Our last meeting for this academic year will be on June 22nd for the Annual Day. The posters made by our class will be used to decorate the hallway for Annual Day.

See you all at 3.30 pm at Crossroads Middle School on Jun 22nd.

Hari Om!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8, 2014

Today was the last day of Balavihar for the academic year.  We hope all the kids had a great year in Balavihar.  Today was also the last class in Crossroads Middle School.  From next year we move to our own Ashram for Balavihar classes.

In today's class, we created posters for the annual day.  Many posters were made at home and brought by the children.  We made the remaining in the class today.  After the class we went out to play.  The aarti and pledge were done at the auditorium.

Here are the posters made by our class for decorating the hallway for annual day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 1, 2014

After the completion of the Brahmacharya ashram, an individual moves into Grahasta ashram.  Grahasta involves getting married and thereafter owning a house.  Today we learned about the steps involved in getting married. Marriage is known as 'vivaha' and there are 13 steps. The selection of the two people getting married is based on everyone's acceptance in the family, Gothra, or lineage, and the match of their horoscopes.      

The steps in Vivaha are:

1) Mangala vadyam, or good music,
2) Swagatham (the welcome ceremony between the two families),
3) Ganesha Puja to remove all obstacles,
4) Antarapata,
5) Mangalastakam,
6) Kanya Agamanan,
7) Kamya (bride) Danam.
8) Mangala phera includes four parts, Dharma, Artha (when one earns their livelihood), Karma (fulfilling desires), and Moksha, or liberation.
9) Saptapadi,
10) Mangalasutra ,
11) Akanda Soubhagyanati,
12) Ashirvadam  (blessings from elders and well wishers) and
13) Vidaya (Bidhai) - when the bride leaves to the groom's house.

The seven promises made to go through with a marriage is that
  1. there will be proper nourishment in the home
  2. they will strive towards physical and emotional strength
  3. they should EARN wealth and their livelihood
  4. there should be mutual happiness and shared dedication to each other
  5. healthy and strong children should continue the ancestral lineage
  6. all pleasures of life should be enjoyed
  7. there should be loyalty present to their marriage vows, mutual love, friendship, and companionship.

Also, in class we discussed the posters that are going to be made for the annual day celebration by our class.  There are 9 topics for the posters - based on Nava-vidha Bhakti

  1. shravana or satsang — Listening to spiritual discourses or devotional songs related to God. - Suka Maharishi giving bagavatham to King Parikshit
  2. kirtana — Singing or talking about God. - Thyagaraja
  3. smarana — Remembering God.  - Prahalada
  4. pãda-sevana — Serving God's holy feet.- Paduka Pooja for Chinmayananda
  5. archana — Anointing God with sandalwood paste, etc. - King Ambarisha
  6. vandana — Bowing before God.- Akrura / Uddhava
  7. dãsya — Behaving as the servant of God.- Hanuman
  8. sakhya — Behaving as the friend of God. -  Sudama
  9. ãtma-nivedana — Unconditionally offering oneself and all of one's belongings to God with absolute submission  - King Bali

- Nilanjana Das

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 4, 2014

Today was a very busy day for the 9th Grade class. We began class by discussing some upcoming events.

These events are:
1. CORD Walkathon - May 11, 2014
2. Annual Day - June 22, 2014
3. Opening of the New Ashram - July 2 - 4, 2014
4. Registration for next Year - Ongoing
5. Upcoming Photo Day - May 18, 2014

After these announcements, the class began discussing topics brought up during last classes discussion with Amit  Uncle. We started with the topic of the three gunas (Satvic, Tamasic, and Rajasic) as well as what the word guna means. We then moved on onto the topic of the stages of life (Brahmacharya, Grahasta, Vanaprashta, Sanyasa).

The topic of the day was in regards to entering of Grahasta after graduation, and your duties as a house holder.  This is known as Samavartana.  It is simlar to a convocation after completion of college.   The guru gives advice to the student about how he should lead his life after the days in the Gurukula.

The Guru gives the following advice;
1. Speak the truth
2. Do your duty.
3. Study scriptures
4. Pay your fees
5. Get married
6. Never neglect your welfare
7. Do not neglect the study of Scriptures.
8. Do your duties towards ancestors, parents, teachers and guests.
9. Reverence to all learned people
10. Give charity

We went into a discussion specifically about charity. Some topics included whether intentions had a play in charitable actions, as well as if it is possible to give more than what you take. One example brought up to prove that point was the CORD organization and the people who work for it.

