24 May 2013

Koorma Jayanthi

Today is an important day in the Hindu calender. It was on this day that Shree Mahaa Vishnu took avatar as Koorma and protected Vedas (Hindu scriptures) from demons during Churning of the Ocean. During the process, Shree Shiva drank the poison that emerged in the churning in the beginning, to protect all creations of The Almighty. Shiva contained the poison in his throat and that is why He is also known as Neela Kanta (Kanta meaning throat and Neela meaning poison).

Sculptural depiction of Churning of the Ocean can be seen not only in Hindu temples in India but also in many countries such as Cambodia in South East Asia with strong religious, economic and cultural ties dating back to 12 century A.D. Let me leave you with a photograph of Angkor Wat, one of the most important remnants of history, built by king Suryavarman II in Siem Riep province of Cambodia, during his regime from 1112 to 1152 A.D . It was basically built and worshiped as a temple of Shree Mahaa Vishnu on a 500 acres land. Those who have visited this UNESCO heritage site would have seen wall sculptures that depict scenes from Hindu scriptures. These sculptures include Churning of the Ocean and Koorma Avathaara.

Angkor Wat


23 May 2013

Nrusimha Jayanthi

Today is a very important day in the Hindu calender and is celebrated as Nrusimha Jayanthi. It was on this day when Shree Mahaa Vishnu took avataar as Shree Nrusimhaa to kill the demon king Hiranyakashipu and protect the king's son `Shree Prahlaada', one of the greatest devotees of Shree Mahaa Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu didn't believe when Prahlaada said that Shree Vishnu shines in each and every object including the pillar nearby. When the demon king kicked the pillar out of anger, Shree Mahaa Vishnu emerged immediately in his ferocious form as Nrusimha, plucked Hiranyakashipu, placed him on his laps, tore him, killed him instantly thereby establishing good over evil.

Though Shree Mahaa Vishnu never needed to come from His Abode in Vaikuntaa to planet Earth to kill Hiranyakashipu, it is said that He did so to prove what Prahlaada had always said. In other words, His Almighty proved that his devotee's faith was well founded.    

21 May 2013

Stories for children

Though many people call themselves as `story tellers' for children and market their stories flamboyantly, any adult with reasonable sense of judgement would find that many of these stories are junk.

I view it not as a phenomenon confined to any one community or nation, but as a common infection affecting the world at large. (A few years back, a children's novel written by a South Africa based female writer of British origin gained international popularity. As with most novels in the Western hemisphere, a wide range of multimedia versions of the novel followed. I have seen many of my colleagues and friends taking pride that their children liked the material.  Not many people would have known that the ideas contained in the novel were copied from ancient Indian texts and were not the author's own).

This morning's `Young World'  supplement of THE HINDU newspaper as usual contained a few stories and the usual marketing stuff from the so called `child - friendly' material development companies (about some of which I have mentioned in my previous posts). 

Sometimes we judge about a person from what people say without realizing that these people may have projected a wrong or exaggerated image of the person.

It is common knowledge that when some information about someone keeps spreading from one person to another, fabrication etc. get into the communication channel, depending upon how good or bad are the people involved in spreading the information.

We may sometimes find that our value judgement about a person is wrong once we get to know about the person from our own experience instead of simply believing what others say.

Two stories published in today's Young World reflect this fact excellently. The first one (`Doosra') outlines how Uncle Patnaik's skewed notion about shoe-shine boys gets straightened. The second one (`Mayuri Express') shows how Ankita's pre-conceived notion about her step-mother turns out to be wrong. Interestingly, these stories illustrate that people of any age can form wrong perceptions about others.

After reading the above two stories, I couldn't help reading Nimi Kurien's Just a taste of honey. But to be honest, I could understand neither the content nor what the writer tries to convey. (If this is the case with a professional with near native competence in English, I wonder how it will be to children). I think that it is important for people like Nimi Kurien to empathize with prospective readers, set clear objectives and write in simple English so that the story is not only interesting but also meaningful in the fullest sense. If they can't do these, it is better not to write.

Any story for children should contain a moral for children to follow. Otherwise, the material would be nothing but trash.     

I wish Ramendra Kumar and Rachna Chhabria write more such stories and if possible, get them published as books so that numerous children (and adults) can derive the benefit.

12 May 2013

Shree Parashuraama Jayanthi

Today is an important day in the Hindu calender. This is the day when Shree Mahaa Vishnu took avataar as Parashu Raamaa during threthaa yuga

07 May 2013

Good books: A gateway to goodness

Today is the birth anniversary of Dr Rabindranath Tagore. I remember my first reading about him in my maternal grandfather's study way back in the '60s when I was in middle school. In fact my interest in literature was to some extent sparked by reading good books in my grandfather's study which was as neatly kept and used as any good library of those days. My grandfather was a voracious reader and had a vast collection of books by writers from around the world.

Whenever we visited his house during holidays, I never missed the sweet smell of old books and the opportunity to read good books of my choice. I liked reading novels by Mark Twain as they were very much like travelogues and gave an insight into hardships faced by African folk employed to work in plantations in the Mississippi region during the colonial era.

Good books are golden. Today's children need to read good books so that they can grow as good adults. It is a moral obligation on the part of schools to provide a wide range of good books for all children to read.

02 May 2013

Shree Varaaha Jayanthi

Hindus celebrate today as Shree Varaaha Jayanthi. This was the day when His Almighty Shree Mahaa Vishnu incarnated in the form of a gigantic boar and rescued the Earth from the demon Hiranyaakshaa.

01 May 2013

Coffee, Culture and CNN

Whenever possible, I never miss my favorite TV programs, one of which is the half hour `Inside Africa' telecast by CNN. Such programs go a long way in changing the wrongly held negative perception among people in general, about Africa. 

This afternoon's program featured immigrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia settled in Portland, Oregon. This program was of special interest to me as I worked in Ethiopia in 1982-83.

The program reminded me of the delicious `Injera', an Ethiopian national dish (prepared very much like the South Indian `Dosa') and different brews of Ethiopian coffee (about which I have mentioned in one of my previous posts). I remember how I and Sebastian (Sebastian Perumcheril John), used to be invited by our local friends to their `coffee ceremony'. Sebastian and I taught Chemistry and Physics respectively in a secondary school in Endaselassie, a rural area in the Tigrai region of Ethiopia. We were thankful to Ethiopian coffee and cordiality.

Sebastian and I (wearing a local hat) with a friend's child  
Well coming back to the TV program, it is amazing to see the high level of pride these people from Ethiopia and countries in Africa have for their culture and traditions and to know how they like to keep their traditions sustained in an alien land. (I have seen Indians of Gujarati origin at almost similar attitudinal levels when teaching in South Africa, in the late '80s and early '90s).

About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.