Play and Have Fun

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Children do not become great through study or qualifications. They become great through the quality of their mind, intelligence and receptivity. This is based upon how much they are able to receive, retain and give. After all, what were Newton’s qualifications? Was he a university graduate?

I don’t mean that one should not study. One must have qualifications because today this is the system throughout the world and we must respect it. But when children are continually asked, “Have you done your homework?” they become scared of not getting first class marks in their exams. They worry about what Papa or Mama will say, because if they fail they know they will have to face the music.

School children are always afraid that they might fail in their exams. What does it matter if they fail? Parents should tell their children, “Never mind, if you fail you can try again.” But parents do not have the courage to say such things, so their children think, “Other students are fighting for a first division. If I get a second division, what will Daddy say?” This idea, which is drilled into the minds of children, ruins their entire personality. Instead, the child should be told, “Go and study if you like, but do not bother too much about it. You will not get a job by doing your BA anyway. It is more important that you play every morning and evening. I am just sending you to school. It does not matter if you pass or fail.”

The popular notion is that if children play and have fun, they will fail in their studies and in life. But I say that if they play and have fun, they will be successful, and if they study too much, they will spoil their lives. Playing balances the muscular and nervous energies of children and it circulates blood throughout the system many times over. You should feed your children a rich diet with milk, butter and eggs if you can afford it, and then ask them to run two miles every day. The child who does not run and play sits in front of the TV all day or studies with one leg up on the table. His blood circulation becomes very sluggish like a choked drain. His studies suffer and a tutor has to be called in to help him.

If a tutor has to be called to help the child study, it is better that the child is not taught at all! If a mirror is clean, your reflection will be clearly visible, but if you are not able to see your reflection, of what use is the mirror? The power of children to grasp new things is normally so strong that the teacher needs to teach something to them only once. Children listen to a song from the cinema just once and they are able to memorize it, yet they need a tutor to help them learn from the school books. No! Children should be left free to play.

30 November 1994, Rikhia, published in Bhakti Yoga Sagar Volume Two