Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences that life can offer and also one of the most fulfilling ones. I consider myself fortunate to be a father to a beautiful daughter for the last 11 years and I have savoured every moment of it. On my blog, I share my parenting journey while I walk the path of Vedanta in the long term. This makes my approach to Parenting, Vedantic.
As per Merriam-Webster, the word word ‘Vedantic’ was first used in 1882. It is an adjective that means of or relates to Vedanta philosophy. So far so good and that’s where we need to stop relying on a dictionary to tell us about Vedanta. The dictionary defines Vedanta as an orthodox system of Hindu philosophy developing especially in a qualified monism the speculations of the Upanishads on ultimate reality and the liberation of the soul. Vedanta is anything but a system. In fact, it helps us break out of every kind of system we can imagine and trap ourselves in. Vedāntaḥ is that truth of yourself that cannot be falsified. It is that self-knowledge that cannot be subject to negation. Vedanta is not a philosophy, not a school of thought, not a system of ideas, not a set of contentions. It is a means of knowledge, a pramāṇam, for a vision of reality that has to be understood rather than believed.
All those who are already on the path of Vedanta started at some point or another. And all those who haven’t started yet will start at some point in time. The path of Vedanta is the path of self-inquiry – to uncover the nature of our true self. Brahma sutras begin with the exhortation ‘ Athato Brahma Jignyasa’ ‘Now begin your inquiry into Brahma’.
Although this blog is dedicated to Vedantic parenting or parenting approaches suited for students of Vedanta, I think the scope of the book is much wider. I have always believed that you cannot have a blog dedicated to simply one small aspect of life; the following of which you can improve your overall satisfaction with living. Each of us is a whole person irrespective of the roles each one of us plays – sibling, spouse, partner, friend, employee, boss, citizen – all of these are one and the same person at the end of the day. So if you have to transform or improve the life of this one person, it takes effort in all aspects of the person. To improve one’s parenting it is not enough to just get the parenting right; it requires a transformation of the whole person. This is especially because children learn largely from the example of their parents, by modelling them. So being a great parent is the same as being your child’s hero, your child’s biggest role model while still being your child’s first Guru. Vedanta is not something you simply leave in your head, it has to be lived and hence it reflects in all aspects of your living – at home, in public, at work and while parenting. This is partly the reason I wrote this book – to help not just other Vedantins to grow spiritually while parenting or rather through parenting.
A Vedantin sports an open mind, an openness to change and is adaptable to changing times and environments. A Vedantic parent is available to unlearn, undo habits, and un-conditioning oneself of biases. We do not need old dogmas. Vedanta today needs to speak for itself. The past may instruct us but not enslave us. Vedanta and Vedantic parenting both need to offer teaching on their own merits, not stand based on the authority of tradition standing behind it.
The Vedantic approach to living involves understanding reality objectively, learning by observation, by experimentation and from the learning of others. It can take into it’s stride and integrate into it’s world view experiences and best practices from across the world and employ ways to overcome them. It’s a pursuit of truth. In this approach to living one doesn’t put oneself in a religious silo, or the company of cult followers or the shadow of a Guru. One charge one’s own journey on one’s own merit and one’s own responsibility. On this journey one is free to read, understand, and explore what people from all walks of life – scientific or otherwise – have learnt from their research or experience. A Vedantin lives with a scientific temper, objective mind, compassionate heart and long-term orientation to happiness and freedom. With feet grounded in reality, a Vedantin has the entire creation in his vision and embraces the entire world as one’s home.
A Vedantin is fully aware that one’s journey as a householder and a parent can become a spiritual liability. A householder’s life and its perils are referred to again and again in the Vedanta tradition as one’s Samsara. A Vedantin treads cautiously and employs the skill of Karmayoga to transform the parenting journey into a stepping stone towards Moksha, the ultimate freedom.