Introducing Hindu Mythology to Children

Why did Krishna and Balarama never come back to Vrindavan?

Why did Krishna never meet Yashoda, Nand Maharaj and his friends of Vrindavan again?

The demons knew that Krishna is God and they will be killed by him, yet why did they continue attacking him one after the other?

Why did Dasaratha have 3 wives?

If Hanuman can go and meet Sita in Lanka, why did not Sita come back with him?

Why did Rama shoot the arrow at Vali hiding behind a tree?

As we have started introducing Hindu mythology, starting with Ramayana and Krishna to O +ve and B +ve, we are being bombarded with the questions. The above is a sample list of questions asked by them.

Neither of us, my wife and me, remembers when we were introduced to the 2 epics. Now, for what seemed like the well-accepted story to us, almost everything is getting questioned and we have no sensible answers for satisfying the curiosity of 4-year olds.

I have tried checking the internet for answers and speaking to our respective parents. However, I am realizing that as grown-ups, we seem to readily accept what we have been told/are being told rather than raising innocuous questions that stem from the innocence of 4-year olds.

For us, the religious beliefs gets interwoven with the story and the mere thought of raising a question of why such an event occurred or why such an event did not occur seem sacrilegious. The 4-year olds are oblivious to the adult way of life. They just speak for themselves and not for the putting up of pretence.

We are realizing that the same story can get told; actually, need to be re-told at the various stages of growing up of a child. As children grow and mature, their perspective evolves and develops a better understanding of the world around them. Accordingly, the stories being told to them need to evolve accordingly. The story that can be told to a 4-year old can and need to be different to the story being told to a 14-year old. Just that, we have no mechanism to do this.

Similar to the age-appropriate versions of the same story, it is also a case of age-appropriate answers for the questions raised by the children. There cannot be one standardized answer, though the question can remain the same. Just that, we do not seem to know any answers for any of the age-groups.

What would be the end-product of narrating a story to a child? I suppose it has to be the child asking for more. It has to be the case of the child coming up with a narrative and explanation of his/her own. The story-telling has to ignite the curiosity of the child, raise his/her inquisitiveness, and make the child live the story in his /her own personal manner. Just that, we do not know how to plot a storyline for the already well-itched out epic in our minds?

As adults, for reasons explained by the society, we accept simple and superficial answers. It makes our life simple and also of the people around us. In reality, the 2 epics have layers of complexity for each of the deeds – the whys and why not’s. Just that, when we ourselves are clueless, how are we supposed to make this age-appropriate and explain to 4-year olds?

We have realized the above limitations from our side and have decided to go slow in introducing our daughters to Hindu mythology. Rather we have decided that the issues of cousins killing each other, a brother-in-law disrobing his sister-in-law in front of her 5 husbands, a lady having 5 husbands – The Mahabharata can wait for some more time. Or for that matter, a father cutting down the head of his son with both of them not aware of each other’s existence.

After all, the girls are still not letting go of the fact that Krishna never ever came back to his cherished Vrindavan.

I am sure that each one of us would have faced this challenge. Currently, we are at our wit’s end and trying to find resources to better introduce Hindu mythology to children.

What’s your suggestion?

One thought on “Introducing Hindu Mythology to Children”

  1. Thanks to your blog, I went back to exploring the answers to the queries raised by your lil ones about mythological stories, esp the one about Rama shooting an arrow from behind the tree. I wondered why these didn’t occur to me when I was a child and I don’t think my parents ever forbid me to question. Some spiritual groups like Chinmaya mission and Satya Sai societies have weekly Bal Vihar classes which might help. Sometimes counter questioning a child “why do you think…….” might help you answer a question to their level. Which reminds me of a joke. A 5 year old child came home from school excitedly saying that she learnt how to make babies. The parent was horrified until the child explained; remove the ‘y’ at the end of baby and add ‘ies.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.