Why me?

Once upon a time there was a boy called Mohit who often felt sad that his family didn’t have much money.

He looked around at his neighbours, friends and family and wished he had a nice house, a nice car and nice things like they did.

Mohit felt sad, sorry for himself, jealous and angry with God.

Then one day he decided that he was going to do something about it.

He decided to study hard, get a good job and fund his dreams. He got excellent grades from school and university, he started a good career, he worked hard and was promoted fast.

It wasn’t long before he could afford all those things that he wanted and dreamed of.

However, as he sat in his nice house all alone reflecting, he knew deep inside he still wasn’t happy.

He looked around at his neighbours, friends and family and wished he had a nice wife, children and good friends like they did.

Mohit felt sad, sorry for himself, jealous and angry with God.

Then one day he decided that he was going to do something about it.

He got married to a wonderful woman, they had 4 beautiful children – called Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksha – and he really invested time in his family and friendships making up for all the lost time before.

However, as he sat surrounded by all those he loved, he still felt inside that he still wasn’t happy.

He looked around at other people who didn’t have so many basic things, who were poor, alone, lonely or were left behind.

Mohit felt sad, he felt guilty and then he felt angry with God.

Then one day he decided that he was going to do something about it.

He spent the next few years giving lots of money and time to charity, helping others in need, going out of his way to serve his community and the wider world. He was recognised and appreciated by so many for his efforts.

However, as he grew older and his health started to deteriorate and he looked around at all those he had helped during his life, and he wondered if it was all worth it. Did I find happiness? Am I happy now?

Mohit felt angry but this time he wasn’t angry with God, he was angry with himself.

He had spent his life chasing happiness, never fully appreciating what he had along the way. As he looked back on his life, he realised that the thing he was chasing was always there within him.

Mohit lived a long and full life and throughout his later years he told everyone who cared to stop and listen –

“I spent my whole life chasing wealth and looking for happiness, but in the end I found it right here within me, where it was waiting for me all along. I wish I had recognised that earlier, but I have no regrets in life. I hope you all learn from my lesson.”

Diwali Storytelling Competition 2018

Diwali is just around the corner!

Don’t you love that feeling when you smell the snacks being made, the decorations being put up, the rangolis being prepared and sweets being arranged.

Hinduism, whilst the oldest living religion, is also the youngest because it is a living religion. It has no founder, or single holy book, it has evolved over the ages and continues to evolve today.

We’d love to invite you all to contribute to it this year!

Today we are launching a Diwali Storytelling Competition.

We are inviting all of you to write a short story or poem conveying the essence of Diwali.

What does Diwali mean to you? What message does it offer to the world we live in today? What inspiration do you take or want to share?

If you want a more specific theme, we have 5 themes one for each day of Diwali:

  1. Monday – Wealth (Dhan Teras)
  2. Tuesday – Strength (Kali Chaudas)
  3. Wednesday – Truth (Deepavali)
  4. Thursday – Change (New year)
  5. Friday – Selfless Love (Bhaiya Dooj/Bhai Beej)

You can write your story and share with us in any medium you like.

The best entries will be featured here on Hindu Heroes!

Here’s some from the past for inspiration:

Why do I have to go to school on Diwali?

The Story of Diwali

Can you tell me what true wealth is?

Get writing…

We can’t wait to see what you have to share…

Love from,

MCSPD x

But Daddy all my friends are allowed…

“But Daddy all my friends are allowed! Their parents allow them!?”

“Yes darling but I am not your friends’ parent…”

“Sometimes I wish you were…”

“You can’t decide what is right and wrong based on what your friends do!”

“Why not?”

“That’s not the only reference point, it’s certainly not the best.”

“Give me a better point of reference then. What’s yours?.”

“Ok… I’ll tell you… “

“Ok.”

“Can we sit down?”

“Ok.”

“We are the descendants of a great King who became a God through his choices and actions. His name was Ram. He is my point of reference.”

“What’s so special about him?”

“He never blindly followed what everyone around him was doing, saying or telling him to do. He always asked ‘what is the right thing to do’. Ram always asked — what would be best for our dynasty, our nation and our people?

Let me give you some examples:

On the night before his coronation, Ram’s father banished him to the forests for 14 years. Ram could have refused to go, many people advised him to, but he went.

Many Kings of his time lived by their own rules and thought that they were above the law. Ram believed the same laws must apply to the King as everyone else. In fact, he said the King had to be a role model.

When he had defeated his enemy Ravan, after a long and painful battle, no-one wanted to carry out Ravan’s funeral rites. Ram stepped up and volunteered to do it. Ram made it clear that whilst Ravan’s choices during his life were to be punished, in death he must be forgiven and be treated appropriately.

