Essay Competition: Rules & Guidelines

Essay Rules:

  1. Essays should be submitted online by September 20th
  2. All submissions should have no names in the actual essay so judging can be done anonymously.
  3. Essays will be displayed at the temple during Navarathri
  4. Feel free to laminate essay papers for additional protection
  5. Both judges and audience will use these evaluation criteria for judging

Essay topics for age groups

Age Group Essay Topic Description
6, 7 and  8th grades 678.1 Ramayana and Humor

678.2  Ramayana and Sages

678.3 Projects of Sri Maha Periyavaa.

678.4 Sri Maha Periyavaa and stories of Ganesh, Anjaneya – symbolism

678.5  Inspirations from women saints around the world

Any one of these topics can be submitted for this age group.
9, 10th grades 910.1 Writer in you: If you were allowed to edit Ramayana, where/what that would be, why?

910.2 Sama, Dhana, Bedha and Dhanda – methods of diplomacy in Ramayana

910.3 Ramayana administration, technology & warfare

910.4 Sri Maha Periyavaa and Vedha Rakshanam

910.5  Inspiring women of the Sanatana Dharma

Any one of these topics can be submitted for this age group.
11, 12th grades & adults 1112.1 Ramayana and Dharma

1112.2 Ramayana and Women Empowerment

1112.3 Sri Maha Periyavaa and upadesam on Advaita

1112.4 Srimad Bhagavad Gita and stress management

1112.5 Role of women in society

1112.6 Srimad Bhagavad Gita and purpose of life

1112.7 Significance of Sri Chakra

Any one of these topics can be submitted for this age group.

 

Speech & Essay Contest – Guidelines

All essays should have opening statement/paragraph describing what you would like to establish/convey to the readers and then go ahead with details. Conclude with closing statement, your own reflection on what you have learnt in this process etc. Finally acknowledge your references.

Topic Details for grades  6, 7 and 8

678.1 Ramayana and Humor

There are many funny stories within Ramayana. Sage Agastya destroys two demons Vatapi and Ilvala, Vindhya mountain used to grow and the sage shrank it! Surpanaka approaches Rama and Lakshamana and some interesting dialogue follows! You should describe the event, any significance of those events to the main story line. You can take up one humor story or compare several such incidences.

678.2  Ramayana and Sages

Several important sages are mentioned in Ramayana. Viswamitra, Vashista, Agastya etc. Write about them, what roles did they play and what life lessons can you learn from their lives or advices. How are they important to the main Ramayana storyline? What contributions they made that you liked the most? What inspirations can you derive from these characters? You can compare them or go deep with one.

678.3 Projects of Sri Maha Periyavaa.

What are the various projects Sri Maha Periyavaa did? Research all that He did and summarize them. What are the significance of those activities? For example, there was “Pidi Arisi Thittam”, there was “Go samrakshanam”. Why do you think they were important? What can saving cows really do for society? How does it benefit the planet? Give your own perspectives and relate to the current affairs on importance of some of these works he had initiated. What can we do to keep them alive and vibrant? Give your perspectives. If someone reading your essay is inspired and would like to contribute to his projects how can he or she go about doing so, give details.

678.4 Sri Maha Periyavaa and stories of Ganesh, Anjaneya – symbolism

Lord Ganesha removes all obstacles. He has an elephant face.  What has Maha Periyava taught about Lord Ganeshs and symbolism that the Lord Ganesha represents? For example, what does his large ears symbolize? Talk about how you can benefit from knowing the symbolism behind Ganesha and apply them to your own life. Give specific examples of the symbolism that you can apply to your life.

Similar to Lord Ganesh what has Sri Maha Periyava spoken on Anjaneya swami? Hanuman Ji was a great devotee of Lord Sri Rama. He had so much power and yet was so humble servant of the Lord. What qualities of Sri Anjaneya would you like to model for your own benefits and better life? How can you learn from Swami Anjaneya to overcome your own life’s challenges?

678.5  Inspirations from women saints around the world

There have been many women saints in the Sanatana Dharma and other cultures around the world. Describe one or more of their life events, advices and their contributions to the society and how you are inspired personally by them. If you were to make changes to your own life based on these inspirations what that would look like?

Topic Details for grades  9  and 10

910.1 Writer in you: If you were allowed to edit Ramayana, where/what that would be, why?

This is a free form topic. You have to give solid reasons why you would change the story or a scenario, character’s actions/decisions. What is the result you are expecting by this change? This needs to be persuasive.

910.2 Sama, Dhana, Bedha and Dhanda – methods of diplomacy adopted in Ramayana

The kings and demons of Ramayana time followed certain approaches for winning their opponents. They can talk soft and try to make peace agreement, give something to avoid a conflict, they can alternately create divisions in enemy camp and let  it break from the inside or weaken their strength, or punish by force. What situations in Ramayana can you relate to where these techniques are taken up in handling situations or enemies. How are they relevant in today’s world – compare them with modern day diplomatic and military strategies between countries.

910.3 Ramayana administration, technology & warfare

What are the inspirations you can derive from administration of Ramayana times?

Ayodhya was well built, wealthy, great people lived there. The city was fortified and good descriptions of it are given in Ramayana. Similarly several descriptions of Lanka and Ravana’s might are described. He had far reaching control well in India too, especially in Dandakaranya where his demons were controlling the region. Find out anywhere in Ramayana where we can learn administrative and governing capabilities of those great times. Rama Rajya is a famous term we hear, why is it so? What are the qualities of those time periods that we only dream to bring back now? You can compare to modern day governance.

