H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

FAMILY, PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Part 2/2) by Matsyavatara dasa (Marco Ferrini)

Nowadays, most of people hardly consider family as a sacred entity but rather as a kind of limited liability company that can be broken up at anytime on the basis of an economical agreement. Abortion, betrayal and divorce as a result of a free and irresponsible sexual behavior, has become an ordinary practice. By dreaming of such an illusory freedom, this idea of moral degradation is mistaken for emancipation. Parents work hard to provide for the increasing pseudo demands required by a consumerist culture. On the other hand it is a negative attitude for the youngsters, who suffer the lack of education and the lack of a leading example from parents. Children education is always more often delegated to strangers and to the media. According to the traditional Indovedic culture, the family (griha) is one of the four evolving stages of human path towards liberation, with the final aim to offer affection, protection and education to its members. The traditional family used to be a solid institution because it was built on the strong ethical and spiritual principles. The family members included grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, cousins. Responsibilities and roles were well defined and used to be learnt since childhood. Social values included respect for civil laws, respect for the elderly, for the sages and love for God. The Creator, the world and all creatures, human and not human - all had the right to exist in their own earthly and cosmic dimension.
In a family only the parents had the decisive role to raise the kids. Teaching is efficient in relation to the strength of the model. Only highly-civilized parents, at the same time strong and loving, loyal to everybody, correct and generous, would be able to inspire their kids to behave in the same way.
At the time of Indovedic civilization, young people used to attend the guru school until the age of maturity. At school they used to be educated to a spiritual life by accepting family responsibilities. They were encouraged not to get married until recognition of their spiritual, social and ethical maturity by the guru, which was essential in order to begin a family life successfully. It was highly recommended not to take the role of a parent if a person resulted unable to facilitate spiritual and human progress of the children, and by means of complex liturgies, to facilitate the post-mortem journey of the elderly people in the family, by helping them towards a final liberation.
In a traditional family the father is the social-spiritual guide, he teaches with the example, he provides for the needs of the family members and protects them from any danger; he educates the kids and helps them to choose the spiritual master who will give them initiation (diksha guru) and who will gradually guide them towards their divine and luminous nature and their relation to God. A woman is brought up since early age to develop the virtues to succeed in the family life, cultivating qualities like: kindness, welcome approach, patience, faith, loving cooperation with the husband, children care and care for the guests and the household. A wife, besides being a generous and loving mother with her own children, is an indispensable teacher and the most intimate assistant to her husband too. Therefore she is loved and respected as a queen (Rig-Veda X.85, 20-47) by all the family members. On the other hand, husband is educated to take care of his wife by providing all she needs according to one’s possibilities, but most of all by helping the spouse in her spiritual growth, teaching with his own example. According to the Vedic tradition wife is treated as the better half of the husband’s personality and she knows that she cannot reach liberation (moksha) without fulfilling her duties to him and the family. A husband is aware not be able to evolve unless he takes care, from a human and spiritual point of view, of his family which depends on him. Job, prayers, food, relationships, weddings, birth and death rituals, the whole family life is seen as a series of activities aimed at a spiritual consciousness purification and development, until man can achieve the pure feeling of love and devotion to God (bhakti-yoga). In this traditional context the home is like a temple and the family is like a community permeated by spirituality: it is a tribute to devotion where man rejoices in serving and praying God; it is a place to lead a pure, simple and holy existence. Children’s education becomes the main purpose of parents so that the kids as adults would be able to organize their life successfully. Nothing is left by chance: delivering and raising of children is regulated by religious rites (samskara) with the aim to sanctify the path of their existence. In the Sanskrit language “son” is called putra, which means ‘the saver who redeems the consequences of failure’ (literally the word pu means hell). A parent who spends energies for the spiritual education of the children will gain as many rewards as those obtained by people who made every kind of sacrifice (yajna), austerities (tapas), pilgrimages (dharma, tirtha), donations (dhana) and study of the Veda (svadhyaya). A great sage who lived in India 2.300 years ago, Canakya Pandita, in his famous work about ethical behavior (Niti-shastra) taught that children have to be treated sweetly until the age of five, have to be taken care of firmly until the age of fifteen and treated as friends for the rest of their life. By speaking reproachfully to the kids in their late teens, if they did not receive a proper education and did not develop a sufficient awareness of their responsibilities, of the esteem and affection towards the parents, such behavior would make them enemies. The sage Canakya said that to have kids with no devotion for God and who do not study the sacred science, it is like having blind eyes, worthless accessories that cause only pain.
In our days social conditions have got worse so much that many people fear to create a new family; they do not trust one another and worry for the future; they fear betrayals, challenges and wrongdoings from the family members, they worry for a tormented life. However, considering the huge and objective difficulties that, nowadays more than ever, people have to face when starting a family, the one who is not willing to give up dreaming to become husband or wife, father or mother, should know that, in the modern society a constructive alternative to family life has not been created yet. All the attempts to try a different approach turned out like painful failures. If the family as it appears today does not look reliable, if husband and wife do not trust one another, if the parents and kids look at each other with suspicion, what to do then?
As human beings we suffer from our limits, but we ought not to forget our divine matrix, it is better to ask for the Lord's mercy and follow the path of spiritual progress so as to destroy unconscious conditionings, for the harmonization of our personality and the elevation of our consciousness, in order to improve the relationship with ourselves and with the others, the perception and visualization of superior levels of reality. With an enlightened consciousness it is so possible to organize the family and social life without phobia, anxiety, gradually structuring habits and human relations according to the model of universal values given by the sages of all times.