There are so many instances throughout the Ramayan, where you get to see Ram under pressure, making decisions that were very different to what you would do or what everyone else did. That never stopped Ram from doing the right thing, following his dharma.”

“Dad, Ram seems pretty incredible!”

“Now, as the descendants of that great Ram, what should we do? How can we just take the easy or lazy path? How can we think about our own interests above our duty? We can’t just follow what everyone else says…”

“Dad, Ram is a tough role model to follow though…”

“We should try and ask why we are doing something, what will the best action be, what will the long term impact be, etc. We won’t get everything right every time and we will make mistakes but at least we can try…”

“We can try…Happy Ram Navmi, Dad!”

“Happy Ram Navmi, my darling!”

What’s your goal for 2016?

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Ancient Hindu seers (Rishis) believed that life has direction – we came from somewhere and are going somewhere.

Human life is not random. It is not a chance occurrence.

Every one of us (each soul) is on a journey towards ‘truth, completeness and bliss’ (sat, chit and anand), not just in this life, but over multiple lifetimes.

As a result it is important for a Hindu to have a goal in life. It provides purpose and direction.

It means that we have an aim to work towards.

As we go through our day-to-day lives, it is our goal that keeps us grounded and moving forwards, otherwise we are blown from one place to another by the winds of time.

Only by setting worthy goals and aspiring to achieve them are we able to fully engage our minds and immerse ourselves, as it is often in a journey rather than the destination where we feel the greatest joy.

The New Year is a great opportunity to explore the process of setting goals in life, with our children, whether big or small (e.g. getting better at a sport, learning a new instrument, developing their reading skills, speaking their mother tongue around the house, etc) and work towards that goal diligently, it will be a huge achievement.

Not only that, it will start to see the value in having goals and working towards them.

Whatever your child chooses make sure that you are able to measure the progress of your child in that goal. For example, use a chart on the wall that can be completed as the year goes on.

Making a habit of setting goals is important and will serve to improve you and your child’s abilities at remaining proactive and getting things done!

Our Dhyeya should act as a resolution, or a promise to oneself.

Setting goals and working towards them is a gift you can give your children. As they get older, their goals will change. Your goals as parents will change. One thing’s for sure, with this skill, they will be a more focused child, student, friend and human being!

The greatest characters of the world achieved tremendous things in life through setting and pursuing a goal.

Their goals were not only to do well in their academic education, although this is important. Their goals were to develop themselves, help others, improve the world and make it a better place.

  • What are your goals as parents that the children can see you work towards and role-model?
  • What are your goals for your children above and beyond doing well at school? Can you see how this concept would be valuable to their lives?

Would it not be wonderful if your child was able to achieve an aim, just because they made a resolution to themselves? Without nagging, telling off, punishing or blackmailing.

This is the power of Dhyeya once truly imbibed.

A goal that is set, actioned and completed by an individual with no other force other than his/her own personal resolution.

This is deep rooted within Hindu culture.

A Hindu view of life…

Hindus believe the ultimate goal in life is to discover, realise and understand our inner self and God (Yog).

|| gatir bharta prabhuh saksi ||
Bhagwad Geeta C.9 V.18

“I am the Goal, the Sustainer, the Lord and the Witness”

|| ye tu dharmamrtam idam
yathoktam paryupasate
sraddadhana mat-parama
bhaktas te ‘tiva me priyah ||
Bhagwad Geeta C.12 V.20

“One who follows this dedicated path of devotion and who engages with faith, making Me the Supreme Goal, is a devotee very dear to Me”

Traditionally there are known to be 4 goals or aspirations of a Hindu life. The ancient Hindu seers (Rishis) believed that human beings go through each of these stages on their way towards salvation/realisation:

