The aims of Balvikas are to foster character development and spiritual transformation. Balvikas aims to develop the five aspects of child’s personality i.e. Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual aspects, by kindling the intrinsic human qualities, thereby achieving a complete, well rounded personality aiming at individual transformation.
The Balvikas course is based on two principles:
- Existence of God
- Divinity in man
The ultimate aim of Balvikas is to let the child realize that Divinity dwells within. The implementation of Balvikas curriculum lays stress on using the Five Teaching Techniques given by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. These are:
- Group Singing
- Story Telling
- Group Activity
- Silent Sitting & Meditation
These techniques have to be used in a systematic and integrated manner. The Five Human Values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi, Prema, Ahimsa are elicited through lessons based on the Five Teaching Techniques. Since the values are inherent in the child, the teacher has to gently encourage these values to emerge from within the child by adopting these teaching techniques & methods and help the children ‘Master their minds to become Master minds’. This task is accomplished by synchronizing the five teaching techniques of Prayer, Silent sitting and Meditation, Group Singing, Story Telling and Group Activities.
Prayer is a way of communicating with God or connecting with inner-self. Prayers help us remember the Truth behind our existence, and cultivate closeness with God. It is a way of expressing ‘Praise and Gratitude’ to God. It is also a request or call for help from the Universal Master.
Teach the children the habit of daily prayer, when they rise from bed in the morning and when they lie down to sleep when the day is over.
Prayers keep our hearts well ventilated like a window. When we open window, bright sunlight comes in and fresh air blows in, removing the darkness and stuffiness in the room. Same way when we close our eyes in prayer, the window of our heart opens and God’s sacred light blows in and removes all worries and negative thoughts in our minds.
Apart from learning and memorising the prayer, one must also chant it with love and understanding of its meaning and significance.
It is particularly useful to find prayers from various religions which are saying the same thing. This helps to promote unity of faiths and develop tolerance and respect for others of different faiths and cultures.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave compares prayers to bath, food and sleep. Bath cleanses the body, wholesome food nourishes the body and sound sleep refreshes and invigorates the body. Similarly, prayer cleanses the mind, nourishes it and gives spiritual vigour and peace. Just as we have bath, food and sleep at regular times, so prayer must also be at regular times.
The habit of prayer must be deeply inculcated in the student. Its benefits are numerous.
- Prayers demonstrate the Glory of the Lord and children experience His presence.
- Helps acknowledge a higher force or being that we can call upon for guidelines and assistance
- It promotes positive thought and wisdom.
- It helps develop devotion, faith and self-confidence.
- It is a safe outlet for pent-up feelings and frustrations.
- It improves memory and concentration
- It promotes health and happiness
- It infuses strength and courage
- It confers mental peace.
Devotional singing cultivates love of God and promotes harmony of body, mind and spirit. It fills the mind with pure thoughts and purifies the atmosphere. It has a curative effect on the body and mind. Songs sung with a devotional attitude to God is one of the easiest means of purifying the mind. It confers uninterrupted awareness of the unity behind life. In this busy age of fear and anxiety, the remembrance of God and repetition of His name is the one means of liberation that is accessible to all.
There is a tree. It is full of birds. They make a mess all over. How to get rid of these noisy ones? You should clap loudly. Similarly, in this tree of life, there are birds of desire. The heart therefore becomes dirty. In order to cleanse it, do devotional singing
Devotional singing is the process of singing that originates in the heart, not from the lips or the tongue. It is the expression of the joyous thrill that wells up from the heart when the Glory of God is remembered. It is the spontaneous manifestation of inner ecstasy. No attention is paid to the blame or praise that others may give. It does not seek the admiration or the appreciation of the listeners.
To sing in a group there must be coordination of melody, words and rhythm which creates a sense of balance and harmony within the personality. Group singing teaches children to co-operate with each other and work together as a team. It helps to develop concentration and strengthens the memory. Especially if the tune is melodious and catchy, the song will continue to play through the mind long after the class is over, reinforcing the value that was taught.
The benefits of Group singing are:
- Helps remove fear and anxiety
- Develops self confidence
- Aids self-control
- Enhances co-operation and confidence
- Improves memory
- Creates a sense of balance and harmony
- Bring about a feeling of peace and well-being
Story Telling is a very effective means of teaching. It captures the imagination, engaging the heart and intellect in a dynamic process of making meaning and relevancy in one’s life, while providing models of human behaviour, faith, and wisdom.
