An ideal household is one in which all members love each other. They cooperate with each other. They mutually share joys and sorrows. It is essential to help other members of the family when they need help. There should be no feeling that "This is my work, this is not mine." All work of the household is everyone's work and it has to be done in a spirit of love and cooperation. In such a household, there is harmony and peace of mind for all members.
An ideal household should be run systematically. Everything should be arranged neatly and kept in its place. All people do not have large houses. However, even a small house can be arranged neatly and kept clean.
In an ideal household, there should be respect for elderly people of part of the youngsters and elderly people should love the youngsters and give them guidance.
There should be a place, even a small corner in a small house, for prayer and worship. All members should pray at such a corner set apart for prayer and worship. Joint worship and prayers such as bhajans are also important in keeping a household as a harmonious unit.
A tulasi plant which is worshipped with faith should be maintained in every household. It has a purifying effect on the environment and is good for health.
The hallmarks of an ideal household are regular prayers to God and cooperation among family members.
Youth is the most precious period in a person's life. It should not be wasted in any way. On the contrary, it should be put to the fullest use to make one's life happy and successful.
In youth, one has great energy, enthusiasm and good health. When old age creeps in, although a person may have intelligence, money and all other resources. declining health, lack of energy and lack of the same degree of enthusiasm as in youth come in the way of great accomplishments.
Young people should cultivate good habits which will last them for a lifetime. For instance, getting up early in the morning, cleanliness of the body, regular prayers and worship to God are good habits to be cultivated in young age. These habits lay a solid foundation for a happy and successful life.
For good health, regular physical exercise is necessary. In youth, one should cultivate such a habit of regular exercise. The body functions properly only when it goes through the routine of daily exercise. Such daily exercise helps digestion of food, keeps the limbs in good shape for an active life and contributes to a healthy life. The benefits of regular exercise and a healthy life become all the more evident as old age slowly replaces youth.
The biggest enemy of youth is idleness. It should be shunned as poison. Idleness in youth does not mean merely lack of any purposeful work. Idleness in young age turns the mind of youth to evil and destructive activities. Every moment of life should be engaged in doing one's duty and useful work.
Apart from doing one's duty well, young age is the proper time to learn to serve others. Service of one's fellow human beings is an integral part of a happy life. There are innumerable opportunities to serve society. It is a way in which one helps the less fortunate or those who need help. Service teaches one many virtues such as humility and love. These virtues help one to lead a happy life, particularly in old age.
Service to one's fellow human beings is one of the best ways of pleasing God.
Young people must always learn to distinguish between good and bad, and avoid all evil in life. Bad qualities like gossip should be avoided with determination.
One of the worst things which should be fought in early life is anger. Anger leads one to do things without any reasoning or forethought and this surely results in repentance. Therefore, anger should be controlled and avoided right from one's youth.
One good quality every young person should cultivate is reading. It is a habit. From young age religious books must be read. One should also read books on philosophy, various useful subjects, good story books or novels that are considered to be classics. One advantage of reading is accumulation of a great deal of useful knowledge. It also helps one to be busy even when there is no company. A good book is a good companion. The habit of reading is specially useful in old age when people find that they become increasingly lonely.
There is a belief that one turns to religion and God only in old age. Just as one should learn to serve humanity in young age, one should also take keen interest inreligion early in life. Daily and incessant prayers to God for grace should form an integral part of the life of every human being right from childhood.
God listens to every prayer from a sincere soul. The best form of prayer is for seeking only God's grace and nothing else. A prayer for the welfare and happiness of others is always pleasing to God.
A purposeful life of duty, prayer to God and service to one's fellow human beings develops in one the great quality of love. This is the surest way to lead a happy life.
God has assigned a specific role to everyone in life. One should find out what it is and fulfil it to the best of one's ability.
There is a code of conduct for everyone. Whatever is done should be done according to that code of conduct or Dharma, if one is to lead a happy life.
"Dharmagranthas" have outlined these basic principles of righteous living. Our great seers and rishis have found these basic tenets of life by their meditation and spiritual exercises.
A person should guard himself or herself against six enemies called "Shadvairies". They are "Kama", "Krodha", "Lobha", "Moha", "Mada" and "Matsarya". Of these, "Kama" or insatiable desire for sensuous pleasure and "Krodha" or anger are very difficult to control. A person should be extremely careful to see that they do not take control of one's life. They never lead to happy life. Sensuous desires can never be satisfied. They lead one to crave for more and more desires. Ultimately, a person degrades himself by submitting to this endless chain of desires and becomes unhappy.
The other four enemies "Lobha" (greed), "Mada" (pride), "Moha" (delusion) and "Matsarya" (jealousy) are also always present. Of these "Matsarya" or jealousy is the worst. A person under its influence will stoop to the worst of deeds to harm others. One should be careful not to come under its influence and also careful of persons who are possessed of it. If it is possible, one should totally avoid or minimise contacts with such people. Some of these persons, possessed of the spirit of jealousy cannot bear to see the prosperity, good name or achievement of others. Their external behaviors does not betray their real thinking. Once the mask is penetrated, such persons should be avoided.
