Introducing the principal theme
This lesson seeks to reinforce the understanding that God’s Manifestations appear from age to age when the light of religion has faded and hearts have turned away from their Creator.
Building on the ideas learned in the last lesson, remember that every Manifestation of God has brought a set of laws and heavenly principles to guide and educate the people.
Think of these laws and teachings like lamps that give forth light and help people see the way forward. As they follow His commandments, fairness, justice, tranquility, and peace, brighten the world, and great progress is achieved.
Yet, sadly, over time people tend to forget the teachings of God, and they add their own ideas and superstitions to the laws brought by His Manifestation. For example superstitious beliefs. A superstitious belief is:
“The belief that man-made idols have powers,”
What happens when people begin to follow their own vain imaginings and superstitious beliefs instead of God’s laws and teachings?
These superstitions are like clouds, that cover over the light of Divine guidance. Left alone in the darkness, people forget the love of God, and their hearts become cold, filled with hatred and bitterness, cruelty and jealousy, ignorance and prejudice. There is a general decline when people no longer adhere to the laws and ordinances of God; they live in suspicion and fear, wars multiply, and suffering spreads.
Whenever humanity finds itself in such darkness, God sends one of His Manifestations and the light of Truth brightens the world once again. The fire of love is ignited in the hearts, and souls are drawn closer and closer to God. God will never leave humanity alone.
REMEMBER TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF TO HELP MEMORIZE THE PRAYERS FROM LESSON 4 IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO!
Glory be to Thee, O my God! Make manifest the rivers of Thy sovereign might, that the waters of Thy Unity may flow through the inmost realities of all things, in such wise that the banner of Thine unfailing guidance may be raised aloft in the kingdom of thy command and the stars of Thy divine splendour may shine brightly in the heaven of thy majesty. Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Thou, verily, art the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
I beseech Thee, O my God, by all the transcendent glory of Thy Name, to clothe Thy loved ones in the robe of justice and to illumine their beings with the light of trustworthiness. Thou art the One that hath power to do as He pleaseth and Who holdeth within His grasp the reins of all things, visible and invisible.
I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defence. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendours of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of Thy favour.
O my God, my Master, the Goal of my desire! This, Thy servant, seeketh to sleep in the shelter of Thy mercy, and to repose beneath the canopy of Thy grace, imploring Thy care and Thy protection. I beg of Thee, O my Lord, by Thine eye that sleepeth not, to guard mine eyes from beholding aught beside Thee. Strengthen, then, their vision that they may discern Thy signs, and behold the Horizon of Thy Revelation. Thou art He before the revelations of Whose omnipotence the quintessence of power hath trembled. No God is there but thee, the Almighty, the All-Subduing, The Unconditioned.
INTONE O MY SERVANTS
Tina Turner – Sarvesham Svastir Bhavatu (Peace Mantra)
Throughout history, Manifestations of God have appeared in this world to remind humanity of His love and to draw people nearer to Him. The following quotation from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh makes clear that the Mission of every Manifestation is to connect the human heart to its Creator:
We summon you to God, We remind you of His Day, We announce unto you tidings of your reunion with Him, We draw you nigh unto His court, and send down upon you tokens of His wondrous wisdom . . .”Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 219-232
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In this historical episode,we will learn about the life and Mission of Krishna. The episode consists, as did the earlier ones, of an overview and a few stories that lend themselves to the theme of this lesson—namely, that God sends His Manifestations from age to age whenever there is a decline in religion.
Krishna was a Manifestation of God Who appeared a few thousand years ago in ancient India at a time when it was ruled by corrupt and contentious leaders. The lights of justice and fairness had long been darkened, and people clung to superstitious beliefs. There were many rival kingdoms, each seeking power for itself.
