Monthly Archives: February 2012

Writing for kids- Challenging?

Writing for kids- Challenging?

Really challenging

The present generation is a very smart and discerning brood. Boredom sets in within the blink of an eye and interest levels come and go at light speed. They want everything to be done in a jiffy, toddlers to adolescents alike. With studies, they can barely wait to finish a chapter, the last few sums remain unsolved forever, yet they are over confident and feel that they know everything like the back of their palm. Forget studies, even enjoyment and fun are in a very hurried state. They rush from one game to the other, one puzzle takes two extra minutes and they lose interest. They read a thriller backwards! They want to know the end first and then read the whole book. What exactly should we write about, so that the children stay interested, is maybe the million dollar question to be asked.

Secondly, Television plays the biggest truant and is the toughest competitor in a child’s world. Everything revolves around the television, everything is available on the television, and everything is taught on and learnt through the very same television these days. With this menace holding the centre stage every other form of recreation, learning and entertainment has the fear of falling short of expectations. Parents are so tired of seeing their children becoming couch potatoes, they are encouraging them to go out and play, any physical sport to expend their energies or they enroll them into some extra-curricular class to keep the child busy, occupied and away from the darn television sets.

Last but not the least, the area of interest is so diverse these days that to be able to write for children it becomes imperative that you really know children and what their likes and dislikes are. Picturesque books are accepted for one segment and yet another will want an educational kind, or maybe a science fiction. The parents may be keen to see their children read the mythological tales, the books and comic strips they grew up reading. It requires great imagination and creativity on the part of the author to correctly cater to their recreational needs. Moreover, the parents will want to see some morals and learning in each tale, otherwise the book holds no appeal or value for them. The affect needs to be positive; and also appeal to the child and parent both! It needs to something different, unique, not belonging to the mundane world. It must engage the fantasies of the child and yet and keep the child and the parent happy and satisfied. The writer will definitely have to have a very lucid imagination and enter deftly into the child’s world and be the child and the parent in the same breath. The book must have a world which can be drawn in the mind of the child; a very impossible thing for an adult to conjure; not to forget the persisting enigma.

your book being read!

Few tips to overcome the challenges

In the above scheme of events and happenings the habit of reading itself is fast becoming obsolete. The genre of parents’ that encourage reading or the children who are avid readers are in the antique segment verging on the extinct levels. With the scales dipping heavily in the author’s disfavor, it is definitely a challenge writing for kid’s these days. The readers are a mere handful ;to write something which keeps them enraptured, interested and longing to continue to read is a Himalayan task. Most of the fiction available in the market today are a onetime read and throw kind. If the author is being repeated it is purely because of suspense or a gripping mystery yet to be solved and being carried over in a sequel. These books are devoid of any value learning and offer out and out entertainment alone. How to keep the curiosity juices flowing and also add some value and learning with every new reading is a tricky task.

Am sharing the few tricks of the trade to stay on course and also win the race with self confidence and persistent efforts. There is a very famous saying, ‘Monkey see monkey do’, and this is exactly what the writer may have to do for sometime in order to become the next J.K.Rowling. First pick the age group that interests or tickles your writer’s instincts; it maybe in the age group of 2 to 6 or 7 to13 or even 13 to18, whichever is ideal to the writer’s comfort level. Writing styles for all the three age groups varies accordingly; from the content, design outlay to the pictures in the book. Once you have picked your group of interest, spend as much time as possible with them, observe them, their interest, mannerisms and the flow of conversation in that group. Peruse the successful books in that genre and try and summarize the common thread in all these books. This abets in inspiring the writer and a surge of ideas come. The writer also fathoms the fiction and non-fiction group and with which the writer is more comfortable. If any extra skills need to be honed for this purpose then that should be the next step for the writer to be. Since parents are the ones who buy the books for their children it is advisable to be conversant with the interest of the parents also. Some are very articulate about what they want their offspring to read and possess as a collection. This tit bit information enhances the chances of success for the writer. A writer may wish to rewind and dwell upon his/her childhood days and analyze what piqued their curiosity at that age. And what changes have occurred from then to now, the same fairy tale yet with robotic clothes maybe! Don’t allow a few rejections to bog you down. It is a big world and each receives their share of the sunshine.

