Friday, February 13, 2015

Gurbani Kantth - Memorising the Guru's Word

ਦੁਹੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਮੇ ਬਾਨੀ ਜੋਈ ਚੁਨ ਚੁਨ ਕੰਠ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਤ ਸੋਈ ||
“Read the Guru's Bani daily and pick out Shabads and memorize them by heart.”
(Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh)

Bhenji Daljeet Kaur, local Sevadaars and children from the Gurbani Kantth class

Author: Daljeet Kaur (Leicester, UK) 

Gurbani kantth karnee or memorising Gurbani is the Hukam (order) of Satguru Ji. There are many benefits of memorising Gurbani, which includes an improvement in concentration, increasing of one's memory, helping one to remove one's bad habits, help to enjoy the sweet taste of Gurbani, helps one's mind remain positive, it helps you in the world after, Gurbani is readily available to help one in any situation or need, and leads one to become interested in the knowing the meanings and develop understanding of Gurbani. Most importantly one will get the blessings of Satguru Ji when memorising Gurbani.

Gurbani Kantth started as a means to get my boys back on track. My father was very passionate that my siblings and I, as a bare minimum, knew our full nitnem by heart. He would always encourage us to learn and recite to him all the shabads we knew and would be extremely happy when we learnt some additional banian (Prayers).

I had always taught my children paatth through the method of repeating but as they got older I left it with them to memorise banian themselves. Unfortunately I began to realise that when I left it to their own devices my boys made very little progress. My encouragement, bribery or threats were having no affect!

Teaching in a boys’ school, staff are educated on the ways and techniques that boys learn best. Overwhelmingly the research always brings back competitiveness as the number one motivator for boys. I needed some willing competitors to help in my quest to get my boys memorising paatth! I approached a few of my Amritdhari sisters who were also mothers to children of a similar age to my children. They instantly bought in to my experimental idea and consequently, the Gurbani Kantth class started!

Using an App on the Ipad called 'IDoceo' I began my class. I firstly created a register of the students with their age and name in the first column, and then in the headings of the separate columns I put in the different banian. We agreed to meet for two hours, twice a month, where turn by turn I would listen to the students recite their learnt paatth and track it in the App. I give a Romanised printout of the paatth to each student to memorise and I make a note on the App what their target is. At each class the target is replaced with a new target and slowly but surely the students began ticking off whole banian. Regardless of how much paatth each student has learnt, at each session I give all of them lots and lots of praise and encouragement, individually and as a collective, to carry on and continue to memorise paatth. I will always acknowledge what each student has achieved as opposed to what they haven’t. I think that is very important – to keep everything positive!

There are a number of strategies that I find work with the students:
  1. Competitiveness - is definitely number 1. This works by sharing how the class as a whole is progressing. When a student sees a green smiley face, they know that they have completed a bani. It's quite clear using this colour coded method for students to work out who is their competition. This is not based on age or gender, but instead down to individual effort and attainment.
  2. Prizes - Making an effort with a prize works as a very good motivator. After six months I awarded a prize to all students and the top student was given an additional something extra (£££). I had customised key rings made for all students and packaged them in little organza bags with chocolate coins. This extra effort meant that a student could not simply 'buy' the prize but had to make an effort! After six months the second sets of prizes were given. The prizes were customised pencils and a book packaged in a nice gift bag with a big bag of chocolates! Prizes are given in a prize giving ceremony. Someone special is chosen to give the prizes to the children. In the first prize giving ceremony we invited Aunty Surinder Kaur to give the prizes and her asees (blessing), and second time we had Bhai Tarsem Singh Ji, who also quizzed the students.
  3. Personalised learning - Giving students the tools to memorise paatth is crucial to help them. Each student is unique and has a different method which will work for them. Finding that method and establishing it is a journey each student will need to take. One suggestion could be for them to either record themselves or their parent reciting the bani, in order to memorise it by listening to the recording as often as possible.
  4. Repetition - Repeatedly repeating the bani out load twice a day.
  5. Writing - Writing out the paatth a few times (in Romanised English if the child doesn't know Gurmukhi) in order to memorise it. I give the students a printout of the next part of the bani to memorise and have suggested they have to keep it handy and read it whenever possible e.g. walking home from school etc.
  6. Change - Sometimes a student's enthusiasm has dwindled or they've become disheartened at how much they are left to learn, so I have move them on to a different bani e.g. stop Jap ji Sahib and try Svaiyye. What I find is the motivation returns with more gusto. We then go back to the earlier bani to complete, and by this time the student finds it much easier to memorise.
So I am sharing this little experiment with everyone as it successfully worked for my children and for all those whom attend the Gurbani Kantth Class. The hope is that perhaps other mothers and fathers may want to start a similar approach to get their children reciting gurbani by heart, either as a group or just as a family.


No comments: