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Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part I - Education

Chapter II


In the first five years of a child's life, the first two years are considered as infancy, the next three years as babyhood. Very often there is a desire on the part of the guardians to educate the child of four or five years either in a kindergarten or at home. That time in the life of a child is a time of kingship, and the eagerness on the part of the guardians for the child's education to begin is only pressing it with our competitive life. For our life is competitive and it is getting worse and worse everyday; and the same spirit unconsciously exerts pressure on the life of the child, urging it on to become one among the many competitors of the world, in order to guard its interest when it is grown up. But what about the most blessed years that destiny has granted to the baby, when there is no worry, no anxiety, no malice, and no ambition? That is the real kingship. If you compare a baby with a king, you will see that the baby is the king and the king is the imitation.

No doubt it is better that the child learns in the kindergarten, where it is taught only the alphabet, than at school, because there its mind is distracted and it has something to play with. But at the same time, even attracting the mind of a child to a limited horizon is limiting the growth of its soul. It was much better to do as the peasants and uncivilized people used to do, keeping their children at that age perfectly free to run about and to climb the trees and play with the soil, and to jump and run about and play with their playmates. It is a great mistake on the part of the guardians to deprive the child of that freedom and happiness which the heavens have granted it in that period.

The story of Adam's exile from the Garden of Eden shows that there is a certain time in a man's life when he is in the garden of Eden, and after that time he is exiled from there and no longer experiences that joy and happiness and freedom that once the soul possessed. There is not one soul in this world who has not experienced the Garden of Eden, and that Garden of Eden is babyhood.

Now there comes the question of controlling children's intense activity. In the first place their intense activity is tiresome to other people in the family because their interests are different. But if its interest is different that is not a fault on the part of the child. For instance the guardian may be working or writing, or taking a rest, or thinking about something worldly, while the child is playing and making a noise; and the guardian thinks, 'No, this is wrong'. But wrong according to which law? It is a lack of consideration when the guardian is not tolerant of the activity of the baby. No doubt it does not always fit in with the earthly people. But babies are not earthly, they are heavenly creatures. They must be given the liberty to enjoy their heavenly life, just as we are entitled to experience the life of this earth.

No doubt there is a certain limit to it. One may say, 'We will not let them break the things in the house; we will not let them spoil things; we will not let them trouble us in our work'; but all that is earthly. In point of fact, the guardian has no right to prevent the baby from enjoying its free activity, and every effort must be made by the guardian to allow this. In the children's play, in their hustle and bustle, in their crying and jumping and running and climbing their soul is expressing itself. We call it naughty, but they do not consider it so. Even if it is called naughtiness they think it is lawful for them; and it is so. And because we control them and make them suit our own lives, their energy, their enthusiasm, their spirit becomes limited; and in this way their real progress is hampered.

At this age a child is conscious of the higher spheres. Many times children have known much more about what was going on at the front during the war than even the authorities knew. They knew intuitively, sometimes in their dreams, sometimes in a kind of deep imagination; and when they predicted something, that thing happened. And that shows that at four, five, six, and seven years the child is extremely intuitive, because at that time it is under the influence of the jinn.

At the age of three, four and five the baby is very imitative; it likes to imitate everything it sees. And the best way of educating the baby is to bring before it everything that is worth imitating. For instance, sounds, notes, rhythm, and anything that is pertaining to tone and rhythm build and beautify the character, and form the foundation of character in babyhood. And it is best that until the age of five the baby should not be taught anything in the way of figures or alphabet or letters. Regularity is the only thing that can be taught to children at that age, and without their knowing it; regularity in sleeping, in waking up, in food, in playing, and in sitting quiet.

I was very much interested in what Madame Montessori told me when I was in Italy, that besides all the activities that she gives to the children, she makes them keep a silence; and after a little time they like it so much that they prefer silence to their activity. And it interested me still more to see a little girl of about six years of age who, when the time of silence came, went and closed the windows and closed the door, and put away all the things that she was playing with. And then she came and sat in her little chair and closed her eyes, and she did not open them for about three or four minutes. You could see on her innocent face an angelic expression. It seemed she preferred those five minutes silence to all the playing of the whole day. Children enjoy silence when they have become accustomed to it. Silence is not a strain on a child. Only in the beginning it might appear to be disagreeable to a child, who is eager to play and run about, to be sitting and closing its eyes. For children to sit and close their eyes seems hard in the beginning. But when they have had some silence every day for a week, they begin to enjoy the happiness of silence.

