CliF Notes

A curriculum for families and small groups

 

 October 2019




 Week One - October 6th   

Hinduism – Theology and Origins

 

Supplies Needed: Print out of sun salutation poses, paper, crayons or markers

 Opening Words

 

 God is infinite,

 Within the body and without,

 Like a mirror,

 And the image in a mirror.

 

 As the air is everywhere,

 Flowing around a pot

 And filling it,

 So God is everywhere,

 Filling all things

 And flowing through them forever.

 

- Ashtavakra Gita 1: 18-20 

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be. 

 

Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering

This month for our centering we will be doing a series of yoga moves called the Sun Salutation. (Note: You will want to familiarize yourself with the Sun Salutation before teaching it to children. You may decide that you want to teach the moves over the course of the month, adding a few in each week)

Table for Exercises.png

Introduction

We begin our exploration of world religions with the oldest of the world’s major religions, Hinduism. Know one knows for sure when Hinduism began – at least 4,000 and maybe 5,000 years ago. Hinduism doesn’t have a single founder, or a single sacred book. Instead it has teachings and traditions and stories that have been handed down for many, many generations. Hinduism is the majority religion in India and Nepal, and is practiced by some 900 million people world-wide. (Note: For a good, very brief, look at some central facts about Hinduism, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/ataglance/glance.shtml )

 

Story

Hearing the Hindu story of the how the universe was created begins to tell us something about Hindu beliefs:

There are several creation stories in Hinduism. Hinduism believes there are times when the universe takes form and times when it dissolves back into nothing. The in-between times are known as the days and nights of Brahma, who is the Hindu god of creation.

Before time began there was no heaven, no earth and no space between. A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of night. A giant cobra floated on the waters. Asleep within its endless coils lay the Lord Vishnu. He was watched over by the mighty serpent. Everything was so peaceful and silent that Vishnu slept undisturbed by dreams or motion.

From the depths a humming sound began to tremble: “Ommmm.” It grew and spread, filling the emptiness and throbbing with energy. The night had ended. Vishnu awoke. As the dawn began to break, from Vishnu's navel grew a magnificent lotus flower. In the middle of the blossom sat Vishnu's servant, Brahma. He awaited the Lord's command.

Vishnu spoke to his servant: “It is time to begin.” Brahma bowed. Vishnu commanded: “Create the world.”

A wind swept up the waters. Vishnu and the serpent vanished. Brahma remained in the lotus flower, floating and tossing on the sea. He lifted up his arms and calmed the wind and the ocean. Then Brahma split the lotus flower into three parts. He stretched one part into the heavens. He made another part into the earth. With the third part of the flower he created the skies.

The earth was bare. Brahma set to work. He created grass, flowers, trees and plants of all kinds. To these he gave feeling. Next he created the animals and the insects to live on the land. He made birds to fly in the air and many fish to swim in the sea. To all these creatures, he gave the senses of touch and smell. He gave them power to see, hear and move.

The world was soon bristling with life and the air was filled with the sounds of Brahma's creation.

(adapted from http://www.painsley.org.uk/re/signposts/y8/1-1creationandenvironment/c-hindu.htm)

But before long a quarrel broke between Brahma and Vishnu as to who was the greatest. Brahma claimed he was, since he created the whole world. Vishnu, however, said that creation would be nothing without his sustaining energy. The war of words between these two great gods worsened. As the argument got louder and louder, a great pillar of fire appeared in front of them. It was enormous, stretching farther than the eye could see both up and down. Brahma and Vishnu decided that they would solve their debate as to who was the greatest by exploring the great pillar of fire. Whoever reached the end of it first would be the winner. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up to reach the top of the pillar, while Vishnu took the form of a wild pig and went down to reach the bottom.

