Indian, Hindu tradition and culture has a repertoire of incidents that highlight the quality of obedience in a Guru-Disciple or a Parent- child relationship. Parashuram, the great sage was asked by his father to cut off the head of his mother. The sage, unquestioningly, picked his and with one stroke severed his mother’s head! The father is pleased with the son’s obedience and grants a boon. The dutiful, loving son immediately asks for his mother’s life! And she is alive again. This has a happy ending, there is another story of Guru Dronacharya and his disciple Ekalavya, where the ending is detrimental to the disciple yet the shishya does the guru’s bidding unquestioningly.

Dronacharya asks for Ekalavya’s right thumb finger to be chopped off as fees of tutorship! This would have resulted in Ekalavya never being able to use the bow and arrow to perfection! The very training he received from his guru would be lost if he gave away his thumb. Yet the disciple did exactly that.

In another story of Karna and his Guru Parashuram; Parashuram curses his disciple of amnesia when the time to use his learning’s really arose. He trained Karna to become best archer, the best swordsman, the best mace fighter, invincible totally with expert knowledge of all the tricks needed and the moves to be made at the nick of time to be able to win a losing battle, yet all would be forgotten when he really needed to use these skills. Karna walked away sad, accepting the curse unquestioningly, knowing very well that all the years training was lost.

Innumerable though they are in number all convey a very simple truth and a singular message, obedience and love towards the guru and for the Parents. In those days, in this particular relationship, nothing was ever cross questioned. If the relationship demanded absolute faith and obedience; it was nurtured so, with faith and obedience.


Flying high with guidance


With times this has changed dynamically. We as parents encourage the curious mind, want our children to question everything and feel proud to have an inquisitive progeny. At school too this is seen as a good attribute and teachers appreciate such children. Where the dark cloud starts to loom large is when the child at a very early age starts to feel omniscient and shuts his/her ears to all advice or suggestions. The seed of arrogance has been watered and fed over the years and is now a full grown fruit bearing tree. We ourselves forgot to teach the child humility and love, we were in awe of the inquisitive mind and since during our growing up years we never asked questions (we dared not!) we wanted our children to ask, be bold, and even break a few rules, which we thought were orthodox or needless. We wanted our children to grow up free, independent and confident, in stark contrast to our so called rule ridden regimen which we were saddled with and felt suffocated living it. What we fail to understand is, with all those rules we managed to rebel and yet walk the right path. And this generation, with all the leeway given, everything offered on a platter seems to go astray. They have long stopped listening to us, seem to think very little of our values and customs, find us rigid, unyielding and the list can go on.

Where did we go wrong? We simply left out the obedience and faith part, unknowingly or just so that we can give our children we could not have, we have dropped the axe, very hard, on our own feet. We rebelled a little when we were young and inadvertently passed it on to our kids exponentially. Kites do fly freely in the sky but the ones that fly the highest are always steered with the thin rope held firmly in the hands of the kite flyer. A kite left free to fly in any direction usually ends tangled and torn on some branch. The flyer knows in which direction to steer and just the exact length of the rope that needs to be released. The kite flies free, high, disciplined and with the faith that the other end of the rope is in safe hands.

The parents’ should decide for themselves when and where to draw the line. The guru disciple relationship is still very relevant, we have let it slip by and it is for us to re-enforce it. Then the child was sent to a Gurukul or the present day boarding school, the whole upbringing revolved around obedience, discipline, faith and love. Now we do have boarding schools but the premise for sending them there is very different. Schools, with the teacher as the Guru and families, with the parents as the first guru, revolve around their social strata, today. I am no one to comment on what is right and what is wrong; it is for the parents to discern what is right for them and how they should mould their children.