On Children and Childhood

Swami Veda Bharati holds the prestigious title of Mahamandaleshwara in the Swami order of monks. He is also the Chancellor of HIHT University, Dehradun, which was established by Master Swami Rama. He has authored approximately 18 books on Indian spirituality including a 1500 page comprehensive commentary on two of the four chapters of Patanjali's Yoga-sutras. Before taking the vows of Swamihood in 1992, Swami Veda Bharati was known as Dr. Usharbudh Arya.

On Children and ChildhoodWhen Swami Veda Bharati was proclaimed a child prodigy in India, explaining some of the most complex classical texts of philosophy at the age of nine, he could not understand why he was being subjected to such exceptional public veneration. He believed then, as he still does, that the genius of a child is grossly underestimated by the adults.  

He feels that the entire system of training and education to which the children are subjected, is a waste of tremendous energy and capability.  

In any disagreement between adults and children, Swami Veda often takes the children's side, because, at the age of 78, he has still not lost the innocence and clarity of his childhood perspective.  

One of the greatest compliments ever paid to him, in his view, was when years ago, several children were playing a fantasy game and he (then 63) tried to join in. The children looked at him with suspicion and were very reluctant to include him. One of the children who knew him closely, however, reassured his friends: 'It's all right; he is just one of us!' The game continued with him as an active participant in the excitement.  

One day Swami Veda would like to write a book entitled 'Child Saints of India' based on true stories and incidents from the country's vast philosophical and spiritual traditions.  

He often advises would-be parents on how to give birth to a spiritually pure and evolved child.  

When Swamiji is asked as to what age is appropriate to start a child to learn to meditate, he replies: three years before conception. If the would-be parents undertake, for example, an intense practice of the Gayatri Mantra for three years before conception (as Swami Veda's parents did) this practice would facilitate the entry of a soul with a very high intuition quotient and such a child would never need to go to school.  

The next opportunity to teach the child meditation is during the nine months of pregnancy; whatever state of mind the mother will practice will help form the child's mind. The third opportunity is when the mother is suckling the child. The remaining gaps can be filled up to the age of five.  When Swami Veda touches a child he may choose to pass on a certain spiritual energy.  

Ma Tapasya Bharati (a Chinese lady initiated by Swami Veda in Taiwan) tells a story:  

Swami Veda Bharati, together with a number of others were visiting a Chinese Buddhist temple in the town of Kaohsiung. He was sitting on a window ledge listening to the hypnotic chanting of Chinese Sutras by the devotees gathered there.  

A child of four came from behind and tugged at Swami Veda's shawl. The parents tried to stop the child but Ma Tapasya told them to let him be. The child came and sat down by the side of Swami Veda right on the window sill. Swami Veda put his hand on the child's head and the child sat calmly, receiving the energy. After a while the child slipped down to the floor, and paid homage to the altar with joined hands, and sat there in rapt attention, listening and clapping his tiny hands to the rhythm of the sutras-chant.  

The parents were amazed at this transformation and told Ma Tapasya that he was otherwise very unruly. The parents said that when they brought him to the temple at other times, he created such a disturbance that often the parents had to take him home. They could not believe how the child sat so silently, absorbed in the recitations.  

One of the most beautiful experiences is watching Swami Veda imparting blessings to children in his spiritual family. He does this often during his travels through various meditation groups. The initiated parents seek to set their children on the path of a gentle spiritual experience, and bring the children to Swamiji for his blessing. He takes each child in his lap, covering him/her with his meditation shawl. In this secure cocoon, he touches them with fingers dipped in prayer-sanctified water, reciting the ancient Vedic prayer - or translation appropriate for each limb. What he says, in Sanskrit, might be translated as,for example:  

Vaan ma aasye astu

May the speech in your mouth be pure and divine.  

He then tells the child,: 'I will tell you a secret, I will tell you the secret name of God.' Then he recites OM in the child's right ear three times. BY now the child is so relaxed s/he is limp and Swamiji says that he feels the child's body becoming heavier and knows that the child is now ready for the next step. If the child is of an age of some understanding, he teaches the child to feel the breath in the nostrils while thinking, 'OM, OM, OM.'  

Then Swamiji sprinkles flower petals on the child, still cuddling him/her in the shawl. Quite often the child is reluctant to leave such a loving lap. In a recent initiation of this kind the child had entered a deep state and the father had to carry the child all the way to the car.  

The strength of each child's depth of experience varies according to his/her capacity to absorb the shakti being poured. The child soon returns to 'normal' but an imprint remains. These children thereafter often sit in meditation with their parents. One child remembering the initiation said to her father: Swami Veda 'fired' me!  

But the children also choose to keep their freedom. One child sat in father's lap at home to meditate, but not feeling the 'presence' that day, said : 'Swami Veda is not here; I do not have to meditate!'- and ran away to play.  

In their own time these children will seek a higher guidance. If by then Swami Veda Bharati is not in his present body, the guidance from the divinity and the Lineage will still come. When grown up, these children will marry and will pass on the spiritual imprint to their own children.  

Swami Veda Bharati has served many generations in this life. Sometimes young parents bring a newborn to Swamiji for a blessing. They say for instance, 'This is the fifth generation of our family whom Swamiji is blessing.'  

Will there be a sixth generation in this life? Only the Guru knows.


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