  1. Kama: Desire. This word has been misconstrued over time to mean just physical pleasure. In fact, it is a word meaning desires overall. Again, Hinduism does not reject having desires. It recognises that these are natural in humans. In fact, having desires makes us aspire and achieve – it is our driver for action! What is important is how we channel those desires and control them. Merely wishing to accumulate material objects and fulfill our sensual pleasures is not a worthy aim. We must dig deeper and desire things that will improve ourselves, our families and the world around us.
  1. Arth: Wealth. Hinduism categorically does not reject the accumulation of wealth. However it is very specific in defining what wealth is, in that it is not just material objects. The Shri Suktam  lists wealth as extending to our relationships, our health, our natural world – all of the things we truly value. Additionally as Hindus, we aspire to recognise where our wealth has come from, thereby showing gratitude to the many hands that may have helped in us gaining wealth. Finally, how we spend our wealth is of considerable importance. Hoarding and just spending on ourselves does not fit in with our culture. We should use our wealth to uplift others and society.
  1. Dharma: Known as the practice of virtue, or more commonly, ones duty. These are the duties incumbent upon an individual in order that they may live a good life within a society. We may know this word today with rigid traditions, such as the caste system or the 4 stages of life. However philosophically, it is said that ‘Dharate iti Dharma’ (that which uplifts is Dharma). Therefore the correct actions one must undertake is that which uplifts society.
  1. Moksha: Liberation. The ultimate aim of life. To be freed of the cycle of birth and death as per our beliefs. This is a long-term goal and one that may be achieved over several lifetimes. Hinduism recognises that not all goals should be achievable immediately and facilitates goals which are not only short-term and character building like the three above, but also long-term, like the horizon – ever present in the distance but just beyond our reach. It is in the striving to achieve our goals that we are stretched beyond our perceived capability and we grow as individuals.

The ultimate goal of human life is to realise that we are divine, that we are connected to each other, that we are perfect, eternal and ever blissful!

Some questions for discussion with children:

  • Do you want to learn something new or get better at something you already do?
  • Is there something that you would like to do that could be done together as a group/family?
  • What are the steps we can take to help you achieve this aim?
  • What would be a fantastic goal to work towards for the next 12 months?
  • What about Dharma and Moksha? What goal will help us in these areas of life?

Why do I have to go to school on Diwali?

Darling, will you help me set out these lights for Diwali… Then we need to do the rangolis too…

Mum, is Diwali the biggest Hindu festival of the year?

Yes it is, definitely.

Is it like the Hindu Christmas?

Well, yes I guess, so it’s as big for us as Christmas is for Christians,

If Diwali is as big for Hindus as Christmas is for Christians why do we have to go to school on Diwali?

What a great question… I guess it’s just that Diwali isn’t a public holiday in England and Christmas is.

Mum, is Diwali a Public Holiday in India?

Yes it is, most kids have this whole week off school…

Then why don’t we live in India?

…Sorry? Where did that come from? What do you mean? ..

If Diwali is so important to us and being a Hindu is so important to us then why don’t we live in India?

Err.. Umm… I’m lost for words.

Why?

I guess the choice was made by our grandparents decided to leave India to come to Africa and then England a long time ago. They went in search of new adventures and new opportunities. They hoped that wherever they lived in the world, they would keep their religion and culture with them. We were born here, you were born here, so I guess that’s why we still live here.

But it’s our choice, right? We choose to live here, we could choose to live in India…

Yes, well our friends, family, school, grandparents … Everyone lives here in England.

Couldn’t we all go to live in India.

Why are you ready to move?

Well, you would have to come too, and dada and dadi, and nana and nani, and my friends…

I don’t think you can make them all move..,

I guess not… What if we live in England but we go to India as often as possible, like in all our holidays.

I would love to do that.

Me too… Mum, I love being Hindu in England, it like having the best of both.

Me too. I love you.

I love you too, Happy Diwali mum!

Can you tell me what true wealth is?

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S, P and D rushed home from school on Monday. They didn’t even stop for a snack on the way home.

It was a special day. Today was the first day of Diwali. Mum had said in the morning that today we are going to pray to the goddess of wealth (Lakshmi). They were all keen to find out what this was all about.

When they got home the whole house was decorated with lights. The beautiful sand-art rangolis they had made over the weekend were the centrepieces.  They felt quite proud of their work.

Once they were showered and ready, Dad asked each of them to bring one coin from their piggy bank downstairs with them. Neither S, P nor D knew what this was about.

Mum and Dad were waiting for them. They were sitting in front of a statue of Lakshmi with a tray.

Mum asked each of them to put their coin on the tray in turn.

D was the first to break the silence “Why are we….”.

“Shhhh!” Dad cut her off.

Then Mum helped each of S, P and D to wash the coin with some water and milk, then got each of them to bow their heads. Mum and Dad did this too.

“Join your hands children, together let’s promise to take care of the wealth we have been blessed with and remember to look after those who are less fortunate than we are.” Mum said.

“Is that why we washed the coins?” S asked.

“Yes the coins are a symbol of wealth.” Mum replied.

Dad added “Today is an opportunity for us to be grateful for the wealth that we have been blessed with… now, which of you can tell me what our true wealth is?”

S, P and D looked at each other, as if this was a trick question – “Money!” said D.

“Yes but wealth means more than money.” replied Mum quickly.

S, P and D were not really sure what to say.