The Story Telling is an effective instrument in Bhagawan”s educational process. These stories can act like flash that illumines, shower that cools, joke that tickles, a peep into epic grandeur, a tale of the past, a mirror of contemporary life
Since time immemorial, stories have been a means of passing on information from one generation to another. In ancient days before books and written material were so readily available, storytelling was the main method of teaching and character development. Values such as courage, honesty and loyalty would be woven into a story, thus setting a high standards or example for the children. In the family circle, storytelling was one of the chief forms of entertainment and it helped to create an atmosphere of love and unity between the adults who narrated the story and the children who listened. Stories based on mythology, life situations, lives of saints, Gods and Men, religious books and even that of Animals and Objects striving to achieve their purpose, not only promote good values but also to stimulate creativity.
The purpose of storytelling is to:
- Illustrate the particular value being taught
- Fire the imagination
- Kindle a spirit of enquiry
- Promote noble thought and action through inspiring role models
- Kindle love and compassion for all
- Develop a sense of fair play
- Stimulate discussion and debate afterwards
Tools of Story Telling
For an effective narration of story one may use tools and techniques such as Voice Modulation, Puppet Show, Picture stories (Comics), Dramatization (Role Plays) and Use of technology.- Videos, Films and Animations.
The benefits of Story-telling are:
- They impart knowledge and help to develop listening skills and strengthen concentration.
- They transform your heart
- They sharpen memory
- They effectively convey a message
- They cultivate values
The aim of Group Activity is to bring out the importance of ‘unity in thought, word and deed’. Humans are social beings who live in societies constantly interacting and interrelating with each other. In this context, for the holistic and wholesome development of society, it is important to get along with others and to respect the opinion of others. Group Activity and Team work helps in developing this value right from childhood.
If you tell me, I will forget; if you show me, maybe I will remember; if you involve me, I will understand
A major present day problem is communication or lack of it. One of the main purposes of Group Activity is for the children to learn how to work and play together in a harmonious way. Children enjoy being active rather than in a seated position for too long. ‘Involvement’ in activity serves as an effective learning tool.
This technique serves as a ‘reinforcement technique’. All that is learnt and comprehended is tested on the touchstone of simulated situations. It promotes an effective way to remain integrated in thought, word and deed.
The benefits of Group Activity are:
- Promotes discipline and team spirit.
- Increases adaptability , social awareness and responsibility
- Acts as a medium for practising good manners and behaviour, particularly on outings
- Encourage creativity
- Build confidence and empower children
- Lead from selfishness to selflessness
- Helps develop understanding between friends
- Helps develop personal skills
- Transforms activities into values
- Develops the sense of responsibility
Silence is the art of listening. While Prayers are for ‘telling’ God what we want, the Silent sitting and Meditation are for ‘listening’ what God wants to tell us. It is a way of tuning with inner conscience. Silent sitting is a precursor for meditation. In the depths of silence, we can tap into the energy of love that vibrates throughout the cosmos.
The Voice of God can be heard only in the depth of Silence. Silence is the language of the Spiritual seeker You can experience Divine bliss only in Absolute Silence
Silence reinforces the sacred atmosphere of learning. Children can be taught at young age how to be masters of their own thoughts. Once children are in tune with their own conscience they will be able to differentiate between right and wrong. They will develop their own inner discipline that will serve as a guide. Once this is achieved peace and happiness is assured. One of the main techniques to help children work towards attaining this state is Silent Sitting. If we look at the life and work of great scientists, inventors and artists, their moment of glory for genius did come in a moment of quietness and contemplation.
When we sit in silence, we follow the footsteps of enlightened masters. When we are in silence, we allow for Truth.
Ancients practiced three kinds of silence.
- Silence of tongue
- Silence of Mind
- Supreme Silence
Means confine speech to the limit and needs of the occasion.
Mind is bundle of thoughts and fancies. The very first spiritual practice one must adopt is the cultivation of inner silence, to put an end to endless dialogue within mind. This can be achieved gradually by reducing thoughts. When thoughts are reduced intellect becomes more active than the senses.
When control of Speech and control of mind is achieved, Supreme silence is easily realized.
In SSS Balvikas, the Silent Sitting technique is used to focus thoughts and develop the power of imagination, concentration and self-control. Jyoti / Light meditation is taught which help control body and mind.
The benefits of Silent Sitting and Jyoti meditation are:
- improvement in memory
- improved concentration
- develops intuitive power
- development of a calm and balanced nature
- promotes self-control
- Lessens the chances of anger, hate, malice, greed and pride
- It helps get answers for problems from within.
- It helps one keep a rein on oneself and promotes peace.