23.2 BOTTOM LINE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: WHAT IS THE MINIMUM i HAVE TO PASS ON TO THE NEXT GENERATION?
This page contains the bottom line answer to the question:
What is the minimum we have to transmit to the next generation Hindu?
To transmit the culture of Hindu worship to the next generation just teach them how to say:
Om kesavAya namaH
Om nArAyaNAya namaH
Om SivAya namaH
Om durgAyai namaH
Om subrahmaNyAya namaH ; and so on
just a few names of God, with Om in the beginning, with namaH at the end, and with the name of God in the dative case. Include only those names which you can relate to. If you don’t know the meaning of a name, don’t try to pass it on to the child. You must be able to explain something about the name, even if you don’t know all the nuances of the Sanskrit name and its derivations. Include such standard names like Vinayaka or Ganesha or Ganapati, because He is the primal God to be worshipped; and Venkatachala-pati (the Lord of the Mount Venkataon the Tirupati hills), because there is no Hindu who does not believe in Him or His idol installed in the various temples overseas. Also include any other name which connotes your family deity or temple God which is very special to elders in your family. For instance one may say
Om vaideeSvarAya namaH
because vaideeSvara of Vaideesvarankolil in Tamilnadu may be the deity traditionally worshipped on all auspicious occasions in your family. Or you may say
Om viSvanAthAya namaH
because the Lord of the Varanasi temple is so important for Hinduism that it cannot be omitted. Or you may include
Om dattAtreyAya namaH
because you have never seen your father or grandfather doing religious ceremonies without invoking the Lord dattAtreya.
Thus all names which are subjectively very important to you or to your spouse, personally, should be included. But don’t overdo it, either, for, more than fifteen to twenty names will be counter-productive as far as the passing on of the religious torch is concerned. Thus make a list of such names which is entirely your own. Don’t worry about their small number. Worry only about the feeling you can generate in the name being worshipped. And most of all, when you expect the child to say these things, ensure that both the parents are also there to say the same thing.
The addition of Om at the beginning of every name is important
even if you yourself do not understand much about it.
Om is the symbol of the Absolute Impersonal Godhead (the Ultimate Reality) of Hinduism;
It is nameless but still the scriptures refer to it as brahman.
Everything starts with it and everything ends with it.
At the end offer some fresh eatable to God, as a naivedya. Whatever you are going to eat may be offered, provided it is not a left-over. If there is no fresh cooked dish offer a fruit. Even a few raisins would do. And conclude everything with an Arti, with or without an arti song or prayer. In this way you would be following the hoary traditions of Hinduism but at the same time you would have cut your observances to the coat of your reduced availability of time. By giving this type of discipline instead of the conventional rote method of recitation of some stotras, we would be achieving the following:
· Each child will get a customised instruction, that befits the family and the particular environment and traditions in the family.
· The child would understand the meaning then and there. We are only paying a homage and obeisance to the particular deity named. The different names of god should be justified by appealing to the variety always inherent in Hinduism and the fact that the glories of God are innumerable and therefore also their names.
· The child has an infinite variety of possibilities of expanding this prayer routine into as long a one as anybody wants, as and when the child is ready for it. For, they have only to resort to various ashtottaras, sahasranamas and the like, which are abundantly available in the literature (even on the internet) – provided there is the motivation and the willingness to spare the time and the effort.
· By taking care to include Om at the beginning, and namaH at the end, of every one of the names of the divine, we have ensured (hopefully) the help of the Divine in the matter. So even long after we have disappeared from the scene, the ‘child’ would be ready for a spiritual maturity – just because of the Upanishadic saying:
Those who worship That with the word ‘namaH’ would have their desires falling at their feet.
· The child would not have to murmur all sorts of unintelligible mumbo jumbo, which in any case would all vanish into nothingness when we of the previous generation are no more on the scene.
· The child would have learnt the core of Hindu bhakti, which is very authentic, and this almost at no cost.
Of course, more fundamental than all the above, is the need for the present generation elders to believe in this, rather than simply make it a preacher’s sermon. One should be able to teach by example rather than precept.