Higher Teachings of Sri Swamiji

Education for the Future

Children are the prospect of the future. They will have to be prepared, not just in the context of one country, but in the context of the whole world. The principal part of your earnings should be spent on giving your children a good and modern education. It is essential that children advance in their studies. Nowadays education is of many kinds. Sports and modeling are also a type of education, and sports people and models earn good incomes. Therefore, education should be such that children are in tune with society, present and future. The future society will be a hi-tech one. The dreams of the current generation are hi-tech too.

Nowadays girls also have many options. Earlier, in both eastern and western society, the only option for girls was to get married. The options of studying or setting up a business did not exist. Today all these options are open. A woman can become president, chief of the army staff, a scientist, space traveler or revolutionary. She can do anything. The tradition of differentiating between boys and girls should end. The affluent need to take the lead in this cause because the poor cannot do so.

The village children have ambitions, but their parents are ill-informed. The village girls tend domestic cattle, collect the cow dung in the early morning, graze the cattle and goats, and by the time they are eighteen or nineteen they are the mothers of two or three children. To beget a number of children was the necessity of the past, when our society was primitive and agriculture was the mainstay, but now the times have changed. Nowadays marriage and progeny should be the last priority. First is education, second is profession and third is production.

The amount budgeted for the education of a girl should be the same as for a boy. Through education, girls should fulfil their dreams of becoming something: businesswomen, industrialists or social workers, anything at all. Along with establishing a career, those who wish to set up house should do so. This is a question of understanding. It seems illogical that parents should arrange a girl’s marriage. If I wish to get married, the choice should be mine, not my father’s. This irrational method should end, and the one who wishes to get married should have the right to choose. If the social aspirations of children are not left up to them but dictated by us, they will feel suffocated their whole life through. Society must give its children the chance to express their talents if the country is to progress.

It is the job of parents to provide opportunities for their children. Opportunity means prospects. If you have a shoe or textile business, you may expect your child to take it up too, but that is not offering a prospect. If you try to assess honestly whether the child is better off looking after the shop or doing something else, you are offering a prospect. Prospect comes into effect when the child goes forward on his own quest and returns with something through the quest. In today’s age, name and fame are not enough; one has to have money too. It is the age of balance.

The future generation depends on how you train the children. Every generation has its own peculiarities, problems, likes and dislikes. Your children don’t like what you like and don’t dislike what you dislike. What you dislike is what they like. This is called change, and it is natural. Every generation has to change, just as day has to change into night and night into day. If there were just one generation or one culture, it would become monotonous. Change has to come about, and the most natural change is generational change.

At Rikhiapeeth, we have adopted 1,500 young girls and boys, kanyas and batuks. These children from the surrounding villages are down-to-earth, practical and very intelligent. They have no concept of fatigue or exhaustion. The children say the ashram is their first home and all day long they swarm around like bees. Every day they come for classes in English, yoga, kirtan, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and computer skills. The older ones have started teaching the younger ones. When the children reach the age of thirteen, they retire to make way for more children.

When I first arrived in Rikhia, neither the children nor their parents showed any interest in their studies. I was surprised because my feeling was that if the sannyasins in the ashram are so highly educated, then householders and their children should also be knowledgeable. Most of the children are from the families of labourers. People ask what is the point of village girls learning computer skills if their future is only to get married and collect cow dung every morning. My reply is that even educated people can collect cow dung. In villages in the West many educated people live like farmers. The future of these children lies in the hands of God. We are just doing our duty.

Originally, when the girls saw Swami Satsangi speaking English so fluently and driving vehicles they were shocked. Soon they followed suit and the process of education among the girls began. Some of the older girls now go to Deoghar for higher education. These children have developed an intense interest in their studies. In this age education is tantamount to having the third eye, jnana chakshu. No society can prosper without education.

Children are the up and coming generation. I chose the kanyas and batuks to manage every aspect of the yajna, and they handle it all with versatility, charm and innocence. Children should learn early in life how to share their pleasure with their fellow beings. Giving good samskaras in the formative years will bring about changes in their attitude to life and affect the future generations.