What I learn from the Ramayan (November, 2023)

Once in a while, we get so fortunate that we get to meet the hawan group families on the same day as that of our big festival. And this month gives us that opportunity when our monthly hawan will be on the same day as that of Diwali. Happy Diwali!

I can say it with conviction that all of you have either watched Ramlila or read Ramayana story. Let’s take this month assignment as an excellent opportunity to go a bit deeper. The topic for this month’s assignment is “My favorite part of Ramayan is […] and I like it because […]”.

Apart from being the most revered story, the Ramayan is full of umpteen situations and scenarios that make them memorable as well as impart moral teachings. As you reflect upon any part of the Ramayan, you will find a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom.

As this month’s assignment, each kid will pick one event, circumstance, or episode from the Ramayana and reflect on it. The kids will also talk about the following four parts:

  • The situation/scene
  • Characters in that scene
  • Theme of that scene
  • Reflection on the theme captured

In this assignment, the most critical piece is to reflect on the emotions that drove the theme of that incident. To help you get started, I am sharing a few attributes that may be playing a critical role in those scenarios. While the list is not an exhaustive one, I hope that it provides you with a decent start.

Some of the emotions, human attributes and motivations you can start to look for in those scenarios include love, hatred, jealousy, desire, anger, greed, vulnerability, intelligence, ignorance, friendship, understanding, respect, betrayal, ambition, guilt, sacrifice, hope, loyalty, repentance, relationships, and family dynamics.

A critical note: while analyzing the scenarios, please make sure the focus stays on self – and the lessons you draw from that scenario. In other words, please refrain from critically evaluating the characters; rather, focus on the learning from that situation and what you can learn from it.

Here, I am sharing an incident as an example to help you get started. In a battle ground, King Dasharatha was saved by his queen Kaikeyi. In gratitude, he granted her two boons, which she could claim at any time. Years later, when he decided to crown his son Rama, she reminded her husband of the boons. For those two boons, she asked the king to crown her son, Bharat, and to send Ram into exile for 14 years. The king was in a moral dilemma: to keep his promise or send his elder son, the rightful heir, into exile.

While there are several ways to analyze this situation, here are a few points that immediately come to mind:

  1. Disastrous consequences of impulsive decisions
  2. Importance of words and promises
  3. Love is a powerful emotion; but, when love becomes blind, it can cause havoc
  4. Life is full of moral dilemmas and ethical choices
  5. Sacrifices and duties   

I hope kids can identify and locate interesting scenarios on their own; but if they need help, please share a few incidents with them. In doing so, make sure you do not end up influencing their thinking. Let the kids come up with their own interpretation based upon what they have been learning in the monthly Hawans.

I am looking forward to hearing interesting perspectives presented by our kids.

Best regards,

Harsh Mendiratta