However, the pillar was not just a column of fire, it was the Supreme Itself, the One that is beyond form, color and qualities. There is no beginning and no end to the Eternal. Although the two great gods traveled faster than rockets, they went on and on, never seeing any sign of the top or the bottom. Eventually Vishnu realized the hopelessness of his task and returned, only to find Brahma waiting there. “I reached the top, and returned before you – I am the winner!” declared Brahma. “Hah!” returned Vishnu, “That is a lie! There is no top and no bottom to this pillar. We stand before the Eternal, which gives life and takes it away. Neither of us is great compared to the Supreme.” So even to this day, Brahma is not worshiped, but the pillar is a most revered symbol of Brahman, the Eternal, which is without form.

(adapted from http://www.shaivam.org/siddhanta/maling.html )

Discussion

What images stood out for you in the story? Was there anything that you pictured in your head that you can remember? One important (and confusing) thing to be aware of from this story is the difference between Brahma, who is one of many Hindu gods, and Brahman, with an “n” which is what they call the one God which is beyond all forms. This is an important thing to know about Hindu beliefs. There are many gods and goddesses, and many stories of their lives. But Hindus understand all these gods to just be expressions of Brahman – ways of picturing something that is beyond what we can imagine. Brahman, they believe, also exists inside of every person (called Atman).

 

Activity

How do you picture something that you can’t see or feel or hear or taste or smell? We can’t use our senses to describe love or anger or excitement or God, but we can use our imaginations to try to show what those things mean to us. We’re going to draw pictures of things that can’t be seen, letting our imaginations guide us. (Note: Depending on the children you are working with, you may want to ask everyone to draw their understanding of a particular subject, such as God, spirit, love, justice, etc, or you may wish to have children brainstorm the kind of intangible subjects we are talking about, and then let each child choose their own subject.)

 

Discussion

Tell us about your drawing. Why did you choose to draw as you did? Was it easy or hard to draw something that you can’t actually see?

 

Introduction, Pt. 2

We’ve learned that Hindus believe in a God which is both inside everyone, and beyond what anyone can know, and that God, Brahman, can be understood and worshiped through the gods who are expressions of the one God. But actions are very important to Hindus, not just beliefs. Hindus believe in karma. Karma means that all of your actions determine what will happen to you in your next life. Good actions, such as being kind, caring and honest, in this life lead to being reborn at a higher level in your next life. The belief that you will be reborn again as a new being after you die is called “reincarnation.” The goal of Hindus is, through spiritual practices and right living, to go beyond the cycle of reincarnation to moksha, in which the soul reaches the level of the divine, and is not reborn again. However, reincarnation doesn’t always lead to higher levels of existence. If you don’t create good karma in this lifetime you might be reborn at a lower level – say, as a mosquito! 

 

Activity

We’re going to try getting at some of this by playing a game, which we’ll call the Reincarnation Game.  (Note:  This game is more fun with multiple players, so may not be appropriate with only one or two children)  Stand in a circle.  The teacher will be designated the “Sadhu,” the holy person working full-time on enlightenment.  Each person, including the “Sadhu” will have a hand-signal to define themselves – the “Sadhu” can be palms touching in front of the chest.  The place in the circle to the Sadhu’s right represents the lowest level of reincarnation.  For instance, going around the circle to your right, you could have Ant, Fish, Frog, Snake, Dog, Tiger, Elephant, Cow (point out that cows are sacred to Hindus) Each person should choose a physical gesture to represent who they are (e.g., arm swung in front for Elephant’s trunk).  Now you are ready to start playing.  This part is fairly simple.  The Sadhu begins by doing their own gesture, and then the gesture of another in the circle, say Tiger.  Tiger does their own gesture (say, a swiping paw), and then the gesture of someone else, and so on, back and forth through the circle.  Once people have got the hang of this, then you’re ready for the real, reincarnation version of the game.  Any time a player misses – forgets to do their own gesture, pauses too long in doing the gesture of someone else or doesn’t recognize when they’ve been called, that counts as an act that is bad for their karma, and they go to the lowest spot in the levels of reincarnation, the Ant spot to the right of the Sadhu.  Everyone else is reincarnated one space to their right.  Here is the tricky part.  Everyone has now been “reborn” as something else, and now takes on the gesture OF THE SPOT WHERE THEY NOW ARE.  The person now in the Ant spot does the crawling fingers of Ant, the person to their right does the swimming hand of Fish, etc., etc., NOT THE GESTURE THAT THEY ORIGINALLY CREATED.  In other words, the gesture stays with the location, and people are reincarnated through various locations.

