The Birth of the Pandavas
Teachers should read about the following events in the Mahabharat:
- Kunti’s boon and the birth of Karna
- Pandu’s curse
- the birth of the Pandavas
- the birth of Duryodhana
1. Chant the verse for the session.
2. Check the homework assignment (Page 7). This will also serve as a review. Children who did the homework can be given incentives at this time. This can be something as simple as a sticker on the inside oftheir book or a star next to their name on a chart. If you want to review any other points made last week, do so now. Ask if anyone has any experience this past week to share about cooperation. Perhaps they can tell how they cooperated or how cooperation could have helped in a particular situation.
3. Ask the children where we left offlast week. (The marriages ofPandu and Dhritarashtra.) Tell fhem now that we are going to go back in tinle. y.le are going to learn about something that happened to Kunti when she was a small girl, many years before she married Pandu. This story is fairly short so it can just be told. If you can get the picture of Surya appearing before Kunti (Krishna Art Book or an old calendar), show it as you speak. The story as it appears in the student book follows:
When Kunti was a young girl, long before her marriage to Pandu, the great sage Durvasa Muni was pleased with her behavior and granted her a boon. He taught her a special incantation. He explained that when she recited it, any deva that she thought of would come to her. One day while young Kunti was watching the sun rise and cast its golden hue over the land, she remembered the incantation. How wonderful it would be to see the sun god! She held her palms together and softly recited the incantation while thinking of the sun god, Surya. The brilliant sun god appeared before her and smiled. Kunti was satisfied by simply seeing Surya before her, but his words shocked the girl. He said, “Perhaps you don’t know the power of your incantation. Whatever god you call will appear before you and embrace you. He will give you a son as beautiful as the god whom you have called.” Kunti didn’t know what to do. She had no idea that this was what the incantation meant. She was very young. She was not married. What would her father think if she were to have a baby? What would the citizens think of her now? Such a shameful thing should never happen to her! She told the sun god to go away and leave her. Surya reassured the poor, frightened Kunti. “It is all right, my child. After your child is born, everything will be as it was before and no one will ever know of this.” Kunti accepted the deva’s words and had no more fear. When Surya was ready to depart, he told Kunti that her son would be born with a Kavacha and a Kundala (armor and earrings). He would be a great archer and a very generous man. His fame would spread throughout the world. Saying this, the sun god vanished from sight. In due course of time, a son was born to Kunti. She didn’t know what to do with the boy. She was so ashamed that all she could think of was how to get rid of the child before anyone found out. She wrapped him up and placed him in a wooden box and carried it down to the river. Kunti set the box on the water and gave it a little push to send it downstream. Her heart was breaking as she watched her first-born sun float away, his Kavacha and Kundala gleaming in the light of the sun. This experience was in Kunti’s past and the thought of her dear child that she had never known haunted her. Little did she know that the incantation that had caused her so much pain would soon be useful.
4. Ask the students if they know the name of this unfortunate baby. (Kama or Radheya.) Bring them back to the present and remind them that now Kunti is older and married to Pandu. But she always thought of this first son of hers. The rest ofthe story we will tell as a mural story.
5. Distribllte sheets of paper and markers. Give each child one of these subjects to draw:
• 2 deer (1 male and 1 female)
• a forest with bealltiful gardens (several children can work on this)
• Yudhisthira (write the name at the bottom ofthe people figures)
Give the children a few minutes to draw their pictures. Then collect the pictures and put them in a line on the floor along the wall. Have tape or blue tack nearby. Have the children sit on the floor with you as you tell the story. As each new part of the story is introduced, have the children who drew pictures ofthat part ofthe story tape their pictllres to the wall. Some of the characters that were made last week for the family tree (Pandu, Kunti, Madri and Gandhari) can be used again this week. Allow volunteers to tape these pictures to the wall as they are introduced. The story follows. Add details and dialogue to enrich the basic story.
