i. BALA VIHAR
VISION OF OUR GURUS
Our children are our joy. No amount of efforts put in or time given to them can be considered enough. Our efforts, however, ought to be in the right direction and the time given must be quality time.
It is found that children reluctantly respond to formal schooling and traditional methods of learning, whereas they are ever ready for games and sports. SO we must see that they imbibe the values in a very loving and joyous atmosphere.
Recognizing this very need, Pujya Gurudev initiated the Bala Vihar classes. Its objectives can be summed up in the following statement:
To help children learn values with fun
To delight like the moon and shine like the sun!
“Shine like the sun” means “shine in one’s own success,” and delight like the moon” means to include others in the joys of life.”
Chinmaya Mission has been conducting the Bala vihar classes around the world for ages between 3 and 18. There was a long- felt need for systematic syllabus to conduct classes efficiently and professionally.
A committee of dedicated Bala Vihar teachers has worked on this project under the commendable leadership of Srimati Darshana Nanavaty, Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Houston, USA. The systematic syllabus helps a child develop a healthy EQ (emotional quotient) for success in material as well as spiritual life. We have several layers in our personality, physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual to name a few. The spiritual personality is one that nourishes all other personality layers, yet in this modern day, we pay very little attention to this vital layer. Our Bala Vihar curriculum concentrates on this and completes the education that a child is getting elsewhere.
Curriculum designed by Swamini Supriyananda, a psychologist trained in Australia and London.
Promotes age appropriate gross and fine motor skills as well as helps parents bond spiritually with their children.
The goal is to teach children:
- Simple values and discipline through the English alphabet
- The fun of living by these values and discipline
- The Chinmaya Mission Pledge, its meaning , message and the value
- Some of the following prayers and their meaning:
▪ Sri Ganesha
▪ Sri Krishna
▪ Sri Rama
▪ Sri Hanuman
▪ Sri Vishnu
The goal of teaching Bala Ramayana to the children is to:
- Narrate the story of Rama, through fun arts & crafts
- Inspire children to be like Rama, through fun activities
- Chant & learn relevant slokas:
The goal of teaching about Sri Hanuman in Grade 2 is to:
- Impart and instill the faith that Sri Hanuman will protect them and dispel their fears
- Inspire them to adopt the virtuous qualities that made Hanumanji great
- Teach them to chant the Dhyana shloka and Hanuman Chalisa
- Explain the meaning of the Dhyana Shloka and Hanuman Chalisa
The goal of the curriculum is to:
- Develop devotion in children
- Create faith and a sense of security within : “if I am good, God will protect me.”
- Teach morals of Bhagwatam stories and relevant stotrams:
The goal of teaching Krsna Krsna Everywhere in Grade 4 is to:
- Inspire children to be virtuous and happy through Krsna stories
- Teach children through projects about values that bring them closer to Krsna
- Inspire children to introspect
- Children will learn to chant some relevant stotrams
The goal of My Twenty- four Teachers in Grade 4 is to teach the children that:
- Who we are and what we know is because our teachers and we are indebted to them
- We learn only when our attitude is proper. Proper attitude makes us a good disciple
- Anyone or anything can be a good teacher, if we have the humility and proper attitude to recognize them
- Nature is one of our greatest teachers and we should learn to respect nature
The curriculum for fifth grade, “India, the Sacred Land”, imparts:
- The knowledge of why India is a Sacred Land and what India stands for
- Reverence for Mother India and her glorious heritage
- An understanding of the goal of life revealed in scriptures and lived by our saints
- Clarity that “Walking the Footsteps of the Saints”, the goal of life can be achieved
The goal of the curriculum, P.O. Box Mr. God is to teach:
- God is Omnipresent, and He is within and without us
- We all can become an address of God, if we assimilate the values described in the chaupais of Sri Ramacaritamanasa
- The meaning and chanting of the relevant chaupais
The goal of “Key to Success” is to teach that:
- Self Knowledge is the Key to Success
- Knowledge we gain depends upon the caliber of our instrument- mind and intellect
- The importance of quietening our mind and intellect to sharpen our instrument
- The way to quieten our mind and intellect, and live by the noble values
- The way to ride the Dharma Chariot, to success and be happy in life
- The meaning and chanting of the relevant chaupais
The goal of teaching Symbolism in Hinduism to children is to:
- Explain the ideal that idols represent
- Explain symbolism of the Hindu deities: Ganesa, Siva, Lord Vishnu, Goddesses, Sri Krsna, and Sri Rama
- Explain the significance of traditional religious festivals attributed to the above deities and celebrate them
- Expose children prayers for each of the Hindu deities
The goal of the curriculum is to teach:
- What is Karma
- Sins to be given up by the body, mind, and speech
- The story of the Mahabharata and characteristics of the main characters
- Morals through thought provoking questions/answers of Yaksha prsana
- What is Dharma?
- How to live by Dharma and succeed in world
- Sanatana Dharma values as given by Manu Bhagwan
- The facts of life and roadmap to success
- How to be the darling of Krsna by living the values given in Chapter XII of the Srimad Bhagawad Gita
- The bhajan and meaning of Vaisnavajana
Through all the above, we explain to children the roadmap to a life of success
The goal of the curriculum is twofold. First, to teach children in 9th grade about Hindu culture and second, to provide a deeper insight into how to live by it to lead a happy life.
Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda proclaimed, “Man’s control of nature external is civilization. His control of nature internal is culture.”
Using the prescription (Sanskaras) given in the Vedas, which form the foundation of Hindu Culture, we will learn to modify our inner behavior and prevent our nature (prakriti) becoming perverted (vikrti). We will learn to focus our attention on the spiritual culture rather than material culture to accomplish the goal of life.
Our Vedas have three sections:
o Karmakanda: Deals with rituals which purify the mind
o Upasanakanda: Describes upasana, practices which cure restlessness of the mind
o Jnanakanda: Described the knowledge of the Self
The goal of life as presented in the Hindu Culture is to gain Self Knowledge, which is the only way to happy forever. Since we all want to be happy, the goal of life for us is Self Knowledge. The way to be happy is to live by the prescription of life as given by Hindu Culture.
The goal of the curriculum is to bring out the salient points of each chapter of the Gita to enable children to the learn the key messages and apply in their life. This is a curriculum that teaches them how to be independent and successful in their journey forward in college and life beyond.
Self Unfoldment : A mudra from India’s Bharata Natyam dance depicts the opening of a blossom. As a blossom unfolds to reveal the beauty hidden within its petals, so also we can experience spiritual unfoldment to reveal the pure, divine Self within.
o The goal of this curriculum is to explore the following questions and more:
o Who am I?
o Where did I come from? Where was I before I was born? Where will I be after I die?
o Why am I sometimes happy, sometimes sad?
o Am I OK as I am, or should I be something else?
o Why does the world sometimes scream at me, sometimes smile at me?
o Does it really make a difference whether I tell a lie or not?
o Why do I always seem to want just a little more than I have?
In exploring the above, the hope is that the students will learn the art of right contact with the world outside as a poet rightly said : “Life is a tragedy to those who feel; life is a comedy to those who think!”