Why celebrate Festivals?

holi 1
​Why celebrate Festivals, is a question that I have asked as a teenager and young adult to my mother and to myself. Off late I got some answers and here are some thoughts on them.

Festivals are usually seen as a religious occasion to celebrate. However, the only aspect behind festivals is not just to please God or to follow a custom blindly. Festivals give an opportunity for people in a community to come together. They are the occasions for us to get out of our routine and take a break. It’s an instance for people to mingle with each other, forgive and forget any past grudges and celebrate. It’s a chance for people of all ages to socialise. Certain festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri, etc happen at a large scale in many areas. One might think that they create a lot of noise pollution and pollute the environment, which is true. But the same things can be taken care of and the festivals can still be celebrated in an eco-friendly way. Those who see only the negatives in festivals fail to see the positives behind them. We see so many youngsters taking leadership skills and organising big events during such festivals. Those are opportunities for them to grow. The people who might have wiled away their time otherwise would now be associated with a cause and would be working selflessly. When we fail to see that, it is then we see only negatives.

Festivals, as I see, are most important in today’s times more than how much it was in the past. The stress that everyone, right from a primary school kid to elderly people, will be busted when they engage in festivals and celebrations. The children who are glued these days to gadgets, TV and computers will come out and do something more productive. If we take away all these opportunities, we are snatching away a great deal of opportunities from our children to learn a lot of life skills.

But many celebrations lead to polluting the environment? Yes, they do. The fireworks of Diwali does pollute the air. Water is consumed more in Holi and plastic also is used. So is milk ‘wasted’ in Shiv ratri. And Ganesh Chaturthi causes water pollution. Let us think over the air, water, noise and land-pollution in detail.

When we go to buy some grocery, the shopkeeper immediately gives the things in a polythene cover which is extremely harmful for our planet and we all know that. What are we doing against it? How many of us can vow that we will not use polythene covers and will cut down plastic consumption by atleast 95%? How many voices do we hear against this? Hardly any. Why? Because it requires effort to do that. It’s not easy. Voicing against the celebrations is easy, it does not require any effort to do year-long.

How many people resort to walking instead of taking vehicles atleast for minimum distances? Why is it that they don’t think of air pollution which many of us are suddenly reminded of before Diwali? The answer is simple…it requires effort. But voicing against ban of crackers doesn’t require any effort.

There are so many posts that come on social media on why milk is wasted on God. Why not give it to the poor and needy? How many of those who question this, have went out and given a glass of milk to the needy? Again why not? Because it requires effort and voicing doesn’t require any effort.

The submerging of Ganesh idols causes a lot of water pollution. This is true. Then why don’t we ban Ganesh idols that are made out of plaster of paris? Why not decide to buy Ganesh idols made out of mud? Why not? Because idols made out of clay are costlier.

Just before Holi every year, there is a huge cry on saving water by not playing Holi or helping poor farmers by not playing Holi. This is echoed blindly by many people because they don’t pause to think. Or may be it gives a happiness to their ego when they say that they have not played Holi and are concerned about the environment. Where are these people when the farmers need help and not their sympathy? Where are these people when the private swimming pools and pools in housing societies are functioning throughout the year? How is it that a ban on Holi is all that they can think of for conserving water? If they are so much concerned why is their voice not coming up on all the above mentioned occasions? The answer is simple. It is not their fault. They are not realising that they are getting influenced by someone else’s thinking.

holi

By this I don’t mean that we should harm the environment. The point is ‘why all these points come up only before festivals of a certain community?’ This is a genuine question we need to think. We also need to think how we get influenced by such slogans raised by certain people against celebrating certain festivals. Do we see messages like ‘save animals’ before Bakri-Eid? Aren’t they part of the planet? Why is our concern about the planet prejudiced against only certain things? Why don’t we protest against smoking with the same aggression as against Diwali crackers? Why don’t we try to reduce our own consumption of fuel? Why don’t we try to save water everyday and reduce on plastic everyday? Rather than expecting not to do things on certain days and making a small difference, why not do small things daily and make a big difference?

