High on Waves

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

As a small child I used to spend hours building things with wooden blocks. My parents often watched me from a distance and my father would say, 'I will make my son an engineer'. But my mother always interrupted, 'No, he will become a great leader'. I was like an unbaked clay pot, and my parents, like the pot maker, were trying to shape my personality, my life, in their own way. My father often said, 'Study your arithmetic; try to analyse things. You have to become an engineer.' While my mother said, 'Take an active part in debate; practice delivering lectures like your uncle'.

But I could never understand their advice. I always felt a mysterious power in nature. Every day flowers bloomed and faded, the sun rose and set. I used to wonder who was controlling these events, who was the monitor. Finally I approached my parents with this question, but my father only replied, 'No one has succeeded in solving this mystery, so don't think about it'. And my mother said, 'Don't be silly. You have to make money, name and fame - think about these things.' I made no further inquiries.

The aspirations of my parents were blocking the path of my life at each step and unconsciously I began to liberate myself from the blockade. By chance I got a few books by Vivekananda, which I read, and I chose my path. I will become a man', I thought, 'and not a leader, engineer or scientist'. I was determined not to copy anyone - neither my father nor my mother, Jawaharlal Nehru nor Vivekananda. I decided not to flatter anybody or tell lies for my own gain. To speak the truth is always risky but I did so. If I made a mistake I admitted it. Soon I became intolerable company and my friends began to reject me. A few sympathized and advised me to adjust, but I was very determined to be myself and inside I grew stronger and stronger every day.

Today my personality has become an amalgamation of so many ideas, but still I have remained true to myself. In doing so I have managed to preserve and evolve the inner vision of a more powerful self which has always given me inspiration and direction.

Now I request parents, teachers and social workers to try and understand their children and allow them to grow up without losing their original purity, spontaneity and creativity. A child with an aptitude for the arts should not be forced to become a doctor or a scientist. Let him develop and express himself according to his natural abilities. Guide each child very carefully. Help him to recognize his special talents and qualities. Watch and analyse his tendencies and inclinations and encourage him to choose the path of his own interest.

Let us be living models of what we want our children to become, otherwise all is hypocrisy. We often complain that children do not obey us, but is it not we who have taught them to indulge, to show off, and tell lies. Now let us think over their problems like a psychologist, and as their spiritual guardian show them a higher and simpler way of life.