The Modern Gurukul: My Experiments with Parenting, as much as it is a book about parenting, is about the parent — actor-turned writer Sonali Bendre Behl.
The Modern Gurukul: My Experiments with Parenting, as much as it is a book about parenting, is about the parent — actor-turned writer Sonali Bendre Behl. It is not a How-to manual on raising children; instead Bendre uses a lot of her experiences with her son while elaborating on parenting. While it is was inevitable that I pictured the gorgeous Sonali Bendre Behl dancing in a water park in Sarfarosh or as the silently suffering partner in Hum Saath Saath Hain, the book was a revelation of the method, introspection and research that Bendre has put into being a mother to her and Goldie Behl’s son Ranveer.
Written in small sections makes reading the book fast and easy, but there is no denying that these snappy sections are loaded with her experiences. Throughout the book, which is divided into six sections and a conclusion, the book uses large font where Bendre is making an important point. An interesting way, but it felt as though the author is screaming to make her point! Very interestingly, the book ends with a list of books on Vedic studies and education that one may refer too.
Bendre walks the fine line of sounding preachy and candidly sharing her learnings, succeeding at most times at not sounding preachy. For example, “The journey hasn’t been smooth and easy, but I never give up. If I do, I am teaching my child to surrender to fate’s whims too easily.” And then she goes on to add, “Together, we set tangible targets. If he has come last this year, we aim to gain the second last position in the next year.” Now isn’t that a wonderful way to encourage your child without pressuring him to be the “best”
One thing shines clearly through the book — Bendre tries to show how raising a child is a methodical, disciplined task which takes immense efforts. Every decision she has taken with respect to her child reveals deep thought, research and reflection on her own life. Motherhood, she showed me, is as much about the mother as the child. But, she is quick to point out that raising her son Ranveer is not her task alone — her husband Goldie Behl is as much a participant as she is. She devoted an entire section to him, talking about the role Behl plays in their son’s life and how Ranveer’s birth has affected him.
Though Bendre talks about the values she is trying impart to her son, her words can be targeted at anyone of any age. Take this as an example — “It is your character that defines you — one that is chiselled each time you look at your weakness in the eye and deal with it, making you a better person at the end of the day.” Sounds pompous, yes, but it is nevertheless meaningful.
Throughout the book she questions herself – am I doing the right thing – whether it is with her son’s education, his lifestyle, the ideas he is growing up with, among many other things. Hasn’t every, even every individuals, asked that of herself innumerable times Finding the “correct” answer takes on much more importance when the question is posed with your child in mind. Bendre, in her book, is realistic enough to know that she may not have all the answers, but is giving him the best she can. That she can help him build a strong foundation and trust him to take the best decisions. In doing so she gives the reader a lot of the information and knowledge she has gathered on the way.
A cornerstone of her endeavours, she writes, is to inculcate compassion in her son Ranveer. This was the part of the book that stole my heart and made me look past the bits that were preachy. For this bit, as for the other aspects, I would recommend this book to mothers, especially ones with children under 10, an impressionable age. It will most likely be more relevant to mothers of young children, given that Bendre’s son is just about 10.
Bendre has written a frank, uninhibited account of her journey as a mother and her attempts to deal with all the changes in her life.