Journey to the Himalayas – books available

​Journey to the Himalayas is a 108-page pictorial travelogue of the journey of two brothers and their 18-day stay in the Himalayas and trek upto 14600 feet. The travelogue will take you through their journey and land your mind into the Himalayas.

The book is a fundraiser for the project ‘Chinmaya Pradeep’, and outdoor multimedia multi-medium exhibition on the teachings of Swami Chinmayananda.

Now the book is available for purchase online as well as in select Chinmaya Mission centres in and outside Mumbai. Refer attachment for more details.

 

J to H available

Panchadasi – Verse 3-4

Panchadasi – Verse 3-4

~ (Understandings from the Webinar series of Chinmaya International Foundation on Panchadasi)

…Continuing from verse 3

Knower does not have the properties of the Known (i.e., properties of shabda, sparsha, etc). Hence we can conclude that Knower is not made up of five elements or five senses. We know a particular thing through the senses. But Consciousness (Knower) doesn’t require any thing to know. Thus, knowledge of the Consciousness is non-mediate knowledge or a Direct Knowledge (aparokSha jnana).

One might question, can the knower of each sense be different or can there be different knowers in a personality? To analyse this, below three points will help.

  1. Objects are different. They are made up of five elements.
  2. Subject is different from the object. Hence subject is not made up of the five elements.
  3. Subject (Knower) is one and is of the same nature (there cannot be two or more subjects). Because subject is not made up of five elements, and there is nothing in this world which is not made up of the five elements except for the Knower. Hence, the only thing left when the objects are not considered is the subject and thus subject is only one.

From the above three points it becomes clear that there cannot be different knowers for different senses.

All the above points are discussed when a person is in jAgrat avastha (Waking state).

Verse 4:

tathA swapne atra vedyum tu na sthiram jAgare sthiram

tad bhedo atastayoh samvit ekarUpa na bhidyate || 4 ||

tathA: thus (all the points mentioned in the earlier verse for jAgrat applies for swapnAvastha also)

swapne: in swapna (dream state)

atra: here (in the dream state)

vedyam na sthiram: objects are not permanent (as it is in the case of waking state)

jAgare sthiram: objects do not change in the waking state

tad bhedo: that difference

atah + tayoh = atastayoh: Therefore, that alone

na bhidyate: does not differ

samvit: the Knower

ekarUpa: the only thing (the Knower)

Meaning: Thus, all the three points mentioned in the waking state applies to the dream state as well except that the objects in the dream state keep changing as the dream goes but the Knower does not change.

Because the Knower does not change, he is able to realise that he had a dream when he comes out of the dream state to the waking state. This means that the Knower in the waking state and the dream state is one and the same. That cognition where there is both That-ness and This-ness is called pratyabhijnA. E.g. When we see a school friend after many years with lot of changes in his looks and realise that it is That friend from school who looks like This now, is pratyabhijnA. 

A definition of pratyabhijnA is tad-ta idan-ta avagAhinI vrutti – Comprehension (avagAhinI) of the amalgamation (vrutti) of That-ness (tad-ta) and This-ness (idan-ta) is pratyabhijnA. 

The step my step process in which Swami Vidyaranya explains the subject is very beautiful. It helps the student develop a logical thinking and rational approach to understand what’s been discussed in the text.

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Panchadasi – Verse 2-3

Panchadasi – Verse 2-3

~ (Understandings from the Webinar series of Chinmaya International Foundation on Panchadasi)

Continuing from verse 2…

Tad means That

Tatva means That-ness

Tatva also means the nature of Brahman. Guru’s teaching is Tatvamasi (Thou art That) and not just Tatva. When Tatvamasi is being taught, the distinction is broken. That’s the reason why ‘Asi’ is used…it breaks the distinction. That shows the identity and appreciation of oneness. With the breaking of all distinction, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am the Supreme Self) gets revealed.

This entire process happens sukhabodhAya (that is the job of the Guru).