 

Alternate Activity

If you don’t have enough people to play the reincarnation game, you may wish to, as a group, come up with your own hierarchy of animals and human activities that you think would express increasingly higher levels of reincarnation. Do dogs go above or below cats? Do artists go above or below bankers?  You may wish to explain the Hindu caste system, which traditionally asserts that you are born into a group which defines your place in society, and which is supposed to represent how far your soul has developed.  These castes (from lowest to highest) are: Untouchable, Servant, Trader, Soldier and Priest. 

 

Closing

Explain that the word “namaste” means “the aspect of God that is inside me greets the aspect of God that is inside you.” With hands pressed together in front of the chest, have everyone honor each other, saying “Namaste.”


 Week Two – October 13th

Hinduism – Spiritual Practices and Worship

 

Supplies Needed: Cultured cream, one jar per person, water, knife for spreading butter and bread to eat it on, computer with internet access.

 

Opening Words  

Lead me from the unreal to the Real.

Lead me from darkness unto Light.

Lead me from death to Immortality.

-- Upanishads

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

Or, light chalice and say

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering

Continue to practice the yoga moves called the Sun Salutation. (Note: You will want to familiarize yourself with the Sun Salutation before teaching it to children. See week one for description and drawings.). 

 

Introduction

Last week we learned some about Hindu beliefs, including the idea that the whole universe is full of the Divine, and that there are many gods which are expressions of that Divine energy, called Brahman. The goal of human life is enlightenment, becoming joined in union with that Divine, and escaping from the cycle of reincarnation, in which everyone who dies is reborn into a different body. 

Every religion has its own beliefs, and every religion has its own ways that people practice their beliefs, kinds of worship and spiritual practices that people follow to reach their religious goals. For Hindus, the ultimate religious goal is enlightenment, fully knowing an expressing and living within the Divine.

 

Story

Sivananda, a Hindu teacher, called a guru or sadhu, told this story to try to explain how enlightenment works: 

The young daughter who grew up in the city came back to the village where her family still lived. At night before going to bed, her mother set a pot in which there was good cow's milk out in the warm air. The girl asked her mother: "Mother, why are you leaving the milk out? It may get spoiled!"

"Child!" answered the mother, "that is the way to prepare the milk in order that we might get butter out of it."

"But where is butter in it, mother?"

"It is in every drop of the milk, dear; but you can't see it now. I will show you in the morning."

In the morning the daughter saw that what was liquid the night before had become thicker overnight. Mother put a churning rod into it and started churning the curd vigorously. Butter began to float on the surface of the curd. Then she gathered it all up and presented it to the astonishment of the daughter. The mother explained: "With time and with churning the butter that was in the milk is now visible. At first you were not able to see it; it was hidden. From where has it come now? Only from the milk. Therefore, you understand now that it was there all the time. It awaited the process of churning to reveal itself." The daughter, too, followed the same process and got the butter, for herself.

Similarly, a worldly man approaches a Mahatma, a teacher, and asks him: "O Sadhu, why have you renounced the world, and devoted your life to spiritual disciplines? Why don't you let the life take its natural course?"

The Sadhu replies: "Brother, I do so in order to realise God."

"Where is God?"

"God is everywhere."

The worldly man does not understand and is not convinced. The Sadhu then explains how the personality, which is fickle and ever-changing should be made solid and firm. Then the churning rod of one-pointed concentration and meditation should be used to churn a person’s life. God is in every atom of creation, but is not visible to the naked eye. Only through learning and meditation can the God inside of everything be realized.

Activity (Optional)

You may wish to try actually making butter. You can find instructions for making butter using a mixer here or shaking it by hand here.

