Tag: krishna

What is so special about Krishna’s birth? A query of a 10 year old

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With Janmashtami around the corner, I asked my neighbors 10 year old (who I love to chat with) what was she going to do on that special day. Her remark, “Aunty, what is so special about Krishna’s birth anyway? I don’t even celebrate my birthday anymore, well except for a cake and a sleep over.” I sighed, took a deep breath and asked if she was willing to discuss about it. It is important for us as adults to not sweep topics like these under the carpet. It is important that we educate children and make them understand the significance and celebrate every festival in the right mood and spirit and in doing so; it puts our intent in perspective too. So, with her approval we had a discussion and this is what transpired.

Me: OK tell me what does Janamashtami mean to you?

Her: The day Krishna was born or maybe the day He was taken by Vasudev to Gokul?

Me: Yes, both are correct. And?

Her: He was born in the month of Shravan (a 10 year old knows that word even?), at midnight, in the jail and when He was born the atmosphere was divine, peacocks were dancing everywhere and all the residents were cheerful. First He appeared as four handed Visnu and then upon mother Devaki’s request he assumed the form of a cute little baby with two hands.

I must confess I was expecting her to twiddle her thumbs, roll her eyes, shrug her shoulders and exclaim “I don’t know!” But she chose to pleasantly surprise me. I was thinking what next, is this 10 year old going to explain the Gita to me? I stared at her, then into oblivion and back at her and probed further,

Me: What else?

Her: Aunty what do you mean what else?

Me: What else is unique about Krishna’s birth?

Her: Ummm….We get to stay up till midnight? Oh, He arranged for the prison doors to open and all the guards slept off so Vasudev could carry him to Gokul.

She was now thinking, harder. I was amazed by how much she knew. She’s a reader, you know. And that’s what happens; you somehow have an answer for everything.  This game of “what else” did not go too far and now the ball was in my court. She wanted to know more about the significance of Janamashtami and what was so special about Krishna’s birth. I went on to tell her all that I had read and learnt from various books and spiritual teachers.

The uniqueness of Krishna’s birth is that not only did he choose His time and place of birth (exactly at midnight in a prison in Mathura) but also chose His parents. We don’t have that privilege. Even if the doctor may predict that we will be born on a certain date, the time or place can never be predicted. He even chose the complexion of his skin; that of a rain filled cloud. Again, we pretty much come color co-ordinated. He carefully pre planned His arrival and made all the necessary arrangements for being carried to Gokul. Miraculously the prison cell doors opened wide, the guards fell into the deepest slumber. The river Yamuna gave way to Vasudev so that he could easily cross the river, just like the Indian Ocean that gave way to Lord Rama. Ananta Shesha, the serpent, opened his hoods like a huge umbrella protecting them both from the torrential rains. These incidents did not happen by chance. Lord arranged for them to happen so. That is why His birth is not ordinary, rather extraordinary and special.

And the reason we celebrate Janamashtami is that, just as Krishna appeared to kill Kamsa and free the residents of Mathura from his atrocities, likewise, on Janamashtami, we must come together and pray for the Lord to appear in our heart and remove all the bad qualities and make us happy and joyful. Staying up till midnight,(even if you have school the next day) and getting to dress like the Gopis or Krishna is a bonus 🙂

She seemed to nod in agreement and sprang up with enthusiasm, hardly willing to wait, and said, “Thank you aunty, I am going down to tell all my friends about this.”

Recalling what I had learnt, with her, made me realize how sometimes, rather oftentimes we forget the real purpose behind a festival and how important it is to understand its true essence.

 

 

 

 

God as Creator – An engaging hour with my 5 year old

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I recently read an article which studied the “God Concept” in children through various ages. The study revealed that children ages 5-7 have an understanding of God, in which, they see Him as the creator, which He rightfully is, as stated by Lord Krishna himself in the Bhagvad Gita, Chapter 10, verse 8:

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

Translation: 

I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.

The findings of this study were quite amazing and so I decided to implement them and what would have otherwise turned out to be a boring dull afternoon, transformed into an engaging hour with my five year old daughter, Haripriya and her friend Ishani.

To explain the concept of God as the creator, I decided to play a game with them and also make them do homework at the same time. We began with their writing assignment of practicing A-Z. While they wrote each alphabet, we started our “who created” game.

hari-and-ishani

Me: A for?

Them: Apple

Me: Apple grows on?

Them: Trees

Me: Who created the trees?  I was waiting with abated breath for what they would say…

Them: Trees come from the ground and the soil.

Me: Ok, so that is Mother Earth, and who created mother earth?

Them: God? Krishna!

Me: High five!

I was amazed. And then I asked them to try it with A for aeroplane (airplane). And it went something like this,

Me: And who makes the aeroplane

Them: Krishna?

Me: No, the engineers make the aeroplane

Them: Oh, and Krishna makes them fly?

Me: (I couldn’t help but smile) The pilot makes them fly. And, Krishna gives the engineer and the pilot the intelligence (brains) to do so. And guess what, He even made us, you and me, so we can become whoever we want to be.

Them: Oh so we can also become engineers and make aeroplanes?

Me: Yes

We stopped at letter H.

So you get the drill right?  We can pretty much revise the whole alphabet and attribute the ultimate source of everything to God.  This can be a fun game during long drives, train rides, walks or dull afternoons.

Tip: Do the alphabet activity over a few days with few alphabets at a time. Also, you may reverse the roles and let them ask you too.

To enable their impression of God as the creator register in their little minds, I added a finger painting activity like the one in the picture below. Make the outline on a piece of white cardboard, and then let them color away. Finger painting with a purpose!

IMG_3349

 

Making them learn the above Bhagvad Gita shloka (10:8) would be an added bonus. Learning the shloka and understanding its meaning will become easier after having played the game and finger painting activity.

In trying to teach Haripriya a thing or two about God’s creation, I learnt that, God’s creation is so perfectly designed: all the natural resources, the sun, moon and the stars, the human body which is like a perfect machine and all the different species. Take for instance the cow, it eats grass but gives milk in return. Amazing isn’t it! We crave attention for our “so called” creations; wouldn’t it be thoughtful and gracious to teach our children to attribute the source of every creation to God?

apples