About procreation
Before making a decision on whether to give birth to a child, it would be necessary to check a series of preconditions from a physiological point of view; good health condition and age are important. By consulting a gynecologist the parent will receive all the necessary information.
Physical fitness is very important, but even more important are: tendencies, inclinations, emotions that build a good, steady and harmonious character, with qualities that inspire trustfulness and serenity. With opposite psychological conditions, consequences would be unexpected.
Far more important than a psychological state is the genuine vocation to motherhood, that means: self-abnegation, hospitality, carefulness for the others, inclination to assist, to feed, to cure, to teach, to correct, to provide for the ordinary needs knowing that this commitment will last at least thirty years for every child, a time long enough to spend with serenity, joy, dedication, perseverance and sense of responsibility.
A specific background is required for pregnancy. The house is the container, the family is the institution, the economical tools are the necessary resources, but nothing of this, although indispensable, is itself sufficient. The feeling of love is an essential quality that each parent should convey to the child.
A constant attention is required for the children, an intense desire to take care, to give affection, to sacrifice oneself for a superior wellness. If mother or father has no vocation to become so, it will affect the role of being a parent and it will be a psychological disadvantage for the child.
As the Scriptures teach and as life experience points out, becoming a parent means to accept responsibilities which require an adequate preparation so as to enlighten a trustful vocation without being conditioned by social pressure.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

FAMILY, PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Part 1/2) by Matsyavatara dasa (Marco Ferrini)

