Monthly Archives: September 2013

Slow and Steady – Part 1

 

Story of Stone Soup retold

All great projects start with one stone.

For the last few days Neelam and I have been discussing the future of this blog.  What do we want to do with it?  Should we make any changes?  Is there anyway we can reach more people more quickly?  It’s funny how conversations circle back and forth between us.  So many times she has come to me flustered on a project and I remind her to keep plugging away.  I think it really is true that hard work, if it’s done with direction, usually leads to success.  I have faith that all of Swamiji’s work will pay off.  It’s been a long road for him, and there is a long ribbon of road in front of him till he reaches his next destination.  But he keeps moving forward.  And Neelam reminded me that we need to do that too.  Keep moving forward.  Keep reaching out.  To make her point, she sent me this very sweet story that I’d like to share.  Thank you Neelam for sharing.

Success begets success, meaning when something is working, more people are inclined to join in.

I remember a story that was read to me by one of my professors during my teacher training program. It was called “Stone Soup”. It was about a wanderer who was tired and hungry after a long day on the road. He came upon a little house on the outskirts of a city and knocked on the front door until someone answered.

 

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The advice of my loving Dad.

Love and compassion

Love and compassion

I recently had a conversation with my Dad that I woke up thinking about today.  One evening over dinner he said to me, “Putta (which means “child”) we come into this world alone, and we leave this world alone.  You have to be ready for that eventuality.  The thing to think about is what did you leave behind?  We can’t take our money with us.  What did we do with it when we were here?”

My Dad is an amazing man.  Life was not easy for him at all and he has persevered through the greatest of challenges to create the life he has been able to live.  He understands firsthand what it’s like to have been spared desperation and poverty because of the kindness of others.  He has given his girls an incredible life.  We have grown up always feeling like there was plenty.  But he never wanted us to forget that being kind and generous to those less fortunate than ourselves is very important.  In his mind, in fact, helping others in need is an imperative.  It feeds one’s soul, makes the world a better place, and keeps us humble.  I am so grateful for my Dad’s insights and constant reminders to be kind and compassionate.  I hope I can be an inspiration to others the same way he has been to me.

Hope, Love, Optimism. It’s the only way to affect change.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
by Jack Layton

I wrote a post the other day that has left me feeling so sad.  I took on this project with the hope that I could get the word out there about ways to educate the poor in India.  But sometimes I read things that make the problem seem so big.  I know every single little bit helps, so we have to keep doing things.  Every little step will lead to big change.  But I wish I could affect more lives, more dramatically, much sooner.  We all do the best we can, I know.  We all have our own issues to deal with, I know that’s true for me.  But I still wish we could affect change faster.

This morning I was feeling hopeless.  So I did a search for some inspiration.  I found the quote above.  It’s a good one.  It reminds me that we all just need to keep doing what we can to create the world we want.  Every little bit helps.  And for me personally, I need to just keep on keeping on.

Does this quote speak to you?  Tell me how.

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The children are our mission far away.

children in IndiaWonder

I am the star of wonder

your light in the dark,

your mission far away,

getting brighter as you get better.

I am the dolphin in the sea,

I sing, I dance for joy.

I am the dragon that takes you away to your future,

our future, everyone’s future.

No more life, no more outside wonder, unless you

let me lead you, lead you in a song of simpleness,

a song of nature,

let me lead you.

I am the rainbow bird that sings you a song,

that sings of happiness and celebration.

- Catherine

6th grade

Isn’t this so true?  They are our wonder, our light, our dragon, our rainbow bird.  They are our future.  Without children there is no future, no hope for a better world.  If we don’t provide for them and give them the tools they need to succeed, who will lead us into the future?  Who will shape our world?  Who will make the world a better place for those who suffer?  I absolutely love this poem because it reminds us of how important it is for us to support children in their growth.  And it is written by a sixth grader!  I love that too.

Does this poem inspire you?  Tell me how.

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Why are girls in India not getting the education they deserve?

A poor girl's prayer

I read an article today that so deeply touched the rage inside of me about how women are treated in India, I had to share a part of it.  The full discussion can be found in the article “Why girls in India are still missing out on the education they need?” 

This article brings up many valid and often horrifying points.  I would like to discuss one of the comments posted below the article.  A very astute Indian man posted:

Why do so many girls in India so often miss out on getting the education to which they have a Constitutional right?

From the many causes he lists, I’d like to focus on just a few.  He states the reasons as:

– Because the fathers of our girls do not want their daughters to get ‘ideas’ above themselves and then start to demand rights – like further education – that they know girls should not receive;

Me: If a girl demands her rights men can’t treat them like chattel.  They can’t rape them as they please.  They can’t control them.  Wouldn’t that be terrible for those poor men!

– Because for instance fathers know that their girls should stay at home and learn to cook and clean for men;

Me: If a girl cannot cook and clean, no one will want to marry her, and then her parents will be responsible for her for her entire life.  No parent wants that!  They don’t even consider the possibility that an educated girl would be valued.

– Because girls should not get the dangerous idea that they are equal to the boys at home;

Me: If a girl sees herself as equal to boys, she won’t treat the boys with as much respect as they demand and will not be as easily overpowered by them.

-Because our men believe it is their God-given right to rape women – and an education may make our girls question this right;

Me:  Need I add anything here?  Let me just say, this makes me want to scream.