To reiterate, vishaya is tatva and prayojana is sukhabodhAya. In Vedanta, prayojana is Atyantinka dukhanivritti paramAnanda prApti  (Complete cessation of sorrow and attainment of permanent happiness. Then why is sukhabodhAya the prayojana over here? Because, bodha is the nivritti as well as prApti. Attainment in the case of Realisation of the Self is not attaining something which is outside us but realizing something that we have forgotten. It exists within us and we just need to be reminded of that. It is just like the person who has forgotten that he has kept his glasses on his face but keeps looking for it. The moment someone tells him and he realizes that its there on his face, he immediately remembers it. For him, he doesn’t have to verify whether the glasses are really there because it is there in his memory. It’s just that he had forgotten it. And this entire process of realization about the glasses is sukhabodhAya. The person does not have to take much effort to realize it.

In the same way, when it is said that the prayojana is sukhabodyAya, when bodhacomes to realize what it is, then the purpose is fulfilled.

Sambandha here is bodhya bodhaka bhAva. Contextualisation of the text in the context of knowledge is called sambandha. Bringing the importance of the book into the context is the sambandha. Just like when a topic of pure mathematics is taught in school, when the teacher explains where and how this knowledge can be applied, it is then sambandha happens.

Verse 3:

shabdasparshAdayo vedyA vaichitryAt pruthak

tato vibhaktAstat samvit ekrUpyAnna bhidyate || 3 ||

shabda: speech

sparsha: touch

aadi: means ‘etc’ and also ‘starting with’. Meaning, it is referring to all the five senses speech, touch, sight, smell and taste. Along with these five, it also refers to the five sense organs through which they function. In addition to that, it also refers to the five basic elements of nature – earth, fire, wind, water and ether (space); because the five senses are made up of five elements of nature. The correspondence of five elements to the five senses is like this:

Ether – Sound

Earth – Smell

Fire – Form

Water – Taste

Wind – Touch

vedya: in the waking state

pruthak: separately

vaichitrya: manifoldness

tatah: (from these) viShayah (subject)

vibhaktA: different (that which is not viShayah)

samvit: Knower (Literal meaning: That which burns all well)

ekarUpa: same form

bhidyate: different

Meaning: The five sense organs, five senses, five basic elements, even though they function separately in various manifolds, in the waking state I grasp the idea by putting them together but not getting mixed up with it; and that what I see is different from the subject. In short, the Knower and the known are different.

(to be continued in the following post)

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Panchadasi – Verse 2

Panchadasi – Verse 2

~ (Understandings from the Webinar series of Chinmaya International Foundation on Panchadasi)

Verse 2:

TatpAdAmbaruh dvandva sevAnirmala chetasAm

sukhabodhAya tatvasya viveko-ayam vidhIyate ||2||

In the earlier verse the Guru’s feet was compared to a lotus that eats away the crocodiles that create MahAmoha. This might look not so sensible. But since it is the feet of a Guru it has got the power of doing such things…this is what is said in the verse. Of course, it should not be taken in the actual sense but one needs to look at it from the emotional feeling of the writer. Such ways of adding beauty to the poetry is called viruddha alankAra (viruddha means opposite) or parimANa alankAra.

This verse also forms a part of the mangalAcharaNa. Let us discuss the meaning of this verse in detail.

tat: means ‘That’. ‘That’ refers to the Supreme Reality.

pAdAmbaruh: means Lotus feet. ambaruh means sprung out of the water. Lotus is that which is sprung out of the water.

dvandva: two (referring to both feet of the Guru)

seva: service

nirmala: that which does not have any dirt

chetas: mind

sukhabodhAya tatvasya: making the understanding of identity between the Self and the Supreme Reality simple and easy to comprehend.

viveko-ayam vidhIyate: I am intending to discuss the discrimination (between the Self and the non-Self).

Once again, in this verse too, the author makes it clear as to what is going to be discussed in this text and for whom it is going to be beneficial. What is highlighted here is Guruseva (serving the Guru). Why is serving the Guru so important?

Only an empty vessel can be filled with water. Inorder to receive the highest knowledge (the knowledge of the Self) one’s mind should be pure (nirmala chetas). The easiest way of making the mind pure is surrendering unto the Guru and serving him.

One can serve his Guru in three ways:

  1. At the mental level one has to be humble. Where there is ego and pride in the mind, knowledge cannot be bestowed. An example that Swamiji gave in the webinar was of a typical teenager who thinks that his/her mother doesn’t know anything and only he/she knows what is right/wrong. After many years when he/she grows up and realises that his/her mother knew atleast ‘something’, he/she has someone else in his/her life who feels that the mother knows nothing. One has to develop humility in the heart to serve the Guru.
  2. At the intellectual level, it is the student’s duty to reflect and contemplate upon what the teacher is trying to teach him. He has to do meaningful enquiry and try to understand what the Guru is trying to say.
  3. At the physical level, one has to take care of the Guru by doing chores like cooking food for him, washing his clothes, etc. It might seem for a layman that the Guru is taking advantage of the student by making him work. But it is through such work that the ego gets reduced in the student and he becomes a fit instrument to receive the knowledge. It is also an opportunity for the teacher and taught to get to know each other so that the teacher can adopt the best pedagogy suitable for the student. Unfortunately, in the present times, due to lack of opportunities like Guruseva in the schools, many a times the teacher and student is unable to understand each other well which affects the process of education.

Apart from the above said things, what is utmost important is to follow the Guru’s teachings. This is the best Gurudakshina a student can give to the Guru. Through such Guruseva the mala (dirt) in the mind gets reduced. Rajas Tamas are the dirt that are referred to here. When RajasTamas are reduced, Satva increases thereby enabling the student to learn better. Absence of Ragadvesha (likes & dislikes) is nirmala chetas.

Adhikaritva comes from Sadhana ChatuShtaya which are the four essentials required by a seeker so that he can assimilate the knowledge that is bestowed upon him.

  1. Viveka: Viveka is the ability to discriminate between what is good and bad, right and wrong, dos and donts, etc. Today the word ‘discrimination’ is taken in a wrong sense by many. It doesn’t mean favouring a certain section. It means the ability to differentiate what is real and unreal, permanent and impermanent, self and not-self, and so on.
  2. Vairagya: Vairagya means detachment or non-attachment. Again, this is another word which is misunderstood often. Detachment doesn’t mean not loving. To understand detachment, let us try to analyse what’s the problem with attachment.
    Attachment to an object creates misery when the object is no longer available with us. But we can love an object without getting attached to it. Being detached is to hold but not to possess. The feeling of possession is bound to create misery because nothing in the world is permanent. Having a detached feeling sets one free.
  3. Shat-sampatti: Six qualities
    1. Shama – Cultivating an inner attitude of contentment
    2. Dama – Controlling the senses
    3. Uparati – Self-withdrawal. With shama and dama, uparati happens automatically.
    4. TitikshA – Forbearance
    5. ShraddhA – Faith
    6. SamAdhAna – Focusing the mind on balancing its thoughts and emotions
  4. Mumukshutvam – An intense urge for liberation.

Thus, a student who has got the above said qualities and is willing to serve the Guru will be benefitted from this text where the knowledge of the Self  is explained in a simple way.

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Panchadasi – Verse 1

Panchadasi – Verse 1

~ (Understandings from the Webinar series of Chinmaya International Foundation on Panchadasi)

The main focus of Panchadasi is Tattvajnana (Knowledge of the Supreme Truth) and that its culmination is see in Jeevan Mukti Viveka1.

Every text in the Vedic literature, be it spiritual or material, begins with a Mangalacharana (literal meaning: invocation verse). Usually the Mangalacharana will carry a literal meaning and an inner meaning. First let us discuss the meaning of the word Mangalacharana.

Mangala – auspiciousness

Charana – to walk

Guru walks himself and shows the students how to walk. Meaning: The Guru might be realized and it might not be necessary for him to display external devotion. But for the sake of the students, he himself offers the invocation and sets an example to his students.

Acharana – Aachinoti hi shastrartaan

Aachinoti means one who really dwells into it deeply or one who collects it.