In every person, evil tendencies are always present and ever eager to manifest themselves. Good qualities are to be cultivated and coaxed to manifest themselves.
Truth is the greatest principle which should guide one in all activities, if one seeks permanent happiness and peace in life. Happy is that person whose thoughts, words and deeds are based on truth and are well-coordinated.
Even greater than truth is "Ahimsa" or non-violence. Ahimsa more correctly means compassion towards all and not hurting anyone by thought, word or deed. Even a truth should not be told to hurt anyone deliberately.
The saying "Ahimsa paramo dharma" (non-violence or compassion is the greatest of righteous principles) sums up the ultimate basis of living. If a person can implement that principle in life, that person's life can be said to be truly successful.
In the reading of good books, naturally study of epics and holy books gets the place of pride. Such reading is beneficial not only from the viewpoint of one's personality development but also spiritual advancement of the individual.
This epic has been described as "Adikavya", the first great poem. Its beauty can be savoured well by those who have studied Sanskrit. In some passages, Valmiki brings out the ultimate in description of human emotions. Even those who cannot read the original in Sanskrit have a lot to learn from this great epic.
Ramayana portrays the ideal of "Manushya Dharma" or righteous living of a human being in society.
The Lord, assuming the human form as Rama, demonstrates how an individual has to conduct himself according to the precepts of dharma in various and even difficult circumstances.
The most important virtue portrayed is that of "Vinaya" or utmost humility. Lord Rama himself is humility personified under all circumstances, whether he willingly accepts his step-mother Kaikeyi's cruel fiat of going to the forest for 14 years or deals with Vali and Sugriva. His greatest devotee, Hanuman is also humility personified. For instance, though he himself was known for his limitless power and strength, he tells Mother Sita in Ravana's Ashok Vana that there are warriors far more mightier than him in the monkey brigade which came to Lord Rama's help.
Bharata presents another picture of humility personified.
Imbibing the virtue of humility befits every individual
Another great quality highlighted by various events and personalities in "Ramayana" is selfless love for others. Such an attitude of selfless love enables one to sail through many storms in life.
"Ramayana" has warned mankind that self-praise and self-aggrandisement are to be avoided. Under no circumstances should one boast of one's own powers and achievements. They are to be recognised by others, not advertised by oneself.
The importance of bhakti or devotion is brought out in several episodes. There is an assurance that God always takes care of His devotees. The way Lord Rama tended to Jatayu on his deathbed and performed last rites as if he were performing the last rites of His own father shows the unbounded love that the Lord has for His devotees. Likewise, there is a touching episode of Shabari, a simple and poor woman of great devotion, giving Lord Rama a few fruits after biting each one of them to see that they are sweet enough to be offered to her God. Lord Rama once again brings to the fore God's unbounded love for His devotees. If a person leads a righteous life and surrenders himself or herself to the Lord, He takes care of His devotees in every way.
"Ramayana" also indicates the power of Destiny and how its effects can be mitigated by surrender to the Lord. Lord Rama is committed to protect His devotees under all circumstances.
Lord Rama's virtue of obedience to His father, affection for his brother, love for his subjects and above all uncompromising commitment to Dharma or Righteousness set an inspiring example to all.
This is another great epic. It brings out all possible situations a person has to face in this world and the possible solutions ranging from the brashly unethical and dishonest ones to the most ethical and honest ones.
The heart of ""Mahabharata" is the "Bhagavad Gita" which is rightly described as the essence of the Upanishads.
The best description of this classic is "Yoga Shastra, i.e., the science of Yoga in daily life. It has explained the secrets of right action, the spirit in which it i to be performed and dedicated to the Lord. It is a guidebook to righteous action in the day-to-day world for the benefit of laymen.
For peace of mind, reading of "Shrimad Bhagavata" is a must. It shows the path of Bhakti or devotion. Reading and assimilating this great book, one cannot but imbibe the value of selfless love as the best quality to be cultivated and practiced in life.
The Vedas dealt with different aspects of knowledge. They are profound. Repeated reading and years of study are required to appreciate their meaning. They emphasize the importance of cooperation and harmony in all human endeavours.
Visit to temples and daily worship to God help one to lead a happy life. Worship when done collectively, for instance, through Bhajans, has a purifying effect. It leads to general welfare as also personal welfare or "atmoddara" of the individual.
Worship of God at festivals and on other occasions by many devotees coming together also leads to happiness in life. Visit to sacred places is a great help to cultivate inner purity.
Guru parampara has an important place in the life of householders. Lord Brahma was the first Guru of humanity. That tradition has been handed down from guru to shishya from time immemorial.
Lord Vedavyas expounded the principles of dharmic life or "Dharmacharan". The Maths or gurupeeth today foster those principles of dharma. Householders should enrich their life by drinking deep from that fountain of wisdom in gurupeeth.
The company of holy and good people "Satsang" is another way of finding happiness in life.