It was a normal day albeit with a difference. Instead of a single class that day I was taking two classes. The first was for the sixth and seven graders. The second was for the fourth and fifth graders. I prefer to have two batches; you can alter and be more personal. You can go down to the level of the children. The only problem is the over enthusiasm of children.
When it is a combined class we assemble in their auditorium, there is a degree of formality. Students are quieter but when classes are divided, delivery is better, interaction more so but handling the enthusiasm of children is a task.
And so I took the seventh shloka of the twelfth chapter of the Bhagvad Gita. First we went word by word then we divide the shloka into four parts. Recite each part and then combine all the four.
And so it went:
tesam aham samuddharta mrtyu-samsara-sagarat
bhavami na cirat partha mayy avesita-cetasam
First I say a line then they repeat. After a couple of times I ask them to repeat by themselves. And then the cacophony starts. When one says tesam, another has already reached mrtyu. One is confused, the other looks blank.
Then I raise my hands and stop them. Then to the count of three, they start again. No mean task handling 200 children. And if you ask a question, they are so witty and so eager that you are bowled over.
So we finished recitation and then go the translation. Now this is the funny part. While some are interested in understanding the shloka…some by then are fed up of sitting. (I sometimes ask them to get up and stretch and exercise but that makes them so eager that making them sit again is a problem).
So normally after translation I tell a story related to the shloka. That helps in understanding. So this shloka and the previous one tells that those who surrender to Him, He sees that they do not return to this material world again. So I told the story of Bhakt Prahlad.
Normally everyone knows about Prahlad and Hiranyakashipu. The point was how the devotion of Prahlad won over Sri Vishnu and so when Prahlad needs Him; He is there for him.
But then blame it on our education system or our beliefs, we tend to be skeptical and term these stories as mythology. So normally I will also tell the story of an Indian Origin girl from South Africa. The story happened just a couple of decades ago. The girl is playing with a ball while her father is observing from the second floor of their building. She throws the ball which goes to the road adjacent to the ground. She runs to catch it. The father notices a speeding truck, he calls out to the girl who doesn’t hear him. So he jumps from the second floor window but he is no Akshay Kumar… he breaks his leg.
The girl who is about to pick the ball. notices the truck but freezes on the spot. The father notices the girl going on the bushes on the other side of the road. Coincidentally a police car is following the truck, The police notices the girl lying on the bushes, they pick her and rush to the community clinic. The girl is unconscious. The doctors fear that there is brain damage and rush her to a bigger hospital. The girl gains consciousness and says Narsimha saved her. The South African Doctors are afraid that the girl has indeed damaged her brain. By that time her parents arrive there. And then the girl tells them what had actually happened.
The girl is about to pick the ball when she notices the truck. The only thought that comes in her mind is to pray to Narsimhadev and she recites,
ugram viram maha-vishnum
jvalantam sarvato mukham
nrisimham bhishanam bhadram
mrityur mrityum namamy aham
And she just surrenders to the Lord. The Lord arrives and picks her up and keeps her on the bushes.
The doctors don’t believe her. But then she says its hurting a little on my neck. On observation its found that they are nail marks. The tissue from those marks are sent to the laboratory. And indeed it comes to be known that the marks are nail marks of a lion-man.
When I told the story of Prahlad there were skeptics. When I told this story there was pin drop silence.
After the class a boy comes and asks, ‘Mataji why nobody saw Narsimhadev. Why could only the girl see him’.
I said, ‘In the battlefield of Kurukshetra Krishna had shown the Virat Swaroop in front of everyone but only Arjuna could see. Why?’
‘Belief’, I said, ‘You can believe or not believe but it’s often faith that paves the way’.
He understood. Gave me a smile and touched my feet.
I can’t describe how satisfied I felt at that moment. If from a crowd of 200 one could understand the gist…that was enough for me.
It’s a different thing that 150+ students followed him and touched my feet while I kept protesting.