When my son was about five years old, an older child in the school van asked him if he was Muslim or Hindu. He didn’t know. So he told her, “I’m a Gemini”! When he got home he anxiously asked me if his reply was right. I nodded and smiled, all the while wondering how to explain religion to a five-year-old.
He had a lot of questions.
What is a Hindu? What is the difference between Hindus and other people? How many Gods are there? Why are there beggars with no food to eat and no place to live – why does God let it happen? Where did Ajja go when he died? Why do I have to be good? And so forth.
I thought back to my own childhood. When I was four I lived with my grandmother and her mother for about a year. That’s when I think I imbibed something about Hinduism. I say ‘imbibed’ because not much was spoken; it was just lived. There are only two things I remember being mentioned. One was karma, or ‘you reap what you sow’, and the other was that there’s only one God whom people call by different names. I realize that these two beliefs have endured, and I still believe them to be true. So, when I decided to write down what I meant to tell my son about Hinduism, I started with these two concepts. That’s what ‘A Little Book for the Hindu Child’, published in 2005, is mostly about.
‘A Little Book for the Hindu Child’ has been available only in Bangalore all these years. Earlier this month Raj, whom I’ve known for several years now, converted it into an e-book and made it available on Amazon. I hope his efforts bear fruit, and people everywhere read this book and find it useful to understand the basics of Hinduism.