The Pandavas are Born
Pandu and his two queens, Madri and Kunti, enjoyed spending time in the forest. (Pause while the pictllres of Pandu, Kunti and Madri are put up.) Here on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, Pandu had many happy days with his wives. He enjoyed hunting there, also. One time Pandu was hunting and spied two deer. (Pause to let the children who drew the two deer put their pictures up.) The deer seemed only to notice each other and take no heed of the hunter. Pandu aimed his arrow at the male deer and shot it. The deer immediately fell down to the ground. The deer and its mate were actually a rishi and his wife who had changed themselves into deer. They did this so they could show their love for each other freely without the restraints that humans have. The dying deer spoke to the king in a human voice, “How could you have done such a sinful thing? I am a rishi and this is my wife. While embracing her in love, I was shot with your sharp arrow and I feel myself dying. This act will cost you your life. When you approach your wife to embrace her in love, you will die just as I.” With these words cursing Pandu, the rishi died and his wife died along with him. Pandu was a changed man now. He had no hope of having sons now and decided to retire to the forest and live like a rishi. Kunti and Madri gave away all their jewels and costly silk garments and followed their husband to the forest of Satasringa. (Pause while the picture of the forest is placed up and the appropriate figures moved to it.) Once again, Bhishma found hinlself needed to rule the kingdom. Pandu, Madri and Kunti spent several years in the forest quite happily. But Pandu wanted sons. He knew that he could not father the children himself or he would die. After seeing her husband so worried, Kunti took pity on him and told him about the boon she had received from Durvasa Muni. They decided that Kunti should recite the incantation and call Dharma who would give Kunti a religious and worthy son. In the beautiful gardens of Satasringa, Kunti invoked the Lord of Dharma and months later gave birth to a son born of Dharma. This child was named Yudhisthira and he would be famed throughout the world for his righteousness. (Pause while Yudhisthira is placed on the wall.) Pandu was so happy. A year later he asked Kunti to bear him another son. This time he wanted Vayu, god of the wind, to be the father. Kunti recited the incantation and Vayu appeared to her. A beautiful, strong son was born to her. This child was named Bhima and would be known for his power and affection. (Pause while the child who drew Bhima places him on the wall. Now Pandu had two sons but he wasn’t satisfied. He asked Kunti to bear another, this time with Indra as the father. She agreed and Indra gave her a son named Arjuna. He was destined to be the conqueror of the entire world. A voice from the heavens proclaimed, “This son is the other half of Vishnu. He is Nara. Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, is Narayana. Because of these two, the earth will be cleansed of all the poisons caused from the evil kings.” (Pause while the child who drew Arjul1a places it on the wall.) More sons were wanted by Pandu and it was decided that Madri should bear them. Kunti taught the incantation to Madri who called the Ashvini Kumars, the heavenly twins. They gave Madri two sons who were named Nakula and Sahadeva. They would be the most handsome men in the world. The would be fanted for their devotion, bravery and wisdom. (Pause while Nakula and Sahadeva are placed on the wall.) The rishis in the forest became the teachers of the young princes. They were trained in the art of weaponry and became skillful fighters.
Gandhari was blessed to have 100 sons. (Place the figure of Gandhari on the wall in a separate area.) This happened in quite an extraordinary way, however. When Kunti was pregnant with Yudhisthira, Gandhari was also pregnant. Yudhisthira was born, but a year later Gandhari had still not had her baby. She became jealous that Kunti had an older son and she was angry about being pregnant for two years. Gandhari struck her abdomen with her fist and she gave birth to a lump of flesh as a result. (You can use a lu.mp of dough or Playdoh to demonstrate this. Start with a big lump and as you speak break off small pieces and pretend to place them in bowls, etc.) Vyasadeva advised her to divide the lump into 100 pieces. Each piece was placed in a bowl of ghee, covered and carefully guarded. He gave instructions to Gandhari on when to open the bowls. Gandhari followed his directions carefully and eventually her first child, named Duryodhana, took birth. (Pause while the picture ofDuryodl1ana is placed on the wall.) Duryodhana was born on the same day that Bhima was born. Dhritarashtra was a proud father but he wished that his son could have been the heir to the Kuru throne. He called Vidura and consulted him. “I hear Pandu has one son that is older than mine. I’m afraid that he will become heir to the throne instead of my son. Something else is upsetting me. When Duryodhana was born there were many bad omens. I don’t understand the reason for this.” Vidura warned the blind king, “My brother, these omens mean that your son will cause the destruction of the whole world.” Dhritarashtra was alarmed and wanted to know how to avoid the catastrophe. Vidura advised him to put his son to death. That was the only way. “For the protection of the entire world, this one child should be killed,” the wise Vidura cautioned. Poor Dhritarashtra couldn’t follow Vidura’s advice. Duryodhana was his first-born son. The king soon became the father of one hundred more sons and one daughter. He forgot all his worries and buried himself in the joys of fatherhood.
6. Check the children’s comprehension on what you have just taught by asking a few questions. They should know the basic events and all the nanles mentioned today.
7. Teach the children a little song to easily remember the names of the five Pandavas. Have it written on the chalkboard or on a poster on the wall. This jingle can be sung to the tune of “Old MacDonald had a Farm.” Sing it a few times with the children until they know it well.
Mother Kunti hadfive sons,
They were called the Pandavas,
Bhim, Nakula and Sahadeva.
Mother Kunti hadfive sons,
8. Using the appropriate flannelboard figures show the children how a king passes on his kingdom to his sons. Take the figures of Dritarashtra and Pandu. Ask students to tell you which children belong to whom. (Duryodhana, his 100 brothers and the 5 Pandavas.) Put them in order from oldest to yOllngest. Yudhisthira will be first, then Bhima and Duryodhana, etc. Show them in this way that Yudhisthira was the oldest ofthe Kuru sons and was therefore next in line to be king. Who was second? Duryodhana and Bhima. Dhritarashtra was disappointed that his son was not the eldest. Duryodhana grew IIp being jealous ofthe Pandavas just like his father was.
9. Homework assignment: Tell the children that during the week they are to read Chapter Two and complete the questions on Page 13. Since some of your class may be new readers, tell them that their parents can read the chapter to them and help them with the questions. Answers will be checked next week in class. There is also a crossword puzzle on Page 14 that serves as a review. Answers are on Page 45 ofthis booklet.
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