ANNOUNCEMENT: Vedanta Short Courses – Click here for further details
Click on Pictures below to obtain details:
Shanti Haven 2017 – Click on an image below to view video clip
Hinduism for Children Series – over the next several weeks, we will be discussing concepts for teaching Hinduism to Children (over 10 broad topics), including supporting material, most importantly,
Teacher and Student Handbooks available for downloading below [Bala Gokulam]
Download Bala Gokulam Series (Teaching Aids)
1. Bala Gokulam – Guide
2. Bala Gokulam – Teachers Handbook (PDF)
3. Bala Gokulam – Teachers Handbook (MS Word)
4. Bala Gokulam – Children’s Handbook (PDF)
5. Bala Gokulam – Children’s Handbook (MS Word)
6. Himalayan Academy – History of Hindu India
Series 1: Raising Children as Good Hindus
Series 2: Hinduism’s Code of Conduct
Series 3: A Hinduism Primer 1
Series 4: A Hinduism Primer 2
Series 5: Basics of Hinduism – 14 Questions, 14 Great Answers
Series 6: Nine Key Qualities to Cultivate in Children
Series 7: Modern Stories for Hindu Youth – Growing up Hindu (Book 1)
Series 8: Modern Stories for Hindu Youth-Life Skills for Hindu Teens (Book 2)
Series 9: Ten Tales about Self-Control (Book 1)
Series 10: Ten Tales about Religious Life (Book 2)
Modern Stories for Hindu Youth – Ten Tales about Religious Life
The collection of stories in Books One and Two of Hindu Childrens’ Modern Stories was written and illustrated at my request to convey Hinduism’s ethical and moral values and basic religious observances, the traditional yamas and niyamas, to a new generation. The stories, set in India and America, are intended for children ages ten to twelve, when it is natural to learn about being good. Each story speaks to the wisdom and practical application of a single religious observance, such as remorse, contentment, faith or austerity. For example, in “Be Satisfied with What You Have,” Yogesh, a Hindu boy born in America, is distraught with having to visit his grandparent’s computer-less home in Chennai.
His grandfather, sensing Yogesh is out of touch with the real world, sends him to their ancestral village to visit his great uncle. There he befriends the local boys, shares their rich life and realizes how content he can be without e-mail, Facebook or even a local mall. Several stories focus on practical application of religion, showing how if children sincerely appeal to God and the Gods for help, help will be forthcoming. Hinduism is portrayed as a “do-it-yourself” religion, one that works if you make it work.
For example, in “Praying for Ganesha’s Help,” Vasuki, whose father has lost his job, does not sit by idly and wait for him to find one. Instead, she takes a personal vow to daily worship Lord Ganesha in their shrine on Dad’s behalf with a garland she makes herself. Inspired by his daughter’s devotion, Dad never gives up, and after weeks of hunting does indeed find a good job, better even than the one he lost. The stories follow the nonviolent child-raising principles of Positive Discipline: avoidance of corporal punishment, seeing mistakes as opportunities for teaching and letting children learn by fully facing the consequences of their own actions. Unfortunately, ethics and morals are ignored subjects in most of the world’s schools today. I hope that this small set of stories will provide Hindu and non-Hindu parents alike one means to convey these all important character-building values to their children.
Table of Contents
1. The Bicycle Thieves – Hri, Remorse
2. Be Satisfied with What You Have – Santosha, Contentment
3. Tithing and the Family Budget -Dana, Giving
4. The Milk Miracle – Astikya, Faith
5. Praying for Ganesha’s Help – Ishvarapujana, Worship of the Lord
6. Treating Guests as God – Siddhanta Shravana, Scriptural Listening
7. Understanding through Experience – Mati, Cognition
8. Taking Divine Vows – Vrata, Sacred Vows
9. The Power of Japa – Japa, Recitation
10. Penance at a Cave in Malaysia – Tapas, Austerity
Sample Chapter: The Power of Japa – Japa, Recitation
Chandran looked at the puja room door with its five bells attached to it and smiled. He was reminded of the many times he and his twin sister Chamundi had played with those bells as little children. They chimed the bells so much, that their mother often said to their father, “Thanks to Chandran and Chamundi, the house always has music playing.” How old was he then? He must have been around six. Now, as a fifteen-year-old, he had grown away from all those small things which used to give him so much pleasure. Instinctively, he reached out and touched a bell.
