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How and What do we teach our children about Hinduism? Give them the right values.

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Vegetarianism - Balanced Diet - Compassion - Life

I have had this conversion in the past (a number of times) with different Anglo-Saxons here.
When they argue about plants & life, I always point out that it is the degree.
If people can eat animals, why stop there - why not human beings.. It comes down to what is acceptable to them and their values.

Some Buddhist/Jains take care when walking so that they do not kill ants.
My grandmother never used to eat anything that comes from under the ground.
It will be great if we could avoid hurting any living being.
I do my best (or what is practical as I see).
I also point out that I have been brought up in a certain way with certain values (right or wrong) and I see no compelling reason to change.

As alluded before, if everyone becomes vegetarian, there may not be enough resources to go around.
As for guiding children, it is better to practice rather than preach. They are smart enough to know which is truly valued.
I am often reminded of my uncle who was keen on social reform. He fought for widow remarriage and was associated with many of the women's right organizations. He was a pucca Brahmin who performed his daily rituals. He did not believe in the caste system. He hated holding money. Whenever he got money he gave it away ASAP. He valued only his books. They were his only worldly possessions.

Toward the end of his life he was staying in Triplicane. There was a slum nearby. Once when I visited him, I found the door open. Then I saw my uncle sleeping on the floor with two of the slum children. He always slept on the floor. Then he woke up and saw me. He told one of the children to tell his mother that his nephew has come. In another ten minutes one of the women from the slum came with a cup of steamimg coffee.

When there was a marriage in the house, the people from the slum attended the marriage. They brought a gift also.

My uncle never talked about caste or its removal. He moved closely with very orthodox Brahmins. He was a Brahmin who did not believe in caste.

He lived it. He was respected in the community.

One when my first son was born he came to see the child. We were in T.Nagar. There was a bus strike that day. I asked my uncle how he came from Triplicane? He said "of course, walking. I never take a bus." He was past 80 then.


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The soul itself comes with its own experiences and the lessons it learnt in its various associations with the physical world. So you would be surprised at how much self learning is possible and that too of the right knowledge by a person even if he is not taught anything. In my opinion, allowing the child to learn by self with minimal external influence is the best way of learning. The child is capable of picking up the subtle messages as it grows, in its interactions with various people. But the only thing we need to be careful about is, given the extent of pressures and temptations that we see in the world today, we need to make sure that the child doesn't sucuumb or get enticed by them. So the parents job should be one of overseeing than drilling.
What did we teach our children about Hinduism? The tradition in the families of myself and my wife is to teach the children some slokas, sthudhis for praying to GOD. I think this is a tradition in most of the Brahmin families. So the first words any child learns is a Sthudhi/Sloka. My wife taught my children many slokas. Though I was taught by my father, I had no time to teach my children. The idea of GOD who watches over you was inculcated in the minds of children. Not a punishing GOD, but one who watches your every move and gives you everything.

Whenever my children did something bad we always warned them that GOD is watching. I remember an incident when we thought that my son was telling a lie. We exhorted him to tell the truth as GOD was watching. He looked around (we were in one of the rooms where there was no picture of any Deity) and replied that GOD is not there in that room. He was about 3 years old then.

I have always had the habit of doing Puja daily. We had a special room/place designated as Puja room. My wife also did that. Children were asked to pray there daily. And then we visited temples. Even my honey moon was a pilgrimage cum Honey moon trip. The annual holidays were always pilgrimage cum holidays. We taught our children to recite the sthudhis/slokas in the temples. But we never did any archanas in the name of the individuals. No pariharams. No astrologers.

My father taught me to ask GOD only for Nalla Bhuddhi and Padippu. We taught our children to ask only for that.

My first son about whom I had written earlier took a lot of interest in the epics and puranas. We bought him Amar Chtra katha comics. We read the story first so that we could answer the questions. We made it clear to my children that the epics and Puranas were basically fiction though based on history. We accepted the fallacies and inconsistencies of the epics and Puranas. Discussed them and explained them to the best of our knowledge.

My parents and in laws were staying far away and met the children only once a year. Sometimes not even that. So their influence was very limited.
Vegetarianism - Balanced Diet - Compassion - Life

Folks, here is a small conversation in a Vegetarian Household: Place - T. Nagar, Chennai

Mr. is a CFO in a Multi-National Co. Mrs. Very Traditional has a M.Sc. in Botany. Daughter: Very obedient. Son: In high school, and is very talkative... Enjoy...have fun:

Mom: Hi Kanna, how was the school today?

Son: Good Ma, in the Science Quiz I made a perfect score.. the teacher was very impressed.. it's all because I read this "Scientific American" regularly.

Mom: What was the topic anyway?

Son: Well, it's about balanced diet, vegetarian food, whether plants have life and respire and have feelings or not.. and all those cool stuff!

Mom: Tell me more, remember we are all strict vegetarians.. we have compassion, we should not kill any living things..we just can't use animals for our use...

Son: Mom, listen, like animals plants have life, they breath and they grow to propagate their species... we kill plants and use it in our cooking all day everyday..plus we drink milk every day.. milk is an animal product..dah, Mom.. and many of the vegetarians even take eggs and fish (in Bengal).. do you know why? All because we should have balanced diet... plant food just can't give all the Essential Amino acids that we need: you must take some animal food also like milk, egg and fish... besides, Mom, the milk we take it's meant for the calf.. we deprive the calves of their milk.. instead our Milkmen trick the cows with a phony calf for the cow to secrete milk.. so that they can sell it for big bucks.. and we buy it for our consumption.

Mom: Kanna.. just stop.. we need to live.. we need milk, w/o milk our daily life will be totally destroyed!

Son: Man uses both plants and animals for his use, to make his life livable. see you have beautiful fine grain sofa here.. all are made of fine leather.. you have comfortable shoes.. all made up of fine leather from animals... so, the fact is we kill animals for our comfort... we kill calves to steal their milk, we kill plants to eat their fruits, seeds, tubers etc.

Mom: But we are very compassionate people, remember.

Son: We are.. and we are also a part of the Food Chain.. most people in the world are buried not cremated after death.. they are eaten by the bugs, worms etc.. they enter the Food Chain.. the cycle goes on; we are part of Nature, and so don't say we are compassionate people, that's why we are Pure Vegetarians... that's all funny talk, Mom.

Mom: I agree with everything you say... but we are vegetarians, period.

Son: Yes.. yes.. you keep saying that... you see, Dad.. he eats everything at his Office..since he is a big shot in his Company, they feed him all sorts of cuisines from that Five Star Hotel.. man he loves Salmon Steak, Kung Pao Beef, and Mutton Briyani.. and all that.. but when he eats at home he is a cool vegetarian...

You are very funny Mom.. anyway, just give me some money -pocket money - I have to take somebody for a treat- that girl you know, who always smiles at me! She loves that deep fried Prawn! Man... it's a very costly dish! She has expensive taste, Mom!! Your are the best Mom one can have in this whole world!!!

The moral of the story is this:

God (or better the son of the God) created this world and all other beings for the use of man and woman. So non-vegetarians are living as per the wishes of the son of God taking his life in this world before he died at the cross as the example. Amen!! halileuja!!
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