Simply believe in yourself. As any wise person would say and believe, ‘For a willing heart even the impossible becomes possible.’ Similarly, for a person who wishes to write for children; writes in a way that the children relate to the author and the books are read and collected too, Harry Potter is the biggest example. So, success as a children’s book writer is still virtuosity, challenging though it may be. But again, what is the fun in achieving without a few challenges on the road to success, right?

Obedience

Obedience

mentor-child

Indian, Hindu tradition and culture has a repertoire of incidents that highlight the quality of obedience in a Guru-Disciple or a Parent- child relationship. Parashuram, the great sage was asked by his father to cut off the head of his mother. The sage, unquestioningly, picked his and with one stroke severed his mother’s head! The father is pleased with the son’s obedience and grants a boon. The dutiful, loving son immediately asks for his mother’s life! And she is alive again. This has a happy ending, there is another story of Guru Dronacharya and his disciple Ekalavya, where the ending is detrimental to the disciple yet the shishya does the guru’s bidding unquestioningly.

Dronacharya asks for Ekalavya’s right thumb finger to be chopped off as fees of tutorship! This would have resulted in Ekalavya never being able to use the bow and arrow to perfection! The very training he received from his guru would be lost if he gave away his thumb. Yet the disciple did exactly that.

In another story of Karna and his Guru Parashuram; Parashuram curses his disciple of amnesia when the time to use his learning’s really arose. He trained Karna to become best archer, the best swordsman, the best mace fighter, invincible totally with expert knowledge of all the tricks needed and the moves to be made at the nick of time to be able to win a losing battle, yet all would be forgotten when he really needed to use these skills. Karna walked away sad, accepting the curse unquestioningly, knowing very well that all the years training was lost.

Innumerable though they are in number all convey a very simple truth and a singular message, obedience and love towards the guru and for the Parents. In those days, in this particular relationship, nothing was ever cross questioned. If the relationship demanded absolute faith and obedience; it was nurtured so, with faith and obedience.

Ekalavya

Flying high with guidance

today

With times this has changed dynamically. We as parents encourage the curious mind, want our children to question everything and feel proud to have an inquisitive progeny. At school too this is seen as a good attribute and teachers appreciate such children. Where the dark cloud starts to loom large is when the child at a very early age starts to feel omniscient and shuts his/her ears to all advice or suggestions. The seed of arrogance has been watered and fed over the years and is now a full grown fruit bearing tree. We ourselves forgot to teach the child humility and love, we were in awe of the inquisitive mind and since during our growing up years we never asked questions (we dared not!) we wanted our children to ask, be bold, and even break a few rules, which we thought were orthodox or needless. We wanted our children to grow up free, independent and confident, in stark contrast to our so called rule ridden regimen which we were saddled with and felt suffocated living it. What we fail to understand is, with all those rules we managed to rebel and yet walk the right path. And this generation, with all the leeway given, everything offered on a platter seems to go astray. They have long stopped listening to us, seem to think very little of our values and customs, find us rigid, unyielding and the list can go on.

Where did we go wrong? We simply left out the obedience and faith part, unknowingly or just so that we can give our children we could not have, we have dropped the axe, very hard, on our own feet. We rebelled a little when we were young and inadvertently passed it on to our kids exponentially. Kites do fly freely in the sky but the ones that fly the highest are always steered with the thin rope held firmly in the hands of the kite flyer. A kite left free to fly in any direction usually ends tangled and torn on some branch. The flyer knows in which direction to steer and just the exact length of the rope that needs to be released. The kite flies free, high, disciplined and with the faith that the other end of the rope is in safe hands.

The parents’ should decide for themselves when and where to draw the line. The guru disciple relationship is still very relevant, we have let it slip by and it is for us to re-enforce it. Then the child was sent to a Gurukul or the present day boarding school, the whole upbringing revolved around obedience, discipline, faith and love. Now we do have boarding schools but the premise for sending them there is very different. Schools, with the teacher as the Guru and families, with the parents as the first guru, revolve around their social strata, today. I am no one to comment on what is right and what is wrong; it is for the parents to discern what is right for them and how they should mould their children.

Fat? am I really?

Fat? am I really?

