Our doctor pandits brings nothing new

Swami Sivananda, the founder of the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, India with branches across the world including Trinidad, was a medical doctor.  In his many writings he placed a lot of emphasis on health using hatha yoga. In fact, through his writings he has popularized asanas and their cures for many ailments.

Our doctor pandits brings nothing new
Photo : Dool Hanomansingh

Govind invited me to a yagya and he emphasized that the pandit is a doctor. “He is not Pandit Devindra Maharaj. He is Pandit Dr Devindra Maharaj,” Govind stressed. It was clear to me that the pandit was valued for his status as a medical doctor rather than his knowledge of Hindu dharma.

I listened to the discourse from this doctor pandit and found it to be acceptable. However, I would have preferred a discourse relating to health care. For example, diabetes is an epidemic in the Indian community and being a medical doctor the vyas could have spoken about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, or the dangers of alcohol and cigarette or why daily exercise is important for good health?

Swami Sivananda, the founder of the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, India with branches across the world including Trinidad, was a medical doctor.  In his many writings he placed a lot of emphasis on health using hatha yoga. In fact, through his writings he has popularized asanas and their cures for many ailments.

I sincerely believe that some of our doctor pandits who are dabbling in reading the Ramayan and expounding Hindu dharma and history, could incorporate their knowledge of medicine into their discourses and writings. If that is done, Govind would have left me to make the conclusion that the Vyas was a medical doctor and not him ‘peddling” the pandit’s qualification in the medical field.

Dr Kumar Mahabir related that he went to a yagya in Sangre Grande more than thirty years ago. The vyas was a lecturer in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the St Augustine Campus of The UWI. “I was disappointed. The doctor pandit was like any of our pandits with limited knowledge of Hindu dharma. He failed to bring any critical thinking or scientific analysis into his discourse,” Kumar lamented.

Medical surgeons in the Hindu community have never linked modern medicine with ancient India. For example, how many of our doctor pandits have taken time to take about Ayurveda, a treatise on medicine? Does our doctor pandits teach our Hindu congregation that Dhanvantari is the Hindu god of medicine? Are Hindus informed of the pioneering work of Sushruta, the father of Indian medicine?

What about our doctor pandits with knowledge of mental health? Have they used the singhasan to psycho-analyze Ravan or Mother Sita? What goes through the mind of an arch type like Ravan? What is the psychological make-up of Mother Sita that gave her that inner strength to endure sufferings?

The humanities and the social sciences are always given a lesser intellectual rating than the physical sciences. I recalled a gentleman asked me: “So Dool, what subject you teach?” I responded: “Social Studies and History.” ‘O, you teaching them duncy subjects,” he retorted. I had a good laugh. Later the other friends came to know that he had two sons in the medical field. I doubted: “True.” “Yes, don’t you see the man walks on air!” said Ralph Singh.

Hinduism is a body of knowledge that has to be taught in an institution with learned teachers or gurus. Sandeepani Sadanalya, Banaras Hindu University the Ramakrishna Mission are three reputable institutions where students can pursue knowledge of Hindu Dharma.  Interestingly, I know of few people who have undergone training at these institutions. Among them are Raviji, Swami Prakashananda, Pandit Abhedanand Sharma and Swami Aksharnanda of Guyana.

Brahmins are the repository of knowledge or dharma. A Brahmin does not pass on to his children land, money and mansions but knowledge. Hinduism understand that the brains rule over the body and hence its emphasis on knowledge as the most valuable asset. 

In ancient India the Brahmin were advisors to the Rajas. They not only looked at earning increasing revenue but also at building the armies and planning strategies to defeat the enemies. Chanakya was the Brahmin power that guided Chandragupta Maurya to expel to Greeks from India and establish the first Indian Empire.

Sibhoonath Capildeo was an asal Brahmin. He was not only a politician and lawyer but the guiding light behind the formation of the Maha Sabha and its education board. If today the Maha Sabha has a good record in education, it is in no small way because of the foundation laid by Simbhoonath Capildeo.

Capildeo is also credited as the founder of the Viswa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Organization). It the 1960s he visited India and initiated discussion with leading Hindu personalities that led to the formation of this global watchdog organization.

Capildeo had also negotiated with the Indian philanthropist Ghanshyam Birla to construct a Hindu University in Trinidad. The project fell through because of a lack of transparency by other individuals. 

“Hindus need to fix their heads,” said Anand X.  He went on: “We are putting more emphasis on putting money in the bank accounts, building mansions and jetting away rather than learning.” 

Listening to Anand X brought back to memory the saying: “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

(My next article will be on Mogul history and the Bhojpuri languages. I don’t need a license to write on these subjects.)