“Our life, our family, our health, our mind, our home, friends and the beautiful world all around… this is all wealth. We have been blessed with so much.” Dad explained.

“Ohhh!” S, P and D exclaimed, feeling foolish.

“Kids, don’t ever forget there is so more to life than money. Money can buy things, but not happiness.” Dad wrapped up.

The rest of the evening flew by in eating delicious food, meeting family and exchanging gifts and Indian sweets.

As P lay in bed at night, with a very full stomach, he couldn’t help but think about his day. “Dad, I didn’t really understand. What did you mean that there’s more to life than money.”

Dad knelt down next to P’s bed.

“Well, if you have money you can buy a nice bed like this one, but having money does not guarantee that you will get a good night’s sleep.  That will depends on whether you were kind and truthful during your day, or whether your mind is full of guilt and regrets.”

Dad looked across and P was fast asleep.

“Sweet dreams my son… now a good night’s sleep… that is true wealth!”

The Story of Diwali

diwali1
This is a story about Prince Ram & Princess Sita.

She was the most beautiful princess in all of the land. Kings and princes from all over India wanted her hand in marriage. But she chose Prince Ram. When Sita was married to Ram, all of India celebrated, except for one man, the evil King Ravan of Lanka. Ravan wanted Sita for himself and decided to kidnap her.

One day while Ram and his brother Laxman were in the forest, Ravan saw his opportunity. Sita was alone in the cottage, so Ravan dressed himself as a poor beggar and went to ask for food at her doorstep. When she came forward to help, he grabbed her by her arm & took her away to his Golden Kingdom of Lanka, on the other side of the sea.

Ram, and Laxman, heard her cries and rushed back to the cottage, only to find that Sita was gone. Ram & Laxman could not find Sita in the cottage or anywhere around. They set off deep into the forests to look for her. Ravan had imprisoned Sita with all the other women he had kidnapped, because she refused to love him.

As Ram searched for Sita, the animals of the forest came to him saying they had seen Sita carried away by the evil King Ravan, and how much trouble he caused them. Ram decided this evil King had to be defeated and started to gather an army. Hanuman, the leader of the monkeys, devoted himself and his people to Ram’s cause. Ram’s army built an almighty bridge across the sea to get to the golden city of Lanka.

When they got to the other side, Ravan’s army was waiting. A huge battle took place between the two armies, that lasted for 10 days, a battle between good and evil. On the last day of the battle, Ram defeated Ravan and the world was filled with light once more.

Ram was reunited Sita, who had waited for him so patiently, and they started the long journey back home to Ayodhya. The people of Ayodhya eager awaited the return of their beloved Prince and Princess. The journey took over a month. When they arrived in Ayodhya it was night-time … outside every house they saw a lamp burning to welcome them and guide them HOME.

This is the story of Diwali. Thousands of years later Hindus still celebrate Diwali all around the world.

We celebrate the victory of good over evil, the victory of light over darkness, the victory of knowledge over ignorance.

When we light candles and lamps on Diwali, it reminds us to be like a lamp, to give light & to love everyone around us…!

Wishing you and your families a very Happy Diwali!

Dad, Is God Real?

The_Burning_Sky

Mohit: Dad, Is God real?

Dad: Of course God is real!

Mohit: Where is He then?

Dad: God is everywhere, inside every atom, inside everyone and all around.

Mohit: Huh!?!

Dad: Just like air is everywhere, light, sound, and space are everywhere. God is everywhere.

Mohit: … But why can’t we see Him?

Dad: There is so much we can’t see… Our eyes are quite limited. Anything too small, too big or too fast cannot be seen by the human eye. We can’t see God, but He is there. You can sense Him and feel His presence though.

Mohit: What do you mean? How do you feel God?

Dad: You can feel God’s presence when you see someone being generous. That’s the God within them. Whenever you see something beautiful know that is God. Everything good, true, happy, is God.

Mohit: …but Who is God?

Dad: God is the life, soul and divinity inside of you and me.

Mohit: So God is not a person?

Dad: God is everything. He is inside a person, a tree, the earth and the sky...

Mohit: So is that a yes or no?

Dad: Hindus believe that if God created everything and humans are the best of his creation then why wouldn’t He come to meet us as a Human. So… Yes!

Mohit: What do you think God actually looks like?

Dad: I think of God looks however you want him to. I see him as love, as energy, and light running through everyone and everything.

Mohit: Why do we build statues of God and temples, then?

Dad: It’s really hard to visualise God in his true form, so we remember God’s human form. Ram, Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, etc all lived on Earth and developed all of God’s qualities. So we remember them, pray to them and try to be like them.

Mohit: How come every religion has a different God?

