Dharma is one of the four Purusharthas, or Hindu goals of life. It means to uphold your beliefs and take responsibility for your actions. Once you have accepted yourself, have accounted for your actions and preserved your beliefs, you are considered to have fulfilled the rite of passage to adulthood. The entire religion is based on the holistic principles of one’s health, which includes peace of mind, and by treating others and yourself well.
The followers of Hinduism try to follow these values so that we can integrate our mind, body, and soul. For example, Hindus are told from a young age to practice patience. Keeping calm will help you focused. When you are stressed, you accomplish less than when you are aware of your task and calmly, but efficiently, go about it. As you get older, you are expected to follow these and many other principles more precisely. One of the most important values is personal responsibility, which helps shape you into an adult. Responsibility is taught as soon as your parents see that you are capable of being accountable for your actions. My parents saw that it was time for me to take the wheel when I entered middle school as I was keeping up my grades and my priorities.
My parents taught me everything I know about my faith; thus I look to them first for guidance. They often set goals for me that I frequently felt were far too high, unattainable at best, such as straight A plus grades. However, my parents have always listened to me and given me plenty of support, so I always felt I could achieve anything. When I turned 12, I noticed my parents were no longer pushing me to reach for the stars. At first I thought they were preoccupied with some other pressing matters. Because of their absence, many of the problems I had once faced with their support, I now faced alone. At first I was terrified. I was completely stunned that my once pushy parents weren’t on my back every minute! I felt relieved once I realized that I was free. Or so I thought.
My folks told me that, now that I was old enough to take responsibility for my actions, I should. In the Hindu religion, once you are past your childhood days it is time for you to be able to say, for example, “I am going to practice tap-dancing everyday to keep up my skills.” Whatever you do, any hobby that you pursue, you are expected to take seriously. If I ever needed advice, my parents were always there, but they would no longer push me to achieve the goals.
"If I ever needed advice, my parents were always there, but they would no longer push me to achieve the goals."
Unfortunately, I started becoming a little less aware of my time management and did not realize what my parents were expecting of me. I missed assignments and then said I would make up the homework by doing well on the test. When I skipped club meetings, I would ask friends to tell me what happened. Guilt ate away at me, but then I blocked that out by being even more lazy. I was doing these things simply because I could. Eventually, this caught up to me. I had neglected everything I had worked so hard to achieve: my grades, reliability, faith in myself. I realized I had thrown all of my achievements out the window. It was then that I started trying to build things again.
Neglecting all responsibilities is not how to be the best you can be. I am a free spirit, but there are certain things I must achieve to attain that level of total happiness. By letting go my parents had shown their faith in me. They told me, “From now on, we aren’t going to chase after you to get your work done or telling you that you have a test tomorrow. You should have it all planned out because from now on, you are handling your own school affairs.” And so, from then on, school and school work became my own responsibility.
Once, I procrastinated so much that I missed the deadline for a major English project due months earlier. I told myself, “I’ll just complete that assignment tomorrow.” Well, tomorrow turned into next week, and next week turned into two weeks, and before I knew it, I was overrun with late or incomplete assignments. The true meaning of my parent’s words hit me at my lowest point: I had to get my act together and do something. Whatever in this gigantic universe I wanted to do, I just had to do. I have my wits, my determination, and my courage. I just had to reach out and grab what I wanted!
Now, I try my very best to achieve my goals. I won’t give up: tenacity is what I believe responsibility means. Once you have taken up a task, you complete it to the best of your ability. Even if you are scared, you have to do what you think is right and aim for your dreams. Being responsible means you are willing to accept your actions and face the consequences for whatever you do. Your actions represent who you are and what you stand for. I want to be known in this world as an amazing, brilliant, human being. I want to leave a mark on this earth. That is my ambition.
Hinduism has opened my eyes to much moral knowledge. One of the most important things I have learned from my faith is that faith in my parents forges trust, but faith in yourself is one of the most powerful things you can possess. My parents taught me that personal responsibility permits you to be content with your life. With the knowledge that I had about faith in myself, they released me into the world knowing I would be successful in pursuing my dreams. I took that chance in trusting in my capabilities and flew to the moon with it. For when you have faith in yourself, you can do anything.
Shikha Vinodanandan is 15 years old in the 10th grade. She is a writer, singer, and dancer, and lives in Holmdel, New Jersey, with her mom, dad, and younger brother. She aspires to become a scientist one day, and using the power of her research help save millions of lives. In her free time she enjoys reading long novels and short poetry.
KidSpirit’s teen editors and contributors around the world believe in a better future. Help empower the next generation to raise their voices and move forward in a spirit of openness and inclusion - make a tax-deductible contribution to KidSpirit today.
KidSpirit, Inc is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization