I had enough on my hands, so I never intended or thought we should have a child of our own. But my wife said, at least one. I said, okay one, only one. So that happened, and from the age of – when she was an infant, three, three and a half months of age, I drove across South India with her strapped to my front seat of the car. Me driving along, just my one hand here, one eye on the steering wheel. This was the time we were building Isha Foundation so I traveled extensively. And she was traveling with me when she was three and a half months old infant.
First four years she grew up in the car with me
So first four years she grew up in the car with me. And in many people’s homes. So, she met thousands of people and she learned how to become a part of any home, anywhere. Whether it’s the most affluent home in the world or, you know, a tribal home. Just about anywhere I stayed, I made sure that she was exposed to everything. I didn’t want her to develop prejudices or privileges of, you know, choices of where to be and where not to be.
And by the time she was three years of age, she at least knew a thousand people by name. Whom she considered her friends. Definitely not of her age. All grown up people. So the tremendous exposure to people – and I thought I won’t send her to school, because I never liked to go to school when I was young. So I thought, why should I put her through something. Then the only thing I could not provide her is children of her own age. So I put her to a school which is not so competitive, not so pushy.
I looked for a school which was started by J. Krishnamurti
So I looked for a school which was started by J. Krishnamurti, and I put her there so that it’s easy. And I said further you go, easy on my girl. Because I don’t want – I’m not going to look at a report card. I’m not going to ask which rank you are. I’m not going to ask what are you going to become. So don’t have to bother about her marks, her academics. If she plays, if she eats well, I’m happy. She’s growing up, she must eat well. If she plays well, if she laughs, if she sings, if she dances, I’m fine. I’m not concerned about this.
Because, when I was in school – every test, I was very consistent. I always got six zeros. Because, I never wrote a word on any page. If they insisted, I wrote my name. Otherwise, I won’t write. When the final exam came, I only worked for 35, and I always got 35-36, I just calculated…. I have never sat in an examination hall beyond 30 minutes. First bell, I’m always out. And, I just calculated for what it takes to move on with my friends to the next class. And, that’s all I did.
Why I’m saying this is – this whole thing, I used to watch as a child. When the report card came every month, some children are crying in the classroom, because they’ve got not the marks that their ‘tiger’ parents want. And, some are strutting around because they are first or second, or whatever. Whenever the teacher gave me the card, this report thing… I just took it and gave it to my father. Never ever opened and saw. Because I thought this is a transaction between the teacher and my father. I don’t want to intrude and see what is going on there.
So I particularly requested the principal of the school – don’t worry about my girl’s education. I just want her to be with children of her age group. She eats well, just make sure she eats well, that’s my only concern. She eats well, she’s playing, she’s laughing, she’s jumping, and dancing, I’m fine with this.
When she became 15 and cleared her 10th standard, I took her out of formal education
So when she became 15 and cleared her 10th standard, I took her out of formal education and because it was her mother’s dream and the girl also was very interested, I put her into dancing and she went into bharatanatyam and now she’s one of the upcoming artists in the country.
So, I never treated her as a child, first thing. From the age of two – from the time she started speaking, I always treated her as an equal, as an adult. I put – whatever manage… you know, we’re building a foundation. It’s run by volunteers. Volunteers means – we are doing a variety of work. We are running businesses. We are running major projects, and activity across the globe. None of them, except a few who teach – none of them are trained for their job. okay! Because, I can’t wait and pick somebody from IIT, or IIM, or something. Those who get rejected by all of you, probably they come to me. Whoever comes, I take them and put them into this job, that job, all kinds of jobs. So, what can be done with 1 word, I have to speak 100 words, to make them understand, for them to stay on the job, to remain committed, to keep it going. Because they are volunteers, you can’t fire them! Whatever they… you can’t fire them for inefficiency, or this or that.
So, whatever problems in organisation, in the management, in individual people’s problems, adult problems – all kinds. I always – once in a way, I gave her one of the problems. See, what is it? She used to come out with incredible, her own childish solutions. Sometimes perfect solutions. Sometimes something whacky!
Around 12-13 years of age, she came home one day, and she was disturbed about something that she saw. Something that happened at school. And, then she said, you are teaching everybody so many things – you are not teaching me anything! I said, see – I’m not known to teach anything unsolicited. Here you have come, now sit down. Said this is all you need to know – you never look upto anybody. Eyebrows rising – what about you? I said, especially me. Because the value of who I am, is only if you see the way I am. If you look upto me, you will nail me to the wall, and maybe smoke me, light an incense, or put a mala around me – and forget about me. This is not going to change your life in anyway.
You don’t look upto something, or look down to something
You must just see me the way I am. You must see me, just for what I am. Then I’m of immense value to you. But, if you look upto me, you will miss it. Never look upto anybody – never look down on anybody. You should do this one thing. You will see everything just the way it is. Only of you see things the way they are, you can navigate effortlessly, isn’t it so? This is so with life also. Only of you see everything just the way it is, you can navigate through life effortlessly. This is all the ability you need to give your child.
So, I always treated her as an adult. Never trying to place myself above her. This is the fundamental management I did, that she did not look upto anybody, nor look down to anybody. Just look at level – at everything the way it is. Just learning to see life the way it is. Looking up is a lie. Looking down is a lie. Looking up is coming from a certain prejudice. Looking down is coming from a certain prejudice. Being able to treat every life, everything, whatever it is – this is our culture. I want you to understand. It doesn’t matter. If a paper, sheet of paper – when we were growing up – one paper, you can not step on it. Yes? Yes or no? Many of you have grown up like this in your homes? Printed paper – it’s nothing, maybe the news is rubbish. But you are not supposed to step on it, because you educate yourself through that. If you want to step on the Earth, you bow down to it.
You don’t look upto something, or look down to something. What you do to your God, you do to everything. This – not talking about in any cultural or religious way – simply I brought it forth in her life. And, I think it’s worked out wonderfully well for her.