"An unsuccessful yogi may be born in a family of transcendentalists who
are great in wisdom. Certainly such a birth is rare in this world." – Bhagavad-gita
This verse, spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, gives assurance that the yogi is never overcome by inauspiciousness. Even if he falls from the yogic path, still he is fortunate, for in his next life he will enter a family of transcendentalists, or devotees. Such a birth, the Lord says, is certainly rare.
But devotees of Krsna should not let this statement go to their heads. "I don't think of my children as special any more than any other mother," Nirupama, a devotee for fifteen years and mother of seven, told me. Her first child was born before she and her husband had heard of Lord Krsna, and the child gave her parents cause for deep introspection. The day after the child's birth, Nirupama's husband spent several hours standing at the nursery window, looking at his newborn. He went to Nirupama. "What are we going to do now?" he asked. "We must give her something more than we've been able to find. We've got no meaningful way of life to offer her."
Nirupama agreed. She'd been teaching in public school and was so disillusioned by the experience that she'd decided never to expose her children to such an educational system.
When their first daughter was just six weeks old, Nirupama and her husband met a devotee and began chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Soon after that they were initiated, and Nirupama's husband, Bahudaka dasa, became president of the Hare Krsna center in Vancouver. For years the first children had few playmates. But gradually the community developed. Today the temple boasts a fully staffed private elementary school for fifty students on eight acres of woodsy land in an area called Burnaby, eleven miles from downtown Vancouver.
"We think our kids are fortunate because they've had devotional training from the beginning of their lives," Nirupama said. "And they're attending our devotee-run school. So they've got a solid, secure foundation to develop love of God.
"But we don't want them to become proud, thinking that they're something special," she continued, "because although they're fortunate now, they can always become unfortunate by losing their desire for spiritual life. We feel responsible not just for their well-being, not just for their academic and moral training, but also for seeing that their aspirations are not mundane but spiritual."
Some people think that devotee children, far from being fortunate, are actually unfortunate: they're indoctrinated, or "brainwashed," with spirituality before they can choose the path of life they want.
Others, like Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the international bestseller Baby and Child Care, disagree. In his book Dr. Spock writes that formerly before the authority of religion was superceded by that of science people felt that their main function was to serve God, carrying out His supreme purposes as revealed by religion. "Fortunate are the parents with a strong religious faith," Dr. Spock declares. "They are supported by a sense of conviction and serenity in all their activities." The children of such parents don't have the idea that life is meant for fulfilling mundane desires. Rather, they are exhorted to overcome their base nature and thus become pleasing in the eyes of God.
"The capacity for idealism, creativity, and spirituality is latent in all children," Spock says. "Whether they will realize them all will depend on their parents. If parents have aspirations, then their offspring will continue to be inspired by their pattern…. If, on the other hand, parents have no interests beyond their bodily needs, their children's estimate of them will gradually shrink and they won't try to go beyond their parents' level."
Spock also points out that people today who don't have faith in religion are doubly deprived, because they don't have much faith in man, either. Parents with such doubts flounder along with their children in disillusionment and disenchantment.
Krsna consciousness, however, offers both children and adults the highest aspirations, along with a practical process for attaining them. Since devotee parents are striving to reach the noblest of goals, their children are inspired by their conviction. Thus the "idealism, creativity, and spirituality" Dr. Spock describes as latent in all children can blossom.
Although devotee parents may not emphasize that their children have a rare birth, others sometimes see it. Two devotee teachers in Vancouver, for instance, told me that when they take their students to a nearby park to play, inevitably a few people will come up to them and make favorable remarks about the radiance and happiness of the children.
Children born into a family of devotees are fortunate. Not only do they have the opulence of wise and devoted parents, but they also have the brightest of futures:
On taking such a birth the unsuccessful yogi revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success. By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles-even without seeking them. And when the yogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then he attains the supreme goal." (Bhagavad-gita 6.43-45)