As it swung softly, a lovely tinkling sound surrounded him. He rang another, and another, and in a few seconds his memory was flooded with events from long ago. He recalled how every day his mother would prepare food for the Gods and place it inside the puja room. He remembered how he and Chamundi rang the bells till Mother smiled and carried them out in her arms. And he thought back to how his father, every morning after a bath, would go and sit in the puja room. That was the only time of day they were forbidden to ring the bells, but they didn’t mind because they could hear father chanting to the Gods.
The words were always the same and he repeated them continuously, but they had a charming melody and sweetness. Chandran’s lips moved silently as he remembered the words, “Aum Namah Sivaya.” Without thinking, he rang a bell again and peeped inside the puja room. There it was, Father’s japa mala, on a tray on the table. As father repeated “Aum Namah Sivaya,” his fingers would move slowly over the beads. He and Chamundi had asked why he sang only one song. And why did it have only three words? Father had smiled and said, “Children, this is not a song. Aum is a sacred sound. Namah means ‘adoration.’ Sivaya is Lord Siva’s name.” Chamundi then asked. “Appa, why is Aum sacred?” Picking Chamundi up and putting her on his lap, Appa said, “Aum is a very old mantra. It is said to be the first sound after creation.
You try saying it now. Do it like this. Aummm.” Appa’s deep voice started from the pit of his stomach and rose to his head as he chanted, “Aaa – uuu, mmmm.” Chamundi repeated after him, but faster and at a higher pitch. Appa patted her on the head, “That was very good! Now, as I was saying, the meaning of my prayer is “Adoration to Lord Siva.” Chandran recalled asking, “But why do you repeat it so many times?” “Any japa has to be ideally repeated 108 times, son. That is why my japa mala has 108 beads to guide me to repeat it that many times.” “How did you learn all this, Appa?” “My Gurudeva taught it to me. He gave me my mantra initiation when I was 18 years old.” “Can we also do the chant?” Appa looked at Chandran’s soft baby face and said, “Of course, you can both do japa, but a little more simply than I do.” After your bath, sit in the puja room.
Light the lamp and the incense, close your eyes and remember God. Then slowly repeat the word Aum, like I taught you, 108 times.” Chandran and Chamundi were very happy. They felt grown up all of a sudden! Their father was teaching them something his Gurudeva had taught him! But still Chandran had a doubt. “Should we not chant Aum Namah Sivaya like you do?” Appa replied, “Not yet, because you have to be initiated by your Gurudeva to do so. It requires both study and dedication. I had to learn all the basic Saivite philosophy, live a certain way and promise to chant the mantra 108 times a day no matter what. It was a big commitment! When you two are 16, we will ask Gurudeva to prepare you for mantra initiation.”
“That sounds like a lot of work! Why do we need to study and be initiated?” Chamundi asked. “It’s just three words!” “Because mantras have a good power that will help you in life, but the power only comes from the guru. That’s why. There is a story about this that I will tell you. “Long ago there was a king who demanded his guru to initiate him into chanting ‘Aum Namah Sivaya.’ The guru said he would, but only after two years of special study. “Now, this king was not at all patient, and he was very much used to getting his way.
He didn’t like the idea of waiting two years. ‘I will chant the mantra without initiation,’ he said to the guru. “‘That won’t work, Your Majesty,’ the guru replied, May I show you why you should take the time to study and receive initiation?’ “‘Yes,’ replied the king, ‘but be quick about it.’ “‘Oh, it won’t take long,’ replied the guru who then turned to the guards, pointed at the king and said, ‘Arrest this man!’ The guards, of course, did not move. They just stared at the guru, wondering if he had lost his senses. Again the guru said, ‘Arrest this man! I order you!’ And still the guards did nothing. “The king lost his patience and shouted at the guards, ‘Arrest this man! Throw him in jail!’ The guards seized the guru and were about to haul him away.
“The guru then spoke softly, ‘But Your Majesty, wait, I am only doing what you asked, showing you that preparation and initiation are necessary.’ “‘How so?’ asked the king, puzzled with this strange behavior. “The guru replied, ‘I said the mantra “Arrest this man,” and nothing happened. But when you said it, look, I was quickly put in chains. That is because you have the authority to say that mantra, but I don’t.’ “‘I see,’ said the king. ‘Well, you have convinced me that it is worthwhile for me to study and receive initiation. But I wouldn’t recommend being so bold in the future!’” Appa then explained, “For you children, reciting just ‘Aum’ will be your mantra for now. When you are old enough, you can qualify for the initiation to chant ‘Aum Namah Sivaya.’