Sometimes there is a tendency on the part of the guardian or of those around a baby to enjoy its irritability. It is a kind of entertainment for them. Because they love the baby they are amused by the little gesture of annoyance on its part. But by appreciating it, by recognizing it, by observing it, they develop that characteristic. The best thing, however, would be to overlook it, not to acknowledge it, not to be conscious of it, not to feel for one moment that the child is irritable; because once the guardian takes no notice of it, that tendency of the baby will begin to decrease.

There is also a tendency on the part of the guardian to be annoyed at the irritability of the child. That too is wrong; because by being annoyed one gives to the baby, just like fuel to the fire, the energy to be more irritable. Guardianship of a baby requires great patience; and the more patient one is, the more wise one is with the baby, the more one can help its soul's progress.

Very often behind the irritability either of a child or of a grown-up person there is a hidden reason, and it may be a physical reason. There may be something physically wrong which others do not know of; and they only think that this child is irritable by nature. They attribute the irritability to the child, instead of seeing that there is something physically wrong with it. By trying to find out what it is, one will be able to tolerate that condition better.

There is another tendency in the baby, and that is that during its development it has varied moods. Some days it is loving, other days it is less loving; some days it is more angelic, other days it is less angelic; in this way it changes its moods. In this phase the greatest care should be taken that all such moods of the child are controlled, without forcing one's own will too much upon it. For instance, if the baby is very much inclined to cry, to laugh, to destroy things, or to play, the best thing is to direct its attention to something else. If it is laughing very much one should direct its attention to something that will keep its mind busy, that will make it more balanced, and take its attention away from the idea that makes it laugh. If it is crying, the same thing may be done: to divert the child's attention from the object, the thought or the condition which makes it cry, and in this way to bring about a balance in its life.

Is there any place in the life of a baby for religion? The answer is that the best opportunity to sow the seed of religion is in babyhood, because it is at that time that the angelic quality is fresh and the jinn quality is beginning to develop. And in what way should one teach the child religion? The ancient lesson of the God-ideal, which all the prophets and teachers have given and which will always prove to be the best lesson there is, is to give the child the idea of God: God of goodness, God of beauty, God of compassion, God of love, God of harmony. If in any child there is a spiritual tendency, it will show even from the age of five years. Love for prayer for instance, love for the God-ideal: the feeling for something sacred, a reverence for something religious, it might seem that this was already there, that the child was born with it.

Sometimes the religious, devotional, and spiritual attributes are distinctly seen in a child who is growing from infancy to childhood. The spiritual tendency is inborn, and when it shows itself in a child one should know that the child has brought it from above. The child is very often more responsive to the God-ideal than a grown-up person; because the grown-up person, by being absorbed in the things of the world, has lost the idea of God. He has the world before him. The child has not yet the world before him; and therefore the child is more capable of conceiving the thought of God than a grown-up person. And if this opportunity is lost, then when they are grown-up they feel that something is missing in their life, and they think, 'If only I had known about God it would have been much better.' But now it is too late; now it is difficult for them to conceive the thought of God, because the seed was not sown at the right time.

There are numberless souls who, because their parents have not given them the idea of God, find it most difficult to conceive it; and at the same time their soul is constantly seeking for it. But the guardian must be most careful that he does not sow the seed of bigotry with the religious ideal. If he does this, then a great harm is done to the child. By bigotry is meant this: first there is a time when a person believes in God, and that is a very blessed time. And when he is more evolved in the worldly life then he fights for his Church, that is then his main idea. And when he is still more evolved, then he despises other creeds. And so a person evolves higher and higher; it is that evolution which is called bigotry. If a child is impressed from its childhood by that spirit, then the main object is defeated. The main object of religion is to elevate the child to the higher ideal; and that can be done by giving it the key of religion, and that key is the God-ideal.

The guardian must also endeavor not to give the child heavier food than it can digest in the form of religion. Very often there are guardians filled with a philosophical idea, with a special idea of religion, with an ethical conception of religion, who wish to inspire the child at that age. But in this way they do harm; because instead of giving the first lesson they have perhaps given a lesson which is too advanced for the child, and it is all lost. It is just like giving too much water to a growing plant which dies because of the flood of water that it cannot absorb. There are very many guardians who talk philosophically to a baby, because their philosophical conception is so overpowering that they think it must be poured out on the child; but if the child is too full of it then it will only forget it. We must become children with the child in order to bring it up. We must speak its own language, and we must only give it what it can understand.

