Well, the New Year is off and running, and today is the first anniversary of Dr. Nagar’s death. I had always written my annual State of the Soul address to him, and this is the first time he is not here to receive it. So this year, instead of a letter, I have an offering (puja) for him. It is work that could have been done long ago, but as he often consoled, “Better late than never.”
I like to think another of his favorite sayings applies here as well—a proverb found in Laukikanyāyāñjali, the book we published together nearly 20 years ago: “A thing done at the wrong time might as well be left undone.” So maybe now is finally the right time to present my first real lesson in Comparative Religion for Children.
For EdTech 506 I designed a unit of instruction on nonduality, a key concept of Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy by which Dr. Nagar lived. Another proverb from Laukikanyāyāñjali can be used to illustrate this concept: the snake and its coils. “Viewed as a whole, the snake is one. If we view it in regard to its coils, hood, erect posture and so on, differences appear. Compare: ‘a forest and its trees, a lake and its waters.’ ” You will find in Lesson 2 an activity based on the fable of the blind men and the elephant, which is also included in the book we published together.
I enjoyed conceptualizing and creating graphics as part of my unit of instruction. After creating them according to the graphic design principles we studied in class, I was able to organize them into three categories to facilitate learning: (1) images that helped illustrate the concept of parts equaling a whole, (2) illustrations of how names and forms, especially when taken out of context, can lead to confusion, and (3) graphics demonstrating the concept of nonduality in the context of three different religions/philosophies.
For more on how and why I created this instruction, please read my justification paper. My son enjoyed the first two lessons and seems to have a good grasp of the concept of oneness and nonduality. I am happy to share this instruction with anyone who might find it worthwhile, and I welcome all comments or suggestions. I can only hope that Dr. Nagar would have seen this as a noble attempt—a small step in the right direction.
Om Shanti and Happy New Year!