Session # 3 Hinduism - Savitri by xdr11625

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									Session # 3 Hinduism - Savitri
Overview
“Savitri, A Tale of Ancient India” by Aaron Shepard. A retelling from The
Mahabharata, India’s national epic, about a princess who becomes a heroine because of
her mind and heart, not her beauty.

Supplies:
Book
Copies of Take Home Page
Copies of the Peacock coloring page
Supplies for activity choices.
Peacock feathers, optional.

Set Up:
Put out peacock feathers, optional. Decorate the room with any Indian textiles or artifacts
that are available, such as a bedspread, a statue, a sari, an incense burner, or a poster.


Entering Activity:
Color the Peacock coloring page.

Sharing Circle:
After the children have arrived, ask them to gather in a circle for the story. Tell them that
this session is devoted to a religion called “Hinduism.”
Read “Savitri.”
Note that peacocks are in the illustrations throughout the book. The peacock is a bird of
India, and is often used to symbolize beauty. The “eye” in the peacock feather can
symbolize wisdom. The Hindu Goddess of Education, Saraswati, is sometimes pictured
sitting near a peacock, symbolizing the superiority of knowledge and wisdom over
physical beauty. Notice that Savitri wears a tiara with a peacock feather as a decoration.

Activity:
Choose one or more of the following options:
1) Make a sacred fire altar with red, orange and yellow tissue paper and have the children
play a game of jumping over it.
2) Have string, markers and clothespins available and have them make a small image of a
soul drawn out by a string, as in the book.
2) Make a paper tiara or crown with a paper peacock feather to symbolize Savitri’s
wisdom of her mind and heart.

Closing:
Here’s hoping that your “wit is as strong as your will,” just like Savitri’s.
Snack: Something from Indian culture, perhaps? Coconut milk, saffron rice, curried
dishes. Raisins, hard boiled eggs, pineapple are topping for curry which could be adapted
for a children’s snack.

Background for Teachers:

The story of princess Savitri is one of the best-known and best-loved tales of India. It
appears within The Mahabharata, India’s great national epic, which is much like an Old
Testament to the Hindus.
This epic, written down at around the time of Christ, had already been passed on orally
for centuries. It arises from a time when legends were born – an age of walled cities, of
sun and fire worship, and of women far more independent than later Indian culture
allowed. – from the book.


Below is a quote that illustrates the great depth in Hinduism in regards to their Epics,
perhaps it will illustrate to you religious educators how briefly we deal with Hinduism
when introducing it to children. At the very least, note how the poem is 24,000 lines!

“Sri Aurobindo gave us a spiritual dynamo in the epic Savitri which had been growing
for half a century and was published in its complete form only in 1952. The tale is based
on the Pativratopakhyana in the Vana Parva of Vyasa’s epic. Drawing out the
significances contained in certain terms used by Vyasa in his Upakhyana, Sri Aurobindo
transformed the original short narrative into a long poem of 24,000 lines without
changing the essentials. This was because as he wrote to his brother, he saw more than
what the surface of Vyasa’s tales showed up for us. What he said about Love and Death
was a kind of manifesto that was realized in full in his later work, Savitri.:

“Ideal love is a triune energy, neither a mere sensual impulse, nor mere emotional nor
mere spiritual … My conception being an ideal struggle between love and death, two
things are needed to give it poetical form, an adequate picture of love and adequate image
of death. The love pictured must be on the ideal plane, and touch therefore the farthest
limit of strength in each of its three directions. The sensual must be emphasized to give it
firm root and basis, the emotional to impart to it life, the spiritual to prolong it into
infinite permanence. And if at their limits of extension the three meet and harmonies, if
they are not triple but triune, then is that love a perfect love and the picture of it a perfect
picture.”

So we have Savitri, probably the one long epic of twentieth century that is studied
throughout the world today, memorized, recited and taught in innumerable academic and
non-academic institutions. Drawing in terms like taponvita and dhyana yoga paraayana
used by Vyasa, Sri Aurobindo presents Savitri as a great tapaswini engaged in yoga. At
the same time, he presents the same Vyasan Savitri the ideal wife and daughter-in-law,
the Princess of Madra remaining perfectly at home in the bare forest hermitage:
“No change was in her beautiful motions seen;
A worshipped empress all once vied to serve,
She made herself the diligent serf of all,
Nor spared the Labour of broom and jar and well,
Or close gentle tending or to heap the fire
Of altar and kitchen, no slight task allowed
To others that her woman’s strength might do.
In all her acts a strange divinity shone:
Into a simplest movement she could bring
A oneness with earth’s glowing robe of light,
A lifting up of common acts by love.”
(parichaaraigunaischaiva prasrayena damena cha
sarvakamakriyaabhischa sarveshaam thushtimaadhadhe)”

-from: “Indian Epic Narrative, Alive and Vibrant” at www.boloji.com/culture/007
Permission pending.
                    Picture Book World Religions: Hinduism

Take Home Page
Today we read “Savitri, an Ancient Indian Tale” by Aaron Shephard as part of our
learning about Hinduism. The story of princess Savitri is one of the best-known and best-
loved tales of India. It appears within The Mahabharata, India’s great national epic,
which is much like an Old Testament to the Hindus.
This epic, written down at around the time of Christ, had already been passed on orally
for centuries. It arises from a time when legends were born – an age of walled cities, of
sun and fire worship, and of women far more independent than later Indian culture
allowed. – from the book.




                    Picture Book World Religions: Hinduism

Take Home Page
Today we read “Savitri, an Ancient Indian Tale” by Aaron Shephard as part of our
learning about Hinduism. The story of princess Savitri is one of the best-known and best-
loved tales of India. It appears within The Mahabharata, India’s great national epic,
which is much like an Old Testament to the Hindus.
This epic, written down at around the time of Christ, had already been passed on orally
for centuries. It arises from a time when legends were born – an age of walled cities, of
sun and fire worship, and of women far more independent than later Indian culture
allowed. – from the book.

								
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