- Nirmal Prakash

Monday, May 5, 2014

April 27, 2014

Today in class, we reviewed talking about the three gunas, Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas.
For a recap:
Gunas- the nature of an aspect.
Sattva - This Guna means doing good for others for the benefit of others.
Rajas - This Guna is doing good deeds, but for one's own self advantage. 
Tamas - This Guna represents all the time wasting and dull, bad deeds that one can do. 
We all need to keep in mind that everyone has these three gunas, but one needs to proportion and control each to be as good as one can be.  We looked deeper into the meaning of what the three gunas actually mean and represent; how all these are connected in our daily lives. The class tried to categorize the gunas into simple definitions and determined that if Sattva is "good" and Tamas is "bad", then Ragas must be "indifference", right? Many people didn't agree, yet they didn't have an answer so we finalized that this must be true.   We came to a conclusion that as we grow up, we might face situations in which the correct answer to choose is not a specific one, but instead a blend of two gunas. We might even come across such a situation today. 
Another topic discussed in class was The Four Stages of Life, also known as the Ashramas. 

Brahmacharya(The Student's Life) - This period ranges from birth to age 25 where a person devotes their life to study as it is their number one priority. 

Grihastha(The Householder's Life) - This period ranges from age 26-50 where a person earns a living and helps supports them and their family. One shall carry out the duties of the family and society in this stage. 

Vanaprastha(The Retired Life) - This period ranges from age 51-75 where a person's household life comes to an end and are preparing to renounce all their belongings so they can prepare for the next stage. 

Sannyasa(The Renounced Life) - This period ranges from age 76-100 where one is to depart from the world and be devoted to God. 

There is no specific time where one transitions from one stage to the other, but it is so that one can fulfill each stage in their lifetime.  

Lastly, the class went to the auditorium to see the seniors graduate from Balavihar and hear Swami Shantananda's words of wisdom.

- Alekhya Battini 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 6, 2014

Today in class we learned about Maha Vakyas, which means the great declarations. The four Maha Vakyas are:

1)  Prajnanam Brahma  - Rg Veda (Aitareyopanisd)
2) Tat Tvam Asi - Sama Veda (Chandogya Upanisad)
3) Ayam-atma Brahma - Atharva Veda (Mandukyopanisad)
4) Aham Brahmasmi - Yajur Veda (Brhadaranya Upanisad)

Prajnanam Brahma means consciousness is Brahman
Tat Tvam si means that art thou.
Ayam atma brahma means this Self is Brahman
Aham Brahmasmi means I am Brahman

We learned that Brahman  is derived from the Sanskrit word Br which means big. 

We discussed about the importance of focus and how we can bring the focus a certain object if we look for it.

- Neeharika

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 9, 2014

On March 9th, the class was immersed in polishing the ideas for our presentation of 9th grade Balavihar. As an unorthodox group of intelligent children, we have decided to make a short movie portraying guunas and how our actions affect us. At the beginning of class, Amit Uncle came in to critique our ideas for the presentation. Using the suggestions from him, along with the class, a small group of play writers revised the movie to be more coherent and easier to understand. Luckily, our intelligent group of students have strong opinions and voice them to better the movie. It is "crunch time" and our class is Just focused on finishing this ambitious plan of a movie for the presentation.

- Rahul Pemmaraju

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 2, 2014

In class on Sunday March 2nd, the students reflected on any questions that they had come across. These questions were pertaining to doing the right thing and choosing between dharma and adharma  Since many students might face big decisions to make in their high school lives. One student asked Radha aunty why God would listen to her prayers and help her, when there were more people suffering from more serious things such as leukemia or other types of cancers. Radha aunty answered saying that maybe God had given her those thoughts, telling the student that maybe she could do something to help those people suffering. Then the students talked of any doubts that they might have had or roadblocks they might have hit about their beliefs during the course of their lives. The difference between faith and belief was debated. Finally an agreement was reached that  our beliefs are things that we are thoroughly convinced of. Usually (but not always) they are ideas, concepts that we gather through acquiring information and experience. Because of that, our beliefs can change over time as we gain more knowledge and experience more things throughout our lives. However faith includes our beliefs, but it is bigger than that. Faith is defined as BELIEF qualified by Knowledge. Faith requires action. If it doesn’t move us to do something or say something – actually take some kind of action – it’s not really faith.
- Disha Hegde