Krishna’s Message of universal love helped His followers draw near to God, and His teachings re-established peace and order in the land. And though He always made an effort to resolve conflict through peaceful means, He is renowned for the battles He fought to restore justice in the land. Stories of these battles show us how we, too, must struggle to overcome our lower nature and gain victory in developing our spiritual qualities. It was on the eve of the most famous battle associated with His life that Krishna revealed the guidance God had given Him for the new age. He was conversing with His cousin, Arjuna, and the words He revealed that night were later recorded in the Bhagavad Gita, a Holy Book containing the teachings of Krishna.
Among the many lessons Krishna taught us is that from time to time God will send His Manifestations to us to help us grow and develop spiritually. Like all Manifestations, He assured the people that God would never leave them alone and promised to return when darkness again overtook the land. We know that, by His return, He was referring to the appearance of another Manifestation, and He made mention of One Who would come after Him, calling Him the “Most Great Spirit”.
Krishna’s teachings helped people to grow closer to God, particularly through prayer contemplation and selfless service. The battles mentioned in these stories describe the struggles of the self to choose that which is higher—ultimately, to follow the teachings of the Manifestation—over that which is lower—one’s own inclinations and selfish tendencies. This is the true battle that Krishna helped Arjuna fight, the true victory over self that Arjuna won.
Krishna was born in India a few thousand years ago. His mother, Devaki, was a princess and His father, Vasudeva, came from a noble family. They lived in one of the small kingdoms in the north of India called Mathura. But at the time of His birth, Krishna’s parents did not live in a palace. Far from it. Devaki’s brother was the Crown Prince of the land, a cruel man, hungry for power. He had imprisoned his own father, the king, and had seized the throne for himself. Now, the Crown Prince was worried that if his sister were to have a son, the child might one day take the kingdom away from him. Determined to protect his throne, he had Vasudeva and Devaki, who was soon to give birth, locked in a prison cave, with guards posted outside to watch them.
Then, at midnight one evening, when most people were sleeping, Krishna was born. His parents were in utter despair. Knowing His life was in danger, Krishna’s parents turned to God for assistance. So it was that they knew they must take the Newborn to safety in the village across the river. His tiny Son wrapped in a blanket in his arms, Vasudeva suddenly found the prison doors unlocked and the guards fast asleep, enabling him to escape undetected and cross the river. There, in the village, he exchanged Krishna for a baby girl who had just been born to his good friend, and he returned to the prison with her in his arms. As soon as he entered, the doors locked behind him, and the infant started to cry. The guards awoke and alerted the Crown Prince that his sister Devaki had given birth to a daughter. Thus Krishna’s life was saved. Here is a reminder to us again that no plan devised by any man, however ingenious, can frustrate the Will of God. No matter how many guards the Crown Prince had placed at the entrance to the cave, no matter how many locks he had put on the door, Krishna would have been protected.
Krishna passed His childhood and youth among the villagers, most of whom were cow herders who spent their days in the open countryside. He was known for His kindness, His wisdom, and the beauty of His spirit. He was gentle, loving, and humble. He served others and was loved by all. He defended those who were weak and always sought to bring peace when any dispute arose. There are many stories of Krishna’s childhood that tell of His extraordinary knowledge and powers. It is said that, on one occasion, He saw the villagers, fearful of an approaching storm, praying to the god of thunder. Krishna turned to them and asked them why they prayed to such a god, for what was the use of praying to a minor spirit? He told them to be devoted to the Supreme God and to see His presence in all human beings. He encouraged them to engage in service to others, to feed the poor, and to give to those in need. You see, in India at that time, most people worshipped spirits in nature, like thunder, and this story tells us that, from a young age, Krishna began to teach them about the oneness of God and guide them in His ways, encouraging them to tame their earthly desires and recognize their higher nature.
