Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hindu Sweets

Recently, in my class, we did our annual study of comparative religion. Since the state changed the curriculum a few years ago, we no longer have much time to devote to the five major religions (chosen by number of followers). Therefore, we are forced to spend just one day on each.

We find that even this small amount of time gives kids enough perspective to better understand the history we are trying to teach. We also find that by teaching religions up front, we get less complaining (but that's another blog post) when the subject comes up in our history lessons.

Anyhow, we were about half way through our week of religions when we came to our study of Hinduism. A significant part of our lesson is a short video featuring young people talking about their religious beliefs and traditions. We saw the festival of Divali in particular including all the lights and a table full of sweets. After the video was over, we discussed it as a group.

Someone mentioned the sweets and I said "Oh yes, Indian sweets are wonderful, and I'll have to visit the Indian bakery and bring some in sometime." Now sitting in the front row of this class is a little girl who had not yet spoken. In fact, she has not done much speaking since the school year began. However, when she heard me say this, she raised her hand and said in her sweet Indian accent "Mrs. X! Mrs. X! I am a Hindu! I have sweets!"

It turns out that she is very excited to share some of her culture with her classmates in the form of goodies. It also turns out that her mom is a very talented cook. We then discussed a time when she might be allowed to bring in such goodies. Not to be outdone, three of the Jewish students (there are several) also piped up to talk about religiously-themed sweets.

In very short order, we had organized a class "culture" day where anyone can bring a food that is somehow tied to their heritage or religion. Nothing too perishable of course (cookies? yes beef dumplings? not so much). I'm lucky that my school doesn't have a "no home-cooked food" rule. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

1 comment:

Isa das said...

Muslim Hindu Christian Jewish Peace Plan
By William Glick
www.equalsouls.org (The Jewish Hindu Dialogue)

The desire to bring peace to the world is most likely the inner
mood of most of us today. To-do that we need to come to a
common understanding of religious terminology and beliefs.

For example most of us have no idea that the name Allah comes
from the Hebrew letter Alef, our A, in the English alphabet.
This simple point contains enough information for every
Christian, Jew and Hindu to accept Allah as a name of God.

I will explain further, in the "Old Testament" which Jewish
people call the 5 books of Moses, God explains that He is the
beginning to the end. This same idea is expressed in the New
Testament. Revelation 22:13, I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. This
English usage of Alpha is based on the Hebrew Alef. Also in
the Hindu (Vedic) scripture, Bagavad Gita, Krishna says "of
letters I am A."

Has God sent so many messengers each with a different
message? Is He sitting in the Garden of Eden laughing at us?
I think not! We have twisted His message based on our own
material desire, creating our own Hell on Earth.

The objection we find from our Muslim brothers today comes
from the desire to bring the world back to God and His ways.
We find this mood in our Jewish-Christian tradition also.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

This lack of discipline, this foolish rush of insane
materialism is what every deeply religious person objects to,
no matter which faith he or she is coming from. We can take
good example from our Amish brothers and Hindu (Vedic) sages.

An error of modern society and religion is to identify the
body as the self. The Bhagavad-Gita clearly explains that we
should see and accept the spiritual essence (the soul) of
each living being as spiritually equal. There it is said,
"The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with
equal vision a learned and gentle Brahman, a cow, an
elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcast]."
[Bagavad Gita 5.18]

How does the learned sage see every living entity with equal
vision? He sees the spirit soul within the heart of each of
God's creations. He understands that although living forms
may appear different, those appearances are only the external
coverings of the soul, and that spiritually we are all equal.

A careful analysis shows that all problems result from our
first mistake of identifying the body as the self. If we
identify ourselves by race, religion and ethnic group we will
then suffer or enjoy the results of that identity, but the
fact is we are spiritually equal and the bodily identity that
we accept is both temporary and insignificant compared to our
eternal spiritual identity. We suffer due to birth, disease,
old age and death; we need not identify with the body, which
is being afflicted by these difficulties.

If everyone understood and acted on the level of the soul
rather than the body, the world's problems would practically
cease. Understanding the difference between matter and
spirit, and that God is the controller of all things, is the
essence of knowledge.

It is natural that when we become overwhelmed by
difficulties, we become aware of our dependence on God.
Unfortunately, due to our deep attachment to materialism, we
are drawn to perceive religion in much the same manner, as we
perceive ordinary social activities. That is, we become
attached to identifying with the external or social side of
religion, while we forget its essence-loving service to God.

Our modern use of the word religion, expresses an external
alterable faith, while the Sanskrit word dharma, implies an
internal or essential eternal relationship with God. Our
religion or faith can change but the soul's relationship with
God is eternal. For example, I may claim that I am a
Christian today, but I may adopt the practices of a Hindu or
of a Jew tomorrow. However, whatever faith you my follow, the
essence of that faith is loving service to God.

We must understand that our Muslim brothers and sisters who
have come to understand the true message of Allah accept all
of us as children of God based on this verse from the Koran.
2.62: Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and
the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah
and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward
from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall
they grieve.

We should also understand that as a nation, nay as a human
race if we do not come to follow God's laws and develop our
love for Him and His creation, our future is all too clear.

For Our Lord says: Isaiah 46: I make known the end from the
beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say:
My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

Thank You and God's Blessings
William Glick www.equalsouls.org