 

Discussion

Is it hard to imagine the butter that is present inside the milk? Is it hard to imagine the tree that is present inside an acorn? What things can you think of that people do to access the God or holy inside themselves?

 

Yoga

Many people think of yoga as being a series of exercises, like the sun salutation that we did for our centering. But these physical poses are just a small part of what Hinduism would call yoga. Yoga is really any practice that brings enlightenment. Hindus understand that there are four main pathways, or kinds of yoga, that lead to enlightenment: karma-yoga, enlightenment through doing good works, jnana-yoga, enlightenment through study and learning, bhakti-yoga, enlightenment through love and devotion expressed to a god and raja-yoga, enlightenment through meditation.

 

The poses, or asanas, of the physical practice of yoga include deep attention to your breathing, and are meant to be a kind of meditation more than just a kind of exercise. As we try these yoga asanas, try to focus on your breathing, trying to keep your mind clear and open.

 

The following are some simple yoga poses that work well with children. Feel free to select a few poses that appeal to you, or to substitute other yoga poses if you are familiar with the practice of yoga.


1.

Sit with spine straight, soles of feet together, hands on ankles.
Gently round spine and then return to sitting straight.

Breathe out as spine rounds, and in as you return to sitting straight.
Repeat several times.


2.

Sit cross-legged, hands at sides, palms on floor.
Turn head to look to one side over shoulder,
then over the other shoulder.
If sitting on a firm enough surface,
spin body around once using hands to help propel spin.
Repeat several times.
 


3.

Sit with spine straight, soles of feet together.

Breathe in.
Clasp hands behind lower back
and pull shoulder blades together slowly,
head tilted back, eyes looking up. Breathe out during this movement.
Hold, then release, relaxing shoulders, back, body, bending head forward.
Breathe in during this movement.
Repeat several times.
 

4.

Sit with legs stretched wide apart, spine straight.
Turn body to face one leg.
Breathe out as you reach down to hold onto leg with both hands
and gently lean towards the leg.
Hold for 4 slow counts, breathing in and out.
Repeat to other leg.
Next, sit up facing forward, hold onto both legs,
round back, and gently lean forward between legs, breathing out
while looking toward the floor.

Breathe in.
Next, sit straight and place palms of hands on floor alongside body for support.
Point and flex feet and ankles in unison,
then try to point one foot while flexing the other foot.
Repeat breathing rhythmically.


5.

Lie on back, legs touching, knees bent,
bottom of feet on floor, arms along side of body on floor.
Lower spine below waist presses to floor, upper back is relaxed.
Breathe in lung area.
Contract abdominal muscles, hold counts 1, 2, 3, breathing out.
Relax and repeat.
 

6.

Lie on back, arms and legs comfortably stretched,

lower back pressed into the floor.
Raise one arm at a time toward ceiling and lower.
Next, lift one leg at a time toward ceiling.
Later, try lifting one arm and the opposite leg at the same time.
 

7.

On hands and knees, let back slope toward floor.
Eyes look forward and slightly up.
Change position by rounding spine,
contracting abdominal and stomach muscles
and looking down to front of thighs.
Repeat several times.
 

 

Discussion

How did it feel to do the yoga poses? Were you able to focus on your breathing? How do you think that doing yoga might be a religious practice?

 

Puja

Another religious practice for Hindus is called “puja.” Puja is worship, or an expression of devotion to a particular god. This might happen at an altar in the home, or in a temple. Puja can include chanting, meditation on a picture or representation of the god, and offerings of water or incense. If you have a computer or laptop and internet connection in your religious education space you may wish to explore the site:

http://www.spiritualpuja.com/

 

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Before you enter this valuable site, there are a few things you should be aware of. 1) Because it contains music and video, it will take a long time to load on a slower internet connection. 2) In some places on the site you will see small symbols floating by, including the swastika. Thousands of years before the birth of Hitler the bent arm cross was a symbol of good fortune, and is associated with the gods Brahma and Vishnu.  The appearance of the symbol on this site is in the context of its ancient meaning and is in no way intended as an endorsement of the Nazi philosophy. 3) At the very bottom of the page, if you scroll past various links for puja to different gods there is a link to “Tantra puja” and a warning about adult content. Hinduism views sexuality as one of the ways that people can experience connection with the divine. This content is appropriate for an adult understanding of Hindu spiritual practice, but is not appropriate for children (and is clearly marked as such). This site should be used by children only with adult supervision.)