Then-

Like everyone else I also used to try and stay thin or shed the excess weight, I thought I had gained. My better half is also on the round side, so both of us have left nothing to chance. You name it and we have tried it. He keeps experimenting with Yoga, then regularly going to the gymnasium for exercising, try Atkinson’s diet, leave smoking, alcohol for 3month tenure, totally avoid carbohydrate intake, I am forgetting what else he has tried. Unfortunately, the result has always been the same. He loses barely 5-10 kilos then he relaxes and is in no time fighting the battle of bulge again. This has been so for the last 16 years of my married life. These days he is battling with himself to get a surgery done or joining the VLCC slimming program. Apart for the smoking and alcohol, which I luckily don’t indulge in, even I have participated in the rest of the mad regime along with my better half.

As a child I used to be very chubby; not just chubby, I almost bordered on obesity. My mother could barely carry me for 8-10 minutes at a stretch. After that her arm used swell and she would be forced to put me down. When we used to visit or meet someone new, the visitors always used to guess my age wrong. When I was 6 months I used to look almost 9-10 months and weighed about 12kilos already! I was born some 4-25kgs and looked a 2+ month baby on that day. As I grew up I realized that I was doomed to be a fat, no, a pleasantly plump woman. This never bothered me though. I used happily eat clarified butter and luxuriate in rich food. Growing up to be a fat woman was a long way ahead and I was not going to spoil my childhood trying to lose weight. During my growing up years I used to fall sick, lose weight, then eat like glutton become round again. Looking thin was a mere dream for me. I did put in a lot of effort to stay just that, nice and chubby, till I got married.

Fat me

chubby baby

now

Then, I had to undergo two surgeries; both my kids are C-section babies. Both the times I put on a lot of weight (10-15 kilos) and both times, by the time the kids completed their first year I was back to my usual weight, the nice and chubby kinds. So, magically I stayed pretty much on the bordering fat side of my weighing machine. Don’t know where and how my excess fat disappeared and how all the clarified butter melted. This is for the entire tense women who are desperately becoming anorexic. I am glad I retained my curves, because curves suit us, well-endowed is what we look because of these curves and small bulgesJ. And till date, I am 43 today, I am not fat. I think of myself as being correct!, having the right curves ,a little more endowed than the rest of the woman , maybe, but very satisfactorily thin and nice. So, being a healthy child and being doomed to obesity is a myth proven by my firsthand experience.

In case, the reader feels that, I am freak, fluke lucky case, I will attach my daughter’s pictures too. She also was a very – very heavy, healthy baby, and she was never sick. Today she is eight and has naturally lost all her puppy fat. She looks healthy radiant and lovely. She will turn 8 in a few months and looks a picture of perfect health. She has not an extra ounce of fat etc., and yet is round and very appealing.

Looking thin or fat has more to do with the bone structure of the individual, and less to do with the mass of the individual. Look at any movie star, if she or he has a narrow long face, that person automatically looks thin or rather never looks fat. A person with a round face will naturally look round, how can you look anything but round if you have that bone structure? Even if you fast, you may faint and need to be hospitalized but you will still look round. My elder sister and I are the same height, she weighs more than me and I always end up being asked to shed a few kilos, and she on the other hand is forever asked to put on a few kilos. She has a broad bone structure and a long face, I am a perfect round. Whatever we both do these basics cannot be changed. I find it very amusing now, earlier it was insulting.

In India thin is not in, curvaceous women are more appealing than the stick thin genre. As for the men, I can only say what my husband repeatedly tells me, ‘As long as I am able to look down and see my toes, I am comfortably healthy, beyond that I am fat!’ So gentlemen, please keeping your toes in sight, always.

children and upbringing

children and upbringing

children

Children, especially in our over populated country, are the easiest available raw material. Why I am referring to children as raw material is because parents’ can mould them or shape them the way they want. The parents’ kind of pre decide the end result on behalf of their children and start working on the child nudging gently or pushing roughly or by issuing ultimatums in order to get the child on to the path they thought of for their child. Yet after 18 odd years of diligent training and shaping the end result is always dissatisfying to the parent.

