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Hands that Help... A Balvikas Venture Swami Speaks

MAHAA SHIVARAATHRI Come exams and we burn the midnight oil. Here’s a festival that lends us the chance to do the same. Read on to find out why! “Spend all the days with Shiva and the conquest of the mind is easy. Spend the fourteenth day of the waning moon with Shiva, reaching the climax of spiritual effort on that final day, and success is yours. That is why all the Chaturdasis (fourteenth days of the dark half of every month) are called Shivaraathris (Shiva's nights); that is why the Chaturdasi of the Magha month is called Mahaa Shivaraathri.” Bhagawan Baba One of the legends has it that during the churning of the Ocean of Milk, one of the things that emerged from it, was poison. It was believed to have been so powerfully toxic, that its effect could have destroyed all of Creation. At this point, all the Devas went to Lord Shiva, and prayed that he save them. Lord Shiva downed the poison, cutting its entry into his system by wrapping a snake tight around his throat. The poison is said to have turned his throat blue, which is how he earned the name ‘Neelakantha’ (Neela = Blue,

Kantha = Throat). Goddess Parvati is said to have spread the word that this day was auspicious, and worshipping Lord Shiva every year on that day would bring prosperity and peace to the people who did so.

Another rather well known legend is that of the hunter. There was once a hunter, who was stricken by poverty. Desperate to find some food for his family, he ventured deep into the forest, where he came across a dangerous tiger. Fearing for his life, he climbed a tree, and sat hidden amidst the branched waiting anxiously for morning to come,and for the tiger to leave. All night he plucked leaves from the branches in his anxiety and cast them below. He was unaware of the fact that the tree was a Bilva tree, and the leaves, which are sacred to Shiva, fell on a Shiva linga that happened to be at the base of the tree. Shiva was

“ Do not ask God for anything. Let Him deal with you as He wills... ”

pleased by the offering, inadvertent though it was, and saved the hunter. This event is commemorated on Mahaa Mar 2008, Vol I Issue 3 Shivaraathri by staying up all night and offering Bilva Good luck! leaves.

People visit temples in large numbers on this auspicious day. Some people observe a strict fast as a mark of their dedication and devotion. There are devotees who do not even take a drop of water as they stay awake through the night. The Shiva lingam is worshipped during this time by washing it every three hours with offerings like milk, curd, honey and rose water.Offerings of Bilva leaves are made to the Lingam, while hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the "Lingashtakam" and “Bilvashtakam” are sung with great fervour and devotion. People repeat the 'Panchakshara' Mantra, "Om Namah Shivaya". It is believed that he who utters the names of Shiva during Shivraathri with perfect devotion and faith, is freed from all sins.

Most of you must be plum in the middle of exams right now. We at Hands that Help, wish you all the very best! And for those of you who have finished with the exams, happy holidays— remember to spare some time to write in to us! Inside this issue: Classroom Conversation

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Activities

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Shloka Corner

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Children Speak

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Solutions to Jumble Tumble

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Classroom Conversation An atheist professor of philosophy speaks to his class on the problem science has with God. He asks one of his new students to stand up and has the conversation flows... Professor: So you believe in God? Student: Absolutely, sir. Prof : Is God good? Student: Sure. Prof: Is God allpowerful? Student : Yes. Prof: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others

who are ill. But God didn't. How is this God good then? Hmm? (Student is silent.) Prof: You can't answer, can you? Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?

Student: Yes. Prof: So who created evil? (Student does not answer.)

Student: Yes.

Prof: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don't they?

Prof: Is Satan good?

Student: Yes, sir.

Student : No.

Prof: So, who created them? (Student has no answer.)

Prof: Where does Satan come from? Student: From...God... Prof: That's right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Prof: Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son...Have you ever seen God? Student: No, sir.

Student: Yes. Prof: Evil is everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything. Correct?

