Lessons for Sequestered Families. Chapter 1


Each lesson will begin with an affirmation, as seen above, for the family to repeat together or alone. Gurudeva would say that the mind, the conscious mind, is driven by its own novelty and always mulling over external things. Comfort. Safety. Pain. Desire. Fear. He urged seekers to fill the mind with positive thoughts through the use of affirmations. If repeated, affirmations carve deep channels in the mind, changing fear to trust, regret to hope, penury to abundance. Perhaps never in this life, or even the last few hundreds of years, has the human race faced so compelling a threat as this pandemic. So never have we needed positive affirmations more. These are little mental mantras. Each will be a medicine for the mind, a salve for the spirit, a comrade during quarantine.

A Story from Guru Chronicles

At nine years of age, Gurudeva was stuck in the snow at his home in the
mountains, shown above. What happened to him one day is our story for
this lesson. All of the stories are narrated by Raj Narayan.


Tale from
Our Children’s Book on 10 Yamas

This story about ahimsa, non-injury, is from the children’s book Ten
Tales About Self Control.
Janaki walked down the road, soaking in the spectacular view
of Stone Mountain, even as the sun’s rays lit it up like a glowing
monument carved by nature. The walk back from school was
never boring. She looked at the view, thinking that her home
was a lot like the mountain—steady, strong, providing shelter
for her and her elder sisters Vani and Reshma.
As the three of them reached home, their mother opened the
door and the wonderful smell of fresh dosas reached their
noses. Janaki took a deep breath and said, “Ma, I’m hungry.”
Her mother gave her a hug and said, “Wash first and come
“Why dosas and not chicken pastries today, Ma?” asked Janaki.
“I just wanted you to taste the excellent chutney and sambar
which Sunitha Aunty made for all of you.” Amma looked at the
three girls and saw their innocent faces. Janaki, the youngest,
was barely eight years old. Vani was twelve and tall for her age.
Reshma, fourteen, was already blossoming into a young
“Why does Aunty only make vegetarian food? Can’t she learn to
eat chicken like us?” asked Vani, dipping a piece of dosa into
the steaming hot sambar.
Amma averted her eyes and said, “You girls know that your
grandma was a vegetarian, and your father and I were
vegetarians, too, when we were in India. Somehow it is easy to
be vegetarians in India, with most of our relatives and friends
being vegetarians; but after coming to the US, we sort of
adjusted ourselves to American culture, and we began eating
nonvegetarian food. All of you, I know, are comfortable with
both vegetarian and nonvegetarian food, and we aren’t forcing
any particular food habits on you. But there are days when I
remember my own mother and I wish I had never started eating
nonvegetarian food. My mother was so slim and healthy. Even
at eighty, she could see well, hear well and actually take care of
herself. I wonder if I’ll be able to do that at her age. Well,
enough talk about food. Tell me about your day at school.”
Janaki suddenly said, “Amma, the other day when we went to
the temple, the priest was talking to a few children about
Mahatma Gandhi and how he was a vegetarian. He was also
telling us something about ahimsa, but I didn’t understand very

“Ahimsa means nonviolence, dear,” replied Amma, as she
placed another hot dosa on Janaki’s plate. “Nonviolence means
not only being nonviolent in your
actions, but also in your words and
even in your thoughts and
intentions. It means not harming
another in any way at all.”

“If that’s what it means, we aren’t
practicing it!” said Janaki matter-offactly.
“Why?” asked Amma in surprise.
“We are nonviolent people. Are we fighting, or what?”
“No. But we eat animals, like chicken and lamb. Aren’t we being
cruel to them and not practicing ahimsa?”
Reshma tapped her hand impatiently on the table and said,
“Drop this silly topic. You enjoy eating chicken as much as we
all do. What’s this sudden concern for animal welfare?”
Janaki continued to eat, but her mind was elsewhere.
Suddenly, she said, “Speaking of animals, where’s Puli?” The
Bengali cat had come to their house as a mischievous kitten
when he was a few months old and adopted Janaki as his
favorite person. Within two years, he had grown into a big cat
and spent most of his time sitting on the fence outside the
house. His brown fur had black stripes, giving him the
appearance of a small tiger, so they called him Puli. That’s
Tamil for “tiger.”
“Puli, where are you?” shouted Janaki. In return, she heard a
soft meow. She peeped under the stairway and saw Puli curled
up cozily. Janaki lifted the cat and tenderly carried him with her.
Opening one yellow-flecked eye, the cat gave her a grumpy
look. He seemed to be saying, “Why are you disturbing my
royal nap?”
The evening wore on, and towards night, the girls went to the
large bedroom which the three shared. The house had space
for two more rooms, and construction would begin soon.
Reshma walked in and said, “I can’t wait to get my own room.”