Once a nurse came to me and said, 'This child asks wonderful questions, and I cannot answer them'. I said, 'What are the questions?' She replied, 'When this child was going to say its evening prayer before going to bed, it asked me, 'If God is in heaven, up in heaven, then why must I bow low to the earth?'' The nurse was very perplexed; she did not know the answer; but if this child had not been answered, from that moment its belief would have gone, because that is the time when the soul is beginning to inquire into life and its mystery. I asked the child, 'What did you say?' The child explained it to me, and I said, 'Yes God is in heaven, but where are His feet? On the earth. By bending towards the earth you are touching His feet'. That gave it the explanation that although the head of God is in heaven, the feet of God are on the earth; and therefore touching the earth is touching the feet of God. It was quite satisfied.

Very often children are on the point of losing their belief because their belief is just like a young plant, a little seedling that comes out of the earth; and if this is not well guarded, it can be destroyed in a moment. Therefore one must be most careful. It does not matter if a grown-up person has a belief today and gives it up tomorrow. It does not matter because his belief was nothing. But a child's belief is different. A child's belief is something serious. It has no doubt; what it believes, it believes seriously; and therefore its belief is real belief. If that belief is destroyed it is a great pity and a great loss.

A child one day came to its guardian very perplexed because a boy had said to it, 'Do you believe in Santa Claus? If you do then it is not right, because there never was such a being as Santa Claus.' This child was very disappointed, because it had just written a letter to Santa Claus before Christmas. And in its great despair it came to the guardian to ask, 'is it true that Santa Claus exists or is it not true?' Now suppose the guardian had said, 'It is true', then in four or five years' time the child would have come and said, 'No it is not true'; and if he had said, 'No, it is not true', then all the child's belief would have been totally destroyed. It would have been completely changed if the guardian had said, 'It is not true'. That would have rooted out, just by saying no, all the innocent religious belief from the heart of that child. But the guardian said to it, 'Remember, all that the mind can conceive exists. If it does not exist on the physical plane, it exists in the sphere of the mind. So never say it does not exist. To the one who says that it does not exist, say that it exists in the sphere of the mind'; and the child was very impressed by this answer.

A child can remember such an answer all its life. If the child evolved so that it could touch the heavens, it would still believe it. Never in life need it say, 'I do not believe it', and at the same time that is a belief that is tangible. It can never say, 'It does not exist, it is not real'. It can say' 'It is real', both as a child and as a grown-up person.

It is best to keep the child ignorant of all stories of ghosts as long as one can. Ghost stories impress a child and interest it very much, and by this its mind goes in another direction, a direction which is not suitable for it. The best thing is always to avoid conversation about ghosts and spirits, and also about the devil. And the best way of avoiding it is to turn it into a joke. A witty answer that will turn the mind of the child from the idea of ghosts to a joke would be the best thing. But at the same time to say there is no such thing as a ghost or a devil is taking upon oneself a very great responsibility. It is denying something which is written in the Bible and in other scriptures, and could make a child an unbeliever, so that when it grows up it will not believe in anything.

It is essential that in childhood a religious teaching be given. If the guardian is not able to discuss religion with the child, it is better not to try but to give the child the habit of sitting in silence for a moment, and thinking about the higher ideal, God.

The way of Christ was to give humanity the ideal of God, God as the heavenly Father. And what was the reason? The reason was that it was conceivable. Even a child can understand that idea: Father, heavenly Father, the real Father. Besides all the different names that the prophets and teachers have given to God are really not appropriate; it was only to make people understand. Their minds could only conceive those names: the Judge, or the Creator, or the Supreme Being, or the King of the Day of judgment. They are not the names of God; all names given are not the names of God. God cannot be limited to those names; they are too small for God. Yet at the same time it is the best one can do to make the ideal of God as concrete to the mind as possible. What strength, what a help it is for the child to think from early childhood that there is a Friend unknown, unseen; to be able to say, 'There is Someone who hears my prayers. Someone who in my troubles and difficulties can be with me, Someone whose blessing I ask, Someone who protects me, Someone who is like my mother and my father and yet unknown, unseen'. Even if the child is not able to make it clear to itself, yet unconsciously it will feel it like a support from within. It will feel that it can stand with that support, a support so great that at all times, whether the child has its parents or not, in all conditions it can feel, 'There is Someone who is always there with me'. And if this ideal is built from childhood by wise guardians, it helps the child for its whole life.


