- Namita Purohit
- Life Stages
Although you might actively encourage your children to become independent, the experience of letting go can be painful when they grow up. While its a positive beginning in the lives of the children, it is a long road of letting go for parents especially the mothers. When children move out for school or get married, mothers might find it difficult to suddenly have no children at home, they might miss being a part of their daily lives — as well as their constant companionship. Women can be over come by feelings of sadness, feelings that their useful life has ended and some may find themselves crying excessively or being depressed. Or some others may remain too overly involved in their children’s lives not allowing them to explore their new beginning and thus souring the relationship.
Not knowing that they are spirit souls in their journey to Krishna, parents and mothers do not know how to deal with their new status. While some may find it useful to follow what general therapists and self help books have to say about living out your life fully on your terms as children leave home, others may find it prudent to follow examples form scripture. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is described that Devahuti , the wife of Kardama Muni and the mother of Lord Kapila was in a similar situation. Her husband Kardama Muni left after the Supreme Personality of Godhead was born as her son, Lord Kapila. Lord Kapila instructed his mother Devahuti in matters of pure devotional service and also left home.
She devoted herself to the Path of Bhakti Yoga
Instead of crying out of bodily attachment, or feeling lonely and worthless, or in spending her time in enjoying her very opulent palace and riches with friends ,she immersed herself in a very sincere and committed practice of Bhakti Yoga.
But did Devahuti not feel separation from her son?
Being a mother Devahuti also felt separation from her son, but the separation she felt was on a transcendental platform.
Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport to the verse SB 3.33.21 “She grieved not because of her worldly relationship with Kardama Muni but because of her sincere love for the Personality of Godhead. The example given here is that Devahūti became just like a cow who has lost her calf. A cow bereft of her calf cries day and night. Similarly, Devahūti was aggrieved, and she always cried and requested her friends and relatives, “Please bring my son home so that I may live. Otherwise, I shall die.” This intense affection for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although manifested as affection for one’s son, is spiritually beneficial. Attachment for a material son obliges one to remain in material existence, but the same attachment, when transferred to the Supreme Lord, brings one elevation to the spiritual world in the association of the Lord.”
So while Devahuti’s attachment to her son was at the transcendental level since He was the SPG and she was properly situated in knowledge and her deep relationship with Krishna, in our case, we can learn to see our sons and daughters as part and parcel of krishna and thus spiritualize our relationships.
How was she able to become free of material attachment?
And how was she able to become free of material attachment and see things spiritually? By following her son Kapila Deva’s instruction from the verse SB 3.25.24, “O My mother, O virtuous lady, these are the qualities of great devotees who are free from all attachment. You must seek attachment to such holy men, for this counteracts the pernicious effects of material attachment.” Instead of telling His mother that she needed to become detached from all bodily relationships, Kapiladeva told His mother that she needed to “seek attachment to such holy men, for this counteracts the pernicious effects of material attachment.”
Following such instructions , women who don’t have a husband or even a son to protect them, must take shelter of advanced sadhus who are in disciplic succession, inquire from them and follow their instructions. In this way, a lady can remain protected and advance in her relationship with Krishna even without material family members to protect her.
Embrace the Opportunity Offered by Vana Prastha
So instead of getting entangled in our relationships with our children at a material level and remaining too involved with their lives even when they have become independent we must embrace the Vanaprastha retirement so offered to us as an opportunity to wake up from material engagements and get back to what really counts.
Devahuti had trained herself to take shelter of the Lord from the very beginning and therefore she was able to go through the different phases of life gracefully. By following the principles instructed by Kapila, Devahūti soon became liberated from material bondage and achieved the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as Supersoul, without difficulty.
Are you prepared to welcome vanaprastha? How will you deal with it when the time comes to detach yourself? Your children may not leave home? How will you be detached and focused on your sadhana in your vanaprastha even while they continue living with you? It is important that we constantly reflect on the purpose of our life and deepen attachment to Krishna and His Holy Name to be prepared to embrace vanaprastha and soon achieve the purpose of life like Devahuti.