The highlight of the month was the course "The Children are our Future" which I offered to the Simhachalam community and which was also broadcast live and well attended and received. The topic is highly relevant to many devotees here, since we have several young grihastha couples who recently got married or who are planning to enter the grihastha-ashrama, and two families expecting a child soon. Furthermore, all our brahmacharinis are also preparing themselves for married life. Even some of the bhaktas and brahmacharis also participated, sharing how the course transformed their attitude to women and children. Just what we were hoping to hear....!
One incident which took place in Bangladesh had a great impact on my consciousness and served as an eye-opener in regards to children. Many years ago, I invited a mother from Ukraine with her ten-year-old son Acyuta to visit Bangladesh with me. When devotees heard that he would get an opportunity for such an adventure they responded: "Why are you taking him? He is not even a devotee...!"
Indeed, Acyuta did not show much interest in Krishna consciousness - neither did he like to go to the temple, nor did he ever pick up his beadbag. He was a bit of a depressed type kid - not inspired to do anything, simply sitting in front of the computer and playing games all day.
Lo and behold, in Bangladesh this boy started flourishing! It was simply amazing! We may wonder why? Because the brahmacharis gave him so much attention and affection, and involved him in everything. They invited him to stay with them in a room and showed him how to take bath on the pump, with a bucket and a jug. They affectionately interacted with him and, believe it or not, they learnt some Russian, since Acyuta could speak neither English nor Bengali. They bought him new cloth and dressed him up, even with a swami-hat....!
Acyuta knew one kirtan melody on the harmonium, and on every preaching program he had his little number where he lead a kirtan on the stage, in front of hundreds of people. And people absolutely loved it! A blond little kid with a shaved head and protruding ears chanting Hare Krishna! He was THE sensation!
Acyuta came to life - he was so inspired that he attended Mangal Artik every day and chanted japa with all the devotees. He accepted one of the brahmacharis as a shiksa guru and decided to wash his cloth every day. The brahmachari instructed him to read Bhagavad-Gita daily, and so he did! Needless to say, his mother was in complete shock: "What has happened to my son?! I cannot recognize him - I have never seen him like this before! He is like a different person here!"
During these three weeks in Bangladesh, he may have received more attention and affection than during his entire life. He felt so welcomed, wanted, appreciated, involved and included in everything. He actually felt loved. As a result, Acyuta was beaming in ecstasy - he was flying. And he so eagerly took part in all the Krishna conscious activities and made lots of friends amongst the brahmacharis, who became his heros. He looked up to them and eagerly followed their instructions and served them.
After he returned to Bangladesh, his enthusiasm lasted for an entire year. He had received a true boost in Bangladesh, which not only inspired him in his devotional practice, but also in his studies at school. Together with his mother, they conducted a preaching program in his school class, showing slides from Bangladesh and distributing prasadam. He was so blissful....!
And gradually, in due course of one year, he went back to his usual ways - playing games on the computer....
This incident was a true eye-opener to me. It dawned upon me, that maybe we are doing something wrong with our children.....
On the 28th of January I took a train to visit Cologne temple....
Your servant, Devaki dd