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Session 8c Education and Integration Explaining and Teaching Hinduism: Objectives ands Strategies Kamlesh Kapur September 11-13, 2009
Problem statement If we do not recognize the problem, we cannot analyze the impact of the problem We therefore cannot find any solution or devise a strategy
Choices parents have Given the Freedom of faith and the freedom to follow any set of traditions, we as parents have to decide the choices we are going to offer to our next generation. Choices: Assimilation in the mainstream culture Becoming another ethic ingredient in the melting pot Rejecting cultural diffusion and insisting to maintain distinct identity Learning about Dharma as a subject
Keeping converting Missionaries at Bay Strategies Knowing concepts Explaining rational and scientific aspects of Hindu Dharma
Task Ahead How to  reconnect - that is the subject under discussion Learning basic concepts Learning to be Hindus by convictions Learning to be practicing Hindus Proving how spirituality meets science in Hindu Dharma
Suggestions Sequential learning system Preparation of modules of lessons for different age groups Removal of English categories Teaching our version of history Explaining Vedic knowledge and its relevance in the contemporary world Separating social sciences from Dharma
Improving Perception of Hindu Dharma and Hindu beliefs Who should be the spokes person? What should we highlight?  Need for an agreed mass of information, uniformity of content and thematic unity  Steering clear of fault lines Positive perception is crucial for the self esteem of our children How to avoid contradictory depictions on the net and in print
Removing Myths and misunderstandings Society- myths Myths in Religions Myths about Creation Myths in other religions Heaven and hell Often asked questions Questions you must ask for creating freer environment
Strategies Being on the defensive or the offensive? Choice Ask pertinent questions and prepare those questions Show your antiquity and demand their’s Ask about the myths and unscientific aspects of Christianity Make them uncomfortable. Be prepared with quotes about their early history Never be on the defensive Have positive idea of your identity How to build self esteem Knowledge about the key concepts and philosophy are crucial to build self esteem
Circumventing the Educational system Parents have rights They can circumvent the system Suggested books for the teachers Visits to the schools- be a guest speaker Donating books Charity to schools for various culture related programs Introduce topics such as diversity and multiculturalism
How to reach American student body to clear the fog of their total ignorance United front on terms and definitions Going to schools and colleges Going to churches and synagogues Approach the public libraries and demand books- by law they are supposed to procure the book for research within the next ten days Know your rights and privileges.

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Explaining Hindu Dharma to our next Generation- Objectives and Strategies - Sushri Kamlesh Kapur (s08c-4)

  • 1. Session 8c Education and Integration Explaining and Teaching Hinduism: Objectives ands Strategies Kamlesh Kapur September 11-13, 2009
  • 2. Problem statement If we do not recognize the problem, we cannot analyze the impact of the problem We therefore cannot find any solution or devise a strategy
  • 3. Choices parents have Given the Freedom of faith and the freedom to follow any set of traditions, we as parents have to decide the choices we are going to offer to our next generation. Choices: Assimilation in the mainstream culture Becoming another ethic ingredient in the melting pot Rejecting cultural diffusion and insisting to maintain distinct identity Learning about Dharma as a subject
  • 4. Keeping converting Missionaries at Bay Strategies Knowing concepts Explaining rational and scientific aspects of Hindu Dharma
  • 5. Task Ahead How to reconnect - that is the subject under discussion Learning basic concepts Learning to be Hindus by convictions Learning to be practicing Hindus Proving how spirituality meets science in Hindu Dharma
  • 6. Suggestions Sequential learning system Preparation of modules of lessons for different age groups Removal of English categories Teaching our version of history Explaining Vedic knowledge and its relevance in the contemporary world Separating social sciences from Dharma
  • 7. Improving Perception of Hindu Dharma and Hindu beliefs Who should be the spokes person? What should we highlight? Need for an agreed mass of information, uniformity of content and thematic unity Steering clear of fault lines Positive perception is crucial for the self esteem of our children How to avoid contradictory depictions on the net and in print
  • 8. Removing Myths and misunderstandings Society- myths Myths in Religions Myths about Creation Myths in other religions Heaven and hell Often asked questions Questions you must ask for creating freer environment
  • 9. Strategies Being on the defensive or the offensive? Choice Ask pertinent questions and prepare those questions Show your antiquity and demand their’s Ask about the myths and unscientific aspects of Christianity Make them uncomfortable. Be prepared with quotes about their early history Never be on the defensive Have positive idea of your identity How to build self esteem Knowledge about the key concepts and philosophy are crucial to build self esteem
  • 10. Circumventing the Educational system Parents have rights They can circumvent the system Suggested books for the teachers Visits to the schools- be a guest speaker Donating books Charity to schools for various culture related programs Introduce topics such as diversity and multiculturalism
  • 11. How to reach American student body to clear the fog of their total ignorance United front on terms and definitions Going to schools and colleges Going to churches and synagogues Approach the public libraries and demand books- by law they are supposed to procure the book for research within the next ten days Know your rights and privileges.

