From early times the main purpose of marriage was to raise children. They were important not only in their own right, but also for continuation of the family lineage, and to perform the last rites for parents. In some circles, nurturing pious and emotionally stable progeny was considered a valuable socio-spiritual contribution. Some texts emphasise the crucial role that parents play in enabling their offspring to attain spiritual merit and liberation.
Overall, Hinduism emphasises that children should be loved and in no way neglected.The first chapter of the Bhagavad-gita alludes to the moral and social problems arising from "unwanted children." For this reason, Hindu texts condemn contraception (especially abortion), suggesting that it is children who should be wanted rather than sexual pleasure alone. Some members of the higher varnas still perform rites of passage before attempting to conceive children. Children are generally treated with much affectionate indulgence, especially before schooling begins.
Traditionally, only members of the three higher varnas received a formal education as brahmachari students. Shudra boys stayed at home and were trained by the father. Girls were also educated at home, largely in domestic skills, and were married at a relatively young age. In order to preserve their chastity, unmarried girls were not allowed to stay away from home.
|Many Hindu religious organisations have established their own day schools and Sunday schools, with particular emphasis on nurturing children in the values of their tradition.|
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