Our lineage is important. Growing up, my parents used to tell me so many stories about their parents, grandparents and great grandparents so that I could understand the lineage that I came from and the people who worked hard to get me to where I am today. So today, in honor of Shri Ram's birthday, let's go way back in time and learn a little bit about our (very) extended lineage. Grab your kids, break out some craft supplies and follow the below instructions for a fun craft that helps us learn about Raghu Vansh, or the ancestors of Ram.
Today we are going to make a family tree book about Ram and the 4 generations that came before him.
Grab 5 pieces of construction paper.
Fold the pieces of paper from either end in order to create a book. See the photo below for some visual guidance.
Use a stapler to staple all 4 pieces of paper together-- make sure you staple towards the center so you can still open up each of the side flaps.
This is your family tree book!
On the left side of the first page of the book, have your kid write down the name of Ram's great-great grandfather, Dilip. You can have them write it in both English and Gujarati. On the right side of the first page, write down the name of Ram's great- great grandmother, Sudakshina.
6. On the next page, write down the name of Ram's great grandfather, Raghu.
7. On the next page, write down the name of Ram's grandfather, Aja, and his grandmother Indumati.
8. On the next page, write down the name of Ram's father, Dashrath, on the left. On the right side make 2 horizontal cuts in the paper so you have 3 small flaps instead of 1 large flap. On each flap, write down the name of one of Dashrath's 3 wives, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra.
9. On the last page, draw 2 horizontal lines to correspond with the 2 horizontal cuts you made int he prior paper. On the very top line (that corresponds to Kaushalya on the prior page) write down the names of Ram and his wife Sita. On the middle line (that corresponds to Kaikeyi on the prior page) write down the name of Bharat. On the last line (that corresponds to Sumitra on the prior page) write down the names Lakshman and Shatrughna. This way, your kid can see which of Ram's siblings were born from which Queen.
10. Now comes the fun part! Share a story about each member of the lineage and have your kid decorate each page of the family book with a picture they drew based off of each story. Below are examples of stories you can share about Dilip, Raghu and Aja.
King Dilip was a just and virtuous ruler who was loved by his people. There was only one thing missing from his kingdom-- a son or daughter who could carry on his work. Try as they might, Dilip and Sudakshina were unable to conceive a child, so they decide to go to Rushi Vashista for guidance. Vashista tells Dilip the reason Dilip and Sudakshina are unable to have children because they had once accidently ignored the sacred cow Kamadhenu. Due to this, the cow had placed a curse on them. In order to please Kamadhenu and remove the curse, they would have to take care of Kamadhenu's daughter, Nandeeni. As luck would have it, Nandeeni happened to live in Rushi Vashista's ashram.
Dilip and Sudakshini immediately apologize for their mistake and agree to watch over Nandeeni as if she were their own daughter. For weeks they treat her as their own. Every morning they gently guide her to the fields so she can graze, share stories with her and shower her with love. Despite their constant care, one day Nandeeni strays a little too far and is captured by a lion. Dilip tries to defeat the lion and save Nandeeni, but as soon as he tries to draw his bow and arrow, he becomes paralyzed. The lion then speaks and says, "Oh King! I am protected by Lord Shiva himself and no human can harm me. This cow stumbled into my land, and, as a lion, it is my nature to eat her. Leave us now and you can go away unharmed." Dilip refuses to accept defeat. He tells the lion, "If you are hungry and need to eat something, then eat me instead. Let Nandeeni go and I will take her place."
Suddenly, the lion disappears and in his place stands Nandeeni, safe and sound. Nandeeni says, "Dilip, this was a test to see how just and virtuous you truly were. You passed. Please take my milk, and once your wife drinks it, you will be able to have a child."
Dilip takes the milk. However, just and virtuous as he is, he first gives the milk to Nandeeni's own calf. After this, he gives the milk to the students at Vashista's ashram, where Nandeeni normally lives. Only after everyone else has drank the milk does he give it to his own wife, because, even though he wanted a child more than anything, he did not want Nandeeni's child or his own subjects to go hungry because of his own desires.
The milk ends up working and Dilip and Sudakshina are blessed with a son, Raghu.
Raghu was a prosperous and kind king. In fact, he was so caring that, if anyone showed up to his doorstep asking for help, he would give it without question. Slowly but surely he gives away everything he has until he himself sleeps on a rag on the floor and drinks out of cups made of clay since he has nothing else.
One day a young man named Kautsya hears of Raghu's generousity and comes to visit Raghu. He asks Raghu for 14 million gold coins in order to help run Sage Vashista's ashram, where hundreds of students would come to learn. Yet, when he sees where and how Raghu lives, he realizes that Raghu has nothing left to give.
Still, Raghu tells him, "This money you are seeking is for a great cause. Come back tomorrow and by then I will have found a way to get this money for you." Raghu then decides to attack the god of wealth, Kubera, as this is the only way he can get Kautsya the money he needs. Yet, Raghu is such a fearsome warrior and caring leader, that Kubera does not want to fight such a man. Instead, Kubera willingly gives Raghu the money he needs (and then some). Raghu, the selfless king that he is, gives all the money to Kautsya, keeping none for himself.
King Aja was a brave and powerful king. One day he heard of a nearby princess named Indumati. Indumati was beautiful, of course. But, more importantly, she was smart and kind. Aja knew that this was the kind of wife he wanted as she would help him to rule his kingdom properly. He goes to her swayamvar to ask for her hand. When he gets to the swayamvar, there are hundreds of other princes and kings, all vying for Indumati's hand. However, Indumati is not impressed by any of these young men, and refuses them all.
When she finally sees and speaks with Aja, she imediately realizes that Aja is who she wants to marry. However, this angers the other suitors, and they become jealous. After Aja and Indumati get married, the other suitors chase after them, trying to hurt both Aja and Indumati. Despite being chased by hundreds of strong warriors, Aja is not frightened, because he knows that he has strength to match theirs. Moreover, he is fighting to protect the one he loves, while the other suitors are fighting out of greed and anger. Thus, he knows that God will be on his side. He wields his bow and arrow and, one by one, defeats each of the other suitors, never tiring. Aja and Indumati then return to Ayodhya where they rule with courage and compassion.