My mother was next to Shreya when she woke up today. Instead of the ‘good morning’, mom said ‘Jai Shree Krishna’. Shreya didn’t respond. This was a new greeting. Mom told her to repeat the greeting and said that she should say ‘Jai Shree Krishna’ every morning and whenever she greets someone. Shreya casually asked “Why should I?” Mom replied saying, “It feels good.” My mom-in-law joined her and reinforced this to Shreya. I walked in and asked (on behalf of Shreya), “Who feels good?” Suddenly their defence mechanism took over and mom said, ”Ok, ok, we’ll not try teaching your children.”
Just a casual event, but loaded with understanding. One, at the age of 4, Shreya retains a tendency to enquire. By this age, most children lose this tendency completely. Genuine enquiry leads to knowledge and understanding. But as parents, as teachers, as elders, as opinion leaders, we should reflect whether we encourage or even respond favourably to a genuine enquiry or are we too busy trying to indoctrinate. Are we too sure of our prescriptions, of ‘what is good’? That is about genuine enquiry. But, it is a subject of deeper study.
Two, when I walked in and asked, “Who feels good?” it was surely not a genuine enquiry. I sensed an indoctrination happening and was critical of the fact that not only was genuine enquiry discouraged but also bulldozed. My question was actually rhetoric. I was actually saying, “If you feel good saying it, you say it. Why do you want her to emulate blindly?” Later, I realized that I need to be more conscious of my (inward) reaction. I’m not able to accommodate the natural tendency of my mother or mother-in-law. I would like them to answer and encourage the genuine enquiry. Am I also indoctrinating? I’m not sure.Three, my mother’s response was perfect. She responded to my rhetoric, not to the verbal question, which could be argued as a genuine enquiry. But, had she responded to it as if it were a genuine enquiry and given a reasonable answer to ‘why’ one should say ‘Jai Shree Krishna’, may be all of us would have benefitted and happy. Shreya would have been encouraged to ask her genuine enquiry questions, I would have realized that this was not indoctrination, but there is some substance to it. My mother would have also been happy. Why? A little difficult to articulate, but simple to understand.