Children in Hindu Family
O Lord of the home, best finder of riches for our children are you. Grant to us splendor and strength, O Master of our home.
Śukla Yajur Veda 3.39. ve, 343
What Is the Fulfilment of a Marriage?
Children are the greatest source of happiness in marriage. Householder life is made rich and complete when sons and daughters are born, at which time the marriage becomes a family and a new generation begins. Aum.
The total fulfilment of the grihastha dharma, family life, is children. Marriage remains incomplete until the first child is born or adopted. The birth of the first child cements the family together.
At the birth itself, the community of guardian devas of the husband, wife and child are eminently present. Their collective vibration showers blessings upon the home, making of it a full place, a warm place.
It is the duty of the husband and wife to become father and mother. This process begins prior to conception with prayer, meditation and a conscious desire to bring a high soul into human birth and continues with providing the best possible conditions for its upbringing.
Raising several children rewards the parents and their offspring as well. Large families are more cohesive, more stable, and are encouraged within the limits of the family’s ability to care for them.
Parents, along with all members of the extended family, are responsible to nurture the future generation through childhood into puberty and adulthood.
The Vedas exclaim:
“Blessed with sons and daughters, may they enjoy their full extent of life, decked with ornaments of gold.” Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
What Are the Main Duties of Parents?
The fundamental duty of parents is to provide food, shelter and clothing and to keep their children safe and healthy. The secondary duty is to bestow education, including instruction in morality and religious life. Aum.
Assuring the health and well-being of their offspring is the most essential duty of parents to their children, never to be neglected.
Beyond this, parents should provide a good example to their children, being certain that they are taught the Hindu religious heritage and culture along with good values, ethics, strength of character and discipline.
Sons and daughters should worship regularly at pūjā with the parents, and the Hindu sacraments should all be provided.
Education in all matters is the duty of the parents, including teaching them frankly about sex, its sacredness and the necessity to remain chaste until marriage. Children must learn to respect and observe civil law and to honor and obey their elders.
Parents must love their children dearly, and teach them to love. The best way to teach is by example: by their own life, parents teach their children how to live.
The Vedas declare:
“Of one heart and mind I make you, devoid of hate. Love one another as a cow loves the calf she has borne. Let the son be courteous to his father, of one mind with his mother. Let the wife speak words that are gentle and sweet to her husband.” Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
How Strictly Must Children Be Guided?
Parents should be most diligent in guiding their children toward virtue, protecting them from all bad company and influences, being strict yet never harsh or mean, allowing them prudent freedom in which to grow. Aum.
Children are constantly learning, and that learning must be guided carefully by the parents. The young’s education, recreation and companions must be supervised. They should be taught the scriptures of their lineage.
Their religious education is almost always in the hands of the parents. They should be disciplined to study hard, and challenged to excel and fulfil their natural talents. They should be praised and rewarded for their accomplishments.
Children need and seek guidance, and only the parents can truly provide it. In general, it is the mother who provides love and encouragement, while the father corrects and disciplines.
A child’s faults if not corrected will be carried into adult life. Still, care should be taken to not be overly restrictive either. Children should never be struck, beaten, abused or ruled through a sense of fear.
Children, be they young or old, have a karma and a dharma of their own. Their parents have a debt to pay them; and they have a debt to return later in life.
The Vedas plead:
“O friend of men, protect my children. O adorable one, protect my cattle. O sword of flame, protect my nourishment.” Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
Should All Youths Be Urged to Marry?
All but the rare few inclined to monastic life should be encouraged to marry and schooled in the skills they will need to fulfil dharma. Young boys destined to be monastics should be raised as their satguru’s progeny. Aum.
Traditionally, boys with monastic tendencies are encouraged and provided special training under their satguru’s direction. It is considered a great blessing for the family to have a son become a monastic and later a swāmī.
Generally, children should be taught to follow and prepare themselves for the householder path.
Most boys will choose married life, and should be schooled in professional, technical skills. Girls are taught the refinements of household culture.
Both girls and boys should be trained in the sacred Vedic arts and sciences, including the sixty-four crafts and social skills, called kalās.
Boys benefit greatly when taught the profession of their father from a very young age. The mother is the role model for her daughters, whom she raises as the mothers of future families.
Sons and daughters who are gay may not benefit from marriage, and should be taught to remain loyal in relationships and be prepared to cope with community challenges.
The Vedas pray:
“May you, O love divine, flow for the acquisition of food of wisdom and for the prosperity of the enlightened person who praises you; may you grant him excellent progeny.” Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
How Is Family Harmony Maintained?