The guardian need not be discouraged to find obstinacy and temper and selfishness in the little child. He must know that either the baby has inherited it or it is the result of some defect in its physical health, and it must be treated most wisely. Fire is increased by fire, and the plant of temper is watered by anger. The more the guardian reacts the more he will encourage that tendency in the baby. To become annoyed with the child who is in a temper is to fan the spark of anger in it. The best way is to first get the baby to respond to him, and then with that response to make it act according to the will of the guardian.

If the obstinacy of the baby can be directed to its own advantage, then it can be benefited by the obstinacy. Obstinacy can be very useful; for most of the great people in this world have become great by a certain obstinacy in their character, because obstinacy is a strength and power in itself. An obstinate businessman can be successful, an obstinate warrior can win, an obstinate politician can accomplish his purpose and an obstinate industrialist can accomplish great things. Obstinacy, therefore, if rightly directed, can be of great use. One only needs to mold the mind of the child in such a direction that its obstinacy may become fruitful. It is the obstinate child who will sit and finish a task that is given to it; if it had not that obstinacy it would not do it. Sometimes from obstinacy comes the spirit of rivalry, and very often the spirit of rivalry becomes the means to success.

Manners are most important, and especially at four and five years of age the lessons of manners must be given. The first lesson to be taught is knowing when to come near and be loving, and when to sit quiet and obedient in the presence of the guardian. If the guardian is showing affection to the baby all the time the baby becomes spoiled. There must be change. There must be a time when the child is loved. It requires love, love is its sustenance. But there is another time when the child must be obedient. It must sit or stand or do something that it is told to do. And at that time there is no display of tenderness.

There is one thing that must be taught from babyhood, and that is not to argue. If that tendency is not suppressed from babyhood, it will grow unconsciously perhaps and afterwards the guardian will find it most disagreeable. A person in whom this tendency is not checked from childhood will show insolence in some form or another, no matter how good the manners he learned afterwards. Also, if the child contradicts it should also be checked, even to the extent that the guardian may say to the child, 'As you are young you do not know enough. Even of to you it appears wrong, there is some right in it. You do not know and therefore you may not contradict; and you may not contradict your guardian before others. If you think that your guardians are wrong, when the others are gone you may come to your guardians and say, 'That was not right, what you said'; but you may not say it before others, because you do not know enough about what your guardian has said. There may be some reason in it.' When you have said this to the baby once or twice or thrice it understands. A child is easier to work with than grown-up people.

At the same time the baby should be inspired with the spirit of self-respect. There may be something delicious on the table, something attractive in the room. Something beautiful within its reach, there may be some gold and silver coins lying loose in its presence, but its natural tendency of taking them, of losing them, of breaking them, of spoiling them, must be checked. And how must it be checked? The baby must not think that it is forced to keep away from what attracts it, but it must feel that it is self-respect not to look at it. That it is glad to take its eyes away from the sweet that is on the table, that it feels a great pride and honor to think that it will not even look at it. That teaches the baby patience; and its self-respect gives it more joy than even the sweet and the toy would give it, because it touched its very being; it wakens the soul when the child feels pride in refusing something that in its heart it is attracted to. This does not mean that the baby should be denied all that is good and beautiful. No, it must be taught that when something is given, it can be accepted; but when it is not given, then the baby must be proud enough to control itself.

The child must be taught not to be over-enthusiastic about anything that appeals to it, whether it is a sweet, a toy, or something beautiful; it must be taught not to show too great an appreciation. Because it is a humiliation, it is making oneself small before the object that one is enthusiastic about. The baby must be too proud to be enthusiastic. And remember that a baby will begin to appreciate this, if not in the beginning, then a little later. Self-control gives the child such a feeling of power and satisfaction that it begins to enjoy it.

A child must be checked in the feeling, 'You have taken more than I', or 'My little brother, or my little sister, has received more than was given to me'. That must be stopped. It must not judge; it must appreciate it if the little brother or sister has got more; it must be glad. It will not be glad naturally, but if it is taught then it will be glad; it will enjoy being glad. Virtues are virtues because they give joy once they are practiced. If a virtue does not give joy, it is not a virtue.

