By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Young children should be educated from the very beginning about God consciousness or the science of God. We had the opportunity in our childhood. My father taught. And then, when I was grown up, my spiritual master taught. So for that reason we have got some sense… Therefore as soon as possible, the spiritual education should begin. Immediately. If the child simply can understand, “God is great,” that is immense profit for him. Five years to twenty-five years – brahmacārī life – he has nothing to learn except God. Brāhme carati iti brahmacārī. He is simply interested in Brahman. That is called brahmacārī (celibate). He has no material interest. Brahmacarya (celibacy) is the foundation of spiritual life. And if he can (remain brahmacārī), he remains brahmacārī throughout the whole life. But if he is unable (to remain as brahmacārī), then he is allowed to marry, grhastha.
Brahmacarya, or celibacy, is the foundation of spiritual life
So according to Vedic civilization, any education should begin at childhood. Therefore even if one was a king’s son, he was sent to Gurukula to remain as brahmacārī to learn the basic principle of life. That is Vedic civilization… Nowadays small boys, they are learning how to smoke. When I first came to America and when I was staying in Butler, I saw small children, nine to ten years old, they were smoking. I was surprised because in India, at least, that is not allowed. I think there is a law. In India, if any boy, who is less than sixteen years old, if he smokes, he is punished.
[An excerpt from a room conversation in Atlanta, USA, March 1, 1975]