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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Kanakadasa Jayanthi @ IndiraNagar Lower Primary School

Children gathered in the school at around 8 AM, there was excitement on their faces.
I asked them - what is special? You are all so well dressed and happy.
Children: Miss today is holiday.
Me: Really? then why have you come to school.
Children: Miss we will finish pooja and leave....
Me: What pooja is it?
Children: Kanakadasa jayanthi

The head mistress orders the picture of Kanakadasa to be removed from the wall and put on a stool converted into a worship altar. The teachers performed the Pooja and all the children got Arathi and Prasad.

The headmistress gave a short yet very eloquent speech to children about Kanakadasa. Reminding them that in their older textbook there was a poem that Kanakadasa had written. This rang some bell and children said "yes yes miss we remember that one".
She told them that Kanakadasa lived many centuries back but his name and work is still remembered because he contributed to the lives of many and was a great philosopher, poet and saint. He was also from a small village and he studied well and grew up to become a great person.
Later she invited me to interact with children on this day.

I pointed at the picture of Kanakadasa and asked -

what is he holding in his hands?
A squeak from the first row ( 1st standard ): Guitar Miss
A yell from the back row( 4th 5th standard) - Adhu Tamburi ( its a tanpura)

The first standard kid was very puzzled to know that its not a guitar.

There was a wave of giggle that subsided when I asked the next question

Do you see his feet, what is he wearing?

Again from the first row: Miss... hawai chappli but its torn, mine is also torn.
The back row is silent this time my final question what is he holding in his other hand?
No answer....

I said, in olden days footwear was made of wood. Even now you can find them but not many wear them.
Clothing was mostly cotton for the common man.
Kanaka dasa was simple in his lifestyle, he wore simple clothes, ate simple food. He had great passion for music and always loved to sing and write poems too. He is holding a Tambura and Jalra in this hands, both instruments are used while singing.
Do you want to listen to a story from Kanakadasa's life?
Children: YES! YES MISS

So I told them about the famous incident at the Udupi temple.
Once Kanakadasa visited Udupi but because of "Jati Bheda" ( caste based discrimination) he was not allowed inside the temple.
Kanakadasa did not argue or become angry. He was humble and he prayed from outside the temple, he sang songs to God from outside and his Bhakti ( devotion) was so moving that the legend says the Idol turned towards Kanakadasa and he could see the Idol through a window. Such is the power of pure heart and pure intention.


I told them that I have been to Udupi and seen the Kanakana Kindi and have deeply thought about the ecstasy ( ananda) that Kanakadasa might have felt at that miraculous moment.

I continued, you know such a great man who was divine and full of Bhakti also wrote a very nice story about Ragi. Do you want to listen to it?
There was more enthusiasm this time and the children came closer, straightened their spine and even pushed each other a bit to get closer to me.

I told them a story called Ramadhanya Charite ( the story of Ramadhanya)
Once Rice and Ragi caught a fight on who is a better grain and their quarrel became a big argument and they were taken to the court of Lord Rama. Lord Rama ordered both to be put in the prison. After a few months Rice had rotted away but Ragi survived, Lord Rama blessed Ragi which was primarily poor mans food then and thus Ragi is called "Ramadhanya".

Do you all eat Raagi?
Children: Yes miss
there was a great excitement in them to know that ragi is special in this story.

Don't you think we should eat Ragi and Rice both?
there is giggle again...

Do you see, though Kanakadasa was a great saint and divine he also thought about the society and people. His thinking was very high and his behavior was very humble that even God turned towards him.
Do you know what kind of thoughts he had?

"Is sweetness in sugar or sugar in sweetness, or is it like both sugar and sweetness are in the tongue"

If you could not taste and know what is sweet can you say if it is sugar or salt?

Can you think of more such examples where it is difficult to know something as simple as this...
When you go home today try to think...

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