In class we learnt that A stands for Aspiration. We heard the story of Arjuna and his archery test of shooting the eye of a toy bird on a faraway tree set by Guru Drona. While all the Pandavas and Kauravas failed, only Arjuna succeeded in this test. When the Guru asked everyone what they saw before they took aim, they replied that they saw the whole bird. When Arjuna was questioned, he replied that he only saw the eye of the bird and could not see anything around him or the bird itself. In class, we also enthusiastically shared what we wanted to become when we grew up. We learnt that we need to have a strong determination and focus to achieve our goals in life, however small or big they may be. The goals ranged from learning our alphabets to becoming a pilot as a grownup.
Homework: To continue revising the pledge.
This week, we talked about Hanuman as the fearless. We recollected the story of how Hanuman, as a child, flew higher and higher to eat the sun, thinking it to be His favourite fruit, mango. We then heard the story of King Akbar, who once lost his way while hunting in the forest. He and his soldiers soon came across a 3-forked road. Unsure which road reached Agra, the soldier asked a passer-by, “Which road goes to Agra?” The young boy responded, “Roads don’t go anywhere, people do.” King Akbar heard the witty reply and asked the boy his name. The boy said “Mahesh Das”, and asked the king what his name was. King Akbar was very impressed by the fearlessness of the young man and said to him, “I am King Akbar, the emperor of India. You are fearless. I need more such people like you in my kingdom. Take this ring, and bring it to my court, as it will remind me of today’s incident. Now, tell me how we can travel to Agra from here?” Mahesh showed him the way, and later returned to see King Akbar. This Mahesh Das was indeed whom we know as Akbar’s wisest minister Birbal! We also heard the story of Edmund Hillary who conquered the tallest mountain at about 29000 feet, Mt Everest. He failed to get to the top when he tried to climb Mt Everest for the first time. On talking to people after his failure, he said, “ I have grown a little since my last climb on to Mt Everest, while the mountain hasn’t grown at all. So, I will conquer it next time!” Edmund’s character teaches us to be fearless even in the face of adversity. We chanted the related caupai together:
Juga Sahastra Yojana Par Bhanu
Leelyo Taahi Madhura Phala Jaanu
The world sees you as fearless. You were not scared to reach and eat the sun, thinking It to be a fruit.
Homework: Practise chanting of the chalisa till caupais learnt. Write in your book, 5-6 goals that you want to achieve, based on what we discussed in class. .
This week we revised why Krishna was the ‘Darling’ of all and discussed what are the qualities we love in others and what qualities do we want to have-for others to love us. We then explored the sense of taste. The children tasted different food-like cranberries and chocolate coated blueberries and they found the food that they liked delicious and that everyone did not like the same food! While we enjoy the food that we like, we must not complain about the food that we don’t. We then listened to the story of Dhenukasura. As Krishna grew older, He and his friends now took the cows (instead of calves) to graze in Vrindavan, enjoying the beauty of plants and animals around them. Close to where they played was a beautiful garden filled with Tala (Toddy Palm) trees. The juicy fruit of the trees would ripen and fall to the ground but no one dared to pick them as a donkey named Dhenuka was guarding the garden and would not let anyone enter it. The boys wanted to taste the fruit and so asked Krishna and Balarama to get them some. Balarama went to the trees and shook them vigorously until the ground was covered with Tala fruits. Hearing the noise Dhenukasura got angry and charged at Balarama and hit his chest with his legs. Balarama caught the back legs of Dhenukasura, twirled him and threw him into the trees. Dhenukasura died but his other donkey friends continued the attack only to be killed by Krishna and Balarama. Our heart is like the Tala garden and instead of offering the fruits of our actions to Krishna, we have many Dhenukasuras like anger, pride, and jealousy staying in our heart and keeping Krishna away. A Guru or teacher, like Balarama, will destroy the Dhenukas (negative qualities) in our heart so Krishna can enter and enjoy the fruits that we offer. We learnt that we must not be foolish like the donkey and carry the load of our bad habits.
Home work: To continue practising being humble. To practise the good qualities of being kind, cheerful, obedient, helpful etc. so we can be ‘darlings’ like Krishna.
We completed Chapter 18 on what is culture. Culture is determined by the values and virtues entertained by people. We began class by writing down different values and virtues we have and want to live by. The values that we have are influenced by external factors. However, once these values are determined and culture is set, the external factors shouldn’t influence us at all. We discussed some of the factors that negatively influence our values such as peer pressure. It is important that we keep good company and stand firm when we face challenges that negatively influence our values. We also talked about how parents and religious values positively influence our values.
Homework: Write down techniques we can use to not be affected by challenges and obstacles of the external environment.
We studied and discussed Verse 5 of Chapter 12 – Path of Devotion – Bhakti Yoga.
After explaining how the goal reached by all meditators whether meditating upon a personal, or an impersonal God, is one and the same Supreme Perfection, Lord Krishna tries to compare the two incomparable ‘Paths’, both of equal efficacy and merit.
He says “Greater is the toil of those whose thoughts are fixed on the unmanifest.” Lord Krishna explains why it is hard ordinarily for seekers to contemplate upon the Formless. “The unmanifest is very hard indeed for the embodied to reach.” The crucial word in the stanza is ‘Embodied”.
Shri Shankaracharya clearly explains that the “Embodied” means “those who are attached to their bodies.” Sunk in flesh, if one personality lives only a life of sensuality and satisfaction of one’s body-cravings, one will find it too difficult to take to steady and continuous meditation upon the subtle theme of the Infinite, Formless and All-pervading.
In short, to the majority of us, meditation upon the Lord, as expressed in the Universe, is easier and more profitable. Man can worship the myriad forms through service undertaken in a spirit of worship and divine dedication. By doing so, the body-attachments and sense-appetites get purged from his inner make-up and his mind becomes subtle enough to conceive and contemplate upon the Formless and the Imperishable Unmanifest.
Sadhana for the week: Read up to and end of the verses studied.
Chanting: To revise up to Verse 21 of Chapter 2 of the Gita.