Teaching My Baby To Read

Bhagavad-gita for Children

Bruce and I are embarking on my SLE inspired reading list for children by starting off with one of the most ancient religious texts of all times, the Bhagavad-gita. Our family belongs to the United Methodist church, so introducing Hinduism to my six year old might seem a bit odd. But the motto of my church is “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors”, and this is something that the Bardsley household tries to follow. We have enough confidence in our own beliefs to boldly explore onward with our children! (But not Jenna yet. She’d be too confused.)

Here are the Learning Goals for my SLE Inspired Reading List:

  • Understand that people from other countries, cultures and religious traditions might have different core beliefs and thoughts about the world than we do.
  • Identify, explore and evaluate those beliefs, and consider how they influence action and practice.
  • Become well versed in Greek mythology, and understand the connection between ancient stories and the Western values we prize today in the modern world.

Here are the Values I would like Bruce to take Away From the Bhagavad-gita

  • Respect for creation
  • Respect for life
  • Understanding that the essence of your being, or soul, is separate and distinct from the shape, age or condition of your body

The Primary Concept I would like Bruce to Understand after Reading the Bhagavad-gita

  • Reincarnation. Our family does not personally believe in reincarnation, but many people and cultures do.

There weren’t many options for books about the Bhagavad-gita for children, and perhaps there are better choices out there, but I purchased Our Most Dear Friend: An Illustrated Bhagavad-gita for Children because the price was right!

This is not a book about Hinduism for Western children, this seems to be a book by Hindus, for Hindus. That doesn’t really disturb me however. The book binding itself was quite horrible and I needed to reinforce part of it with mailing tape after just one reading. But if you can get past that part, the book is pretty neat. The pictures vary from beautiful, to bizarre, to beautifully bizarre. Major concepts about the sanctity of life and soul are clearly explained in a child appropriate way.

We have only done our first reading of the Bghagavad-gita together, and I’m not exactly sure where we are going to go from here. My SLE inspired paradigm quickly breaks down without a section group of 20 Stanford students to discuss and analyze the text! I think we are going to try out reading the book at bedtime this week for starters. My other ideas include checking out more books about India from the library, spending a week eating vegetarian, and breaking out our Yoga Pretzel cards on a daily basis for three consecutive weeks.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions, (especially if you are Hindu)!

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5 Comments

  1. Naren says:

    Not sure how old is this post. But there is Gita for kids at below link:

    http://www.gita-society.com/childrengita.pdf

  2. Sujata says:

    I congratulate you on your teaching Gita to your kid at this young age. I am a hindu and I believe that Bhagavad gita is a personality development classic and not a religious text. Your son is going to be one balanced, focussed great man and the woman behind his achievements will be you!

  3. Shashi Kumar says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    I sincerely admire the value expressed by your Church motto and your efforts to live by it. I also appreciate your core belief of respecting other people and their religion. Kindly try the link that follows for some understanding on Hinduism http://www.iep.utm.edu/hindu-ph/.
    The third value that you have listed for Bruce is an attempt to answer the fundamental question that Hinduism searches for – Who am I? Some of the principles that Bhagvad Gita elucidates are:
    1. The Supreme (God) is both transcend and immanent in Universe (Creation or Nature or Prakiti). The Universe comes from the Supreme, subsists in the Supreme, and will go back to the Supreme. The Supreme is ever complete irrespective of the status of the Universe.
    2.The Universe exists because of the creative power of the Supreme called Maya. The Universe is real and yet unreal.
    3. The Soul is of the nature of the Supreme, and this body is a part of Prakriti. All action happens in Prakriti because of the interaction of its three modes called Gunas. The principle by which the Soul all actions happening in the body to itself is called Ahamkara. Because of this it is in bondage.
    4. Once the soul realises its distinction it becomes free and escapes this cycle of birth and death. In the words of The Bible-You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

    For a deeper understanding of The Bhagvad Gita please read The Bhagavadgita by S. Radhakrishnan. It is a little heavy stuff and may need considerable and sustained effort. I am a Hindu and I have been reading it for two decades and I still feel that I am a fresher. Maybe you would have better chance.

    Best wishes to you and your family
    Shashi Kumar

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