In an age where humanity is being driven by technological advancement and human interaction is largely dictated by virtual media, and where students are facing a world of break-neck competition and stress, there is an urgent need to pause and reflect on where we as a society are heading.
The need for this is acutely felt among children who are expected to excel in multiple fields and prove their excellence through marks, awards and ranks. They seem to have been as if robbed of living care-free lives, spending time with nature and in the process observe, assimilate and learn from everything around them. Their exposure to the bigger wider world outside is ironically limited by digital media in the confines of their own houses. It is hardly surprising then that as per the WHO, one in four children in India suffers from clinical depression, a mental state that severely damages the way you think, feel and act causing severe impairment in daily life. Limiting the goals of life to mundane materialistic achievements and defining education as a means to those achievements have left children with little choice and we as adults are responsible for their plight. About 20 million children of ages 10–14 are estimated to be tobacco-addicted according to a survey done by the National Sample Survey Organization of the Indian Government. To this astounding figure, about 5500 new users are added every day, making two million new users every year. It is quite evident that information overdose or mechanical expertise is hardly helping develop the finer and higher values mentioned above.
In this context, I would like to present my book, ‘Hidden Secrets and Hidden Treasures: Seleceted Themes and Verses from the Bhagavad Gita’ to teach Bhagavad Gita to children in a way that they can comprehend and relish. The book draws upon themes such as anger, fear, confusion, envy, greed, pride, demotivation etc. and highlights those selected verses from the Bhagavad Gita that discuss these themes. In order to create more interest around the verses and the explanations, many short stories are woven around them. These stories reflect the experiences of children in their day today lives. With the help of three characters, Rohit, Raghu and Madhu, who are cousins between ages of 11- 13, the stories speak about the different challenges these children face and how they respond to them. The book comes in two parts; the part 1 of the book describes the adventures of Rohit, a young boy from Delhi, who visits his cousins in a small village called Nandagaon and in part 2 Rohit’s cousins, Raghu and Madhu visit him in Delhi.
Being non-judgemental and empathetic, the book aims at helping children introspect into their lives and applying the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita thus enriching their ability to deal with tough emotions and respond to them more positively.
The colourful pictures depict the concepts more clearly making the book highly attractive. This book is expected to capture the imagination of children and fill the gap of presenting the Bhagavad Gita to them through stories and pictures. The colourful depiction of the verses as well as the stories invites students to engage in self-study of the books apart from guided reading.
The book is also very classroom friendly since it includes exercises after each chapter to enable assessment by teachers. Apart from the understanding/comprehension kind of questions, these exercises include higher order thinking questions (HOTs) to assess the deeper understanding of students that is expected from a book like the Bhagavad Gita.