Spiritual Education

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Spiritual education must be imparted to children from the very beginning of life. Imbibing good samskaras or impressions has to start from the moment of conception. The mother is the first guru, teacher and inspirer. Until the child is seven years of age, she is entirely responsible for his destiny, for qualities such as love, compassion and intelligence. This education is maternal, internal or emotional. After the age of seven, society takes over the child’s education.

Samskara is a seed sown in the depths of consciousness. We are a bundle of samskaras. Everything we experience in life and after remains embedded as a samskara. Just as a seed sprouts when the time is right, so too these samskaras sprout at the favourable time. Depending on the quality of our samskaras, we remain savage like an animal or are transformed into a human being, fit for higher births.

When a child is innocent, an imprint planted in the mind be comes permanent, which affects the intellect. When understanding develops, children are influenced by suggestions such as not telling lies, and this has an effect. During pregnancy, after the individual soul, the jivatma, is implanted in the foetus at four months, the education received in the womb is most influential. Everyone, father, mother or any other household member, should understand this reality. A soul in the mother’s womb is very sensitive and is influenced by the surrounding vibrations.

In the gurukul tradition, knowledge is imbibed rather than imposed. It is believed that knowledge is already within, and if the child is provided with the proper environment, the knowledge will unfold. Traditionally, after twelve years in the gurukul, the child returned to his family and was married. Marriage was also a samskara. Culture depends upon a person’s samskaras. Money comes and goes but good samskaras abide. Compassion, discrimination and the ability to make correct decisions come with good samskaras. If good samskaras disappear from your family, what is left? Will you cherish television? No, we want good samskaras, the progressive refinement of personality, stage by stage.

The vedic tradition of samskaras has been passed down through the generations. It has been developed, practised and maintained only in India. If we want to improve the quality of our children and, in the course of time, society and the world we live in, then the samskaras, the impressions, we expose our children to are of the utmost importance.

Published in Sankalpa of a Sannyasi