When my son was about five years old an older child in the school van asked him if he was a Muslim or a Hindu. As he had never heard either word before, he replied "I’m a Gemini"! Anyway, that was the beginning of his questions to me, writes Dr. Shyamala Vatsa, in the preface to her delightful little book – "A little book for the Hindu Child". The author tries to answer the typical questions a child may ask:
What is God?
What happens when one dies?
Why are there so many Gods?
Which God made me?
What is Religion etc.
This 50 page book – available at Shankar’ in Bangalore, makes interesting reading. The author tries to demystify the language of scriptures and present it with day to day examples understandable to your 5 year old. Excerpt:
Why do people belong to different religions? Well, it’s simple. Your parents usually teach you the beliefs that have been handed down to them by their parents. Their parents, in turn, have learnt about their religion from their own parents and so on. When a child is born, he automatically belongs to the community his parents belong to and, therefore, copies his parents and other grown ups in his family circle.
If you talk to a friend belonging to a different religion you will probably find that his religion teaches him much the same things as yours teaches you. All religions basically ask you to be good and have faith in God. The ways in which these are taught may differ slightly. Let’s take an example. Suppose you discuss the lessons that you are studying in school with a child from a different school, but in the same class as you. You are likely to find that you both know the same things but with slight differences in expression. Why? It’s only because your teachers are different, not because the lessons are different.
Update: A review of the said book in the local daily, Deccan Herald is here, also the book is now available at all major bookstores in Bangalore.