"Kids Philosophy Slam" a national essay competition in the US for kids K-12 recently declared Nimai C. Agarwal, a nine year Krishna devotee from Germantown, MD to be the "Most philosophical third grader in America."
Nimai, a third grader home schooled by his parents, won the first prize in the 2008 essay contest by Philosophy slam (philosophyslam.org) amongst the third graders. This year's essay title was "Is Global Warming the Greatest Challenge Facing Humankind?" Nimai argued in his essay that disconnect from our divine nature is the greatest threat facing us and global warming is just a symptom of this disconnect.
Nimai argues in his essay: "Since we are not connected to our divine nature, we think that everything in this world is for our enjoyment...A polluted environment is a symptom of our polluted consciousness. We try to find happiness in material objects, but material happiness does not make us happy. It is like a mirage. We keep on chasing after it but we never reach it. In the process we exploit and use nature. That causes pollution, and pollution causes problems like global warming etc."
The Kids Philosophy Slam is an annual program designed to make philosophy fun and accessible to all kids in grades K—12, as well as to help promote critical thinking skills and encourage dialog with other students and adults. The idea behind the Kids Philosophy Slam came from John P. Davis, who created The Great American Think-Off in 1993. The Think-Off has received national press, including The Today Show, CNN, NPR, USA Today and the New York Times.
When Nimai found out about his prize he commented, "I knew I would win because after all its Prabhupada's philosophy. How could it not win?" His mother, Vanita Agarwal (Vidarbhasuta devi), a Krishna devotee, who is homeschooling Nimai based on the spiritual teachings of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, felt the credit goes to Swami Prabhupada's teachings upon which Nimai based his essay. She felt encouraged that more people are now recognizing the spiritual side of things. Nimai and his parents are congregation members of the ISKCON Potomac temple in the Washington DC metro.
Nimai also won the first prize in another essay competition organized by the Vegetarian Resource Group (vrg.org). Nimai won the prize in age group of 9-13. This year's essay title was "Why I'm a Vegetarian?"
Nimai says in this essay, "Vegetarianism is good for animals and humans alike. When we save animals from being mercilessly killed, nature flourishes and when nature flourishes, humans live happily in peace."
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), based out of Baltimore, MD, is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism.
Nimai's essays can be viewed online here.