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The Cobra
Living Sikhi, Lesson Seven

by VERONICA SIDHU

 

 

THE COBRA

Lesson Objectives:
1   To begin to see that all nature and we are connected.
2   Why the qualities of appreciation and discernment are so important.
3   To realize the importance of paying attention - of being fully awake.

Teachers, ask the students to say the Sikh greeting with you; then fold hands and do simran with the students. When finished, ask for a show of hands of those who said "I will do my best and leave the rest to God" in the morning and in the evening, and  who made a list of mistakes and how to correct them. Tell the students that they can do this throughout their lives. It is a very good spiritual practice.

Read pages 25 - 28, Book I, Stories from Sikh History.

(Teachers: This story has some important lessons. Don't worry if only some of the students understand the subtle points. Some will, some won't. All will learn to appreciate. There are some possible questions some students may ask (or not) with a prompt for you.}

This is a very simple story. Everything is connected in this story. Yet, it is like a puzzle. Each of the pieces is important.
There is a sun. What is it about the sun that is important to the story? Pause for children to answer. (That it is bright, and hot, and moves through the sky.)

There is a tree. What is it about the tree that is important to this story? Pause. (That it has leaves and does not move.)  Does it matter exactly what kind of tree it is? No, as long as the leaves provide shade.

There is a snake. What is important about the snake? (That it was a cobra, with a large hood and that it was attracted to the boy.) This time it is important what kind of snake it is because only a cobra has a hood. Does it matter that the snake is poisonous? (Yes and no. It is not important what the snake did in the past. Yet, because it could bite the boy, we appreciate the snake's change in behavior.) Should this snake be killed? (No, because the snake is helping the boy.)

There is a boy. What is it about the boy that is important to this story? (That he is asleep and does not move.) Is it important to this story who his parents were? No. Is it important that he becomes a great teacher? (It is not important to this story. It would be the same story if it were a different boy or girl. But he becomes a great teacher because he was very kind to all creatures and somehow the snake sensed this and wanted to help him.)  Is it important that he is asleep? Yes. If he were awake it might mean that he might play with the snake. 

Nanak is not aware how very kind he is. Nor should we judge how kind we are. Nanak does not know and we do not know. Only God knows. This is why Nanak is asleep in this story. We really do not know how kind we really are, only God knows that.

There is a man. What is important about this man? (That he is awake and a witness to this wonderful event.) Does it matter that he is a Muslim or rich? No, because the important thing is that he actually saw the truth - that the cobra was helping, not harming.

What if Rai Bular saw the cobra as an evil enemy and tried to kill it? What if Rai Bular saw the boy Nanak and said "There is a lazy boy asleep. He deserves to have a cobra bite him!"?

Look at this puzzle again. Everything - the hot sun, the unmoving tree, the sleeping boy, the helping snake - all are working together to show a man, who is truly awake at that moment, to really see how great God is to have made such a good boy and such a helpful snake!

In our world, everything works together to help us, but sometimes we do not always see, sometimes we are asleep.

Rai Bular appreciated the whole picture because he could discern each of the pieces. That means that he could see the most important things. Instead of saying "That's a poisonous snake, it must be killed!" he could see the most important thing about the snake in that moment. The snake was helping to shade the boy.

Rai Bular did not think of himself as the owner of the village and the boss of Nanak's family. If he were thinking only of himself as an important man, much more important than this little boy, he would have missed this wonderful event. He would not have appreciated it and he would not have told others about it. After all, remember, the boy was asleep. He did not know what was happening. If it were not for Rai Bular being fully awake and appreciative, if he did not discern what was important at that moment, we would never know about this beautiful story.

Homework: Every time we brush our teeth, let us pay attention to the way we brush. Did we brush each tooth well? Let's appreciate our teeth for chewing our food for us. Let's think about the sun that made the plants that we eat for food that keeps us alive. We are connected to all of life. Let's be fully awake and see how marvelous it is! How marvelous is God for creating the world that is all connected to us!

Shabad: Keeta lori-ay kumm so har pay akhee-ay

 

May 28, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Kirpal Singh (Daytona Beach, Florida), May 29, 2010, 9:09 AM.

Veronica, your analysis of this story is marvellous. You are a great and blessed teacher. I am 68 yrs old and a psychiatrist by profession. You have even helped me to develop new insights from this story. Please keep up with this good work as meaningful interpretation of Sikh stories have been long overdue due to neglect of appreciation about our Sikh heritage. Thank you for your efforts to correct this situation. I am sharing "Kid's Corner" with my daughter, relatives and friends so that they can use it for their kids' gurmat education. May Waheguru further sharpen your insights to carry on with this unique and badly needed service.

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Living Sikhi, Lesson Seven"









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