That will be a big step in your lives. Chamundi spoke up, “Can we still get japa malas now?” Appa replied, “Yes! I will buy you each one. Then you can start.” Now, as Chandran’s fingers played with the door and the bells on it, he remembered how every day for the next few years, he and his sister would prepare, go to the puja room and chant “Aum” 108 times. When he first did japa, his mind wandered here and there, to the playground, to the food offering in front of the picture and even to his school. But the more he practiced, the more his mind stopped roaming, and as he chanted a sense of happiness came over him. When he told his sister about it, she said, “Yes, I feel that way, too!”
She was actually more regular with her chanting than Chandran. He often skipped a day now and then, and by the time they were 14 years old, he had stopped doing japa. Chandran felt bad about that now. “Why did I stop? Studies, I guess, and not much time for anything else.” This last year had been especially difficult, and his grades had dropped. As he stood lost in thought outside the puja room, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning around, he saw his father smiling at him. “What are you doing, Chandran?” asked Appa. “Nothing, Appa. I was just remembering those days when I used to do japa and how happy I was.” He said this a bit sadly. “You have stopped doing your japa?” “Yes, I stopped last year, but I think I should start again.” Just then Chamundi came to the puja room.
She had heard the conversation from downstairs. She looked at Chandran, “Have you noticed that I am not as worried as you are?” “Yes, I have. Even though we take the same difficult courses in school, you always seem to be calm during the tests. Why is that?” Chamundi replied with a sisterly smile, “I think it’s because of my japa. I find myself much calmer afterwards. I can study better because I am not worried about anything.
Everything seems to be perfect in Siva’s perfect universe. Sometimes I do japa several times a day. It only takes me five or six minutes to chant ‘Aum’ 108 times.” Appa chimed in, “As you grow up, Chandran, your responsibilities will continue to increase. That is all the more reason for you to set aside some time for japa. It will give you strength. You may think you don’t have time, but once you start it, you will feel more peaceful, and you will be able to accomplish a lot more. With better control of your mind, you will actually have more time, not less, because you will make fewer mistakes and better decisions.” Chandran woke up early the next morning.
After his bath, he went to the puja room and sat down. In the early morning light the Gods’ pictures glowed softly as though there was a secret energy behind them. Picking up the japa mala, he brought it to his eyes with reverence and then began chanting softly, “Aum.” One hundred and eight times he chanted as his fingers kept track on the beads. When he reached the “guru bead” and realized he had finished one cycle, he slowly opened his eyes. Immediately he felt a sense of calmness and peace. Over the next few days, Chandran continued his morning japa. His mind grew more and more steady, and all the things that had worried him became easier to handle.
Coming downstairs one morning, he found Appa and Chamundi sitting in the kitchen. “Good morning,” he greeted them warmly. “I have good news. Thanks to your encouragement, I have made up my mind to do my japa every day from now on. Plus, when I am 16, Appa, I will begin preparing for mantra diksha. I know that initiation will give my japa even more power to help me carry my responsibilities all through this life. Thank you both!” The two smiled proudly, and Chamundi served some tea.
[Content material with permission and kindness of Himalayan Academy, Hawaii]
Up-Coming Religious Events 2017
|30th November, Thursday||Geeta Jayanti||Recital in Sanskrit (all 18 chapters)||from 18;00 onwards|
Download or listen to Audio Lectures on Vedanta, Sanathan Dharma,
Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda (MP3)
3. Lectures on Vedanta and Yoga by Swami Tyagananda, Monk of the Ramakrishna Order [over 50 lectures]
Download eBooks [courtesy of Ramakrishna Belur Math]
Ramakrishna – Belur Math Videos
Schedule of Events
Daily Aarti: 06:30 and 18:30
Tuesday – Vedic Chanting: 19:45 – 20:45
Wednesday – Gita Classes: 19:45 – 20:45
Thursday – Bhagvat Classes: 19:45 – 20:45
Friday – Lakshmi Havan: 18:45 – 19:15
Saturday – Hanuman Havan: 06:45 – 07:15
Sunday School: 09:00 – 11:00
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Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, 44-46 Kingfisher Street, Ext 1, Lenasia, Johannesburg,
Gauteng, South Africa
Presiding Priest: Shree Jaydhevbai Shukla – Telephone Number: 011 854 6372