Very often guardians do not attach importance to what toys they give the baby to play with. There are certain toys which have the effect of making it lazy; there are certain toys which will make it confused, or which will bring about stupidity, or make the child irritable or timid. Unconsciously they have that effect upon the child. Besides, playing with certain toys does not bring any benefit. When we think that every moment of babyhood is so precious in the life of the soul, and that this soul is to be denied something that can add to its progress, it seems a great pity.

There must be discrimination even in choosing toys, as to what toy will inspire the children and help them, and will elevate their souls. There are many meaningless toys with horrible faces, horrible toys with nothing beautiful about them. The child likes them because it likes anything. Sometimes a child likes a doll without arms or legs. But we must give the child toys which are finished and not without arms or legs.

Sometimes it likes horrible toys most. For instance, what does a teddy-bear do to the child? Does it inspire the child, does it elevate its soul? It does nothing. On the contrary, it gives to the receptive mind of the child the impression of an animal, which is not good. Very often there are toys which give no inspiration, which have no action, and therefore have a confusing effect upon the child. One gives a child a teddy-bear because one thinks that it likes it. But why must we give something to the child because it likes it? A friendship with a bear!

There is much else to occupy one's mind. Besides, there are certain toys which give no exercise to the mind and no inspiration to the child, and that makes it lazy. Anything constructive is good. For instance, a train that runs, or an instrument that sounds, that is good for a child, or anything that it can construct with, as the pieces of a puzzle that a child can make a picture from, or the little bricks and pillars and different things from which it can make a house or something else. All such toys are good. In short every toy must be constructive, must lead to some purpose; that should be the guiding principal.

It is not very good for the child to play with animals. If the child can have a kind feeling towards the animal it is quite enough; because every association has its special effect on the child. And very often the tendency of the guardian is to think that the child likes the animal very much. That may be so, but it is not good for the child; from a psychological point of view it is sometimes bad for it.

Boys' toys should not be given to girls, neither should girls' toys be given to boys. If boys get accustomed to playing with the toys of girls, then their mind goes in another direction; and it is the same with girls. It is better that the girl has her own toys and the boy his own toys. Both must have toys appropriate for them, and very often guardians do not discriminate between them.

One may wonder if it is bad for children to play with tin soldiers. Yes, it is, because it develops a tendency towards fighting. But it is delicate and very subtle question, and one must not lay down rules about it. What a terrible thing it would be if as a child a person did not play with bow and arrows and sword or anything that is soldier-like, and then when he was twenty-one years of age, the country called him to defend it and he knew nothing about warfare, for he had never received any preparation for it! And another question arises: when the whole nation is ready for war and there is one youth, perhaps, who feels, 'I will not go because I am not in agreement with the principle, it is his right to disagree with the principal but at the same time he is willing to accept the order and peace that is maintained by the nation, to share all the privileges of being a member of the nation. He shares them, but he refuses what the majority wants him to do. It is against his principle certainly; but what the majority wishes him to do he refuses although he does not refuse the privileges. If he refuses the privileges also it is different. If he does like the sages, if he goes away from the country and stays in solitude under the shade of a tree, it is different. If he does not want money, if he says, 'I do not compete with you. I do not want to have any benefit from your progress in life. I do not keep any money that a thief can steal from me, for which I might then have to come to your court', then it is different. But if a person is ready to share all privileges that belong to the country, and then when the need of defense comes says, 'It is against my principle', that is quite another matter. Never think that this means standing up for war. But at the same time let the little boys be capable of everything.

Every little manner that is sweet in the child, every good little tendency it shows, should be emphasized and appreciated. One must not take it silently. Never think that by showing the child appreciation it will become conceited. No, the child will be encouraged. It will be just like watering a plant when you appreciate anything that is nice in the manner of a baby. And there is never a time in one's whole life when one appreciates a word of praise so much as when one is a baby. The child really appreciates it and is encouraged to do the same again.

Then there is the question of blame. When the child has done anything wrong, the first thing is to reason with it, to convince it. And if it is not convinced at once, then try a second time, and then a third, a fourth. Never be disappointed, even if one has to try ten times to convince the baby by argument.

Very often a guardian thinks it is too much waste of time to argue with a baby who does not understand; it is more easily done when one scolds and finishes with it. But that does not finish it. Much scolding blunts the spirit of the child. The spirit of the child must be kept so fine and so sharp that the slightest glance could make it feel hurt. But if one scolds the child all the time, it blunts its spirit, and the child becomes worse and worse.

