Teacher’s Guide: Das Avatar Excerpts
In this session the students will become familiar with the 10 main incarnations of the Lord. They will learn the stories of each incarnation’s appearance and the reason for each appearance.
There are 10 incarnations which will be covered over the two month session. We suggest that instead of the usual 6 lessons, you take 7 lessons to cover the material. You will then have more time to devote to each story.
You’ll be telling a lot of stories in this session so the more exciting and dramatic you can make the stories, the more the children will enjoy them. Consider the options of using a flannelboard, having adults act them out, using available videos of the stories, or having the children actively participate by, for example, acting out the stories.
The verses that will be taught during this session are B.G. 4.7 & 8. These are also in the student workbooks.
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, Oh descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion — at that time I descend Myself.
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religio~ I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.
Das Avatar Wallhanging
This is a beautiful project that many parents keep for years to come. You should begin with a completed wallhanging to show the students as an example, both as a guide and to serve as an inspiration throughout the unit.
Have the students color and decorate the lotus outline on Worksheet 10. Inside the lotus students should write, “Das Avatar.” Reinforce the back of the lotus with card stock. Then, attach a 12 inch length of 2-inch wide ribbon to the back of the lotus.
After each lesson, the students will color and decorate the corresponding avatar (Worksheets 10-12). They will be glued to the ribbon in the proper order, finally completing the hanging with the 10 avatars on the ribbon. (see drawing).
Students can cut crowns out of construction paper and place them on Matsya, Kunna and the different avatars.
Once the project is complete, give students sequins, glitter, silk flowers, yam, etc. to add variety and complete their wallhangings.
Lesson One: Matsya Avatar
1. Introduce the children to the subject to be studied this session. Explain the meaning of “avatar” as “one who descends”. Explore with them the questions of why Krishna would want to leave the spiritual world and come to the material world, and why He takes different forms. Show how He gives the answers in the Bhagavad Gita verses 4.7 and 8.
2. Chant the two verses for the session.
3. Tell the story of Matsya Avatar. For added dramatics, you could be KingSatyavrata and have different size pots to put Matsya in. When you describe the part about the flood, one student could be Matsya and you can tie a rope around him while you invite seven other students (the seven sages) into the boat with you. Ask questions about the story to elicit their understanding.
4. Have an ongoing list of the avatars you are learning. Use big strips of construction paper, or large index cards ancL as you fmish studying each avatar, list the name of the avatar on the card and display it on the wall. If you like, you can put a small picnrre next to it to help them remember. When you review lessons later on you can ask a question and have the student go up and point to the correct answer, saying the name and the form the Lord assumed. This gets them up and out of their seat and holds their interest more than just asking questions.
5. Allow time for students to complete the “Check for Understanding” page in their booklets. Or let them do it as homework.
6. Pass out Worksheet 1 and allow time for completion. They may also color the paper.
7. If you are doing the Session Project, allow time at the end of each lesson to work on the wall hangings.