Dad: Why not? Hindus believe that every person can have their own different God. We all see God differently. Different religions saw God differently. They all described Him differently.

Mohit: Why do Hindus have so many Gods?

Dad: Like I said before, Hindus believe that every person can have their own God. We see divinity in everything. Hindus also believe that we can pray to God in any form. That’s why Hindus have so many Gods.

Mohit: How can I get to know God?

Dad: By looking for how God secretly helps you in your life… By seeing God in others… By remembering that God is the beauty, the goodness and the happiness in everything.

Mohit: How does God want me to live my life?

Dad: He wants you to remember that “You are God, a part of God!”… and live your life trying to become like more like God… Helping others without expectation, caring, giving generously, being fearless, not being phased by happiness or sadness, and loving all of mankind regardless of what how they treat you…

Mohit: Whoa! I would be like God!

Dad: Exactly!

I Want To Be Like Krishna When I Grow Up

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Ok class, I want you to tell us all about a role model or hero of yours…

(Silence)

Come on, who do you want to be like when you grow up?

(One boy puts his hand up).

Yes Kish.

Miss, when I grow up I want to be like Krishna.

Who is that?

Krishna is a Hindu God. He lived more than 5,000 years ago.

Oh?! Your role model is God?

Well, he’s not like other God’s?

Why?

He’s so cool.

A cool God? How so?

He loves playing games and sports. They say he made play divine!

Indeed!

He plays the flute and he likes to dance.

So he’s musical!

Krishna is cheeky and he breaks rules. He won’t just do something the same way it’s always been done. He’s a rebel with a cause.

Now that’s unusual.

He’s not scared of anyone. He defeated he biggest and baddest of bad guys. 

I can see why you want to be like him.

It’s not just that, Krishna’s not bothered about what people say about him. He always does what is right.

Well that’s good…

I really want to be like Krishna when I grow up. 

He sounds really inspiring. What makes you think you can be like him Kish? Like a God?

Well Krishna said so. He said in the Bhagwad Geeta, that’s a manual of life he gave to all of humanity, that we can all become like God through our thoughts, actions and choices.

Wow! Now that’s what I call a role model…

… who’d like to go next? Who’s your role model? Who do you want to be like when you grow up?

I’m nervous about going back to school

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Mum, I’m nervous about going back to school.

Why darling? Aren’t you excited to see your friends?

Yes I guess so… But what if they’ve forgotten me?

They won’t have…

What if I don’t like my new teacher?

You will…

I’m sad the summer’s over…

But you’ve had such a great summer! You’ve got so much to tell your friends about.

I don’t feel well. Maybe I should have a day off…

No you’re fine! You’re going to school ok!

I still feel nervous!

Come here, sit down. Now whenever we do something new or there is a big change in our life we feel nervous.

Continue reading I’m nervous about going back to school

The War in Your Brain by Vansham

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Did you know that everyday there is war in your brain?

This is a war to take control of your behavior.

On one side there is fearlessness, kindness, love, generosity, honesty and forgiveness. This is the good team and the bad team is the opposite.

In the bad team there is laziness, anger, greed, jealousy and desire. They are very powerful.

Which team is better, you tell me?

Now I am going to tell you a story.

Continue reading The War in Your Brain by Vansham

Happy Rakshabandhan!

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Rakshabandhan is a beautiful Hindu festival that celebrates the special bond between a brother and sister.

The Hindu concept of Rakshabandhan:

  • The relationship between a brother and sister is considered by Hindus as the most pure, without any self-interest or expectation.
  • A sister ties a Rakhi on her brother’s hand and does a ‘tilak’ on his forehead.
  • She asks him to think of her, to be there for her and to take care of her always.
  • A sister also reminds her brother to have a kind eye towards all women (treat all women as your sister) and to have a positive outlook (third eye) towards life.
  • On this day brothers and sisters pray to God to make their bond strong and unbreakable.
  • We all remember that God protects, nourishes and takes care of us without any expectation.

Continue reading Happy Rakshabandhan!

What’s wrong with your Safari? by Grandpa Ramanuja

Acacia_tree_on_a_sunrise_safari_at_the_Serengeti_National_Park,_Tanzania

Gopal was on his computer and getting very frustrated. His internet app ‘Safari’ had been messed up by his son, Prem.

He thought, “Every time Prem touches my computer, things go haywire – the icons keep jumping up and down and I don’t know how to calm them down! This boy is so…….so adamant, he always wants his own way!”

Feeling tired, irritated and helpless, he lay down on sofa and before he realized, he had dozed off…

Continue reading What’s wrong with your Safari? by Grandpa Ramanuja