Category Archives: Slices of life

School Diaries- I

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?’

He shrugged.

‘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.

 

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Slices of life #2

Mornings are usually hurried. Apart from the personal ablutions there is aarti to be done, breakfast to be made, bhoga to be offered and the son to be readied, fed and dropped to school.

It was in this confusion that I discovered that the gas cylinder is empty. And though I have a spare but I did not know how to break the seal of the full cylinder and attach the regulator. Google baba didn’t help me. No, it did actually but in my confusion and hurry it didn’t hit the right notes.

At this moment I ran and rang the bell of the neighbours. She came and opened but she too didn’t know how to do it but she sent her husband. He came changed and went all in 2 minutes flat. And we were right on track.

Its at these moments I send a silent ‘thanks’. The migration from Bahrain to here was not easy but smooth. At every other step there have been difficulties but at every step there has been someone (Some known; some unknown) who have stepped forward and helped. While it reinforces my faith in humanity. I send a prayer to the Lord for being there always with us.

ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham (BG 9.22)
TRANSLATION
But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.
I am not a great devotee but at every step I feel how He is there to protect us.
There is a true story of a brahmana who lived his life by begging( madhukari). Madhukari brahmins are supposed to beg only at five houses. Regardless whether they get something or not. Very often he and his wife would starve because they would eat only what they got in alms.
Once  when he was reading the above shloka he said how it can be vahamy aham. How can the Lord carry what we lack and he scratched that word because he thought it was used wrongly. Shortly he had to leave for his madhukari. After some time, his wife heard knocks . She opened the door to find two young boys carrying bags  of foodstuff. They said, ‘Master, has sent us with alms’. She was happy to finally see some foodstuffs in the house. ‘But who are you two’, she asked. ‘We are students’, they said. At that point she saw some marks on the back of the younger boy. ‘What happened, what are the marks on your back’, she asked.
‘Master beat me, thinking that I am wrong’, he said
She felt bad, she said, ‘Sit I will prepare some food and serve you’.
In some time the brahmana arrived and said, ‘No one gave alms today’.At that point his wife realised that the boys had disappeared.
She said, ‘But your students came with some alms’
‘Which student, I didn’t get any today, he said
The wife told him what happened and he shed tears for then he understood that the Lord had come Himself to make him understand the meaning of this shloka. Slowly he went to erase the scratch marks on the word ‘Vayamy aham’.
Such is the lord. He protects, he preserves and He loves without any limits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Slices of life #1

‘Mataji, mataji’… a girl  maybe in the sixth standard came running behind me.

‘Yes, I said as I patted her back, her face glowed. It often amazes me how a small gesture encourages children and makes them happy.

‘How many times should I say, “Om” before I begin my studies’, She asked.

‘As many times you feel the need’, I said. She looked at me confused. I continued, ‘Ideally three times but if you are more disturbed you can say ten times’, I said.

She smiled, mumbled a thank you and ran away.

I love working with children. The love and dedication that they show is seldom to be seen in adults.

I love the way they make you theirs. Last week for example, it was raining heavily. The auto driver took me as far as possible amidst the school compound. But when I got down balancing my sari with my bag and wallet, some coins fell. Immediately two boys came running forward saying a good morning to rescue my coins.

As I sit on the podium I can feel their curiosity, ‘What is she going to tell today’, and their excitement rubs off on me. And we begin a new session.

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The shloka which I am reminded of by their curiosity

ascarya-vat pasyati kascid enam
ascarya-vad vadati tathaiva canyah
ascarya-vac cainam anyah srnoti
srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit
TRANSLATION
Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all. (BG 2.29)
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