Yato Dharma Tato Jaya – 8th Grade

Aparna Easwar & Sushil Nema

8th Grade Class 2018

Where there is dharma there is success. Our eight graders are learning the above message thru their study and reflections of Mahabharath. Each incident and each characters of this grand epic gives insight to our students about human nature and consequence of one’s action if they do not adhere to dharma. By the end of this year values for life as laid down in our scriptures will be analysed.

Current 8th graders had decided early on that they would act on “Giving more than what we consume” part of Chinmaya pledge. They committed to 2 projects,

1) 8th graders gave a safety presentation to all classes in Bala Vihar. They gave this message thru play act and illustrations.

2) They rallied together under the guidance of Susha aunty and pitched in their efforts to cook at Chinmaya mission’s homeless shelter cooking project.

We would like to take this moment and thank all parents for sending their children to Bala Vihar. And we enjoyed their company as each brought their personality to the class to make it more interesting and fruitful. We are proud of Aarav, Arjun, Deepak, Kavish, Medha, Nishant and Sharika.

Hindu Culture -9th Grade

Kalpana Krishnamurthy & Rajat Agarwal

9th Grade Class 2018

The 9th Grade curriculum focuses on Hindu Culture, and exploring core tenets and practices of Hinduism. Topics included:

– Study of the Vedas

– Exploring karmakanda, upasanakanda, and jnanakanda

– Karma and Dharma

– Exploring various samskaras including upanayana

– Caste based on guna (qualities) and karma (action)

– Ahimsa (non-injury)

– Dana (charity) and Seva (service)

– Panchasraddha, the five basic beliefs of Hindus

– 16 steps of a puja

– Mahavakyas, or the four great truths

– The 4 purusarthas (human goals)

– Panchayajnas, the five daily yajnas we should perform each day

Through discussion with our class, activities, paired exercises, small group work and the occasional video, we applied these esoteric Hindu concepts to our daily lives. We talked about if we give money to people holding signs on the street, we came up with the four great truth of high school, we made lists of the five things we do every day without fail, we watched Steve Jobs give a commencement speech. There was sometimes silliness, outright silence, and/or total disregard for the topic of discussion at hand.

Thanks to all our 9th graders for coming to class, engaging in our conversations, and generally being awesome.

Rajat Uncle and Kalpana Aunty

Bhagavad Gita 1-9 – 10th Grade

TK Ramchandar & Praveen Gopalakrishnan

10th Grade Class 2018

Bala vihar 10th grade class covered Bhagavad Geeta chapters 1 through 8. The 18 chapters of Geeta can be divided into three parts following the upanishad mantra ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ (Thou Art That) — with the first 6 chapters representing ‘Tavam’ or who we are, the next 6 representing ‘Tat’ or God and the last 6 is about the union between us and God. In the first 6 chapters we tried to understand our nature in terms of body, mind, intellect, desires, ego etc. And various paths towards being able to win over our mind (so as to understand ourselves and God) such as ‘Karma Yoga’ or the path of selfless action as a first step in purifying our thoughts. We also discussed ‘Jnana Yoga’ the path of knowledge. A key concept discussed was to do our best in any given situation, to give up our strong attachment to particular outcomes for our actions, and be willing to accept different outcomes.

In chapters 7 and 8, we started learning about God where Bhagavan Krishna in the Geeta covers His splendor as embodied by the various manifest things in the universe and the core teaching being God is present in everything and everywhere just as the ‘thread that holds together a pearl necklace’.

10th graders are a highly curious and engaged group, and their feedback about the class was that they enjoyed how the class connected spiritual concepts with application to daily life — especially through several discussions and debates in terms of how they applied in their high school context — about parent and friend relationships and ‘achievement pressures’. They would also like to see more activities in class and outside.

Bhagavad Gita 10-18 – 11th Grade

Krishna Sistla & Usha Ramchandar

11th Grade Class 2018

In the 11th grade  we continued exploring Bhagavad gita, a journey the students began in the 10th grade.  This class focuses on two broad subjects,  nature of Ishvara and the journey to realize one trues nature.

We started with a recap of chapter2 to chapter8 to set the context for chapter9.

We found the analogy of a quilt representing all that exists to be particularly useful. In this analogy, cotton represents Brahman and the thread represents Saguna Brahman (Ishvara). The universe (quilt) is then constructed out of the all pervading thread.  Individual flower patterns on the quilt represent Jivatmas. Collection of patterns represent creation (Samsara).  This is a dynamic quilt with patterns coming into existence and going out of existence. On the quilt the patterns are in constant flux, but the thread (ishvara) is beyond time and stays ever the same.

As the lord started revealing his cosmic form and vibhuti’s in chapters 9, 10 and 11 we kept going back to this analogy. The foundation of bhakti is laid once one truly understands that there nothing other than him (Mattah para taram nan yad kinchid asti). In bhakti yoga chapter, we learned that the true characteristics of a bhakta are Adwesta, Maitra, Karuna. Bhakti when expressed as universal love for all of the creation paves path to the creator.

The class cooked and served in shadras. This brought us together in the collective act of serving the haridwar community.

11th Grade Cooking for Shadras
Serving at Shadras
Anand:Our Dosa expert!

As we approached the end of the academic year, we completed a relatively quick flyby of the gita garden. We stopped by a few chosen flowers in each chapter and discussed them in some details.

Usha and i feel privileged to teach and interact with such young and dynamic minds. May the blessings of Hari be forever on them.

With Love,

Krishna & Usha