When things start to get out of hand, the parents are still wondering and only after they are neck deep in doubt and worry do they approach me for counsel and crib, “After so many years of effort and sacrifice; my children are not what I wanted them to be. Where did I go wrong? All my sacrifice has gone unrecognized and into the garbage bin”. My first question to them usually is, “Since when has bringing up your own children become a sacrifice?” The parents immediately rephrase their statement or get annoyed at my inability to sympathize with them. I either end up losing the parent to a different counselor or the parent and I invariably get into an argument and they leave my clinic miffed at being shown the mirror so blatantly. Over these years I have realized that personally, I am very prejudiced, that makes me a bad counselor, really. I tend to see the child’s view point more than the parents, because what the child is today is obviously the result of the last years of upbringing by the parent; and I am unable to see beyond that. That is a hurdle I need to cross though, my personal battle. I will come to the point of upbringing now.

upbringing

Upbringing involves a lot of effort is correct, but more than effort it is the right attitude which matters the most. If the parents raise their children as a duty then no pleasure is involved and the relationship becomes very formal and uptight. On the other hand if the children are given too many liberties then they become very self centered failing to understand their parents perspective. A fine balance is needed and it is always a tight rope walk, that to a walk where the fall can be any second albeit the precautions taken. Even after failures the parents need to cast aside their despondent attitude and keep searching for that sliver of ray of hope. Because this hope is immediately transferred to the children and a new positive beginning is just around the corner then. Parents’ who treat upbringing as a sacrifice will impart only a feeling of forced responsibility and a guilt too in the mind of the child. Subconsciously the child clips its own wings and is always afraid to take a giant leap or surge ahead in search of unchartered territories. They keep seeking the parents’ approval and never really grow up to be independent and confident children. This undoubtedly adds to the misery of the sacrificing parents, because this is not what they had bargained for! But, unknowingly they have been working towards this alone right from the word go, so it will become a case of crying over spilt milk.

Upbringing is actually a pleasurable journey for the parents and the child too. It is acceptable to be a moody parent or a strict parent or a lenient parent. In the eyes of the child the parent is never wrong and if the parent is showing a change in behavior then the lapse has been on the part of the child itself. The parents’ can afford to take many liberties with their children while raising them because children are far more loving and forgiving than the parents! They do not expect an apology from us ever, we do, the thought of forgiving or punishing crosses the mind of the parent only; the child unquestioningly accepts both the carrots and the sticks! They never say you do this then only I will study or eat vegetables; we start this whole cycle of blackmail. We say, “You perform, I will buy you a mobile” or “you eat your vegetables or I will ask the doctor to give you a BIG injection”. We parents’ compare our child with the neighbors or relatives children, robbing them of their unique qualities. As the children reach adolescence they begin to really see, understand and finally the tired children also begin to compare, get angry, seek an apology from the parents and start the blackmail cycle with the parents! And the parents wonder where the child is learning such weird habits from; this is not how we raised our children! Who do they emulate? What did we do to deserve this? And an endless stream of such queries crop in the minds of these worried parents.

Bringing up a child is a very learning journey and the journey is never ending because every day is a different story, a different experience and a different lesson to be learnt, for the parent and for the children too. Reaching the destination is not a part of upbringing, enjoying the whole journey and savoring each moment, capturing the special events and growing with them is upbringing. Upbringing is life’s best teacher because lessons are learnt naturally, the learning parent raises a competent happy child and also becomes the most blessed and happy parent.

I will end this with a small poem by Khalil Gibran, “your children are not your children. They are the son’s and daughter’s of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you bur not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you….. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. Let you bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

Role of parents

Are parents God’s?

Some person once described the role of parents as, “The boon given by God to play God!” I was rather surprised and disagreed with that description. How can parents be elevated to the status of God? Especially the present generation parents; most of the middle class income group has both the parents working and the time spent with the children is negligible and devoid of any influence on the progeny. So, do the parents really get to play God for their children in this day and generation too? In many ways the answer even today is, yes, they do.

The first three years of the child are the sponge or the learning years. The influence of these years is reflected in the way child’s life shapes itself. In these deciding years mother is the most prominent figure, interlaced with the presence of the father, siblings and extended family or support system. As the child grows up new faces are introduced, like teachers, mentors, friends and peers. But the constant familiar face of the father, mother and siblings’ remain and the values coming from this area cement themselves firmly in the child. So, the child becomes a mirror image of the parents in a subconscious way. It is a natural and sublime happening which actually comes to the fore very starkly when the child becomes an adolescent. The parents need to be doubly cautious about how they behave, what they talk and even what their body language implicates; in front of the spongy toddlers. Parents today are usually working parents and live a stressed life. It is practically impossible to devout time to the children exclusively and most of them are seeking umbrage under full time maids, crèches and graduate to tuitions for all subjects. Many parents resort to extracurricular activities like Drawing, calligraphy, skating and the like so that the children are busy; not demanding the parents attention or time. This bluff gets called off the day the children are old enough to figure out the real reason. Or if they do enjoy all these extra activities then they drift away from the parents and get immersed in their own world, which is a loss for the parents in the long run. Instead if the parents can mutually decide and see to it that at least one parent is available for the child; it builds a confidence and emotional stability in the child. It is not the physical presence which is really needed here, rather the emotional presence and the feeling that ‘I can go back home and cry my heart out, in case of need’ needs to register to the child. If the parents succeed in this then most of their battles are won and the child grows up to be a very competent, aware and happy child.

