The 4 stages of life: Every parent must tell their children

In topic

Parenting / Yogic Science


Question: I have a one year old child. But nothing in my 20 years of education trained me to be parent. Is parenting supposed to come naturally?


Duration: 12 min


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8 min read

The 4 stages of life: Every parent must tell their children

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Questioner: Namaskaram Sadhguru. I have a one year old child. But nothing in my 20 years of education trained me to be a parent. Is parenting supposed to come naturally?

Sadhguru: You know it’s not coming naturally. That’s not an option. Till just one generation ago, a lot was taught to you about marriage, about children, everything. Now, our education system is only here to serve industry and business, not to serve human beings. Our education is not about producing great human beings. It’s only about producing managers, supervisors, doctors, engineers. You’re just a cog in the economic machine that’s working. So, changing the larger education system tomorrow morning is out of question, but you could change it for yourself and your children, if you’re willing.

Our education system is only here to serve industry and business, not to serve human beings

There was something called as Varnashrama Dharma – which is the different stages of life for which a human being had to be prepared for. Zero to twelve was considered Balavastha. At this time, a child should do nothing. He must just eat, play, sleep. No ABC, no 123, no nothing. Because, before the brain blossoms to a certain size, feeding it with information, or any kind of purpose to it, putting any kind of purpose in its domain, will destroy the possibility of it growing to full size.

In India, everywhere maybe, the mango farmers have a certain process. You will see, if you plant mango saplings, by second year actually, mango trees, or plants, will start flowering. Have you noticed this? Second or third year, definitely full of flower. So the conscientious mango farmer will go and pluck out every flower in the month of January – February, so that they never become fruit. But if you are a “quarterly balance sheet” kind of person, you will count the flowers and say, “Okay, here I see hundred and fifty mangoes. Hundred and fifty mangoes into ten rupees, fifteen thousand per plant. I have ten thousand plants.” You will allow them to fruit. Anyway they will not fruit very well, but they may fruit. But if you do this, that tree will never grow to full size. It will never come to its full potential.

So even with plants we know that. Why is it that we don’t know with children? We know it, but we want our children to be little better than the neighbor’s children, which is the serious illness we have. Yes, our problem is, our neighbor’s children are already saying, three-year-old saying, “I want to be doctor.” So that means, you want the whole world to be sick. A three-year-old child, if it says, “I want to be doctor,” everybody is, “Oh, my neighbor’s child, he want to be doctor.” “Hey, what do you want to become?” “I don’t know.” “Well [slapping] hey, at least say something.” This is not the sickness of education system, this is the sickness which has gotten into the society. Education system is trying to cater to that.

Once it happened, I’m doing a program in Chennai, and something comes up, and we’re asking people to share what happened that day. This man, with a really grave face, sad – talking “My daughter, she’s not doing her homework, I’m really worried about her future. What will happen to her? How do I, you know, what…” So many things he said. I thought maybe, his college-going daughter, something trouble, you know, okay. Then I just asked, “How old is the girl?” He said, “Four-and-a-half.” I said, “You idiot.” “First thing, she shouldn’t even be going to school! And now you’re worried she’s not doing homework, and you’re worried about her future, what job will she get, who will marry her,” you know.

So, we need to change this trend in the society. At least in your life, that your children are not products. “When are they going to produce something?” No. First of all, you must understand, your children only come through you, they don’t come from you. They’re not yours. They’re passing through you. You must be, you know, appreciate the privilege that they came through you, that’s all. Don’t believe that they came from you. There’s no ownership on them. Your business is to protect them, nurture them, till they come to a certain place, till they know how to do that themselves, that’s all. Your business is not to see how much you can squeeze out of them, whether they will continue your business tomorrow, whether they will do things that you’re incapable of doing. No. That’s not what it is about.

So this Varnashrama Dharma was like this – at twelve, your Balavastha ends. Now, your brahmacharya begins – twelve to twenty four. Twelve years of discipline and learning. So, before you are empowered with education, you are always initiated into brahmacharya. What brahmacharya means is – Brahman means the ultimate reality, charya means the path. You are on the path of the ultimate. That means, you’re not on a divisive path. That means, you’re not on the path of you versus me. You are on a path of absolute inclusiveness. Without including everything as yourself, you should not be empowered with education. You must remain illiterate. That is best, because education was seen as an empowerment.

If you’re empowered in a divisive way, which is what we’ve done to the modern world. Every scientific knowledge and technology that comes up, first thing is military use. Why? “My nation versus your nation, my father is better than your… my god is better than your god, my father is better than your father…” Because once this division is there and you get empowered, all that will happen is, the ugliness will get empowered. So before education, first thing is brahmacharya. So, for twelve, twelve-and-a-quarter years, these were synchronized with the solar cycles which are for approximately twelve-and-a-quarter years.

So, every solar cycle, the cycle of your life should shift. First twelve, twelve-and-a-quarter years, is Balavastha. Once you cross that, the second is for learning and discipline. Once you cross that, at the age of twenty four, you decide whether you want to go into family kind of living, or you want to become on the spiritual path. By choice, not by social compulsions. Each individual according to his own traits. Now if you’re made in such a way, the opposites are drawing you, in organized way you handle that. You get married, and children, this, that, will happen. For next twenty four years, you are in Grihasthashrama.

Otherwise, at twenty four, you choose to become a sanyasi. That is settled. There was a time when about thirty percent of Indian population chose to be sanyasis, seventy percent chose to be grihasthas, which was a good population control by itself. So, at the age of forty eight, you undo the Grihasthashrama. That’s gone, isn’t it? Can you undo it? If you undo it, it’s in divorce, and instantly you’re latching on to somebody else – changing house, not giving up that structure. So at forty-eight, you take sanyas for twelve years. So, undo the family structure.

Because if you got married at twenty-four, by the time you are forty- eight, your children are over twenty years of age. They may not say it in so many words, but they want you out. Either they want to go out, or you must go out. These days you’re choosing that they must go out – American way. But in India, the parents chose to go out. Once the children have crossed twenty, twenty-one years of age, parents moved out. It’s a sensible thing to do. So, husband and wife who’ve lived together for twenty-four years, they separated themselves – consciously, not because they have a fight. Consciously separated themselves, and there were institutions where they could pursue their spiritual process for the next twelve years.

At the age of sixty, now after twelve years of spiritual sadhana, after having seen the experience of life, now they again came back. First time they got married because of physical and emotional longings. This time, they once again get married, for a completely different reason. At sixty, there is a marriage. Today, that one thing still lot of people are keeping, you know. They’re living together and again getting married. No, no… only if you go away for twelve years, and again come back, consciously – first time when you married, you were not conscious, certain compulsions made you marry. Now, you’re consciously getting into it. They came together, and then they went into Vanaprastha. Not to live with your children, or grandchildren; see them, bless them, and go into the forest and live.

This was the arrangement of life, which is a very wise way to do things. Well, you can’t do it exactly like that today, but you must be conscious. At different stages in life, different things must be important. When you’re sixty, if the same things which were important to you at eighteen are important, that means – you’re just not getting anywhere with your life, isn’t it? Things must change. And you must make your children aware, that’s how it is. If you just bring this awareness into your children, right now what they’re going through is just a phase, it’s not everything. They will conduct it properly.

But, because at that moment, when their intelligence is hijacked by their hormones, they think that is it. If you just tell them, “It’s fine. I’ve also been through this, you’re also going through this. It’s fine, it’s a phase.” Then these are the different phases of life. Very young, if they’re conscious of it, they will deal with it with much more wisdom, than the way they are dealing with it today. People will not be compulsive as they are.


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