By Ishvari Devi Dasi
I am the child of a devotee father and a non-devotee mother. My father has cared for me since I was three and has tried his best to raise me as a devotee. Sadly, the antagonistic influence of my biological mother created much confusion in me with regard to the values we hold dear. My confusion was such that seven months ago, at age 14, homeschooled, and already taking college courses, I played along while my mother created a legal mess based on lies and disinformation that allowed me to experience life with her. And so, my spiritual falldown began.
I attended a primary school while my father finished his doctorate and started his teaching career, but then he decided to homeschool me. He focused on my writing and mathematical skills, always connecting it to spirituality. My father would also take me to his university and let me attend his history of math lectures and other courses. When the legal battle with my mother began, I was officially enrolled in three college courses, whereas I would have been in ninth grade at a regular school. However, my mother had me enrolled at a school for dropouts. in eighth grade! Academically it was no challenge, but in terms of vegetarianism, non-intoxication and chastity, I was constantly under attack. Boys and girls would sit and lie on each others’ laps, tickle, hug, and even sometimes have sexual contact (during school hours). They would also go to the movies, pubs or the beach without parental supervision. At school, even the teachers would encourage us to talk about our experiences with the opposite sex or tell us of their own experiences. Then I finally understood why Srila Prabhupada was against this type of education for devotee children. He was convinced that modern schools were slaughterhouses. He once said, “I have seen intelligent boys, they go to school and he is spoiled. Yes, spoiled. He learns how to smoke, how to have sex, how to talk nonsense, how to use knife, how to fight, these things. At least at the present moment. Yes. Simply slaughterhouse, this so-called school is called slaughterhouse. Yes, slaughterhouse.”
A woman’s chastity is a valuable treasure that must be protected at all times, but modern schools slaughter chastity, destroying our spiritual life. Urmila Mataji states in her essay “Teens and Celibacy” that “Parents should understand that adolescents have only three choices in sexual morality: celibacy, marriage, or immorality. Because of the danger in a society where boys and girls mix freely, marriage should be encouraged.”
To correct this situation we need to take education seriously and establish our own schools. The bad influence on us devotee teens cannot be counteracted simply with a Sunday school program. Besides, regular schools do not teach us how to love Krishna or lead a spiritual life. Instead they teach us things that are not worthy and foster bad association.
I’m fortunate to have a devotee father and a second mother who is also a devotee. I regret having left them and am relieved that they have forgiven me. I hope other teens can learn from my experience and never leave devotional service allured by material attractions. As I undergo my karmi-detox program, I’m chanting the holy names and begging for the mercy of the Vaishnavas that I may remain in their hearts and prayers.