Krishna knew, while still a youth, that He would not remain among the villagers, and that He had a greater duty to the people of India. Injustice, cruelty, and evil had taken over the land. People’s hearts were no longer close to God. Wars broke out between kings of different kingdoms; suffering was everywhere. The first task before Him, of course, was to restore the rule of justice to His native city. The city was still controlled by His cruel uncle, the Crown Prince, while the rightful king, His grandfather, remained in prison. Krishna had attracted a large number of followers even before entering the city, and once He arrived there, many more were drawn to His pure spirit and majesty. Together with His followers, He made His way to the palace, and there a battle took place between the Crown Prince’s army and the growing number of Krishna’s supporters. The unjust Prince was killed, and the throne was offered to Krishna, Who was now entitled to become king. But He was not interested in worldly power. He chose, instead, to reinstate His grandfather, who had been wrongly overthrown, and helped him to restore justice and peace in the realm.
Krishna was still a young man when He reclaimed the throne for His grandfather, and His parents wanted Him to complete His education. Of course, like all the Manifestations of God, Krishna was endowed with innate knowledge and was not in need of schooling, but in obedience to His parents, He went to study under the guidance of Sandipani, a teacher known for his wisdom. While a student, Krishna became close friends with a young man named Sudama. Though the two led very different lives after completing their studies, they never forgot their friendship. Many years after they had gone their separate ways, Sudama fell on hard times. He knew that Krishna could help him, but he did not want to take his troubles to his old Friend. Sudama’s wife, thinking of the well-being of their family, encouraged her husband to visit Krishna, even if only to lift his spirits. So Sudama went to see Krishna, bringing as a gift a little bit of powa, a food made of rice that he remembered was a favorite of Krishna. When Sudama arrived, Krishna embraced him with joy. He relished the gift Sudama had brought, and they spent long hours talking in friendship. As Sudama returned home, he was filled with happiness at having seen his Friend once again. And when he arrived, though he had said nothing to Krishna of his difficulties, he found that his family had everything they needed to live in comfort.
Krishna was often asked to intervene in battles between the still-warring kings in the land. He tried at all times to resolve conflict using peaceful means. The last of the battles in which He was involved was between two factions of the same royal family, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, all of whom were His cousins. Both sides called on Krishna for help, for He was well respected and highly trusted. Using every means at His disposal, He tried His utmost to settle the dispute so that violence between the two sides would not ensue. Yet, when it became clear that nothing could be done to create a just and peaceful settlement, Krishna put forward to both sides a most interesting proposal. He asked them each to make a choice: They could be assisted either by His army, in its entirety but without Him to command it, or by His Person alone, on the condition that He would not raise a single weapon. The Pandava Prince Arjuna chose to have the help of Krishna alone, and the Kauravas, thinking Arjuna’s decision was foolish, chose to be assisted by the army. Krishna agreed to act as the charioteer for Arjuna since, in this position, He would not need to make use of any weapons. You realize, of course, that by making this choice, Arjuna showed that he had justice on his side.
The battle that followed came to be known as Kurukshetra, and it has long been remembered by the people of India. According to historical accounts, it was on the eve of that famous battle that Krishna conversed with Arjuna and revealed to him the teachings of God for a new stage in the life of the people of India. He made His station known to Arjuna, who recognized in His Person the glory of all God’s perfections. Krishna spoke, as well, about the battle into which Arjuna would enter the next day. The human soul, He explained, is connected to God and is eternal; we are to work for that which is good and shun all that is evil. Though Arjuna was reluctant to engage in warfare, Krishna taught him the importance of standing firm in the face of injustice and cruelty and championing the cause of righteousness and justice. In the end, Arjuna’s side was victorious.
Using the imagery of battle, Krishna helped people to see that, in their everyday lives, too, they had to make choices between good and evil. He taught them to center their thoughts on God and to strive to draw nearer to Him. He told His followers to love and worship God and to show their devotion through prayer and contemplation. He encouraged them to serve humanity selflessly, entirely for the sake of God, without hope of reward, or attachment to the outcome of their efforts, but with the sole purpose of educating others and contributing to the welfare of society. He made clear that work is holy when the heart of a person is fixed on God and when preoccupation with the outcome is abandoned and replaced by trust in God. He gave the example of a farmer who is responsible for working his land but who has no control over the harvest—he must work hard without knowing what result he will obtain, relying instead on the bounties of God.
