Vasant Kunj, Delhi, India
Vasant Kunj, Delhi, India
When you enter आनंदम् बाल गोकुलम् (Anandam Bal Gokulam), you are greeted with ‘Suswagatam’ by a bunch of bubbly kids. In another room, you will find children reciting mantras and shlokas, the terrace is full of kids indulged in theme-based craft or painting.
It may be difficult to believe that in today’s modern world there exists a place like this where children are introduced to the Vedic way of life in an easy way and are equipped with knowledge on values, life skills and morals. Anandam Bal Gokulam – Bal Sanskar Kendra is one such place in Indore, Madhya Pradesh that is dedicated to giving moral lessons to kids and to helping them stay connected with their roots and culture.
Children making paper crowns on Janmashtami
“Parenting in the modern era has undergone a tremendous shift. To top it all, is the busy schedule of parents – juggling between office and home, and work and kids. Though parents have an idea about the manner in which they want to raise their children and the values they want to instill, they either do not have the time or they complain that children don’t listen.
Anandam Bal Gokulam was established in July, 2018 and it has been a fascinating five-years journey since then.
Speaking about the idea behind the centre, Meenakshi says that when the RSS Sarsangchalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat ji had visited her place in Indore, he had suggested her to do something meaningful for the society. This statement stayed with her throughout and she kept on thinking how she could make a meaningful contribution to the society in her way and with her abilities. That is how the idea of Anandam Bal Gokulam took shape. Meenakshi believes that childhood is the stage when the foundation is laid for the future of the individual and for the country.
“शायद ही कोई माता पिता ऐसे हैं जो अपने बच्चों को अच्छे संस्कार नहीं देना चाहते हैं; भारत की संस्कृति और गौरव से अवगत नहीं कराना चाहते हैं. पर कभी समय की कमी से या कभी बच्चों के व्यवहार के कारण नहीं कर पाते हैं. ऐसे में वो उन्हें हमारे centre पर ले आते हैं.”
Peace, love, kindness, discipline, empathy and gratitude are some intrinsic qualities that every human being must possess. Modern education system does not focus on the spiritual teachings which are very important to lead a peaceful, content and happy life ahead. At our Bal Sanskar Centre, in the 1-2 hours of daily classes, the focus is on character building coupled with social and spiritual consciousness.
Regular recitations of shlokas help in increasing concentration, maintaining calmness and mindfulness and in keeping the mind and body energised.
Guru Mantra, Vidyaarthee Shloka, Shanti Mantra, Ram Stuti Saraswati namastubhyam are some of the mantras that are taught with proper meaning and correct pronunciation.
Simple sayings like अतिथि देवो भव: teach a lot about treating guests and visitors.
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु र्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः | गुरु साक्षात परब्रह्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः | teaches about the importance of guru or teacher.
जननी जन्म भूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी about motherland.
उद्यमेन हि सिध्यन्ति कार्याणि न मनोरथैः। न हि सुप्तस्य सिंहस्य प्रविशंति मुखे मृगाः। about the importance of hardwork.
Meenakshi says, “Our spiritual texts provide a great source of learning the basics of life. When our children will grow up and struggle to settle down in their careers and families, these principles will serve as a guiding light.”
Besides shlokas and mantras, children are also taught yog, surya namaskars, meditation, art and craft, life skills and mind games like chess that have long-term advantages. The centre echoes with the tunes of the National Anthem and the RSS Prarthana. A sense of patriotism and love for motherland are instilled in these children so that they grow up to become responsible and acceptable irrespective of religion, caste or creed.
The teaching methods at the centre are simple. Meenakshi says, “It is not that children don’t listen to adults. They do, but only when they are handled with love and patience, when are they not forced to do something and when they are left free.”
Emphasis on Hindi and Sanskrit
For birthdays, children here share wishes as जन्मदिन की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं instead of Happy Birthday!
“There is nothing wrong in saying Happy Birthday. The only thing is that children have enough exposure to English language in schools and other places. During their hours in the Gokulam, they are therefore, encouraged to speak in Hindi or Sanskrit,” says Meenakshi
Kids lovingly call her Kaku, meaning Aunty in Marathi.
Parents say that their children have immense respect for Kaku. They listen to everything that she says and act according to her guidance. With her patience and loving nature, she has won the hearts of these kids.
The journey so far
Meenakshi says that she had never imagined that her initiative would garner so much interest and respect from the society.
Anandam Bal Gokulam began with a few children. Now the centre has grown. There are a total of 21 teachers who are giving their services free of cost.
Meenakshi takes pride in saying that no fee is charged from parents. “We consider this as a service to society, a responsibility which we want to fulfill with utmost sincerity and honesty. संस्कृति को संजो कर रखना ही हमारा उद्देश्य है और इस केंद्र को निशुल्क चलाना हमारा ध्येय है.”
Meenakshi says that the response from parents was positive from the very beginning. Parents could notice behavioural changes in the kids and with word of mouth, the popularity of the centre increased.
“This has been a two-way learning process, where children have learnt from us and we too have learnt a lot from them.”
Meenakshi “We have been getting requests to open more centres in Indore and in other parts of the state. We dream that one day every city has a branch of Ananadam Bal Gokulam where children can soak up the richness that Bharat is made up of.”
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