Verse 1:

Namah shrishankarAnanda gurupAdAmbujanmane

SavilAsa mahAmoha grAhagrAsaika karmaNe

Namah – Pujya Gurudev used to say that Namah means Na Mama (I am not anymore mine…I am yours) which refers to total surrender.

Shri – Wealth (in Guru) is the wealth of Knowledge.

Shankarananda – Swami Shankarananda was the Sanyasa Guru of Swami Vidyaranya. Some say it was Shankaranandaji who gave who gave him the name Swami Vidyaranya, and some say it was Veda Vyasa. Since Swami Vidyaranya was a polymath, he had many Gurus. Shrikantha and Sarvajna Vishnu were two other Gurus of Swami Vidyaranya.

GurupAdAmbujanmane – The lotus feet of the Guru. Lotus is a very special flower and that is why we see the mention of lotus in many places in the scriptures. Lotus is a flower that blooms completely. It represents Jnana vikasa (Complete unfoldment of Knowledge). It lives in the mud but is never affected by the mud or water. Hence it represents detachment. The people who are benefitted by the lotus are not the fishes or frogs that live under it, but the bee which senses the nectar in the lotus from far away and comes and relishes it. Usually great people are not acknowledged in their surroundings but the right disciples come to them from far and wide sensing their great knowledge.

SavilAsa – VilAsa represents AbhimAn, Ahamta, sukhabudhi. The prefix of sa means ‘good’.

MahAmoha – Greatest Moha (delusion). Being in a delusion itself is sad. MahAmoha is the greatest of delusions. MahAmoha is that ignorance that destroys life after life.

grAhagrAsaika karmaNe ­– The one who destroys the crocodile (grAha) (of MahAmoha).

Above is the literal translation of the MangalAcharaNa. Before we discuss the inner meaning, let us discuss about Anubandha ChatuShTaya.

Anubandha ­– closely connected

ChatuShTaya – four preliminary or preambulated factors

Anubandha ChatuShTaya is normally given in the first one or two verses of any Vedantic texts. The four factors that clarified in the beginning of any text are:

  1. AdhikAri: is the target audience for the text. In the scriptures, it is always mentioned who will be benefitted from the text. Whether the text is for beginners or for those who have advanced in their studies, and so on.
  2. ViShaya: The subject matter.
  3. Prayojana: result that can be gained from the knowledge shared in the text.
  4. Sambandha: tells what is the connection between the text and the subject matter. It will tell whether the text is complete in itself or not.

With the inner meaning, Swami Vidyaranya makes Anubandha ChatuShTaya clear in the MangalAcharaNa.

Namah – says that the Adhikari of this text is the one who is ready to surrender. Surrendering itself requires a high level maturity. So it is meant for an audience who has maturity in intellect.

ShankarAnanda – Sham (good) karoti (doer) iti (is) shankara – doer of good is called Shankara. Here it refers to the Lord Himself. Ananda is the bliss aspect of the Self. In the text, ShankarAnanda is the viShaya (subject) which indicates Jeevabrahma Aikya (Oneness of Jeeva – the soul; and the Brahman – Supreme Consciousness).

Destruction of MahAmoha is the prayojana of studying this text. And connection between the Jeeva (Soul) and Brahman (Supreme Reality) is the sambandha.

Thus, through the first verse, Swami Vidyaranya does the MangalAcharaNa as well as Anubandha ChatuShTaya.

  1. Jeevan Mukti Viveka is another text written by Swami Vidyaranya. Refer to the earlier post on the life & works of Swami Vidyaranya.

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Panchadasi – 1 | Who was Swami Vidyaranya?

Panchadasi notes – Part 1

~ (Understandings from the Webinar series of Chinmaya International Foundation on Panchadasi)

Swami Vidyaranya is one of the key persons in Indian history who had a big role in shaping the country both politically and spiritually during the Mughal invasion. He was the one who helped establish the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century when the Mughals were plundering Karnataka.

There was an Islamic ruler Malik Kafur who was so atrocious that the King of Pampa (the place where Hampi stands today in Karnataka), gave up his life by jumping into the fire. His ministers Harihara and Bukka escaped and went into hiding. It is at this time that they met Swami Vidyaranya who promised them to help set up an empire at a place called Kishkinta. This was the birth of Vijayanagar empire.