 

Click to enter the temple, and from there you will be able to scroll down, hear chanting, and click on different gods to see and hear a something of what puja in their honor is like.

 

Activity

The simplest form of Hindu chanting is singing the syllable “Om” (sometimes spelled “Aum”). Om is an expression of Divine perfection, and is the sound that Brahma used to create the world. It is the first sound that Hindu parents whisper into the ear of their newborn baby. The symbol for Aum:

Symbol ofr Hinduism.png

is used as the symbol of Hinduism. As a group we will chant the sound “om.” As you hold out the “om” sound on a pitch, don’t worry too much about the note. Instead, pay attention to the vibration that you feel in your body from the sound you make and the sound we share.

 

Discussion

How did the chanting feel to you? Did you feel the vibration? (Note: You may wish to repeat the chant experience with everyone sitting in a close circle with their left hand on their own chest and their right hand on the upper back of the person next to them, so that the vibration of the sound is even clearer.)

 

Closing

Salute one another with “Namaste” as in session one.


Week Three – October 20th

Celebration -- Dussehra 

 

Supplies Needed: Depending on activities: computer with internet connection, print-out of pictures (see below), crayons, ingredients for kheer (see below), pan, stove or hot plate, measuring cups, spoon for stirring, bowls and spoons, paper or flash paper, large metal bowl, matches, taper candle

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

 

We light this flame to guide our search for truth, and to offer light to all who seek.

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

or, light chalice and say

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

Check-in:
You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering:

Continue to practice the yoga moves called the Sun Salutation. (Note: You will want to familiarize yourself with the Sun Salutation before teaching it to children. See week one for description and drawings.).

 

Introduction

Dussehra is a Hindu holiday that comes on the tenth and final day of festival called Navaratri. This year Dussehra fell earlier in the month, on October 8th, but we’ve waited until now to celebrate so that we could come in to the holiday with a better understanding of Hinduism in general. Dussehra celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and the central story of the holiday is of the victory of Rama over the demon Ravana. Here is a version of that story:

 

Story

Once there was a demon with ten heads – and a very fearsome sight he was.

This demon, named Ravana, was king of a large island. Long ago, he had gotten one of the great gods to promise him that he could never be killed by any god or demon. As soon as he knew that none of them could harm him, he threatened to conquer both earth and heaven, so that all the gods, as well as all the people, would be in his power.

What could the gods do to stop Ravana?   Finally, a great God, Vishnu, had a plan. He knew that Ravana had not asked to be kept safe from humans or monkeys, so he decided to come to earth himself as a human, and he asked other gods to be born as monkeys.

Now, at this time there was an old king who had three wives.

The great god Vishnu caused himself to be born as a son to the old king. The king named this son Rama. The king had two other sons, named Bharata and Lakshmana, but he loved Rama best. He wanted Rama to be the king after he died.

Rama grew up to be a fine, strong, young man, and he married a beautiful woman named Sita.

However, the old king’s third wife, Kaikeyi, did not want Rama to become king. She thought her own son, Bharata, should be crowned instead.  She remembered that the old king had once promised to grant her two wishes, because she had saved his life. Kaikeyi decided that the time had come to ask the King to make good on those two wishes.

She said to her husband, “My first wish is that you crown my son, Bharata, as king, instead of Rama, and my second wish is that you send Rama into the forest for fourteen years.”

The old king was shocked and sad, but he had to grant the wishes, as he would not break his word.

Rama said, “Don’t grieve, father. I’ll carry out your promise. My brother, Bharata, will make a good king. I will leave as soon as I have said my farewells.”

Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, was furious at what Queen Kaikeyi had done. He said to Rama, “You are the true king!  I will kill Queen Kaikeyi for doing thisl”

“No,” said Rama, gently, “you must not do such a thing!” Lakshmana said, “Then I shall go with you into the forest.” Sita, Rama’s wife, declared, “I will come, too. If you are banished to the forest, I will be banished, as well. I will go wherever you go.”

So Rama left for the forest with his wife, Sita, and his brother, Lakshmana.  After they left, the old king was so heartbroken that he died of sorrow.

Bharata had been away on a trip and did not know about all of this. When he returned, he was angry at his mother for what she had done.

“That is not right!” he said, “Rama must be brought back as king!” Bharata went to the forest and found Rama.” Come back!” he said.

But Rama replied, “Would you want me to break our father’s promise? No, I cannot come back for fourteen years.  People should follow the path of truth and never go back on their word.  People must do their best to live by what is right. “

“Well,” said Bharata, “then I shall rule for you for fourteen years, but I will refuse to be crowned king.  Give me your sandals to place on the throne. In that way, everyone will know you are really the king.”

And with that, Bharata sadly returned to the palace.

The years went by in the forest. The ten-headed demon, Ravana, wanted to kidnap Sita, but he was afraid of Rama, the man with the powers of a god. Finally, he thought of a plot to trick Rama and Sita.

He sent a demon in the form of a golden deer. When Sita saw the golden deer, she asked Rama to capture it for her for a pet. Rama went after the deer, but it led him deep into the forest. Then the demon imitated Rama’s voice, calling,  “Help! Help!”

Sita said to her brother-in-law, Lakshmana, “You must go help Rama! He’s in trouble!”

As soon as she was alone, the ten-headed demon, Ravana scooped Sita up and flew off with her.

As they flew over the forest Sita knew she must leave something behind to help Rama find her, so she quickly pulled off all her jewels and threw them to the ground.

Her jewels were found by the king of the monkeys, Hanuman. Ravana carried Sita to his palace on his island, Lanka. He locked her up in a garden and said, “You have twelve months time to agree to become my queen. If you refuse, I will kill you!”

Rama roamed the forest looking for Sita. He called out, “Sita! Sita!” over and over, but no answer returned. Then the Monkey King came running up to Rama, holding out Sita’s jewels.

“I will help you,” said the Monkey King. “I will order my army of monkeys and bears to search the world over.”

The Monkey King and his army traveled until they reached the ocean. They could see Ravana’s island across the water, but how could they get there?

The Monkey King had special powers, because he was really the son of the Wind God. He turned himself into a giant so that he could leap over the water. Then he became small again, and looked around for Sita. He found her in the garden.

Just then, Ravana’s soldiers captured the Monkey King, and dragged him before Ravana. Ravana gave orders to set the monkey’s tail on fire. The Monkey King leaped into the air and used his flaming tail to set fire to the whole city, and then he leaped over the ocean to Rama.

The monkey army then built a bridge across the sea to the island. Rama and all the monkeys crossed the bridge and battled the demon’s soldiers,

Then began the greatest battle of all—between Rama and Ravana. They fought for ten days.

Rama cut off two of Ravana’s heads, but to his surprise, the heads grew right back.   Rama heard that there was only one place on Ravana’s body where he could be hit and killed, and this was in his belly.

Rama would not hit Ravana below the belt, because he felt this was not a fair way to fight, so theMonkey King prayed to his father, the Wind God for help. The Wind God made one of Rama’s arrows turn down to hit Ravana in the secret spot, and Ravana fell down and died.

Rama could now return to his own kingdom with Sita and his brother. His fourteen years had just ended.  He was at last crowned king! Goodness won over evil!

(adapted from “Rama and the Demon with Ten Heads” from the curriculum Holidays and Holy Days by Brotman and Marshfield)

Discussion

Can you think of any real-world ways that you have seen good win out over evil? When two sides are fighting, how do we know which side is right? Can you think of any ways that you have taken action for good or against evil?

 

Activities

Note: several activities appropriate for celebrating Dussehra are listed below. Choose the ones that work best for your setting and child(ren).

