Mahashivaratri: Lessons To Teach Your Child
Shiva – the lord of creation, preservation and destruction. This Mahashivaratri, we tell you important lessons your child must learn from one of the greatest Hindu Gods.
By Leena Ghosh
“Fire is His head, the sun and the moon His eyes, space His ears, the Vedas His speech, the wind His breath, the universe His heart. From His feet, the Earth has originated. Verily, He is the inner self of all beings.”
― Anonymous, The Upanishads
Lord Shiva, the destroyer of evil and negativity, is considered one of the most powerful Hindu Gods, alongside Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. He is known by many names -- Mahadeva, Pashupati, Nataraj, Bholenath, Devendra, Neelakanta, Rudra, Shambhu and more. Lord Shiva is the embodiment of many virtues like selflessness, patience and a strong will. And He is believed to be the source for the creation of the universe.
Origin of Shivaratri
According to author and speaker *Nithin Sridhar, the mythological origin of Shivaratri is more important than the historical origin. “The origin of Shivaratri is basically the story of marriage of Shiva and Parvati. While Shiva represents cosmic consciousness, Parvati represents shakti. The coming together of Shiva and Shakti is believed to be the cause for the creation of the universe. Shivaratri is the celebration of origin of the universe. We are re-enacting this shrishti by celebrating Shivaratri," he explains.
On the occasion of Mahashivaratri, we tell you the important lessons you can share with your child based on Lord Shiva.
Lessons from Lord Shiva
Meditate to focus better: Lord Shiva, also known as Adiyogi, is known for his ability to focus. He does this through meditation and is often shown as seated in ‘siddhasana’ (a seated yoga position) and meditating.
- Lesson for your child: In this day and age of smartphones and other distractions, it is very important to teach your child the ability to focus. It can be achieved through practising meditation for a few minutes every day. Tell him to meditate for 15 to 20 minutes at home before starting his studies. This will help him focus on his lessons better.
Look beyond the surface: Lord Shiva’s 'third eye' symbolises the 'mind’s eye' or the 'inner eye.' He is also known as Tryambaka, one whose wisdom is free of ‘maya’ or any illusion.
- Lesson for your child: Teach your child not to take everything at face value. When she comes across a new concept or a theory, she should always test it before believing it.
Speak the truth: According to the Linga Purana, once Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma entered a competition to prove which one of them is superior, by trying to find the beginning and the end of the Shiva lingam. Lord Brahma said he will get up on his swan and fly up to find the beginning of the lingam and Vishnu said he’ll become a boar and try to get to the bottom of the lingam. Whoever found what he was looking for and returned to ground zero first would be considered the superior one. After searching for some time and not finding the bottom or the top of the lingam, both Gods returned to the surface. While Vishnu spoke the truth and said he couldn’t find the bottom of the lingam, Brahma said he did find the top and showed a mallika flower as proof. The lie angered Lord Shiva and he refused to accept mallika flowers as an offering and also punished Lord Brahma for uttering the lie.
- Lesson for your child: “There are two lessons for the child here. One is that God is eternal and there is no beginning or end to him and the second lesson is the importance of seeking the truth as well as speaking it, always,” Nithin explains.
Be positive: One of the most important powers of Lord Shiva is that he destroys everything that is evil and negative. The kamandalam or the water pot of Lord Shiva stands for the purity of mind and self.
- Lesson for your child: Teaching your child to have a positive outlook in life will help her in the long run. She will be able to cope with demanding situations and crises better if she learns to look at situations from 'the glass is half full' perspective.
Practice restraint: Lord Shiva’s body is covered in ashes. The ashes symbolise the physical world and talk about how everything in life is temporary. “Lord Shiva is a yogi and a dispassionate person. He burnt down Kamadeva. He is known to destroy materialistic desire,” says Nithin.
- Lesson for your child: “The lesson to teach children here is the importance of practising restraint. This was taught in gurukuls. Having self-restraint, doesn’t mean having no possession of materialistic things but practising restraint in what you ask for. The learning is to want something in a controlled manner and not in a reckless fashion,” explains Nithin. "Whenever a child wants something he should be taught to ask these questions: “Does he need it?,” “Is it affordable?” and “Is it useful?” If something is needed and is useful, he can have it. But he should also know that too much of something is not good," he says.
Learn to be calm: Lord Shiva is often called ‘Maha Yogi.’ That is because, barring exceptional situations, he is always in a reflective and calm state of mind, thinking about the well-being of the universe.
- Lesson for your child: If your child learns to be calm in a stressful situation, that’s half the battle won. Teach her to be calm and control her emotions when a situation gets overwhelming, as she can make better decisions with a calm mind rather than a disturbed one.
Channel your energies in a constructive way: Lord Shiva is also known as Nataraj (the King Of Dance) and chooses to express himself through dance. When he is angry, he does the Rudra Tandava and when he is happy, he does the Ananda Tandava. His dance is supposed to be the cause for the universe’s creation, preservation and destruction.
- Lesson for your child: As your child grows up, he will face a few hardships, disappointments and rejections. Tell him that when he feels frustrated or upset about situations in life, he must learn to channel his negative energies in a positive way. If he learns to control his anger and let it go in a constructive manner, he stands to gain a lot in the long run.
Value time: “Shiva is known as Mahakaal and represents time and teaches the importance of valuing every minute of your live,” points out Nithin.
- Lesson for your child: "Teach your child that every second that is lost can’t be recovered. She should be taught to make the best use of her time and fulfil her inner calling. Shiva teaches that life should be lived to the fullest,” says Nithin.
While your child stands to gain a lot by imbibing these lessons in how he conducts himself every day, they will also benefit you as a parent. Teach him these lessons and also practice them yourself to meet your parenting goals.
*Nithin Sridhar is an author, speaker and editor of IndiaFacts & Advaita Academy. His latest book 'Musings On Hinduism' provides an overview of various aspects of Hindu philosophy and society.
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