This week we discussed the next line of the pledge, ‘ We know our responsibilities…’ We discussed the meaning of the word ‘responsibility’. It means doing the right things but also means doing them really well. We discussed how each one’s responsibility is different. We brainstormed things that children are responsible for from the time they wake up in the morning until they go to bed at night. Some of these include waking on time, putting bed away neatly, brushing teeth, showering, eating healthy food, cleaning spills after eating, going to school on time, paying attention in class, tidying up after playing with toys, saying daily prayers and sleeping on time. We heard the story of a little girl named Kia who did not want to do her everyday chores and prayed to God to help her. God granted her the wish that everything will happen to her as though it were magic. She was lifted off the bed, taken to the bathroom and her teeth were cleaned for her. She was showered and dressed and her breakfast was automatically fed to her. Her homework was all done and she came first in her class. She enjoyed this for a few days but then realised that she did not have a choice with what happened – the food she ate, the clothes she wore, the things she learnt. She realised her mistake and asked God to help her get her freedom back. She promised to be responsible in whatever she did from then on.
Homework: To continue to revise the pledge.
Junior/ Senior Balavihar
This week, we continued learning about more qualities of our superhero Hanuman – skilful, large hearted and radiant. We brainstormed what tapasvi means and what is the benefit of being a tapasvi. Tapas means vow and tapasvi is one who has taken many vows. One becomes skilful and develops a noble personality when one lives by vows, rules and disciplines. We heard the story of the disciplined life of our Param Guru Tapovanji Maharaj and what his name means. Tapovan means a forest of vows and Maharaj means king of kings. Just like a forest is made of many trees, tapovan is a forest of vows. As one lives a disciplined life fulfilling all vows, one becomes great and can accomplish anything. The children drew trees in their books and wrote down 3 vows that they will try to fulfil. Then we heard the story about a man who failed in keeping any of his vows. A friend suggested that he take a vey simple vow. So, he took a vow that he will eat dinner only after seeing his home-bound potmaker neighbour through his window. The man was pleased to remember his vow every day for many days, until one day, he could not see the potmaker. He found the potmaker digging some dirt for more pots, and just stumbled on a pot of gold coins which he happily shared with the man. The man was ecstatic that even a silly vow like his, could reap so much reward! So, one must take vows for greater gains.
Then, we talked about how Hanuman, the large hearted, grants our wishes and just like a mother, gives us only what is good for us. We heard the story of God’s shop. A man arrived at the shop and asked for an apple. The shopkeeper game him a bag of apple seeds, saying “You will receive the seeds of your desire but it is up to you to work hard and reap the fruit.” The man asked for a fruit, but God gave him possibilities of bushels of apples! What we have is God’s gift to us, what we do with it is our gift to Him. God is the wish fulfiller, provided we put forth our efforts and hard work with sincerity and dedication. To reiterate this, we did an activity of guessing how many seeds are there in an apple and how many apples can we get from each seed. We realised that the seed by itself couldn’t yield another apple, unless it was taken care of – sowed in soil, watered daily and cared for. It could yield many more apple trees and many more apples, depending on our hard and efficient work. To further reiterate this, we wrote down all the things God has given us (tongue, good voice, healthy body,,,) and what we could do with them – speak kindly, sing His glories, help all.
Then, we talked about how Hanuman’s glory is eternal and radiates in all four yugas, although He was here on earth in tretayuga. He became glorious by working hard to fulfil the missions of Sri Rama. We heard the story of the glory of creation. In a forest, animals complained about mankind to a sage. They complained about why man was superior, when he was selfish and heartless, and they were helpful to man. The sage responded by saying that man is great because of his sense of discrimination, to judge what is right from wrong, rises above animals as he uses his intellect, and so king of the universe. When we use our intellect, we recognise God’s glory everywhere, and we become humble and start serving Him. Only by serving Him, we fulfil the goal of our life and become glorious.
