Uma Venkatachalam & Geetha Nathan
It has been a blessing for us to teach the 7th Grade this year! This was our first year teaching middle school and we were not sure what to expect. We taught the same group of children in third grade and we were looking forward to an exciting beginning of Bala Vihar 2018 -2019. Soon we found out that though they had grown by age and grade, they were still the same on the inside!
We had a wonderful syllabus to teach this year. For the first half of the year, the book was P.O.BOX Mr. GOD based on Ayodhya Kanda (Doha 127-131) from Ram Charit Manas. For the second half of the year, it was “Keys to success” based on Lanka Kanda (after Doha 79) from Ram Charit Manas. It was a great opportunity for us to learn these gems from the Ramayana!
Each child was so unique in their own way. Many were talkative (sometimes too much so :), normal free flowing teenage hormones!!!), while some were quiet. But none of them ever took anything at face value. They would question everything (challenging for us!!!). Despite having to miss some classes or showing up a little late due to their extra-curricular activities, they were fully in the moment at the times they showed up.
One of the highlights of this year was when we learned the Shiva Manasa Puja and a Ram Bhajan (thanks to Suma Aunty who sent us the recordings from India and filled up missing gaps in the song in our textbook!!!). Initially, there was reluctance to learn the bhajans and more so to go up on stage. However, eventually when the day came to perform they pulled it together beautifully. YAY!!!
We are very proud of our class and we are confident that they will go on to achieve great things in life! We wish them the same too!!!
Uma & Geetha
Year’s Reflections by 7th Graders
Goal of PO Box, Mr. GOD
- God is Omnipresent, He is within/ without us
- We can all become an address of God, if we assimilate the values described in caupais of RamCharitManas
Dharma Chariot (This Dharma Chariot was written by all from a poster that was on the wall)
- 2 flags – Satya and Sila represent Truthfullness and Good Character
- 3 Reins – Kshama(Forgiveness), Krpa(Compassion), Samata(Equanimity)
- 4 horses – Bala(Strength), Bibeka(Discrimination), Dama(Control of Senses), Parahita(Caring for others)
- 2 Riders – Isha Bhajanu(Devotion to God), Sarathi Sujana(Intelligent charioteer)
- 2 wheels – Dhiraja(Fortitude, Patience), Sauraja(valor, courage)
What is happiness?
Objects or Beings which only give temporary happiness are not true sources of happiness.
Humans two weaknesses/ enemies(inner)
- Passion(Desire, Lust) & Greed(Jealousy, Ego)
God lives in the hearts of people who…
- Never tire of listening to his stories
- Always long to see him
- Distinguish between right and wrong
- Do puja whenever they can
- Only give the best, say good things
- Always remember God
Same as above from Shruthi.
Keys to Success
Knowledge, Hard work, Determination are the KEYS that give you happiness.
After a year packed full of learning, these are the 5 main things I took away from this class:
- The Dharma Chariot has lots of important values that should be taken and applied to real life. These include Isha Bhajanu(devotion to God), Bala(strength) and Satya(truthfulness)
- There are 2 birds that demonstrate important skills
- The Chataka bird only drinks rain water, symbolizing only taking in the purest things
- The Hamsa bird can separate milk from water, just like how we should symbolize the good from the bad
- Listening is very important. Have ears like an ocean to be a good devotee to God by taking in Ram’s stories. Being quiet and listening can also help in the case of finding a pocket-watch in a room full of hay. If you stop, quiet your mind and listen, you can hear the watch ticking. Being still and quiet can help with many things in life.
- The most important thing Chinmaya has taught me is to be kind, above all else, be kind.
- You should separate good from bad like
The Chataka bird who can separate milk and water
The Hamsa bird who drinks only pure water
- You should always think and hear good things
- Each element of the earth is born out one another
- The Dharma Chariot has many values that relate to God
- God lives in everything and is everywhere
- The key to success is to believe in yourself
- Oceanic Ears: Hear the good things
- Believe in God, Devotion to God
- You should not discriminate
- Success is when you achieve something that helps you in life
- Actions are like Boomerangs, if you spread good, you will get good – spread happy ripples.
- Parts of the Chariot (same as that of Shruthi)
- The stories I learned from both the books taught me lessons that I can use later in my life such as Patience, trust, thinking before speaking and the importance of my Devotion to God. I think the different parts of the chariot are the core values of someone’s life.
- I learned about the chariot which has many virtues in each part. For example, I learned about “Satya” which is truthfulness. I also learnt the true meaning of “Bala” which is strength. Many people think it is when you lift stuff. But in reality it is when you stand up for something you want. It is to take a leap and getting out of the box and into the real world. This year in Chinmiya, I learnt about “Kshama”. Forgiveness is important in your life. It’s when someone does something to you and you forgive and forget. Sometimes, it’s hard to forget the mistakes done by others, but sometimes it’s better than holding a grudge, Chinmiya has taught me my dharma and karma and the results of it.
- God is in everything
- There is a chariot of good values
- If you follow one good value, the rest will come naturally
- There are 5 elements
- Happiness is not something on the outside but on the inside
- The key to success is believing in yourself
- Happiness is something that makes everyone happy
- Believe in God
- Discriminate between good and bad, right and wrong.
- Cataka Bird – Drinks the pure, clean raindrop water
- Hamsa Bird – separates milk and water
- Dharma Chariot – (Same as above)
- Control your senses
- Never stop listening to His stories
- Do a lot of puja’s for him
This year, a couple things stuck with me.
- That God, who exists infinitely everywhere, resides in so many places, in so many people, that it is useless to list where he resides. Some would say he resides in specific places, like those with oceanic ears, but in truth, he is not only everywhere, but everything. We must learn to acknowledge that, for then, we may be slightly closer to God, and understanding all that He is or represents.
- That to reach success, one must ignore the qualities held by most humans, like selfishness, ego, arrogance and so on. We must follow the Chariot of Dharma, which shows the many ways we must combat and defeat our evil qualities. We must use our Bala, Bibeka, Dama and Parahita as horses to guide us, since they are strength, discrimination, control and caring. Devotion and Intelligence control the 4 horses, leading them and us in the right direction. Weapons, though unlisted, must be used to combat the evil we feel, to destroy all that attaches us to the wrong ideas.
- Over this year, I learned about where God lives. In ears like ocean, open to everything and in the eyes like the jataka bird, pure. In mouth like the humsa bird which only sees the good and in the nose like those who smell only good things. God lives in the heart of the people who yearn for stories of Rama. This is what we learnt from the book P.O.box Mr. God.
- We also learnt the Keys to success from the Bhagavat Gita. We saw the Dharma Chariot and what each part represents. We learned the wheels were Sourija and Dhirija, valor and fortitude. (The rest were from above paragraph of Shruthi). These are all important to practice the good Dharma of the Dharma chariot.
- We also learned God is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere) and omniscient (all-knowing). Also, the attributes of good people are equanimity, devotion to God, polite to all, well-wisher of all, beloved all, speak with truth, speak with love, don’t say the truth unpleasant and don’t say the pleasant seeming lies.