Kartik Meditation For Vaishnava parents

It’s the beginning of the month of Kartik, a sweet time to spend with children doing special services for the Lord, like making and offering ghee lamps and singing the Damodarashtaka song. Children like this time of the year when we all sit together with litten candles every evening, singing and glorifying Lord Krishna and His childhood pastimes. There is something truly magical in the air during this precious time, and we all know we should use this opportunity to advance in our spiritual lives.

What does that advancement mean? As I understand, the purpose of all our spiritual endeavors is to develop a love for Godhead. In His Damodar-Lila, Lord Krishna shows us that He allows His devotees to bind Him by the ropes of love. No other ropes can bind Krishna because He is fully independent and out of reach of any material means. Whatever we do in our spiritual life has to be directed toward this goal, to develop pure love for Krishna.

Love for God is the topmost and supreme love, but it includes the love for all living beings in itself. All living souls are parts and parcels of God, which means that if we love God, we naturally love all living beings. In material consciousness, our natural love is covered by our egocentric idea of “me and mine”. We love or hate someone based on that idea. On the other hand, those living beings who are part of our “me and mine” experience are sent to us to practice love in action, in connection to them. We can’t serve Krishna personally in our material bodies and with material consciousness. But we can serve Krishna’s representatives, and we can serve Krishna’s parts and parcels. The idea that we should serve only a few chosen representatives of Krishna and that others are not worthy of our service is wrong. Anyone is worthy of our service and our love. It’s just a matter of what way of serving we should apply, depending on our material positions.

By showing love, care, and gentle spiritual guidance to our children, with an awareness that they are children of God, we actually serve Krishna. We do our best to take good care of His parts and parcels, which are given to us to train them toward spiritual goals. Being that kind of a parent is a service to Krishna. It’s supposed to be a natural thing. Still, I have witnessed, many times, devotee mothers neglecting service to their children because they were busy with some other services for the temple or some other Krishna-conscious projects. If you are a mother of a young child, it’s really difficult to find something more important to do instead of taking care of that child. Traditionally, women are busy with housework while taking care of children side by side. Children need the constant presence of their mothers and exposure to different types of practical work that mothers do around the house. A Vaishnavi mother will naturally engage a child in devotional activities as well.

In His Damodar pastime, Krishna glorifies the pure love of His mother by allowing her to bind Him. In one layer of this pastime, we can find inspiration to use our motherhood to serve Krishna by taking proper care of our children. This a great service, even though we wouldn’t most probably get much social recognition for doing it. It’s one of the things that everyone takes for granted. We live in a society that does not support and facilitate motherhood as it’s supposed to, and children suffer because of it. When we truly understand the nature of a child and its need for a mother, we can begin to appreciate and respect motherhood in all its glory. A child’s need for a mother is so deep and strong that adults sometimes misunderstand it as excessive. But it’s not, it’s natural. God created children to be like that and He equipped mothers, biologically and emotionally, with all the qualities needed to take care of a child during all its stages of development, from innocence to competence. The role of a mother is crucial at an early age when a child is physically bound to her. Later on, the role of a father is of the same importance.

If we give unconditional love to our children and at the same time show an example of sincere devotion to Krishna, we can be sure that we are doing the right thing. Many adults remember their parents as shining stars to follow if those parents have succeeded in showing some higher principle in life and given a lot of love to the child. The ability to show unconditional love depends on our emotional and spiritual maturity. Some parents think they are giving unconditional love to their children, but they’re not. Unconditional love means that our love does not depend on anything external and that we will not withhold love from a child if he does not meet certain conditions. Even if a child does not follow spiritual standards to our expectations, that’s not a reason to withhold our love from him. Rather, we can try different things to encourage a child to spiritual practice. A child should feel ongoing and positive encouragement for spiritual life to be able to accept it in the heart. Any kind of punishment because of failing to meet the high expectations of parents or other authorities can hinder a child’s spiritual and emotional development. Punishment is never an option, but rather, we can give a child an opportunity to correct misbehavior by doing some meaningful act of redemption, like helping, giving a gift, writing an apology letter, doing some additional service, and things like that.

It’s not an easy task to develop pure spiritual love for God and all living beings, but that’s what spiritual life is all about. In trying to reach that exalted goal, we should never forget to nurture loving relationships with those near us. That’s our practice field, where we show God our ability to serve and love. During special times, like this Damodar month, we can use an opportunity to increase our service attitude and our acts of love and devotion and set up that kind of mood in our family… with the hope to find those ropes of love that would help us to connect again to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His spiritual abode.

Happy Kartik to all!   

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