Who should she pray to?

Our role

In every way the parents inspire the toddlers and kids grow up in awe of their parents and their achievements, wanting to become like them. As teenage approaches these children begin to see the chinks in their parent’s armor and the sheen wanes considerably. They realize that their parents are not God’s or the paragon of virtues that they imagined them to be. Many weakness or faults come to light and they start to move away or seek a different role model to emulate. If the parents wait this long, then reclaiming their role model position becomes next to impossible. It is prudent to be honest open and communicative with the children from the start itself. Behaving the way you want them to behave when they grow up is very important, you tell a lie in the passing or in jest, but the adverse effect it has in the children cannot be treated in jest. It may become a habit hard to get rid of and the parents will have only themselves to blame. It is not necessary that you be a paragon of virtues, but it is imperative that you acknowledge your mistakes and commit to correcting them. Correcting them is difficult if you think of yourself as flawless always, because with time the children understand what is right and wrong; you only add to your woes if you continue to turn a blind eye.

Though I will definitely advocate a stay at home mom or a part time working mom; but if the parents can juggle work and home efficiently then they can choose their best option. What is more important as parents is the quality time with the children, and what you impart to the children in that little time you have to be with them. Enjoy them to your fullest when they are with you, because very soon they will have to leave your nest in search of their own destiny. Be there for them in times of need so that you have the satisfaction of doing your best for your child.

To come to my initial statement, yes, we are God for our children. But do we deserve to be God’s just because we gave birth to them or do we have a more important role to play, in raising them; this each parent has to answer for oneself in all honesty. Us being God’s or not is in our own hands.

Women empowerment – do we need it?

Women Empowered already

Ever wondered why every God has 2-4 hands and his consort or almost all the goddesses are seen to possess 8-10 hands? When you do the breakup of any feminine word the masculine word is in that word itself whereas the vice versa is impossible! For example, every woman has man, a female has a male, and a she has a he within the word itself, whereas the opposite is unimaginable. Tells us all a very serious tale, does it not? Women are embodiments of whatever they can conjure. They have the power to be what they wish to be and when they wish to be and how they wish to be!

A woman needs to know her role well and play it to the best of ability with understanding and discernment. There are many instances where the man has gone astray; the harm that comes to the family is revocable but a blundering woman has ruined the family irrevocably without any chances of salvage even. That is why Gods too very wisely took umbrage under their consorts and listened to them. History and mythology, both are replete with stories of woman causing the downfall and success of mankind, empires. Queen Kaykeyi is the catalyst in Ramayana; most of the crucial events in Mahabharata have either Kunti or Queen Draupadi behind the scenes. On the good side we have Savitri as the only woman who could bring back her husband from the jaws of death, and King Harishchandra’s wife who supported and stood by him throughout, his good days and bad days and lived his life uncomplainingly.

Till the recent past in our country; from birth to marriage parents taught girls how to play second fiddle and survive with equanimity in this male dominated society. They were educated and quipped to work in case such a need does come by, post marriage; else they had to be happy tending to the household. Once they got married the initial years are again a series of adjustments with the person you are married to and with the extended family also. Playing the good wife and daughter in law, women forget their individuality for a very long time to come. Children happen and motherhood plays a very dominant role. The woman or the individual self is like a dormant volcano simmering and subsiding till the children also become independent and the mother has time on hands. Time to sit back and think and contemplate over the bygone years and life spent. The whole problem surfaces at this age, somewhere between 35-45, where everything seems alien and too many confusing questions crop in the woman’s mind. In a different perspective, it must be the same for the men folk too; I will talk about them some other time. Here I am talking about the feminine gender alone.

