Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Successful “The Children Are Our Future” Seminar Held in Mayapur
By Kulavati Krishnapriya Devi Dasi, ISKCON News Staff Writer   |  Feb 20, 2024

Devaki Devi Dasi offered a five-session seminar titled “The Children Are Our Future.” It was conducted from 29th February to 2nd March 2024 at the Vaishnava Academy (near the Goshala) in Mayapur. The seminar imparted a good understanding of important principles and practices of child-raising within Krishna consciousness, beginning from conception (Garbhadhana Samskara) to teenage.

Devaki Devi Dasi, a disciple of Niranjana Swami and the founder of the Institute for Spiritual Culture, was born in Germany in 1958. She joined ISKCON in Sydney, Australia, in 1985. During her ten years as a grhastha (1989-1999) she helped pioneer the first organized temple in the former Soviet Union. Since 1999, she has been living the life of a renounced traveling preacher, spending five months per year in India and Bangladesh and the other seven months in various countries around Europe, including Eastern Europe, such as Ukraine and Moldova. In recent years, she has been expanding her preaching. Also, she visits Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Devaki said, “In a culture where sense gratification is the overall goal, the children are considered a disturbance and impediment in our pursuits, and thus are always pushed aside. In spiritual culture, however, the kids are the future. I received the inspiration to teach this seminar in Bangladesh – a place where they put the children in the very center of life.”

She added, “Another source of inspiration is my childhood. I don’t have children myself, but I had the most wonderful childhood. My mother was amazing, truly planting the seed of spiritual life in my heart. Even though she was not a practicing devotee, she was a religious and spiritually inclined person. She never worked – she only returned to her professional activities after we kids left home to study. So she served as a mother with heart and soul – applying more spiritual principles in child raising than most devotees do these days.”

In this course, people felt inspired to take the topic of raising children very seriously. The child can hear already in the womb, and since our consciousness floods the entire body, the child already gets the mother’s consciousness. Devaki Devi Dasi shared, “I once met a family from South India, and they shared with me how, during her pregnancy, the wife chanted the first five chapters of the Bhagavad Gita every day. Later, when the child was five years old – when the parents were chanting these chapters and stopped anywhere, the boy knew the next verse – without any further training, just from hearing in the womb. How amazing!”

She gave profound insights into how women have a more emotional nature so they can be good mothers and caregivers. Krishna gives us all the right qualities and natures to fulfill certain roles. And a most natural way of using this emotional nature is by serving as a mother and caregiver – a wonderful path to becoming a selfless servant.

Many devotees nowadays may not want children, thinking them to be an obstacle to their spiritual development. However, if we take parenting seriously, it truly sets another dimension to a marriage relationship. The parents have to shape up and set a good example since children learn by imitating. They will hopefully feel compelled to create a culture of bhakti in their home to give that soul the very best start to their spiritual journey back to Godhead.

Seminar attendees.

Devaki Devi Dasi shared, “Sometimes, I come across young couples who don’t want kids after marriage because they want to travel and preach. I say to them, ‘‘Hey, you’re talking about the next ashrama – the vanaprastha ashrama. That’s when the kids are grown up and established in life, and the parents are free to travel and preach. But when husband and wife live together, as a rule, there is physical intimacy. And we purify our sex desire by using it in Krishna’s service, taking responsibility for the outcome of our sensual enjoyment and raising children in Krishna consciousness.’ ”

She observed, “Even within Krishna consciousness, there can be a kind of selfishness. My reading time, my service, my project, my trip to the holy dham – it’s all mine, mine, mine. As a parent, we may have to put these things aside – of course, not to the extent that we stop chanting our rounds. However, we learn to sacrifice ourselves for another’s spiritual development. We receive so much deep internal purification along this journey.”

It is said that the advancement of a society can be measured by how much they do for their children. In this regard, we can find plenty of room for improvement in our ISKCON society. Devaki Devi Dasi remembered a 27-year-old Brahmachari in Bangladesh who stated that kids’ programs are more important than university preaching. He explained how the consciousness of a child can be molded, and one can easily plant the seed of bhakti in their hearts. In contrast, a university student may have developed already so many bad habits and may have been exposed to many mundane and contaminating impressions.

Devaki Devi Dasi shared a profound statement by a former president of the United States – Herbert Hoover, who served as a president from 1929 to 1933, “If we could have but one generation of properly born, trained, educated, and healthy children, a thousand other problems of government would vanish. We would assure ourselves of healthier minds and vigorous bodies to direct the energies of our nation to greater heights of achievement.” What a wonderful vision statement for Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan Movement. She further elaborated, “We have to make a paradigm shift and concentrate on truly putting the children in the center of our lives and our communities rather than pushing them aside, considering them to be a disturbance and impediment to our spiritual development.”

Regarding the response to the seminar, Devaki Devi Dasi revealed, “For the last 15 years, I have been offering this seminar every year in January. We had a good group of participants, and people loved it. One shared, ‘I never wanted to have children, but after this seminar, I realize what an amazing service it is to be a parent. It will help me to spiritually grow and become more selfless.’ ”

She concluded, “We have to understand that children are our future. If we concentrate on giving them solid Krishna consciousness – playfully and attractively – and giving them attention and importance so they have their place in our temples and our communities, then it’s just a matter of 20 years until they’re grown up. Then, they will be ready to gradually take responsibility and make a significant contribution to our movement. In many ways, the result may be much more powerful than working hard to cultivate people who come from all kinds of degraded backgrounds. Of course, we invite everyone to participate in Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtan mission, but the children born in our movement are continuing their spiritual journey from their previous lifetime and thus starting at a higher level of devotional development – their journey already continues in the womb of their mother by receiving her devotional consciousness. In this way, we can bring up a highly evolved caliber of devotees – an empowered generation who can bring Srila Prabhupada’s mission to greater heights of achievement.”

Every participant received a folder with printed course materials. For information on upcoming retreats and courses, visit the websites The Roots of Spiritual Culture and The Holy Name Retreat.  You can also connect on Facebook.