“Once you have your own room and Vani gets hers, this will
become mine, right? And then I can keep Puli with me?”
“As it is, he spends all his time here. Where else does he go?”
asked Vani. She looked over at Puli as he lay dozing at the foot
of the bed. “He seems to be growing lazier day by day,” said
Reshma, as she tickled the cat playfully. Purring in enjoyment,
Puli stretched his body and settled down in a more comfortable
It was a clear night, and somewhere in the distance an owl
hooted loudly. In the elm tree near the bedroom, a bird was
perched on its nest. The whole atmosphere was one of peace
and soft happiness. As Janaki rested her head on her soft
pillow, she uttered a prayer of thanks to Lord Siva for giving her
so much.
In her dream, she was sharing with the class an essay on
“Festivals in India.” As she talked about Diwali, she explained
the fireworks. Her dream was filled with a demonstration of
colorful lights and noise, when suddenly her sleep was
disturbed by a different kind of noise. She woke up suddenly,
feeling a bit lost and unsure of her surroundings. Janaki looked
around at the dark room and tried to figure out what had woken
her up. She heard the sound again and felt a sudden chilling
fear. It was a strange, ghastly sound! She was now wide
awake. She strained to hear the sound, and realized that it was
Puli. Yet it was not his usual meowing. Suddenly she wondered
if the cat was injured. Springing up, she switched on her
bedside lamp, saying, “Puli, where are you?”
As the light came on, her eyes swept to the ground. To her
horror, she saw a bright red stain. “Vani!” she screamed, and
Vani woke up with a fright. In the other bed, Reshma swung to
consciousness. Both sisters came rushing to her, only to stop in
their tracks as their eyes took in the blood trail on the tile floor.
“Where is all this blood from? Janaki, are you okay?” shouted
Reshma. The two sisters rushed to her bed.
“I, I, I think it’s Puli. He’s meowing in a strange way, and that’s
why I woke up.”
Vani switched on a few more lights in the room and looked
around her. Sitting in a corner was Puli, and near his paws lay
the biggest rat that Vani had ever seen in her life. The rat lay
dead, with blood oozing from its body. As she watched it, she
felt her sisters coming up behind her. The three of them stared
with horror at the sight in front of them. Puli looked very proud
of his catch, and Janaki exclaimed, “He brought it to share with
us! Ugh!”

Hearing the noise, Appa and Amma had come upstairs. Appa
took the rat by the tail and tossed it outside. Janaki got a cloth
and cleaned up the blood. Puli was upset that his rat had been
tossed out and ran after it. The three girls went back to bed in a
state of shock. They did not sleep well.
The next evening Uncle and Aunty dropped by for dinner. Out
of respect for them, the menu was a vegetarian one. As soon
as they walked in, Vani rushed to Uncle and narrated the
night’s incident. Uncle looked thoughtful as he watched Janaki’s
disturbed face. Slowly he said, “What’s wrong?”
Amma looked with surprise at Uncle and said, “What do you
mean, ‘What’s wrong?’ They actually saw the cat tearing up a
rat in front of their eyes. You should have seen the blood! And
you being a vegetarian, you’re asking me what is wrong?”
He looked at Amma and said, “You eat meat! Why are you
shocked that your cat eats meat? Your meat is cooked and his
meat is not cooked. What else is the difference?”
Amma looked stunned for a moment and then she said rather
defensively, “We buy our chicken from the supermarket, where
it has been cleaned and packed. We don’t see blood dripping
all over the place.”
Uncle laughed and said, “That is not a satisfactory explanation.
You know that the chicken on the supermarket shelf did not
appear there miraculously. Someone has killed and cleaned it
for you.”
Janaki looked at Amma, her sisters and her uncle, and she
said, “Uncle, does this mean that we should not eat
nonvegetarian food?”
Uncle said softly, “My dear child, human beings have teeth and
a digestive system designed to eat vegetarian food. The cat is
designed to catch, kill and eat meat. It is not wrong for him to
do so to feed himself and his family. But we humans kill
animals, cook the meat to make it soft and then we eat it. This
is unnecessary. We don’t need to kill to eat. We humans should
practice ahimsa, nonviolence, and respect the life of every
single creation of God. I realized this early in my life and have
been a happy vegetarian, just as my parents—your