Prof: Tell us if you have ever heard your God? Student: No, sir. (Continued on Page3)

Activities Given below are a set of words JUMBLE that describe values. The only trouble is that they’re all mixed up. See if you can unscramble them to get them to make sense!

1. N A P I E E T C 2. H T I I L U M Y

TUMBLE

3. N S V E E C E R R P A E 4. O U G E R C A 5. S I I N P C D L E

Some tips— 1.

Divide your page into boxes, like in the Amar Chitra Katha Comics

2.

Use speech bubbles to add dialogue to your drawings

3.

Keep the drawings simple! The simpler, the better!

4.

Use short stories to begin with, for example, the kas book!

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ones in your Balvi-

Creative Cauldron

What is Creative Cauldron, and why is it in Hands that Help? How many of you would like to become cartoonists? This summer hols, create a comic strip of any story of your choice, and send it to us— we’ll publish it! Divide your strip into 3 or 4 sections as shown, and draw!

Hands that Help...


Shloka Corner Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra Meaning

Notes

We worship The Om Tryambakam Yajamahe Three-Eyed Lord Shiva who is naturally Sugandhim Pushtivarfragrant, merciful danam and protects His Urva-rukamiva Bandhanan devotees. May we attain salvation Mrityor Muksheeya Ma- (Moksha)as easily as a ripe cucumber amritat leaves its stalk, and be saved from the clutches of fearful death.

The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra, often chanted during Shivaratri, is a prayer of protection, from all mishaps that might befall a person in his or her life.

(Continued from Page 2) Prof: Have you ever felt your God, tasted your God, smelt your God? Have you ever had any sensory perception of God for that matter? Student: No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't. Prof: Yet you still believe in Him? Student: Yes. Prof: According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son? Student: Nothing. I only have my faith. Prof: Yes. Faith. And that is the problem science has. Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat? Prof: Yes. Student: And is there such a thing as cold? Prof: Yes. Student: No sir. There isn't. (The lecture theatre becomes very quiet with this turn of events.) Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don't have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that.

March 2008, Vol I, Issue 3

There is no such thing as cold . Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat . We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy . Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it .

the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an ongoing endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher? (The class is in uproar.)

(There is pin-drop silence in the lecture theatre.)

Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor's brain? (The class breaks out into laughter.)

Prof: So what is the point you are making, young man? Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed. Prof: Flawed? Can you explain how? Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one.To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor.Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey? Prof: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do. Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir? (The Professor shakes his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument is going.)

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor's brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain,sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir? (The room is silent. The professor stares at the student, his face unfathomable.) Prof: I guess you'll have to take them on faith, son. Student: That is it sir... The link between man & god is FAITH . That is all that keeps things moving & alive.

Some people believe the student was Albert Einstein, while others say it was A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Nevertheless, the bottom-line is the inspiration that we must derive—the inspiration to keep faith whatever comes out way! -Edited from the Internet

Student: Since no one has ever observed

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Experience the canvases of the minds of Aneesh Duraiswamy and Bhumika as they express themselves through their drawings! Prerna Mohan touches us with her heartwarming poem about her mother.

MOTHER, by Prerna Mohan Mother is God

CHILDREN SPEAK! Children Speak is a part of the newsletter exclusively for the children, by the children! Please write to us at handsthathelp@gmail.com or mail your drawings, articles or thoughts to 108/2, Seethalakshmi Apts, 8th Main, 19th Cross, Malleswaram, Bangalore 560055. Don’t forget! ‘Hands that Help’ needs YOU to stay alive!!

She makes me feel happy I love her She loves me She is kind She is sweet She is strict I love it when we meet. If I need comforting she’s the one I never want to leave her O! Never Nothing can stop me from loving her O! Nothing.

Answers to ‘Jumble Tumble’ on Page 2 Patience, Humility, Perseverance, Courage, Discipline

Hands that Help (March 2008)  

Welcome to the March issue of Hands that Help! Read about the legends behind Shivaraathri, enjoy a tongue-in-cheek conversation between a st...