Children, one of the most important aspects of Indian culture is respecting and obeying our parents, teachers and elders. It used to be our habit to prostrate before our parents, to stand up in respect when they entered a room, and to giving priority to those who were our seniors. It is sad to see that we have not maintained these habits and that we have failed to cultivate them in the next generation.
Some people ask, “Aren’t giving priority and obedience signs of weakness or slave mentality?” Children, never think like this. It is not so. They are nothing but practical ways to establish harmony in our families and society. If a machine is to work consistently, we have to maintain it properly with oil, etc. This way it will always be ready to use. Similarly, in order to avoid friction between individuals and for society to move forward without obstacles, we need to maintain good habits such as obeying our elders and giving them priority.
People respect figures in authority. In reality, in doing so we are protecting the laws of the country. Likewise, when we obey and respect people who are senior to us in age, knowledge and experience, we are really respecting their wealth of experience. When a student is showing respect towards his teacher, it shows his desire to learn. It helps him listen to the teacher’s words with concentration and to fully internalise his lessons. Also, seeing the student’s humility and curiosity, the teacher’s heart melts. He wholeheartedly tries to bestow his knowledge on his student. It is really the student who gains the most by having respect and obedience.
Once, a person searched everywhere looking for a smooth, spherical stone to use for puja. He even climbed up a mountain, but he could not find even one smooth, spherical stone. In his frustration, he kicked a stone and it tumbled down the mountain. When he himself climbed down and reached the bottom of the mountain, he suddenly found a very nice, smooth, spherical stone. In reality, this was the very stone that he had kicked from the mountaintop. It had become smooth from colliding with other stones on its way to the bottom. Similarly, only when we let go of the attitude of “I” and “mine” and attain obedience and simplicity will the sharp edges of our ego disappear and will we acquire a mature mind.
Obedience is never an obstruction for free thinking and growth. When there is a new invention in science, there is free thinking. But what served as the foundation for this free thought was the precedence of the earlier scientists’ work. Like this, only if every generation moves forward internalising the contributions of the previous generation with humility and obedience, can we progress together.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi