My Experience with Gita and Children
- Ashwini Surpur
Eight little children began their study of Gita Shlokas.
A month later, they were chanting the shlokas comfortably
Two months later, little Ankita chanted on the radio with all devotion and confidence.
Three months later, they were participating in the Gita shloka competition.
By the end of six months, their pronunciation, their confidence, their patience to sit down for 45 mins at a stretch and their focus to learn had tremendously improved and the parents were beaming with pride.
1. Gita chanting is a great stepping stone for children's future connection with their culture.
2. Even if they rebel during their teenage and they seem to not care, if they have chanted and memorized in the childhood, it all comes back later.
3. Shloka chanting, in general, improves their memory and concentration, thereby making them better students at school. Chanting also improves their voice culture and their overall lung capacity improves.
4. Group learning further instills pride in their culture and they develop a community like minded peers.
5. Sanskrit language has pronunciations such as Maha Pranas that stimulate nadis and chakras, enhancing the overall health of the child.
Kids learn better if their parents learn too. So we ask for parents' participation. For those who cannot be part of the class due to other commitments, we send them regular emails regarding the shloka numbers to practice at home. We teach an average of six shlokas every month. We conduct a test at the beginning of the every month and the kids that chant all the shlokas get a discount on their fees. Even though discount is for the parents, the kids are excited that they saved money for their parents!
Moral from Gita
The kids listen to the stories of Krishna's divinity, Arjuna's dedication, Bhima's strength, Yudhishtira's righteousness and most of all, they get to pretend to be pandavas near Yaksha's lake where they have to answer Yakhsa's questions before they can drink water from the lake. The questions range from characters in Mahabharata to meanings to Sanskrit words such as Ahimsa, Satya, jnana, etc.
My most exciting experience is our Gita competition. We decided to participate in Chinmaya mission Gita competition just about 6 weeks before the actual test date. I and my fellow teacher, Madhavi were nervous. We were teaching the 4th chapter, but the test was about the 10th chapter. We shifted gears, announced the competition and fiercely started practicing. Pronunciation was particularly important to win the competition. Being born and brought up in America, most of the kids did not know how to pronounce Maha Pranaas and were not familiar with Sanskrit words, leave alone Sandhis and how to pronounce anuswaras and visargas. It was an awesome experience for me to see them pick up the subtle pronounciations and how they improved day by day.
The enthusiasm with which teachers and parents taught, children learned and the entire group's healthy competition was rewarding to the brim. I could not ask for better reward.
With only 5 weeks of preparation, our kids aced the competition. Little Ankita, with all her sincerity, devotion and perseverence made it to the second prize!
Kudos to the kids and Kudos to the parents, teachers and Kudos to Bhagavad Gita and all its grandeur!
font size="-1">Ashwini Surpur is a Director, Yoga Therapy program at Yoga Bharati. She lives in Bay Area.