I too teach children's yoga and I've told the story of Ganesha many times in my classrooms. It's the story I use when all hell breaks loose and I can't get their attention any other way. Because seriously? Kids LOVE that story. It's their favourite. I think they like it because it's quirky, and because somebody's (Ganesha's) head gets chopped off.
When I first started telling the story of Ganesha, I grappled with the same concerns that Miss Stan had. Story! Too Violent! Must sanitize! But, really, there isn't much you can do to santize head-chopping. Besides, half the kids in my classes go home after school and play 'Shoot-'em-up-and-chop-em-up' video games on their gaming consoles. And at least Ganesha gets a new head!
Eventually, I decided that I should just be brutally honest: "Shiva chopped Ganesha's head off." *plunk*
This worked really well...
Kid in the Spiderman Tee: "How? How did he chop the head? He used a sword?"
Me: "No. He used a trident!"
Kid in the Spiderman Tee: (bewildered look) "Gum?!"
Me: "A trident's a weapon. It's like a big fork."
Kid in the Spiderman Tee: "No way! You can't chop off someone's head with a fork!"
Me: "You can if you have siddhis!"
Ah ha! Siddhis! Thank the gods for siddhis! Siddhis explain everything!
I spent a few weeks teaching yoga to teen girls in a rough part of the city. A few days before my first class, someone was shot and killed on the same bus I rode to get there. But believe me, I was far more intimidated by the idea of teaching yoga to a bunch of reluctant teenagers who glared at me when I first walked into the room.
I won them over with arm balances.
Within a half-hour, they knew how to do Bakasana and I had been educated in a half-dozen slang words and pop-culture references that were entirely new to me. It was a fair exchange! Things were going so well, I decided to tell them the story of Ganesha.
Me: "So when Shiva came back from his sadhana in the forest, he found a strange young man guarding his wife's bath. He became very angry and took his trident..."
Girl with Sparkly Shirt: "Wait! Wait, Miss! Why was Shiva mad at his son?"
Me: "He didn't know Ganesha was his son. Remember? Parvati made Ganesha in the bathtub..."
Girl with braids: "With toenail clippings!"
Me: "Yeah, something like that..."
Girl with Sparkly Shirt: "I'll bet Shiva thought they were getting it on!"
Me: "Um, I'm not sure about that...(stalling)...but let me tell you about the trident! Shiva took his trident and chopped..."
Girl with braids: "Uh huh! Shiva was jealous!"
(all the girls start nodding, knowingly)
Girl with Sparkly Shirt: "Miss, was Parvati a MILF?"
The embarassing part of this story isn't the fact that a 14-year-old girl asked me if a Hindu goddess was a MILF. The embarrassing part of the story is that I didn't, in fact, know what a 'MILF' was.
But I was pretty sure that Parvati wasn't one...
Me: "No, Parvati was not a MILF. Now where was I? Oh yeah, the trident..."
After the class, the teacher walked me to the main door and thanked me. "The girls loved you." She quietly added, "And you handled the MILF thing really well!"
As soon as got home, I Googled.
Parvati is *definitely* not a MILF! LOL!
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