Monday, October 13, 2014

Explaining God and Mythology to children

My mom used to take me to the temple regularly when I was a child. So it didn't take much to instill the concept of god in me. The job was easy for my mom. My mother reluctantly rewarded me a candy that cost ten paise at that time. She also made sure I earned it. She always went to the Shiva temple instead of the nearby Ganpati temple. The Shiva temple was bigger and well managed. The long walk, the temple pond and the tranquil silence surrounding the sanctum sanctorum occasionally broken by the bells. All these helped with the concept of God and subsequently the belief. It is another matter that growing up thwarted these beliefs. Still I would any day go to the temple because of the silence it offers. You are never able to switch completely off the disturbing chatter until you are in a place of worship. There may be talented people who can accomplish this feat in a noisy place such as a bazaar. Then, they are exceptional. 

The biggest challenge I face right now how to explain God and Mythology it an eight-year-old. Is there a God? Before thousands and thousands of years, did you know what happened? These are the sample questions. When we grew up, there was Ramayana and Mahabharata on Doordarshan. I was surprised to know there is a newer version of Mahabharata in one of the TV channels in India. I consider the TV series created by B R Chopra and his son is timeless. You don't need to shoot it again. You only need to telecast it again. Then, there are other ones like Kailasanathan that incidentally is also my daughter's favorite. I am glad she is getting a fair share of Indian mythology. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult the questions for which I have not found answers yet. Over the years, the stories in Hindu mythology have mutated to distort the original story. The latter day narrators have increased the scale of events, voiced the morals loudly and added sub-plots. How do I tell which is the modern variation against what was written down initially? When we grew up, our first tryst with Mythology was through the TV. It was from Uncle Pai's Amar Chitra Katha books. If you look back, the word "Amar" is so right. I am writing it after 30 years! Isn't that evidence? Even while watching Ramayana and Mahabharata on TV, our reference point was these books. The next Monday, with landlines not achieving the current penetration and our usage strictly monitored, we could discuss these anomalies at school.

Unfortunately, my daughter does not have that reference point. While I am glad she is getting her mythology lessons, I am afraid she is getting a lot of irrelevant subplots.


8 comments:

  1. I totally agree not just kids even grown ups know so less , it makes me feel very bad ��

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    1. I guess there aren't any relevant books for grown ups. I wish there version for grown ups. Not with cartoons like Amar Chitra Katha. But more to read.

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  2. The TV serials tend to give wrong impressions about the myths, I think. They trivialise sometimes, exaggerate at others. But something is better than nothing, perhaps.

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    1. I agree with you. Something is better than nothing. That is why I have no qualms when my daughter watches it. However I wish she had an alternate source for learning this.

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  3. I used to tell stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata to my son when he was only 3/4 years old... it was obviously a simpler version but he did like it...
    As for the existence of God, I tell him that there is one God, one supreme power but there are thousands of incarnations .... I want him to grow his own, independent views about these things along with his maturity... :-)

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    1. It is good to start with simpler versions. As for God, I stay away from that topic. :)

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  4. Aaargh! I tell the same story to my peers!!! Temple visit, long walk, prayer(asking for favors) muttered into your ears while in the sanctum sanctorum.

    Too confusing for me. So for now, I am sticking with the story aspect of these... err... stories...

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    1. On the bright side, it was easier to get to the Shiva temple in Ernakulam. There was a bus stop near by. :)

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