Never for one moment imagine that the child will not take in your reasoning. If not the first time, it will take it in the second or the third time. One must continue to reason with the child; and by doing so the guardian brings the child closer to his spirit, because the child feels a friendship between itself and the guardian. By reasoning one draws the child closer to one's own spirit. And if the child does not listen to the reasoning and the guardian has reasoned for many days, then the next thing to try is temptation. To tempt it with a sweet, with a flower, with something that it likes, with love, with appreciation. To say, 'You have done right', 'Now you have done it nicely, and I will give you a toy,' 'I shall give you a sweet if you will do it'. Show appreciation, tempt it to do right. This is the next step. It is preferable that the child should learn with reasoning; but if not, then a reward must make it listen.

If even a reward is not enough, then the third way is scolding, punishment. But scolding must be short. The scolding must be in the voice, in the way it is said. It must not be hard, nor must it be harsh. There must be a certain tone that the child at once realizes is scolding. One must avoid scolding as much as one can. But if one cannot help it then that is the third way. There is a wrong method which guardians very often adopt, perhaps in the East more than in the West, and that is to frighten a child by saying some bogey is coming or something like that. If it continues to be naughty something will come to frighten it, a ghost or a spirit. That is the worst thing that one could do to a child, because every such shock takes away a great deal from the enthusiasm of its spirit to progress. It hampers the progress of the soul to be frightened by anything.


Very often a stubborn child who does not listen and who does not change, by being asked to turn around three times changes its point of view at once. If one wants to make the child feel more deeply, if one tells the proud child to go and stand in the corner with its back turned to everybody, it really feels hurt. One can also ask it to go out of the room and stand outside the door. That hurts the child still more.

Is it right to punish a child? Punishment is natural. Every soul is punished in some way or another. For everything one does there is a punishment; it is the law of nature. The law of life has punishment just the same. But punishment for the child must be gentle. It is better to avoid a severe punishment, but rather to give a little mental punishment, which makes the child realize that it is being punished. Suppose one told the child to go from one place to another five times or ten times. In point of fact, walking up and down can be an enjoyment for the child, but by the very fact that you have given it as a punishment the child does not like it. The feeling, 'I am punished', in itself corrects it. In order to punish you do not need to torture a child; you only need to make it realize that it is being punished. That is quite enough.

Sometimes guardians think it is necessary to slap a child, to slap its face. Slapping is sometimes dangerous, because there are veins and delicate organs in the forehead and on the temples, and slapping could cause a condition which though not manifest at the time, might become so after twenty or forty years. And therefore instead of slapping it is far better to tweak the ears. Punishment has a very bad effect when it blunts the sharpness of the child's spirit. Very often punishment may work with the child, but in some way or other it blunts its fineness; and therefore one must try to do without if one can. Then, after giving good advice and counsel and encouragement, and after showing appreciation and doing everything possible, the last thing is to tweak the ears. Boys are sometimes more stubborn than girls; and if you give them a little punishment in the form of gymnastics it corrects them. If a boy is told to stand up and sit down fifty times, it helps him in his gymnastics, and at the same time he feels punished. Boys are difficult to control, and can easily become insolent if they are not trained from their babyhood. A girl by nature is thoughtful, and a boy by nature is contrary. When a boy is thoughtful it means that life has taught him.

Very often both boys and girls can be taught by means of repetition. For instance, if you told the boy to repeat a hundred times, 'I will not make pencil marks on the wall', after repeating it for a hundred times he will be impressed by it. There is a great difference in the effect of making a child repeat a phrase and making him write the phrase a hundred times. If you make the child write the phrase a hundred times the effect is one quarter compared with the effect if you had made him say it a hundred times; that is the best punishment you could give him. While he is repeating a hundred times he becomes impatient, he becomes tired and he is displeased with it; at the same time he is impressed that he is being punished. When one asks a child to stand for a long time and repeat, 'I will not be mischievous', in fifteen minutes time it will take away a great deal of that spirit of mischief from it.

One may ask what one is to do if the child will not take the punishment, will not repeat a phrase, for instance. But the child will surely do it. If from babyhood it is not controlled, then it becomes insolent and refuses afterwards, but if from babyhood it is taught to obey a normal child will not refuse.

How should one treat a child when it is angry? By not partaking of its anger. That is the first principle. When the guardian loses his temper because of the child's anger, then everything goes wrong, because then there is a fire on both sides. The child is not helped in that way. It is best to keep calm and direct the child's attention to something else. If the child is in a temper and the guardian gives it punishment, that does not do it any good. It is wasted.