The Indian culture is a patriarchal one in which the men do not want to see anything change.  Of course not.  Things are working for them.  But can we stand by and allow that kind of treatment of women to continue?  Can we continue to allow girls in India to be denied the benefits of an education?

I can’t stand that prospect.  I ache for children, both boys and girls, to learn about “modern” attitudes.  I want them all exposed to the education that can lead to a better world for all of them. We can’t make fathers send their girls to school, but we can do everything possible to make schooling more accessible to and safe for those girls.  Then some will go to school.  As more girls get schooling, there will be more pressure on parents to get schooling for their girls.  And if that education is accessible, even more girls will get educated.  It’s a slow process, but we must start somewhere.  If we don’t start, nothing will ever change.  Please help in the education of the underprivileged in India.  Help us move towards a better world, one child at a time.

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Why is education for women so important?

old woman in india

Why is education for women so important?  For a country whose population of women alone is more than the total population of many other countries, India ranks low where the treatment of women is concerned. The number of sexual abuse and domestic violence cases against women clearly shows that women in India do not enjoy even basic human rights. In this scenario, what can be done?

It is a well-established fact that education for girls, as well as for boys, is the only true long-term solution to any problem this huge.  Education exposes children to different thoughts and beliefs.  They learn to think for themselves, and decide for themselves what is right or wrong.  It helps them get out of the clutch of currently accepted social norms so they can set new standards for themselves and for their children.

And educated girl will grow up to be a woman who understands that there are other ways of living than those her mother was forced to endure. An educated boy will learn to treat all people with respect.  It is through education that men learn to treat women as equals.  It is through the perspective of people other than their parents that children learn about new ways of life.

This is why education is so important for the future of any country.  Education charities can play a vital role in the country’s development.  One such charity is Badarikashram.  Through this organization children in rural India receive schooling, at least one meal a day, and the medical services they need. Your help will go a long way to further the movement towards fair treatment of women in India through education.  For more information on your many donation options with Badarkishrama, please go to:

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The Uneducated Epidemic in India Today

scavenging

There is an uneducated epidemic going on in India today.  Did you know that Indian government reports show that fifty-nine million children between the ages of six and fourteen years old do not go to school? Official information also shows that only a little over one-third of all children who enroll in first grade ever reach eight grade. Can you believe this is in a country which has made education for children in the age group of six to fourteen years a fundamental right?

Do these numbers startle or concern you?  If so, consider donating online for the education of poor children in India. Education for children is the key to a bright future of any country, and thus education charities can potentially play a vital role in the country’s development.  One such charity is Badarikashram.  Through this organization children in rural India receive schooling, at least one meal a day, and the medical services they need. Your help will go a long way to provide educational opportunities for children who would otherwise be left behind.  For more information on your many donation options with Badarkishrama, please go to

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A mothers love – Krishna and Yashoda

Krishna and Yashoda

Krishna’s relationship with his adopted mother, Yashoda, is a shining example of the
ideal love that should exist between a mother and her child. Krishna’s pranks frustrated
Yashoda incessantly, but they also enchanted her. Yashoda’s reprimands were stern,
but Krishna found them to be music to his ears. Because at the end of the day, Krishna
always found himself wrapped securely in his mother’s arms as she sang to him and rocked him to sleep.

Sleep my lovely moonchild; sleep, my prince.
The sleep-fairies are here, wearing anklets on their feet.
On their soft wings they will waft you away
Far from this earth, somewhere across the seven seas,
Amidst distant skies, is the world of dreams…
Come to the world of dreams, come;
For a stroll in a country of gold.

Give us wings. We want to fly

Children, like butterflies, want to fly

“We want to fly 
give us the wings
Give us love, hope, education
and proper direction
and we will fly high like a butterfly”

I believe this is how children are.  They are like butterflies and they want to fly.  All over the world every child wants a chance to be the best person they can be.  Love, education, food, and medical care can give them the chance they are looking for.  We are so lucky here in the United States.  Our children are provided education for free.  No matter how rich or poor, there is a place for them to go to learn and get at least lunch.  That’s not true in many parts of the world.  Many children don’t get the chance to grow their minds.  They go malnourished and their basic medical needs aren’t met.  There are many organizations in the world to help solve these problems.  Thank goodness for the kindness of people.  Choose one you love and offer them what help you can.  Let’s do something to give the future minds of our planet hope and the ability to be the best people they can be.  They want to fly, let’s give them wings.

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An Introduction to Lord Krishna

Mischievous baby Krishna stealing butter.

Mischievous baby Krishna stealing butter.

Lord Krishna was the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  He is the epitome of divine love and joy, and destroys all pain and sin.  He is said by many to have been born to establish a religion of love.

He was born to Devaki, the sister of the cruel King Kamsa.  To read more about his birth please go HERE.

Krishna was brought up in a cow herd family and had a great love for his adopted mother Yashoda.  Their relationship is a perfect example of the depth of love between a mother and her child.  Krishna loved to play the flute to entertain all those around him, including the cows.  He was also very mischievous and teased his mother and the milkmaids of Vrindavan incessantly.  He would steal milk and butter, free the cows at milking time, and hide the clothes of girls as they bathed in the river.  Little Krishna wasn’t just easing simply out of fun.  He wanted to clear the ignorance of all by teaching them not to be so attached to material things and instead to focus on God.  Material things come and go, especially when he himself is around.  Because of his playful way of teaching his message, Lord Krishna is known as the deity of Hasya, or Humor.