Editor's Notes

  1. Scientific aspects: Vigyan, Gyan, Karma and Upasana Explaining motivating forces- four vs. three by Maslow Purely scientific concepts Unless our next generation knows gyana part (key concepts, ceremonies, beliefs, customs and practices), and vigyana part (rational, scientific base, significance), asking them to have blind faith and pray will have a very illusionary effect.
  2. The beauty of being a Hindu lies in your freedom to be who you want to be. Nobody can tell you what to do, or what not to do. There is no central authority, no single leader of the faith. No one can pass an order to excommunicate you, or like in some countries, pass a decree that orders your death by stoning for walking with a strange man. We don’t appreciate our freedom because we can’t feel the plight of others who aren’t free. Many religions have a central authority with awesome power over the individual. They have a clear chain of command, from the lowliest local priest to the highest central leader. Hinduism somehow escaped from such central authority, and the Hindu has miraculously managed to hold on to his freedom through the ages. How did this happen? Vedanta is the answer. When the writers of Vedanta emerged, around 1500 BC, they faced an organised religion of orthodox Hinduism. This was the post Vedic age, where ritualism was practiced, and the masses had no choice but to follow. It was a coercive atmosphere. The writers of Vedanta rebelled against this authority and moved away from society into forests. This was how the ‘Aranyakas’ were written, literally meaning ‘writings from the forest’. These later paved the way for the Upanishads, and Vedanta eventually caught the imagination of the masses. It emerged triumphant, bearing with it the clear voice of personal freedom. This democracy of religious thought, so intrinsic to Vedantic intelligence, sank into the mindset of every Indian. Most couldn’t fathom the deep wisdom it contained, but this much was very clear. They understood that faith was an expression of personal freedom, and one could believe at will. That’s why Hinduism saw an explosion of Gods. There was a God for every need and every creed. If you wanted to build your muscles, you worshiped a God with fabulous muscles. If you wanted to pursue education, there was a Goddess of Learning. If it was wealth you were looking for, then you looked up to the Goddess of wealth — with gold coins coming out of her hands. If you wanted to live happily as a family, you worshiped Gods who specially blessed families. When you grew old and faced oncoming death, you spent time in contemplating a God whose business it was to dissolve everything — from an individual to the entire Universe. Everywhere, divinity appeared in the manner and form you wanted it to appear, and when its use was over, you quietly discarded that form of divinity and looked at new forms of the divine that was currently of use to you. ‘Yad Bhavam, tad Bhavati’… what you choose to believe becomes your personal truth, and freedom to believe is always more important than belief itself. Behind all this — was the silent Vedantic wisdom that Gods are but figments of human imagination. As the Kena Upanishad says, “Brahma ha devebhyo vijigye…” — All Gods are mere subjects of the Self. It implies that it is far better that God serves Man than Men serve God. Because Men never really serve God — they only obey the dictates of a religious head who speaks for that God, who can turn them into slaves in God’s name. Hindus have therefore never tried to convert anyone. Never waged war in the name of religion. The average Hindu happily makes Gods serve him as per his needs. He discards Gods when he has no use for them. And new Gods emerge all the time — in response to market needs. In this tumult, no central authority could survive. No single prophet could emerge and hold sway, no chain of command could be established. Vedanta had injected an organised chaos into Hinduism, and that’s the way it has been from the last thirty five centuries. Vedanta is also responsible, by default, for sustaining democracy. When the British left India, it was assumed that the nation would soon break up. Nothing of that kind has happened. The pundits of doom forgot that the Indian had been used to religious freedom from thousands of years. When he got political freedom, he grabbed it naturally. After all, when you can discard Gods why can’t you discard leaders? Leaders like Gods are completely expendable to the Indian mindset. They are tolerated as long as they serve the people, and are replaced when needs change. It’s the triumph of people over their leaders, and in this tumult, no dictator can ever take over and rule us. Strange how the thoughts of a few men living in forests, thirty five centuries ago, can echo inside the heart of every Indian. That’s a tribute to the resurgent power of India, and the fearlessness of its free thinking people.