In the Hindu family, mutual respect, love and understanding are the bedrock of harmony. By not fighting, arguing or criticizing, members cultivate a spiritual environment in which all may progress. Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
For a harmonious joint family, it is vital to make the home strong, the center of activity and creativity, kept beautiful and clean, a sanctuary for each member.
While striving to increase wealth, the wise families live within their means, content with what they have. Activities are planned to bring the family close through shared experiences.
A gentle but firm hierarchy of respect for elders is maintained throughout the family. In general, the younger, in humility, defers to the elder, allowing him or her the last word. The elder is equally obliged to not misuse authority.
Older children are responsible for the safety and care of their younger brothers and sisters. Disputes among children are settled by their mother, but not kept a secret from the father. Actual discipline in the case of misconduct is carried out by the father.
When disputes arise in the extended family, responsibility for restoring harmony falls first to the men. However, any concerned member can take the lead if necessary.
The Vedas say of grihastha life:
“I will utter a prayer for such concord among family members as binds together the Gods, among whom is no hatred.” Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
A family gathers in the compound of their simple thatched home, which displays a swastika, sign of auspiciousness, above the door. The husband composes a musical piece which wife and daughter play, one on theVīṇāand the other on the drum.
I am inclined to adore you, the two sages, the ministrants at the places of work and worship of men, from whom all the prosperity is derived.
May you raise our offspring to a higher stature and help us to acquire precious treasures preserved amongst nature’s bounties, when the worship is being conducted.
Rig Veda 7.2.7. rvp, 2355
I know not how to stretch the threads or weave or discern the pattern of those who weave in the contest. Whose son will be the one to speak so well as to surpass, advancing from below, his father?
Rig Veda 6.9.2. ve, 331-332
Keen of mind and keen of sight, free from sickness, free from sin, rich in children, may we see you rise as a friend, O Sun, till a long life’s end!
Rig Veda 10.37.7. ve, 319
Never may brother hate brother or sister hurt sister. United in heart and in purpose, commune sweetly together.
Atharva Veda 3.30.3. ve, 857
To you, O Lord, the Priest, beloved of all men, we bring our praise with reverence. Keep watch over our children and ourselves, we pray. Guard both our lives and our cattle.
Atharva Veda 3.15.7. ve, 295
Let there be no neglect of the duties to the Gods and the fathers. Be one to whom the mother is a God. Be one to whom the father is a God. Be one to whom the teacher is a God. Be one to whom the guest is a God.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Taittirīya Upanishad 1.11.1-2. upr, 537-8
If he should desire, “Let me be born here again,” in whatever family he directs his attention, either the family of a brāhmin or the family of a king, into that he will be born.
Śukla Yajur Veda, Jaiminiyā Brāhmaṇa Upaniṣad 3.28.3-4. vo,115
By honoring his mother he gains this world, by honoring his father the middle sphere; but by obedience to his teacher, the world of Brahman. All duties have been fulfilled by him who honors those three.
Manu Dharma Śastras 2.232-3. lm, 72
“Sweet are the sounds of the flute and the lute,” say those who have not heard the prattle of their own children.
Thirukural 66. ww
A father benefits his son best by preparing him to sit at the forefront of learned councils. The son’s duty to his father is to make the world ask, “By what great austerities did he merit such a son?”
Thirukural 67, 70. ww
Of all blessings we know of none greater than the begetting of children endowed with intelligence. What pleasure it is to human beings everywhere when their children possess knowledge surpassing their own!
Thirukural 61, 68. ww
Study well. Be obedient. Hear and follow the advice of your father, mother, brothers and sisters, and your aunt and uncle. You alone always set a good example in obedience.
Natchintanai, Letter 10. nt, 22
Meditate, meditate, on God’s name in five letters. Eagerly come forward to serve Śivathondan. Grow and grow, the path of tapas ne’er leaving. Live in concord with parents and other relations.
Conquer, conquer the wayward mind little by little. Offer your worship to the feet of Gurunathan. Abandon, abandon sin with contrition. Have love and affection for all.
Moderately, moderately eat for your sustenance. Take pains at all time to assimilate knowledge. In your youth, in your youth, learn the arts and the sciences. To the mean and the miserly be not attached.
Foster, foster the friendship of well-nurtured people. Live in happiness, saying you are lacking nothing. Look after, look after your brothers and kinsfolk. Inwardly and outwardly let your life be the same.
Be firm, be firm in grace—yourself quite forgetting. Annihilate ego, forbidding doubt to arise. Then speak and speak of the greatness of the guru.
Natchintanai, “Our Duty” nt, 178
Blessing and joy to our mother and father! Joy to cattle, to beasts, and to men! May all well-being and graces be ours! Long may we see the sun! May the wind blow us joy, may the sun shine down joy on us.
Atharva Veda 22.214.171.124-5. ve 302