The last story we heard was of a saint making his living by stitching and selling clothes. A rich merchant used to buy the readied clothes to trade and make money. But the merchant always handed fake coins to the saint, who would quietly put them away. One day, his servant was taking care of the shop when the merchant came to buy the clothes, and, as usual, handed over the fake coins which the servant refused to take. When he narrated this incident to the saint, the saint said, “Why didn’t you take the coins from him? You know other people will now get cheated by him.” This is how the saint unselfishly served other people, for the greater good. We also played “share and care” musical chairs game.
We then chanted the related caupais together:
Sab par Rama tapasvi raja
Tinke kaaj Sakai tum saaja
Sri Hanuman skilfully carried out all missions of Lord Rama, who is a supreme yogi ruling over everyone.
Aur manorath jo koi gaave
Soi amita jivana phala paave
You bless everyone who seeks Your grace and grant in large measure all that one wants and also grant one the full fruit of life.
Chaaro juga partapa tumhara
hai parsiddha jagata Ujiyaara
Your glory radiates through all the four yugas and Your fame shines everywhere in the universe.
Sadhu sant ke tum rakhvaare
Asura nikandan rama Dulaare
You are the protector of the righteous and destroyer of the wicked. You are very dear to Sri Rama.
Homework: Practise chanting of the chalisa till caupais learnt. Share the stories and the morals learnt. Remember to fulfil the vows taken.
Junior / Senior JCs:
This week we revised the significance of Diwali and why it is called the festival of lights. We then discussed some questions from the book “Why Do We?” We began by sharing our thoughts on whether the Indian customs and traditions that we generally follow have any significance or if they are just meaningless, superstitious activities that we are told to perform, through generations. We began with “Why do we light a lamp?” Light symbolises knowledge and just as light removes darkness, knowledge removes ignorance. We therefore light a lamp to bow down to the knowledge, which is the greatest form of wealth. We then discussed why we light an oil/ghee lamp at the altar and not a bulb or tube light. The oil or ghee represents our vasanas and the wick our ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vasanas are exhausted and the ego too vanishes. Like the flame of the lamp that burns upwards, we should also gain knowledge that will take us to higher goals. Also, a lamp can light many more lamps without its light diminishing. Similarly when we share knowledge, it will not diminish and both the giver and the receiver benefit. We then discussed if after knowing this significance of lighting a lamp, would daily lighting a lamp be of any more benefit than imagining a lit lamp and remembering its significance. The JCs decided that lighting a lamp is not safe at their age and so they will imagine a lit lamp and remember its symbolism. We then discussed “Why do we have a prayer room?” The JCs agreed that having a separate room/corner in the house for prayer helps calm and uplift the mind and helps with meditation. We finally discussed “Why do we ring the bell in a temple?” Contrary to our thinking that it is to wake the Lord, announce our arrival or ask His permission to enter the temple, we learnt that when we ring the bell, auspicious sound ‘Om’ is produced and all inauspicious sounds are drowned. With the ringing of the bell, good and noble sounds/thoughts enter our mind.
Sadhana: To daily (in the morning) imagine a lit lamp and remember its significance. To remind ourselves to share our knowledge and to gain knowledge that helps us rise to higher goals.
This week Gita Chapter 12 Yoga of Devotion verse 17 continues to enumerate the characteristic features of a Man-of-Perfection. A further 6 of the 36 values have been prescribed to all seekers the correct mode-of-conduct and the way-of-life.
Verse 17: He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires, renouncing good and evil, full of devotion, is dear to me.
Gurudev initially explains a person that exhibits these qualities can be compared to a corpse. Gurudev further explains that when a seeker awakens from a dream where the experience of victory and failure were felt, the seeker must renounce these experiences to be in the awakened state, for theses are unreal delusions. Similarly when a true devotee is awaken by the God-Consciousness, he cannot rejoice or hate, grieve for or desire anything in this world and he comes to renounce good and evil. Krishna declares, “He, who is such a devotee, is dear to Me”.
Sadhana: To reflect on these attributes and integrate them in to our daily lives by constant practice.
Chanting: To revise up to Verse 26 of Chapter 2 of the Gita.