What does it mean to have Indian “Sanskar”? Respect for elders. How do you fit them them in today’s outspoken world?

Parents: “Kids these days have NO Sanskar, they don’t respect elders, they don’t have the same values we had growing up”

Kids: ” So to have Sanskar I have to not have an opinion and do whatever someone says because they are older?’eye roll’, ya RIGHT”

I hear this comment often. So why is it? Why do the “aaj kal ke bache” have no Sanskar? Why do our parents have Sanskar and our generation doesn’t? What does Sanskar even mean? What is it actually and how do we practice Sanskar? Does Sanskar mean we have to shut our mouths and listen to people even if we disagree? I think the definition of Sanskar and the expectations given with it-from the adults & kids side-have been mixed up along the way.

My opinion is that Sanskars are virtues that one chooses to adopt in their lifestyle and persona. Virtues are NOT opinions turned into manipulating people to listen to them to satisfy their ego. Virtues are behaviors showing high moral standards that people choose to lead their lives by. Typically these virtues would have been instilled by their upbringing or adopted throughout their life journey.

In my experience, culturally I believe that family, faith, and respect are three strong pillars that make up Indian Sanskar outside of religion. If you talk to an Indian; Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist,Christian, Muslim, or Jew, they will probably all uphold the some of the same values as a part of their Sanskar.

Now a common phrase I hear is how children don’t respect elders nowadays, children talk back, they don’t value family time, and don’t value their faith. As mentioned earlier, I think the concept of what is means to uphold this Sanskar, and the expectations of living by this have been mixed(by adults and kids). Let’s start with the first Sanskar of respect.

Respect

I think we need to define what this means. I feel this gets mis-construed as” my way or the highway because I’m older and I know everything.” The definition of respect is to have a high regard /admiration. In this case I think regard fits in best and I think respect should be given to everyone, older or younger.

A foundational aspect in Hinduism which many times also reflects aspects of Indian culture as a whole, IS respect( Shocker) When we say “Namaste” , I salute the divine within, I respect the divine within. We don’t touch paper with our feet since we RESPECT knowledge, we generally try to be gentle and not kick or stomp on things, before starting any form of Indian dance we do a “Namaskar” which is respecting the ground which we are dancing on.We respect all these things, so how can we NOT respect one another? When in history did this become one-sided respect only for elders and not for all?

I believe you can have a high regard for someone, and their, opinion and STILL disagree. This comes with maturity, and I think this boils down to how you say things vs what you say and the demeanor you say it in. If your someone gives a suggestion and you disagree, you can POLITELY acknowledge and give a regard to their opinion, and state your own opinion, without being rude, condescending, and disrespectful.

I think the reason why kids oppose it nowadays, is because they see their elders talk down to them. This concept of, ” I can talk down to you but you cannot to me”. “You have to agree with everything I say because I’m wiser and have more life experience than you.” I believe everyone has their own inner guidance and everyones life path is different. We can suggest opinions but we cannot force our thoughts on anyone else.

If we really believe in “do unto others as you want them to do unto you” , we wouldn’t talk down to our kids. We would be treating them how we want them to treat us and others. I think if we all choose to respect each other, we will also set an example to our next generation about respect. Kids mimic what they see their parents do, if parents don’t show kids respect how do we expect kids to reciprocate? I believe it goes both ways and both parties can initiate it to create a change.

How do we implement that in kids? Send them to classes at Meri Sanskriti 😉 (So they can learn hands on how to embrace this virtue in their world, meet other kids like themselves who are learning along with them, and young adults as mentors who already embrace this in their life!)

But I also believe that we can implement this as a community by first choosing to respect all ourselves, and automatically we will see others change around us. It starts with us!

To all the youth: respecting elders doesn’t imply that you suppress your opinion or sense of self, you can absolutely uphold and embrace your sense of self while choosing to respect your elders part of Indian Sanskar.

And to the Adults: You can still keep your authority, and will gain more respect by giving to your kids and setting an example!

Together we can ensure that our “Adbhut” Sanskar stays strong!

I’ll continue this thought about respect, faith & family in the next post 🙂

Sincerely,

“The Indian Girl”

Connect with me on Instagram: Meri Sanskriti,would love to hear from you and your experience!



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