The Dharma (Spiritual Duty) of Having Children


Should one give up having a child for the spiritual path OR can having a child be ones dharma, gods will, a part of the spiritual path? How do you know which path is for you? What path do you take in marriage if both people have differing viewpoints (desires)? What are Yogananda's guidelines about having children?




—Kaivalya, USA


Dear Kaivalya,

The paths to God are as varied as there are individuals. For some people, being a renunciate and withdrawing from all worldly involvement is the way to inner freedom. For others fulfilling one’s earthly responsibilities with non-attachment and with the thought of God brings realization.

Certainly raising children is the spiritual dharma for many people. If you are uncertain as to what is right for you, the best course to follow is to pray for guidance. Concentrate deeply at the spiritual eye, and offer your prayer-demand to God with deep focus and sincerity. Then try to feel the divine answer in your heart as a calm, clear, joyful feeling.

If both partners in a marriage do not feel clear about having children, it’s best to wait. Raising a child is a lifetime responsibility, and unless you can joyfully embrace this step, it is often a cause of unhappiness and stress. It’s important for a couple to talk about this step, and to agree together if and when they are ready for children.

Yogananda did not say specifically if it was better for people to have children or not. He was too great a soul not to know that everyone’s karma is different.

What he did say was parents should fulfill this dharma without a sense of attachment to their children or to the thought that raising a family in and of itself will bring fulfillment. He said to feel you are serving God through your children, and to offer your service back to God.

The best attitude in all aspects of life is to hold the thought that our true happines lies in God alone.