There is, however, another time when the punishment may be usefully given. Punishment may be given when the child is in its balanced, normal condition. For instance, if you held a court in the house, where the children could be judged at a time when they had forgotten all about what they had done, then they would remember. That is the time when whatever punishment is given will have effect. But when the child is cross and the punishment is given immediately, it is lost. At that time every effort must be made to take away the temper by kindness, by sympathy. But very often that is where the guardian makes a mistake.

Must a child obey without understanding? There is a vast difference between the mentality and experience of the child and of the guardian. Very often the child will not know why it is told, 'You must not do it'; and if the child always asked, 'Why must I not do it?' then it would be difficult, because very often it cannot be explained. And very often it had better not be explained. Very often it is better that the child only listens to the guardian and does not argue. Just as the musicians in the orchestra are accustomed to look at the conductor's baton, so a baby must be taught to look at the glance of its guardian. And if the guardian is wise enough to conduct the action of the baby from morning till evening by his glance alone, he is sure to train that child to be a most promising soul in the future.

And now another question arises: how much must a baby he kept in control, and how much must it be allowed to play with its playmates? There must be certain times when the baby is allowed to play with its playmates. But the guardian must select the because the association in childhood is more responsible for the baby's future than the association than when grown-up. Very few people think about this. Mostly the tendency of the parents is to think that any child that comes along can play with their child. But when it comes to home education it is not the same thing. That system will not do; because home education is an individual education, while school education is different. There they are all together, but home education is something else, it is a different ideal. And this must be remembered, that school education without home education is not sufficient.

The greatest drawback today is that home education is lacking, and only school education is given. And therefore in many personalities there is something missing that ought to have come from home. If there were thousands of schools most wisely and wonderfully organized, they still could not take the place of home education. Home education is the foundation of school education; and that opportunity of being educated at home must not be denied to a child, because it is a great blessing.

There must be discrimination in regard to the playmates that one chooses for the baby. And the time must be limited so that the baby plays with its playmates during that time only. But if the child is allowed to run wild in play and there is no limit to it, then no training is given and it is not education. There is need for play, but only for a certain time and no longer.

Regularity in life is the rhythm of life; and the more the rhythm is maintained in life, the better it is. It is not necessary for many grown-up persons to handle a baby; it is better that only one handles it. It is just like an orchestra and its conductor. If there were four conductors conducting the orchestra, they would spoil it. Even if there were four hundred musicians playing there must only be one conductor. It is the same thing with the guardian. If there is more than one person to guide the life of a child, it will be spoiled. In the case of two parents one must become the hand to the other. But if both wish to manage their child, then it will be spoiled.

If the baby is an orphan, what can one do? That is destiny. One can only be sorry about it. And those who are blessed by providence and who have to look after an orphan, should consider their responsibility as that of a parent, of a guardian towards the orphan that is in their charge. But every woman and every man in this world should consider it their duty, whenever they are in contact with a new soul, to be as parents to that soul. For in the total scheme of life all the elder ones have to take the part of the parents to the younger ones, while those have to take the part of the children to those who are older. So that we each have our older ones and our younger ones to look up to and to look after.

The greatest ideal that one can give a baby is to look up to its parents. That is the first ideal; and if at that time the baby has not received this ideal, then all his life he will have no ideal, because he will have no basis for it. Someone went to the prophet Muhammad and said, 'Prophet, I am so spiritually inclined, and I would so much like to follow your Message and come and meditate in your presence. But I am still young and my parents need me at home. What shall I do?' the prophet said, 'Remain at home first, because some consideration is due to your parents.' One might think that the Prophet was a greater ideal still; why did the prophet deny him that ideal, why did he send him home? Because the Prophet thought that was the first ideal. If the youth did not reach the first ideal, how could he get to the second ideal? If he did not look up to his parents, did not appreciate them or feel grateful for them, how could he appreciate the Prophet?

It is the parent's duty to give the ideal of themselves to their own child. Not for their own sakes, but for the good of the child. That ideal must be given from babyhood so that the child looks up to its parents as it would look up to the King or Queen, or to God or to a prophet. When the ideal is sewn in that way, in the child from the beginning, then it will flourish, and then that ideal will become a guiding torch in the life of the soul.

checked 18-Oct-2005