We are living in a particular age of rapid social and cultural changes and it is our responsibility to ask ourself whether and how delicate and essential family relationships between parents and children can endure, without missing the meaning and purpose of a basic relationship, for the sake of every person and for a human and spiritual development.
Nowadays, there are parents and children whose family structure is poor of ethical and spiritual values. Therefore we risk to sink in a ‘no land man’ with uncertain boundaries, with feelings, roles and attitudes that need to be arranged and experimented by paying a high price for human, individual and collective damages.
The influence of a hedonistic-consumerist culture, has progressively diverted the attention of the majority of people from a spiritual oriented path to a pseudo-value alternative which has deeply transformed and distorted people and family concepts.
Technology has given a strong support to science in many fields, but it has not been able to develop a similar ethical model in order to solve all those problems that new technological developments have dramatically and urgently made us to face with. Some of the problems are: a low supply of energetic and nutritious ailments, uncertainty about the use of nuclear power, finance and economy, genetic contamination. Because of old and new tensions and because of the impoverishment of a religious spirit, a wide degenerated ethical behavior has spread all around.
All this has contributed to afflict the traditional relations within a family household, in particular between husband and wife, between parents and children. By taking into account modern changes, family rights have been revised. We can think, for example, of single mothers’ rights, most of whom are very young ladies. We can also think of the increased number of abortions, or of the million drug, smoking and alcoholism addiction victims. Another clear sign of sorrow is the kid’s sufferance because of divorced parents and others who suffer from family violence. In this crazy world, the first victims are children, who are always more affected by character disturbances.
By reading these facts carefully, we cannot avoid to notice the lack of ethical and spiritual values which has been the cause of its development, neither can we avoid to notice that the family has lost the motivation of its well-being: the purpose of transcendental living. Nowadays more than ever, religion has become a formality and we call God only to demand a social wellness which has become the sole purpose of life. With such low morality, parents and children, even husbands and wives, very often show egoistic interests which contrast the spirit of the family. Therefore most of them live together for convenience, sharing an empty relationship with no sacred meaning and without a superior love. When one of the two parents, in fact, does not gain anything in return, very soon one shows weariness, lack of spirit of sacrifice and without thinking and with no regret leaves the family.

Monday, 2 May 2011

A DAY DEDICATED TO LOVE. By Matsyavatara dasa (Marco Ferrini)

March 18th 2011,
the day before Shri Gaura Purnima
Ponsacco, PI

Dear fellow devotees, please accept my obeisances; all praises and glories to Shrila Prabhupada and to Shri Shri Gaura Nitai! Shri Gaura Purnima, ki jay! He Krishna! He Govinda! He Gopala! Param vijayate Shri Krishna Sankirtanam! I'd like to share with you the rasa with which I hope we can spend the time tomorrow, celebrating the sacred recurrence of Shri Caitanya Deva's birth in this world.
I wish we could celebrate Gaura Purnima dipped in God’s Love, praying the merciful Lord by an uninterrupted invocation of His sacred Nouns, in order to give Him the chance of purifying us from all contaminations. Even though there are great faults in our personality which trouble our spiritual life, you have to know that the day of tomorrow is so powerful - thanks to Shri Caitanya Deva’s mercy - that, if we devote ourselves to Nama-yajna with a sincere longing for freeing and for purifying ourselves from all material desires, in a short time we can make great improvements on the way towards real Happiness and real Love. From mangala arati until evening we will devote ourselves to chanting japa, to singing bhajans, to reading from the Scriptures, meditating on episodes of Shri Caitanya’s life, in order to get dipped in His spiritual qualities, relying for our salvation on that extremely powerful strength - God’s love - which has become human through the divine figure of Shri Caitanya himself. May the Divine Name resound in our minds, straight into the deepness of the soul, and may we appeal to the unconditioned mercy of Shri Caitanya, begging sincerely with mind, body, intellect and soul to take part in His Love. As Shri Caitanya is God’s Love himself in its highest expression of pitifulness and mercy, for all of us the day of tomorrow could be an unforgettable day, if we dedicate it to that divine Love which can allow us to turn towards the right, constructive, virtuous and spiritual direction all our energies, our wishes and affection, in order to turn them to clear, flowing water that nourishes and gives life, instead of keeping them as foul stuff that taints with the conditionings, the claims and the greediness of the ego. The day of tomorrow should be spent merged in the invocation of God’s glories, in order to go back to our original purity, to that Happiness and Love which are already inside ourselves, but which in daily life are hardly able to show themselves and for which we feel an undescribable longing. Shri Caitanya Deva, ki jaya! Shri Gaura Purnima, ki jaya! Hoping you can be with us tomorrow at Bhakti Bhavan to celebrate Shri Caitanya Deva, with love!