The entire family sat in silence for a few seconds.
Eight-year-old Janaki spoke first, “I think from now on I will be a
“Me, too,” said Reshma and Vani at the very same time.
Appa looked at Amma, and then at Uncle.
He said, “I knew this day would come. I never felt right about
eating meat. From this day on, we are a vegetarian family


What we say and how we say it is so important. In the video below Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami discusses the Power of Kindly Speech.

Humor from Hinduism Today


Featured Video

In March of 2020 the monks took some video of the silpis
carving, so everyone could listen to the sweet music of their
chisels on the granite stone. In this two-minute film you learn
about the process.


Path to Siva for Kids

You are a light inside your body
called a soul. You were created
by God Siva. Imagine sparks
flying out of a fire. The sparks
come from the fire, so they are
fire, but they are also different
from the fire. The two are the
same and they are also
different. Similarly, your soul is
the same as Siva and different
from Siva. Siva is the fire, and
your soul is a spark coming
from the fire. You, as a soul,
are on a wonderful journey of
re-learning, remembering your
divine Siva-ness. Your soul has already lived many lives in
many different bodies. In one life, you will start asking, “Who
am I, really?” At some point you will naturally find Siva. You will
keep exploring the same question life after life, finding Siva
each time. Finally, you will understand and love Siva so much
that you will become one with Siva. You are so, so much more
than your body, thoughts and feelings. Deep inside you are
perfect and divine.

Coloring Art
In each lesson we will include some black and white

illustrations, some simple, like the two below, and others
complex, like the roadside shrine to Lord Ganesha above. The
idea is to print these out on paper and invite the kids to color
them with crayons, colored pencils or chalk. Their uniqueness
lies in their Saivite style and subject matter.

Character Quality: Abstemious

Abstemiousness means being moderate in eating and drinking.
I strengthen it by exercising willpower when I am tempted to eat
too much. Eating a vegetarian diet has a moderating impact not
only on the body, but on the environment as well. The opposite
is gluttony.
Discuss controlling appetites with the family.

Kolam of the Day

Kolams are auspicious designs which many households in India
draw daily in the home’s compound to bring protection and
goodness to the family. We will give some kolams in each
lesson. Simple designs for the little ones, complex for the more
grown up. The dotted grids can be printed out if you want to
draw them on paper, or if the family wants to get ambitious you
can make the grid somewhere in the house or yard and draw
with colored flour.

Sadhana of the Day

Chant Aum 

Take a deep breath and

chant Aum nine times. The
first syllable is A,
pronounced as the English
word “awe,” but prolonged:
“aaa.” The second syllable is
U, as in “roof,” pronounced
“oo,” but prolonged: “ooo.”
The third syllable is M,
pronounced “mm” with the
front teeth gently touching
and the sound prolonged:
“mmmm.” Each repetition is
sounded for about seven
seconds, with two seconds
on A, two seconds on U and
three seconds on M, with a
silence of about two
seconds before the next
repetition. The three
syllables are run together:
AAUUMM (silence), AAUUMM (silence), AAUUMM (silence).
On the first syllable, A, we feel the solar plexus and chest
vibrating. On the second syllable, U, the throat vibrates. The
third syllable, M, vibrates the top of the head.

History of Hindu India

Video 1, From Ancient times
(22 minutes)
From Ancient Times:

Quote of the Day

“Listen for silence in noisy places; feel at peace in the midst of
disturbance; awaken joy when there is no reason.” Gurudeva

A Music Video : Let’s Go Back 6,000 Years

To our own amazement, we have created a series of music videos
that teach the history of India and Hinduism for 6th grade students.
They are both entertaining and informative. Check out the first one.
Part One, Song One, ”Let’s Go Back 6,000


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