion about Hinduism is on its 30th edition in India.

    Reply
  9. Ed Viswanathan  May 9, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Namaste …..Unless we teach our children step by step all about our culture in very simple language they are not interested in following our culture neither learning about our beliefs.

    That is exactly what I did in 1988 when my son was attending a Catholic elementary school in USA……My book AM I A HINDU? Which is a father and son discussion about Hinduism is on its 30th edition in India.

    Reply

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