The Trishanku Generation

As per Hindu Mythology, Trishanku was a noble king of the famous Sun dynasty of Ikshvaku. He was noble and righteous like most of the great kings of his lineage. However, he had one wish- one that was unheard of! He wanted to enter the gates of Heaven with his mortal body. He went to his “Kulguru” (family priest), Sage Vashishth with his wish and he was turned down for the wish was bizarre indeed. Not to be deterred, he went to the sage’s hundred sons and asked them to oblige. Instead of obliging him, they took it as an insult to their father that he should even approach them when their father had turned him down. The King said that he was left with no choice but to find someone outside the family priests who would help him out. Enraged at hearing this, the young sons cursed him and made him a “chandaal” (a lowly caste that dealt with the disposal of the dead).


The woe befallen king was driven out of his own kingdom for no one recognized or believed him. He then went to Sage Kaushika, whom we know as Sage Vishwamitra and asked him if he could help. One look as this pitiable man, and the Sage with his inner eye learnt what had transpired. He promised to help him. This was taken badly by the sages and the Gods. The sages dared not upset their Superior so they assisted him and their mission was a success. No sooner had Trishanku reached the Heavens than he was turned out by the Gods. The enraged Sage was determined to keep his word, so the Gods had to come down and appease him saying that it was unnatural and a sin to do so. The sage couldn’t break his promise so he made an alternate Heaven (“Trishanku Swargam” or Trishanku’s Heaven) just for the poor King, who was no longer one but he remained suspended upside down here. In astronomy, the Crux or the Southern Cross represents this. Today, the word Trishanku Swargam is used for a person caught in a state of two minds or confused or for neither here nor there scenario etc.

So who am I calling the Trishanku Generation? Well, those born in the late sixties, seventies and early eighties are those who belong to this (in)famous generation. Maybe, every generation feels that way but the kind of radical changes we have been put through from scientific advancement and technological superiority to drastic change in value systems, we find ourselves in two boats which are drifting apart and as we try to maintain delicate balance!

I write this from a typical middle class, Indian perspective. Exceptions, I am not talking about.  Our grandparents typically had four children or more while our parents had two or three and we, two or one or none (the conscientious lot who have to curb the growing population). We cannot predict the future of our children but with the population explosion and dwindling resources they should probably stick with adoption!

Our grandparents were mostly pioneers who had left the village to make it on their own or were still in the village but educating their children to move out into the city. They had large families to support, which went beyond their wife and many children. Such busy and difficult lives our grandparents lived that in their prime, they hardly enjoyed life (as per our definition); they used the cane well to see their kids studied enough to get into a job (Surprisingly, there was no gender bias in making their only their sons worthy. The daughters were encouraged to study and work. Only, the daughters had to be dressed conservatively and would never be allowed to forget that she had to get married and raise children and that she had to participate in household chores). Beyond that, the children were independent to make their own decisions and were left free. No one really fussed over their wounds, torn or dirty clothes or thought of special sweet dish or any dish for that matter on a daily basis- maybe, once a week or fortnight.

The result of this upbringing was a generation (our parents) which was supremely well-educated, confident, independent, hard working, non- fussy (mostly) working class who had a solid base. They had that “fire” and wanted more for which they were willing to work. As this was happening on one level, there was advance in every other level too. Our country became independent, our approach became modern. There were no changes in the value system and so, no conflict arising between the previous two generations.

Now, the generation of our parents had children of their own and they wanted to give their children a better life than what they had. Lesser children so better chances of quality education, clothing, food and basic needs. However, while offering their children a better life and leaving no stone unturned for the same, they also began shielding them from trouble. They had probably felt vulnerable during their toughening up phase so they over protected their children; daughters more than the sons perhaps, but in general, both. This meant controlling them on many levels while spoiling them every now and then. During this time, came a huge change in technology- the advent of the Television. Yet, the children of this generation were not hooked to it due to parental control.