Swami Vidyaranya served the kingdom by being the beacon light when Harihara became the King, followed by Bukka and then the son of Bukka who became the King. He lived a hundred long good years.

Swami Vidyaranya’s earlier name was Madhava. He is also known by the names Narada Bhakta, Madhavabhatta, Madhavaryam. He was a great scholar in Vedic literature and had written commentaries on the Vedas along with his brother. He was a polymath. After he took up Sanyasa, he was appointed as the 12th pointiff of Sringeri Shankaracharya Ashram. His teachers were Bharati Teertha (11th pointiff) and Vidya Teertha (10th pointiff). He was an utter Vairagi (detached soul) and was given the name Swami Vidyaranya by Veda Vyaasa when the latter saw the commentary on the Vedas written by Madhava. He said, “You are truly Vidya Aaranya (thick forest of knowledge)”. Another important texts that he had written was Jeevan Mukti Viveka and Panchadasi.

It is said that he had performed a Yagna, after which it is believed that Gayatri Devi would appear to the person who does the ritual. But for some reason the Devi didn’t appear. However, at a later point in his life, Gayatri Devi appeared and requested him to ask for a boon. He declined saying that he didn’t have any wish. On persistence by Gayatri Devi he said, ‘In that case, let there be no poverty in this Vijayanagar’. It is recorded that it rained gold coins for a height of 42-43 cms in the entire empire. But still the Devi wasn’t satisfied because he didn’t ask anything for himself. So she blessed him by saying that of all his works, his last work would make him famous. And his last text was Panchadasi.

Panchadasi is a text which is a compilation of 15 prakarana granthas. The first 10 are independent of each other. The last five are interconnected. Panchadasi is considered as a very important Prakarana grantha. In Vedic literature, there are two types of texts – Shastra Grantham and Prakarana Grantham. Shastra Granthams are meant for the scholars because it is vast and covers a lot of topics without going into much explanation on a topic because it is meant for a learned person. Prakarana Granthas are preparatory texts which cover lesser topics but in greater depths so that the beginner level student can progress slowly. Panchadasi is considered the biggest and most important among the Prakarana Granthas.

Actually, Swami Vidyaranya had written only the first 6 chapters. When he went to show the work to his Guru Swami Bharati Teertha, the Guru became so impressed that he completed the work. What is surprising is that from the style of the work, it is very difficult to differentiate between the work of the two. So similar was the teacher and the taught in their thinking. We come to know about all this from the commentaries written later on. One of the commentators Ramakrishna, mentions this in his commentary on Panchadasi.

What makes Swami Vidyaranya special is that he was not just a great saint, but also a great scholar and King-maker. It is indeed very important that we teach our next generation the story of such great people who lived in our country.

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Journey to the Himalayas – an elevating experience

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Journey to the Himalayas Cover Final

Day 1 | Mathematics Explorers

28th March 2015

We start off with a small group of 7 children (aged between 4 to 8 years) and their parents for an explorative approach to discover mathematics through activities and games. The session was meant for parents to observe and see how a child learns. Mathematics Explorers is what I would like to name the group as.

Counting

A certain number of tamarind seeds were given to every parent and they were asked to count them. Most counted one by one, a parent picked up random number of seeds like three or four at a time and kept adding; another parent made groups of three and multiplied the certain number of groups to get the result. The art of counting is very important and it is very difficult to get most children master counting after a certain age. The younger they start, the better they master it.

Multiplication

I generally ask parents and children why we need to learn multiplication tables. The most common answers are:

  • It is useful (How? The question is unanswered but they have accepted blindly that it is useful)
  • It is useful in higher classes (Again the same thing)
  • We can use it to calculate area (But a child of 6 years doesn’t know area…so how do we explain it to them that it can be used in finding the area?)
  • It is asked in the examination
  • Because we have to learn (That’s it!)