Several divine weapons, airplanes like pushpaka vimana and technological references are made in Ramayanam. Discuss them and compare with today’s advancements.. How is war different in today’s world when compared to Ramayana period (hint: dharma, giving your opponent chance, don’t attack when not ready!)?

910.4 Sri Maha Periyavaa and Vedha Rakshanam

We all know Maha Periyavaa’s focus was so great in ensuring Vedhas and various vedha shakaas are kept alive and vibrant. What are some of the works he did to ensure Vedhas continue to flow to the next generation? Why do you think it was so important and he insisted on this so much? Why are vedhas considered important for Sanatana dharma and the world in general? What can you do to contribute to this vision? Give practical things he did  and what you can add to the overall vision of the Acharya? If anyone is inspired by your Essay and would like to contribute what would your advice be? Personally, if you are inspired in this what would you like to do and why?

910.5  Inspiring women of the Sanatana Dharma

There have been many great women from the Vedic period to modern day India. Who inspires you the most and why? Note that the person need not be a saint, can be house holder, poet, prime minister, social worker or corporate head or even your own mom or aunt or grandma! You can talk about few personalities that inspire you in general or go deep on one individual. If you were to contribute to the society and Sanatana Dharma in large what would it be? Do you think contributions need to be visible and huge or small things matter to the welfare of the society at large? If you were to give advice to growing young girls to derive inspirations from these personalities, what would that be?

Topic Details for grades  11  and 12 and adults

1112.1 Ramayana and Dharma

Dharma is a broad term, describe the term.  If you were to follow dharma strictly what dharmas would they be and what lifestyle choices would you have to make to uphold those dharmas? Why are those choices important? You can quote Ramayana for supporting your arguments. If you derive inspirations from Ramayana for practicing certain dharmas what would them be and  why?

Several dharmas are spoken about explicitly and some we can learn from how the characters in Ramayana conducted themselves. Rama’s life itself is teaching of several dharmas and how a human being should conduct themselves in this life. In some situations, certain characters give advice and topic of dharma comes about. When Vali was killed what conversations took place between Rama and Vali. What was the advice given by Maricha to Ravana? What did Anasuya advise Sita? You can take one or more scenarios and quote/analyze to support your arguments. Note: these are examples only)

1112.2 Ramayana and Women Empowerment

We hear about many great women in Ramayana and how they handled their lives in difficult times, how strong they were, how intelligent they were and how respected they were. What qualities they exhibited that you like the most and why? Sabhari, Sita, Anasuya and her tapas. Kaikeyi what are the good qualities in her? What was Mandothari like, what qualities she had that you like the most? These are only some examples, you can compare and contrast, pick up more than one character or go deep with analysis on one character, your choice!

1112.3 Sri Maha Periyavaa and upadesam on Advaita

In the river of Sanatana Dharma there are many great saints and sages that came and established the philosophies that the Vedhas set forth to tell us. Sri Adi Shankara and his expositions on Advaita are well known. Research into what Sri Periyavaa talked about Advaita and explain that in  simple terms. This essay should be easy for common person to understand and shall not have jargons that would be harder for other children to follow. The simpler the concepts are explained in your own words the better. You should also talk about specifically what practices he suggested that we can follow that will lead us to attaining enlightenment in due course of time.

1112.4 Srimad Bhagavad Gita and stress management

Imagine what was Arjuna’s mind like before the Mahabharata war began! How did Sri Krishna manage to pull Arjuna out of depression and charged him to fight the war? Arjuna started with confusion and got clarity at the end to perform his ordained duties. Stress rules the world, there is ever increasing demand on students and adults in a competitive world. If you were to get inspirations from Srimad Bhagavad Gita for your own life what would that look like in simple and practical terms to manage stress? What are the causes of stress in your own life or society that you live in and how do you think Bhagavad Gita’s lessons can be applied to reduce the impact of stress and  create a society that is healthy mentally and physically? Give solid reasons for your arguments.

1112.5 Role of women in society

Historically women have played various roles in society. In some demanding times many women have raised above their normal duties and made significant contributions for the greater good of the society. What is your perspective on women’s roles should be in modern world? What is Sanatana Dharma’s view on this? How do you beg to differ and/or agree with those views? Which aspects would you agree and which ones you will not? Why? Can you quote incidents from scriptures or women that you admire the most to support your views? You can refer to Maha Periyavaa’s upadesams, characters from Ramayana to support your arguments.

1112.6 Srimad Bhagavad Gita and purpose of life

What is the purpose of this human life? What is your purpose here? Do you have supporting evidence from Sri Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna from Srimad Bhagavad Gita? Please reflect on whether from your own life you are on track towards the purpose of life or away from it? If you are on track why do you think so? If not why ? What impediments are there that keep you away from your own purpose of life? How can you overcome them and do you have supporting teachings from Sri Krishna?

1112.7 Significance of Sri Chakra

Define the terms Mantra, Yantra and Tantra. How are they related to spirituality and how can we use them effectively for spiritual awakening, be brief. Specifically, describe in detail the significance of Sri Chakra and how it has been used by spiritual aspirants for higher evolution. Do not go into details of mathematics  behind Sri Chakra etc., however, describe the various parts of the Sri Chakra  (the circles, triangles, the bindhu etc.) and what they symbolize..Describe the significance of the chakra itself, its powers and how it is worshiped (including at SKCC)  and can be used for meditation and higher spiritual evolution.