27 Jul King Parikshit, Dharma Bull And The Age Of Kali
This June, we completed the 5th year of our homeschooling. It’s the year the children got the capacity to do more academic learning, and we did less playing with puppets and the whole-body movement games. It’s a transition year from early to middle childhood, and I think it would last one more year, especially because my kids are quite childish (in comparison to other children today) and because my son is actually one year behind (he’s supposed to start 5th grade).
At the beginning of the year, we did a math block with a background story I wrote for them. It’s a story about a Vaishnava family living on a farm. I tried to picture the ideal life of an extended family (grandparents, parents, and children) who live Krishna conscious lifestyle in the mood of vaishyas, working in the field, garden, stable, and kitchen. It’s quite similar to our own lifestyle, but I added some things we miss and made it more idyllic. My kids loved it. Then I made a lot of math problems based on the story for them to solve, and we made some drawings and characters description as well. I plan to make this story and worksheets on math and farm work available to others, so stay tuned!
Before our history block, we learned about Varnashrama dharma by studying the story of Parikshit Maharaj. Last year we read about the birth of Parikshit Maharaj and this year we continued with stories of how Lord Krishna left this world, Pandavas retired timely, then Parikshit Maharaj saved the bull Dharma and punished Kali, and finally how Parikshit Maharaj was cursed by a brahmana boy. I read the stories from Arrudha Devi Dasi’s book “Srimad Bhagavatam – A comprehensive guide for young readers”. I like how she compiled the stories to be suitable for children, plus she has some question and answer sessions on each story, and some activities suggestions, worksheets, etc. We use some of it. Our focus was to learn about varnas and ashramas and Kali Yuga’s qualities and influence.
We draw a human figure and mark who are the head, arms, stomach, and legs of the social body, what are their qualities, and what kind of activities belong to them. I introduced to children the concept of four goals of life according to Vedas: kama, artha, dharma, and moksha, and how they relate to the varnas. We also wrote down four ashramas and their responsibilities and privileges. We came to the conclusion that whatever right we have it goes along with some responsibility as well (a very important point to learn about).
The most dramatic part of the story was how King Parikshit met Kali. We did some paintings of Kali and Dharma Bull and wrote a short description of the story. We draw the Dharma Bull and mark the qualities that represent each of his legs. We draw a cow and wrote some interesting facts about cows as an animal. Finally, we draw a Kali Yuga map by writing down the bad things that are prominent in Kali Yuga and colored them with strong red in the center of the paper. Then we wrote the things and activities that could save us from the bad influence of Kali in this age and colored them bright yellow, spreading them around the red circle of bad things, like the sun rays (the sheltered zone). We all tried to brainstorm all the bad and good things to write down; it was an engaging activity for children. These are some of the words we wrote down: cheating, quarreling, slaughterhouses, intoxication, adultery for the bad things; truthfulness, chastity, compassion, sacred scriptures, temple, chanting of the holy name for the auspicious things.
I wanted to do one more Vedic study block in the last part of the year, but we had so many things to do in April/May for our family’s busyness that I had to leave it for the next year. It will be the story of material creation and I will connect it with Vedic cosmology and the study of the material elements in connection to geography and some science. Also, I plan to go into more detail about Indian history and finalize it by diving into the worship of Lord Jagannath from a historical perspective, along with art and the esoteric meaning of it. I’m excited to research and prepare this block to be engaging for my kids since they show much interest in history.
It’s encouraging that teaching our children about spiritual subjects makes us more involved in spiritual life and helps us to dive deeper into it. We learn the best when we teach, and that’s one of the precious things that we, as devotees, get from homeschooling our children.