The activity of counting is a good opportunity to show children how we can use multiplication and count faster (like the parent who made groups of three). It will also make them realize that multiplication is repeated addition.

While doing this, it is best suggested to take things that the child can touch, feel and take in its hands while counting instead of doing it use a pen and paper. Seeds, shells, coins, pebbles, marbles, the options are innumerable.

Video link: https://youtu.be/_NYWoAdWn8k

Odd & Even

While taking session for middle school students we ask them – What are even numbers? The most common answers are 2, 4, 6, 8 and so on. It takes a time to make them realize that they have answered to a different question (Which are the even numbers). Then we ask, what do you ‘mean’ by even numbers which is generally followed by a silence and a blank look on their faces which can be translated as ‘What is this guy asking?’

In most cases, the concept of even and odd numbers is not taught. It is directly told to children that 2, 4, 6, 8 and similar numbers are even and rest are odd. Reason is not emphasized. Instead, if we can show them what makes a number odd or even they would get a clearer picture of it.

Video link: https://youtu.be/gScdN7CQrOs

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Mathematical games 10-10

10 seeds are placed on the floor in this two-player game. Each player can take away one or two seeds at a time from the pile. Players play by taking turns and the player who finishes last, wins the game. This can be played with kids of 6 years and onwards (even adults). It is a strategic game where one has to discover who has got the winning certainty before we start the game. Initially a child would randomly pick any number of seeds (even adults would), but later he starts analyzing the game. The real advantage of the game is that they start analyzing and foreseeing moves by the other player. As we see children after they have played 8-10 games, they slow down in playing because they take the time to think and play (a very important skill that we can impart to children – Taking a pause to think before acting). Usually, after having played around 20-25 rounds of the game, a child realizes the winning strategy. Some might realize much after 25 rounds but that’s ok…we as parents/teachers need not rush into it or get worried. Patience is the key!

There’s some mathematics to this game. Depending on the number of seeds and who plays first, the fate of the game can be decided. The parents in the session discussed and worked on it till they finally discovered the secret behind the game. Once the kids know the secret behind the game with 10 seeds, we can extend it to 11 seeds or 12 seeds and keep increasing the number. The one who can guarantee winning if given a choice whether he needs to play first or next, has got the essence of the game.

While this game is played with parents, it is generally noticed that some of them tend to get mentally tired of thinking to crack the question. The reason is simple…as a child they might never have gotten the opportunity to persevere something patiently because of which that attitude and capacity of holding only a chain of thoughts that leads to logical reasoning has reduced.

Video link: https://youtu.be/YLbihbNEfKM

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Tips for parents

A true teacher is one who makes the student discover the knowledge on his own without actually teaching them much. Most of us are ‘taught’ and for the same reason we too teach children because we do not know any other way to make them learn. Taking the example of 10-10 to explain the kind of questions we can frame:

  • Where do you think you went wrong (instead of showing them directly where they went wrong)?
  • I’m happy that you got this correct, but had you not taking the number of seeds you took now; do you think you would have won? So, what was the number of seeds that if you would have taken would have made you lose in the game? (This will help the child realize the wrong move he could have made)
  • The above types of questions are called ‘Incisive questions’ which when asked to someone would make them think and get the solution on their own instead of we supplying our solution to their problem. (Source: The Teacher who Taught us to Think)
  • Patience is the key. Education is probably the slowest of all processes. Nothing is achieved fast. More than children, parents and teachers need to be patient and go by the pace of the child. A way a teaching and make or take way the interest of the subject in a child. So next time, do not blame the child.
  • Each one teach one. Learning becomes more effective and strong by teaching.
  • Play with your child as much as you can. It creates a strong bond between both of them and it also gives the parent an opportunity to see how the child is learning.

My learning

This was the first session I had done for such young children (apart from teaching my own son) and I should admit that it didn’t go exactly the same way I had planned. The task to keep the children engaged in an activity was important so that I could have discussions with their parents. The presence of the children was also very important for the parents to learn. Having helping hands to assist the session and a small group made it possible to engage in a two-hour session.

The person who benefitted the most was me. Thanks to all the children.