 

Coloring

During or after the story you may wish to have participants color the pictures of Hanuman and Ravana.

 

Play

Have children act out the story. Characters may be doubled up, with each child playing more than one part. (Characters include the Old King, the wife Kaikeyi, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, Sita, Ravana, and the Monkey King Hanuman) Figure out the main scenes of the story, and then have children act the scenes out. You may wish to have them do this entirely in mime, rather than using words.

 

Cooking

Kheer is an Indian rice pudding that is often eaten at Dussehra. It’s delicious, and can be made on a stove top or hot plate.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut milk

  • 2 cups milk

  • 3 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1/2 cup Basmati rice

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water (optional)

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring the coconut milk, milk and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Add basmati rice, and simmer over low heat until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

  2. Stir in the raisins, cardamom and rose water, and cook for a few more minutes. Ladle into serving bowls, and garnish with almonds and pistachios.

 

Activity (You may wish to do this while someone is stirring the kheer)

The big finale of the Dussehra celebration includes burning a giant figure of the demon Ravana. The figure is filled with firecrackers, so that when it burns there’s a tremendous burst of noise and flame. (You may wish to show this YouTube video which shows short bits from an enactment of the story, as well as the burning of the figures of Ravana and two related demons.) Burning Ravana symbolizes victory over evil. 

We won’t be able to burn a giant Ravana, but we can create our own version. Ravana had ten heads. One way to think of this demon would be as each of his ten heads being a different kind of evil. We are going to draw pictures for Ravana’s heads, each one showing a different kind of evil. What can you think of that people do that is cruel, dishonest, selfish, uncaring, greedy or flat-out mean? 

(Note: If you can come up with ten pictures, great, but don’t worry about it if you have fewer. If you can get flash paper from a magic shop to draw on it will burn with a great effect – test beforehand to see whether crayon or markers will work on it.)

 

Closing

Burn pictures of “Ravana’s heads” by lighting each one and placing it in a metal bowl to burn. It is recommended that you do this outside. A lit candle makes a safer way to light the paper than just using matches.


 Week Four –   

October 27th

Person of Faith -- Gandhi

 

Supplies Needed: Computer with internet connection if you wish to play video for the song “Raghupati”

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

 

Be the change you want to see in the world.

--Mohandas Gandhi

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

or, light chalice and say

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

Check-in:

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 Centering:

Continue to practice the yoga moves called the Sun Salutation. (Note: You will want to familiarize yourself with the Sun Salutation before teaching it to children. See week one for description and drawings.).

 

Introduction

Unlike, say, Christianity or Buddhism, Hinduism doesn’t have a single person who founded the religion. There is, however, one Hindu person who has been recognized around the world as the greatest of Hindu leaders, a man who was led by his religious beliefs to change the world in a way that no one would have thought possible.

 

Story

Gandhi.png

In the early 1600s, sailors from Great Britain made their way to India. At that time, India was a country rich in traditions and culture thousands of years old. The British Empire took control of the government of India and forever changed the face of that country. Ancient traditions and religions were thrown out, made illegal by British generals eager to make India another England.


As you can well imagine, the native people of India suffered greatly, seeing their way of life trampled under the British desire to "civilize" their country.

For the longest time, nobody in India successfully fought back against the British and the oppression they brought with them. This all changed when a small man, born in the ancient city of Porbandar in 1869, stood up and said "Enough!" This man became known the world over as Gandhi, the mahatma or "Great Soul" of India.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's early years showed little sign of the great life he would go on to live. He went to school, was married and later became a rather unsuccessful, terribly shy lawyer. All of this changed, however, one fateful day when Gandhi was denied a seat on a stagecoach in South Africa. The racist driver had made him sit outside in the hot sun on a long trip to Pretoria, simply because he wasn't white. Gandhi, until now too shy to even speak in front of a judge, sued the railroad company and won. From that point on, Gandhi became the number-one spokesman for all oppressed non-whites the world over.

