Does your child touch your feet? One of the most important aspects of Indian culture is respect for parents, and for age.
Although India prides itself on having a rich culture and heritage, few Indian are aware of their culture and traditions, and it is not unusual for us to come
across people from outside India, or Indians living abroad, who are more aware of India's rich heritage than we are.
For most Indians, being aware of our culture simply means touching
our grandparent's feet once in a while, knowing a little of the
Mahabharata, knowing that Rama was good and Ravan was bad, and not
walking out of a marriage, no matter what the cost.
However, there is a lot more to culture than just this. In this article, we touch on just one of the many aspects: respect for age.
Children are often taught to respect age. However, as experience has time and again shown us, an elder person is not always right. If you try and force your child to listen to someone like a grandparent just
because he is older, you may sow the seeds of resentment in your child. Instead of forcing your child to bow down before age, focus on teaching your child
how he can express his opinion without being
rude to his elders. Also, teach him that is perfectly acceptable to
have two points of views for different situations, and, although he is
perfectly entitled to his point of view, there is no need for him to force
it on others. A common dispute between children and parents or grandparents is that of vulgarity. A child
may be watching MTV, while his grandmother crops up and comments on how
obscene a particular music video is. In such cases, teach your child that obscenity is a point of view. If your child doesn't think it is obscene, that should not form a base for argument. Teach your child that it is mature and open-minded behavior to let another person, especially someone elder, state his point of view, without jumping in to argue.
Youngsters today are often uncomfortable with touching the feet of elders. If your child
feels this way, don't force him to touch your feet or the feet of his
grandparents. Instead, work by example. If you don't touch the feet of
your mother, don't expect your child to, especially if this habit has not been inculcated since childhood. If you would like your child
to touch your feet every morning, make this a habit from his childhood.
If he doesn't one morning, don't let it slide, or gradually the habit
may die down. Every time your child
touches your feet, do give him your blessings, and give him a hug. If
you brush him off or are distracted, he may not bother doing so again.
Also, children often shy away from touching feet in public, so it may help if you encourage him to touch your feet even in public, from a young age. Touching
the feet of your parents is simply a mark of love and respect for them,
and a request for their blessings. These days, generally only a person
fairly self-confident and comfortable with himself, his
heritage and where he comes from can touch their parent's feet in
public, without feeling self-conscious.
Since I started doing Tantra, I have taken to touching the feet of beloved teachers. As I fell to my knees, bowing, and my forehead was touching my teacher's feet, I was meditating on this and was wishing this was a tradition in American culture. Mostly because I feel that if I was taught to have that level of more than respect but worship, obedience, and reverence for elders and teachers I would have been more emotionally balanced as I would have grown up more disciplined. My teacher also tells me to sweep the floor before each lesson. She has made it my job and I happily obey. I do not feel obligated to obey her, but find a fulfillment as her teachings have transformed me mentally spiritually and physically. Therefore despite my American upbringing I have found that being in charge is not always a happy place. Sometimes it is better to be the student sitting at the teacher's feet and touching them, than it is to be the teacher having his or her feet touched. This practice of touching the feet of elders and teachers has helped me realize that the best masters must also be obedient servants. I have learned that obedience to the right people who nurture you is a blissful state to be in.