Dharma gives every human being a place and a role within which individuals have a chance to improve their position in the world until they are free of its bindings. They have an opportunity to write their own destiny to make things better for themselves and to make a difference in the world. To do so, they have to think about what is good. Hinduism teaches that responsibility, compassion, spirituality, piety, selflessness, and renunciation are good and these ideas have become ideals. Scripture, society, and culture have translated Hindu ideals into values that in turn determine behavior. Hinduism expects its followers to engage in behavior that promotes the greatest good and this entails living by the principle of dharma.
Dharmic principles mandate behavior that relates to family life, social life, and spiritual life. These principles are not exclusive to Hinduism, but they are specifically integral to Hindu thought. Dharmic laws are both natural and learned, passed on from generation to generation.
Teaching children Sanatana Dharma which is the heart of the Hindu value system has become a challenge in the twenty-first century. As families are separated, as Hindu live more and more in the midst of other communities, as mothers and grandmothers work, and as information overload impinges upon time, it takes more and more of a focused effort to raise children in accordance with traditional values. Customs that passed on from generation to generation naturally now have to be passed on purposefully.
While children used to learn, understand, and practice Hinduism effortlessly, now families must teach its meaning. In the past, children grew up speaking the languages of their ancestors, languages full of symbolism and meanings that cannot be well expressed in other tongues. Today parents must persevere in the teaching children the languages and ways of their elders.
This excerpt is from On Hinduism, By Irina Gajjar. To purchase the book, visit our Amazon link.