After 20 years of aiding his fellow Indians in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India and picked up the fight against British oppression. Instead of encouraging native-born Indians to take up arms and force the British colonists out of their country, Gandhi created a policy of non-violent protest. "Non-violence," he said, "is a weapon for the brave."

His philosophy of how to respond to justice was based in traditional religious ideas. Satya –truth-- was the centerpiece. For Gandhi, following truth and following God was the same thing. To Gandhi, the Hindu creed was: "Search after Truth through nonviolent means." Satyagraha, Gandhi's approach to conflict, was to "hold firmly to Truth." In addition to teaching and living Satyagraha, Gandhi focused on ahimsa, or non-violence. His practice of ahimsa not only meant that he resisted injustice without using violence, it also included a practice of love and respect for all beings. (Gandhi was a vegetarian all his life.) He saw the practice of karma-yoga, the yoga of service, as calling him to work for the equality of all men and women.

For 20 years non-violent protests, marches and strikes by the Indians wore down British resistance. Confronted by a slight man wearing only a plain cloth and accompanied by millions of followers armed not with weapons, but with love and truth, the British government in 1946 finally gave India its long-held dream of independence. The fight for India's freedom had been won without a battle having ever been fought. 

Sadly, two years after his great victory, Gandhi was shot and killed by an assassin's bullet. But Gandhi's legacy lived on after his death, showing the world that one can be a hero and accomplish great things without guns or swords or hatred. As Gandhi once said, "It is non-violence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love, but are not all great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to."

(adapted from http://www.myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=gandhi )

 

Discussion

What ways can you think of that people practice non-violent resistance to injustice? (Some examples might be marches, sit-ins, vigils, Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat, standing next to someone who is being bullied, etc.)

 

Game

We’re going to try a game in which two people each practice a kind of non-violent resistance to the other. In pairs, Person 1 will say to Person 2, “Darling, if you love me, won’t you please, please smile.” Their object is to get Person 2 to smile, and they may do anything that doesn’t involve touching the other person, such as make faces, to get the person to smile or laugh. Person 2 responds: “Darling, I love you, but I just can’t smile.” Their object is to get through saying their sentence without smiling or laughing.

 

Discussion

Was the Person 1 (trying to make the other person smile) or person 2 (trying not to smile) practicing non-violent resistance? Or both? Or neither? Is it possible to use violence to get a person to smile or laugh? There is an Aesop’s fable you might have heard that goes like this:  

The wind and the sun argued one day over which one was the stronger. Spotting a man traveling on the road, they challenged one another to see which one could remove the coat from the man's back the quickest.
The wind began. He blew strong gusts of air, so strong that the man could barely walk against them. But the man clutched his coat tight against him. The wind blew harder and longer, and the harder the wind blew, the tighter the man held his coat against him. The wind blew until he was exhausted, but he could not remove the coat from the man's back.
It was now the sun's turn. He gently sent his beams upon the traveler. The sun did very little, but quietly shone upon his head and back until the man became so warm that he took off his coat and headed for the nearest shade tree.

 

Who, in the story, was stronger? Does it depend on how you define strong?

 

Song

Gandhi’s favorite song, which is a prayer for peace, was one called “Raghupati.” (Note: This song is #178 in Singing the Living Tradition.  You can play a video with the music with Hindu pictures for help with the tune, or try the video of this non-Indian, but easier-to-follow musician. It will probably be easiest to only sing the chorus and not attempt the words of the verses.) The words of the chorus are:

Raghupati, Raghava, Raja Ram.

Patita Paban, Seeta Ram.

 

 

Activity

Ask each person in the group to think of an insult that they have heard used against themselves or someone they know. Have each person stand up and use this insult against the rest of the group. After each insult, brainstorm ways that a person could respond that would be likely to turn the situation less, rather than more, violent.

 

Discussion

Do you see violence or injustice taking place at your school? If so, what do you see happening? What do you think might be ways to stand up against injustice in these situations without resorting to violence?

 

Closing

Share these words from Gandhi: 

“Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will.
Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.”