 

The pivot

Women- The pivot

Women are the pivot or the centre to which the spokes forming the different events, relationships and happenings of life are attached. Though the father or the male figure is the provider it is the mother who maintains or manages the provision and the provider too. Without the centre there is no wheel at all and consequentially no wheel of life even, it becomes a disjointed series of events and a very erratic rise and fall in the life graph. It is the mother, wife, woman who removes the emotional hurdles and irons the frayed nerves in the family. She can make it or break it, it works both ways. A woman who knows her self-worth and potential contributes positively to the family and consequentially to the society at large. The presence of the woman at home is irreplaceable and trying to turn a blind eye to this verity is futile. It augments to the imbalance in nature and causes debacles. The woman needs to wake up to this call and seek her role where she truly belongs.

What is happening in the virtual world is the contrast. Women have not even touched the tip of the iceberg as far as exploring their real potential and self worth goes. These days most of the upper middleclass women are working women. They are trying to match each stride with their male counterpart and help them shoulder to shoulder. They are equally educated and are trying to climb the corporate with the same speed. They make all adjustments for work and have pushed family and home to the back seat. They are unhappy being housewives and feel as if it is a waste of their education and life itself. The impact of this is visible in the children though. They are bereft of parental presence and the family structure has disintegrated visibly. Nuclear family set aside, these days it is maid oriented families and the dependence on maids, crèches and day care centers is rather alarming. The woman who is a force to reckon with at home is wasting it all on the society and leaving the home in dark. Result is the increase in divorce rates, single parenting fad and the rampant rise in miscreant children.

An empowered woman is one who can identify her role, like the needle in the weighing machine. On the one side is the home, the other side is the society , to maintain balance between the two we need the woman or the pointer which tells us which side weighs more and needs to adjusted to bring about equilibrium. She has to manage both, from her end and not get too immersed in either role; else she will cause an imbalance and tilt the scales!

God or Guru

Why Guru?

Saint Kabir beautifully sings these few lines which when translated mean, “Guru and God both are standing in front of me, and I am confused as to who to bow to first. Praise be to thee, O guru for leading me, and pointing in the God’s direction!”

God and Guru are not in a contest as far as supremacy between them is concerned. We devotees of God and disciples of Guru are confused about their role and supremacy. The conflict stems from our own fear and dual state of mind. Swami Vivekananda treated his guru Ramakrishna as God and never looked elsewhere. His guru, Ramakrishna, showed him the path that leads to enlightenment and merger with God. To achieve or realize God one has to approach a Guru, because a Guru is the gateway to God. Saint Kabir himself was a realized soul at the tender age of 12, yet he needed the guidance and blessings of Guru Ramdas to finally merge with God. It is not who is superior or more important than the other, the simple truth is one leads to the other. You have to seek a Guru if you are earnestly seeking God; both go hand in hand and cannot be ignored. Even God had to be born as human to attain salvation. How can God merge with god? He has to come down to earth, live the life of a human being, aspire for god, thirst for god, seek God and search for a guru who will lead the way! So the road to God is definitely through a Guru alone.

Do we need a Guru?

Many people read a lot of philosophy and religious texts and think they know everything, and they can thus approach God directly, rather they do not need the guru as a middleman! It is like learning to swim reading the swimming manual, without the guidance of a coach. If we wish to do a PhD on any subject is it possible to accomplish the feat without a teacher? Or is it possible even with a teacher who is educated only till the degree level? If the teacher is trained only till nursery levels then how can he/she possibly guide you to the finish line? And which ‘Do -it –Yourself’ manual can really take you the finish line either? Think about this carefully and answer for yourself. You may think of yourself as independent, learned, wise etc, hence not needing a guru, but your individual progress in any direction will be hampered. Like for any qualification on any path you need a teacher and an able guide, similarly to qualify and attain your spiritual goals you need an able guru.

To conclude, God is the goal, guru is the guide to the goal and the path we choose or the guru we choose is left to our better judgment and discernment. The bond with one does not preclude the need the other; it takes our hand, extends itself to lead us to the other.

Travel-tales-Basara

The Goddess of Learning

In my last hub I was talking about the city of Warangal, in Andhra Pradesh state. This is another wonder from the very same state, The Basar Saraswati Temple. This is the only temple dedicated to the Goddess of Learning. The other one is in Kashmir; but that temple is in almost ruins and dilapidated. This gives the Basar Saraswati temple a very unique place amongst the devout Hindus.

