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Raising a Child to Krishna Consciousness

By Lisa C. Hsia

A child growing up in a Hare Krishna family experiences a radically different lifestyle compared to that of most American children. Syama-Kunda (below) is two-and-one-half years old. He lives at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Boston with his mother, Madanmohanmohini (above), and his father, Sivananda-Das (above, right).

The family's life is wholly devoted to the adulation of their god, Lord Krishna. Days begin with chanting, often as early as 2 a.m. All daily activities revolve around the Lord, dancing to keep his spirits happy and tending to his holy altar--all for the purpose of attaining a higher, purer state of "Krishna" consciousness.

Syama-Kunda's parents decided to have him in order to celebrate and show dedication to Krishna. They have had no physical contact since. Indulgence in such a selfish act not related to the Lord is regarded as dishonorable.

Syama-Kunda receives plenty of attention from the approximately 30 devotees currently living at the temple. He spends most of the day playing and getting into trouble, just like other kids. But his life is also structured around a strict Krishna regime which requires that he chant and pray with the other devotees as often as five times a day.

Although the Hare Krishna child lives in an environment sharply contrasting with most of our own, the emotions and experiences he and his parents go through as he grows up seem uncannily similar. No matter what the time or place, the family unit emerges as a force everywhere.

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