The highlight of this upbringing was authoritarian control by one or both parents. Mostly patriarchal in nature, the man’s word was generally followed in the family. The result of this upbringing was our confused generation. A happier lot; not confident, though often making an appearance of it; not charged enough for excellence or competition and with a huge tendency towards cribbing, mumbling and self pity. Values were strong; the strength to stand up for those values was declining resulting in huge conflicts in the head. Decisions were largely made by parents including career choices in most cases, often leading to frustration due to lack of courage to fight back. Temptations were on a rise but strict parenting kept us in check. The world during this time somehow got a lot more corrupt (the natural outcome of growing temptations) and so that was another battle to be fought- we continue to do so.

As on date, most of us have done our bit to add to the population of the planet. We have brought into this world our “heartbeats” and have offered them all the comforts possible, mollycoddled them, loved them with all our hearts, given them all of our time (working parents too- male and female- give as much time as is humanly possible) and continue to do so.  Just like our parents gave us what they perceived they lacked, we are providing our kids with what we perceive that we lacked during our formative years- primarily, confidence and freedom.

We are the go between generation who are chided by our parents even today for a number of things (especially the need to be better parents) and looked at like aliens by the children when we exercise a little more control than they are used to. We have given our children more space and at times cursed ourselves for having done so. One funny (not so funny, actually) occurrence is when we tick off a child in front of a grandparent; we get ticked off by the grandparent immediately for being harsh. I personally go through this a lot. If I correct my children I almost always get criticized for it! I take a moment to get over the shock and then try telling my parents that I am passing on what has been drummed into me by them all my life but it seems to fall on deaf ears!

Our kids (how I melt when I say that) are a smart and sensitive lot when they give you attention. They will make happy changes in the years to come for this planet for they don’t have time for pettiness but remember they are millennial!!! They are all that I say they are but only when they are grounded. I guffawed when I saw a meme stating that the parents who are currently in their 40s better start making arrangements for their old age as the present generation is busy chasing Pok√©mons!  I don’t really find it very amusing anymore.

My husband and I have made sure that my kids are disciplined- they make their beds as soon as they wake up, they keep their things back (okay, this needs quite a few reminders), they help me with errands and I shouldn’t really be complaining. My son never says no to any task that I ask him to do; my daughter might try to get out of a few but then she helps big time when she sees that I am under the weather (these subtle perceptions, male members lack completely). Well, if everything is hunky dory, why on Earth am I complaining? Okay, it is the Trishanku generation effect but more than that it is because these things happen with the expectation (not always, but quite often) that good conduct will fetch them some time on the mobile which their mother has banned.

My son goes for coaching classes…that battered van I had mentioned earlier in my posts! Well, there are five – six children. After two-three classes, I asked my son about those children. He didn’t know their names and vice versa. They never said Hi to one another and if the bus came a wee bit early, they never told the driver to wait for their friend!!! They all had phones (which my son told me with an expression that conveyed his sad plight at having an uncooperative mother) and kept playing games and had nothing to do with one another.
Our kids have a mind of their own and their heads seem clear about what they want- mobiles, money, cars, luxury and a good life. They are happy with the values you teach them- okay they will be kind, they will adopt children but they cannot make connections directly. Interaction has to be via social media.

The pressure on the kids is tremendous, the temptations limitless now, the accessibility to those temptations without getting caught is easy and evils like peer pressure to another level and games like the blue whale have made life  very stressful and the sad part is they de-stress with gadgets.

So what does this Trishanku generation have to do? Hear all the things their parents have to say and pass it on to this new generation as emphatically as it was passed to them, minus authority in the voice. How do you inspire them to give up their phone- leading by example? Now, that is a scary thought.


  1. Quiet apt points brought out dear MissBlogger on modern age challenges faced by parents,kids and grandparents.

    Setting limits and control to usuage of mphones and computers ...quick fix needed asap.


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