From the capital city Hyderabad, Basar is about 200-225 kms. Basar is idyllically on the banks of the river Godavari. A quintessential town in Adilabad district about 50km from Nizamabad, a place you have to cross to reach Basar. A little about the History or the etymology of this ancient temple and then my experience will follow. It is believed that the present structure of the shrine was built by Chalukya Kings. The Saraswati Idol is in Black stone and exceedingly beautiful. The temple is also famous for its Akshara Gnana ritual, which is celebrated for the formal start of a child”s education. History says that Maharishi Vyasa and his disciples and sage Suka came here after the Kurukshetra War, in search of some peace and quiet. The great sage used to bring three fistfuls of sand, from the river Godavari, where he used to go every morning for his regular chores; and place it in three small heaps and made images of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali with his mystic power. This idol made of sand has its face smeared with turmeric. A myth again is that eating a little bit of this turmeric paste will enhance one”s wisdom and knowledge. Since Maharishi Vyasa spent considerable time in prayers, the place was then called “Vasara” which later merged with the prevalent Marathi language and graduated to Basara as it is known today. However, according to the Brahmada Purana the poet Valmiki installed Saraswati and wrote Ramayanahere. There is a marble image of Valmiki and his Samadhi near the temple. It is also believed that this temple is one of the three temples constructed near the confluence of the Manjira and Godavari rivers by Ashtrakutas. A few other stories run parallel. But let me move on to my story and experience at this unique temple.

 

As I already mentioned, this temple is primarily dedicated to the goddess of learning. Many parents who seek an improvement in the academic performance of their children visit this temple to seek this deity’s blessings. For the ardent believers, they are asked to spend the night within the premises, closest to the sanctum sanctorum, in front of the goddess’s idol. She is very likely to come in the dreams of the sleeping devotees and bless them with intelligence and wisdom. Many parents have experimented and reported favorable results and raving reviews. So, we also decided to spend the night in the premises and ‘test’ the Devi! She may appear in my son’s dream and bless him was my propitious thought.

The place was so crowded that we could barely squeeze in and grab a place for ourselves, for the night’s rest. We lay down ram rod straight, my sister with her daughter, me with my son and tried to sleep. The kids complained incessantly of mosquitoes, noise, and no space to move, everything actually. We were drained trying to pacify them and knew that we would not sleep a wink even. When would the children dream and then what chance we had of the Devi appearing in their dreams! Very far-fetched the whole sequence seemed to both of usJ. At last somewhere around 3 am the noise, hustle-bustle subsided and all was quiet. I could see the children settling down and smiled to myself. Immediately I sensed someone rudely shake me up! Startled, I sat up and saw the time, 4 am; I looked around and the whole temple was alive again. I could see busy movement online casino everywhere, people up, packing their night gear and hurrying towards the common washrooms. I was crestfallen; barely one hour of sleep, how in the world could the Devi make her appearance to bless my babies! My children would remain as is, no luck of intelligent and wise children for us sisters. Very sadly I woke up my sibling and we went back to the room we had booked the previous night.

We were back after our ablutions and could perform the puja to our satisfaction. The Idol is mesmerizing and looks straight into you. As if she is literally talking to you and blessing you, individually. It was a much defined moment for both of us, my sister and me. She too felt very different and suddenly elated. The whole night’s circus and the futility seemed fruitful now. We were blessed with intelligence and wisdom, not the children! We needed some sense driven into usJand we could see the humor in it better after the puja.

It is a beautiful temple. Sleep wherever you want and enjoy the serenity of the place. Every temple in my country has a tale attached, we Indians are gullible and discerning in the same breath; a package of contradictions. If you want to be blessed you are blessed and if you feel cursed all the time then so be it, that is exactly how you will be. Blessings or otherwise are a mere reflection of your own thought process. You have to seek for whatever you wish to achieve or have for yourself. And the more awake and aware you are the sooner the realization. For dreams to come true, one needs to keep their wits about them and work towards achieving the dream. That is when the blessings will come true too, right?! Please visit this temple for its wondrous beauty. You will definitely be blessed with, without the dream, without sleeping in front of the deity.

There are many other places you can see in the vicinity. In case you are planning a tour it would be prudent to check the website and plan accordingly. We missed seeing the wild life sanctuary close by because of paucity of time and our unpreparedness.