Through the power of His teachings, Krishna educated the people of India about their true nature and helped them to draw nearer to God. The teachings of Krishna are recorded in a Holy Book known as the Bhagavad-Gita, which means the “Song of God”. In that great Book, Krishna speaks of humanity’s need for a Divine Being to appear from age to age to restore peace and justice. Let us end the account of His life with His words:
"When Righteousness Declines, . . . when Wickedness Is strong, I rise, from age to age, and take Visible shape, and move a man with men, Succoring the good, thrusting the evil back, And setting Virtue on her seat again."
FROM BRILLIANT STAR MAGAZINE STORY
FACTS ABOUT Krishna
- Krishna was a Manifestation of God born in India a few thousand years ago.
- Krishna’s parents saved Him when He was born by taking Him to a village where He grew up among cow herders.
- Krishna revealed the teachings for a new age in a conversation with Arjuna.
- Krishna tried at all times to resolve conflict by peaceful means.
- Krishna used the imagery of battle to help the people understand that effort is needed to acquire heavenly perfections.
- Krishna taught people to grow closer to God through prayer and contemplation and by leading lives of selfless service to others.
- The Bhagavad Gita is a Holy Book that contains the teachings of Krishna.
Today we will act out the story OF SUDAMA’s visit to Krishna but only the part when he has returned home. Have Sudana tell his wife about the visit and incorporate the following:
- He was filled with happiness at having seen his Friend once again.
- And when he arrived, though he had said nothing to Krishna of his difficulties
- he found that his family had everything they needed to live in comfort.
Download a short drama piece for the children to act out
Hula Hoop Pass
Have the group form a circle and hold hands. Ask two people to let go of their grip long enough for them to place their hands through a hula hoop before rejoining them.
The team task is to pass the hula hoop around the circle in a specified direction until it returns to the starting point.
- Two lines stand facing each other and become teams.
- One player from each team, at the opposite end of the line, start by bowing to each other and calling out “Silly Willy”
- The two players then walk toward and past each other without laughter or smiling, while the teams attempt to make the passer-by from the opposite team burst into laughter. (specify beforehand that it all needs to be clean and appropriate)
- If a player cracks a smile, they join the line of their opponents.
5. The game ends when there is only one team left, or everyone is too laughed out to continue!
BASED ON THE STORIES
- Make a diorama of any of the stories Remember we do not portray the Messengers of God
Here is a simple Diorama as a starting point to explore what you can do
- Make a tunnel book with any scene from one of the stories read today
MAKE A LAPBOOK
Krishna was born into the royal family and therefore we chose the castle shape for a lapbook
THIS LAPBOOK IS IN THE SHAPE OF A CASTLE: DOWNLOAD IT HERE
Based on Quote: ….to connect the human heart to its Creator:
Show how a magnet can attract metal…like a heart that is ready to hear God’s message vs. plastic… one that is not ready
All ACTIVITIES FROM THE AUSTRALIAN PEACE PACK ReLATED TO KRISHNA
Activities for Krishna HERE
FROM BRILLIANT STAR MAGAZINE
Building a Better World – Picture find with quotes from six religions, including Hinduism
Vol. 42 No. 5, p. 19
Sacred Sites – Match Holy Places to their descriptions, includes Krishna
Vol. 38 No. 5, p. 17
God’s Mysterious Nature – Make a mobius strip
Vol. 39 No. 5, p. 12
Based on transforming people’s character
Try making a never-ending card. the pictures can be all the same as the video below, or have them transform from something like a cocoon to a butterfly, etc.
SCIENCE transforming kernels to popcorn
Nice activity that becomes the snack. Show the children how kernels transform into popcorn but need something for this to happen: heat and oil. Once it transforms, it takes up a different space and looks different. Here is a link for more information if needed
We ask God to endow human souls with justice so that they may be fair, and may strive to provide for the comfort of all . .Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 43.