Are our Hindu gods making us lazy and irresponsible?
If Hindu society has to avoid extinction in the Caribbean, Hindus must resort to following the dictates of the scriptures. Sri Krishna, in the Gita (Chapter 16 Verse 23), told Arjuna to “let the scriptures be your guide.” Unfortunately, too many Hindus are abandoned the injunctions of the scriptures and are today stranded in the dark woods crying for help.
Our scriptures are roads maps to guide us to our destinations. They point out to us the easy pathways and caution us about obstacles and challenges. With maps we will be able to make the best decisions to avoid pains and hardships while at the same time reaching our goals.
The Panch Maha Yagyas or five daily duties outlined for Hindus include worship of the gods; remembering the ancestors; reading the scriptures; conserving the environment and serving humanity. Unfortunately, in Trinidad and Tobago our spiritual leaders have confined religious activities to worship of the gods and ignore totally all the other duties. This is demonstrated well now that we are in the Naw Ratri period. There are many yagyas across the country. Several families donate murtis so much so that the altars of our mandirs do not have space to accommodate the so many gods and goddesses!
For the entire year our mandirs fail to incorporate relevant and meaningful programmes to address the needs of the community. Our youths want sporting and physical activities. Our mothers and sisters need to learn to prepare healthy and wholesome meals. Our rivers and drains need to be cleaned. Our yards are bereft of vegetation which consequently contributes to floods. This we experienced last year in Debe/Penal/ Barrackpore and St Helena/Piarco, districts with large Hindu populations.
Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsing, is battling with non-communicable diseases: diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, etc. These are life-style diseases that can be avoided altogether or reversed with proper knowledge, diet and exercise. Unfortunately, our mandirs don’t see health issues as relevant, far less urgent. It appears that with an offering of sweets and fruits to the Hindu gods all problems automatically solve themselves!
Thankfully, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India does not subscribe to such a philosophy. He was successful in getting the United Nations to declare June 21 International Year of Yoga. Three years have sinced passed and yoga is now sweeping the world. Unfortunately few of our mandirs in Trinidad have a yoga class. Even where there is a yoga class few Hindus attend. For example, in Port of Spain there is a yoga studio with mainly non-Indians and a few Indian women in attendance and a total absence of Indian males.
This brings me to the integration of alcohol into the social life of the Indian community. Today it is common to find mourners flocking to the rum shops for a drink of alcohol after a funeral. At weddings there is an abundance of alcohol. On evenings it is the norm for many professionals to stop at a bar for a few beers before retiring to their homes. Now there is a rapidly increasing number of women socialising in bars.
Alcohol is a serious social issue. It contributes to accidents, domestic violence, neglect and divorce. Many children are affected when their parents are alcoholic. Worse, is the fact that it develops into a culture that continues from one generation to another.
Sadly, I have never heard any pandit addressing in a serious manner the dangers of alcohol. Are not families suffering from this social scourge and if so, don’t the leaders have a duty to address it? Can a mandir hold a seminar on alcoholism as part of its Naw Ratri celebrations?
Youth and sports need to be addressed. Young people don’t have the burden of the world on their shoulders. They are young, strong and bursting with energy that needs to be channelled in the area of sports and keep fit. With regular exercises and participation in sports young people are going to develop a positive approach to health that would guide them throughout their life.
Skit, drama and public speaking are not offered to Hindu boys and girls. Through skits and drama social issues can be addressed in a more entertaining manner that would appeal to the masses. If not, our heroes on stage would continue to be Lerry Joseph, Kenneth Seepersad, Raymond Choo Koong and Nuts Landing, etc. While such programmes are well received I am confident that if Hindus put their heads and hearts together they have the ability to strive for excellence.
Our debating and public speaking skills are fast disappearing. The contributions of Lionel Frank Seukeran, Simbhoonath Capildeo and Basdeo Panday have long gone. If today Roodal Moonilal is among the finest speakers in the current parliament it is only because he had been engaged in debating during his time at secondary school and university. Are we now providing that avenue in the mandir to produce future leaders?
Even our writing skills are not there. With ICDN.today one had hoped that more young Hindus would have contributed articles on social and cultural issues. So far, there are no youth displaying any interest in writing. It is not that they are not aware of social issues; the reality is that they fail to find the time to develop that skill through regular reading and writing. Is the Hindu community potent to replicate another V.S. Naipual? At present I would venture a NO?
Nevertheless, I must congratulate the many who boldly raise issues in the many talk shows across the radio band. Sat Maharaj remains a shining star inspiring, motivating and guiding us to move forward in this struggle for equal opportunities for all. What I find most interesting is Mr Maharaj engagement of Lokesh Maharaj, a youth and CEO of Radio and TV Jagriti, as the anchor in a Talk Show between 4-5:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
One cannot deny praise to Sat Maharaj who as Secretary of the Maha Sabha fearlessly highlights the failings of the Keith Rowley administration. It is this type of heroism that young Hindus want to emulate. In fact, I can safely guess that Sat Maharaj is the hero of the Hindu community as demonstrated in his regular preparedness to confront and challenge all threats.
I sincerely hope that our pandits would continue their worship of the gods but also recognise and implement the other obligations. If those are not fulfilled we would be repeating the mistakes of the Buddhists of north India, who, steeped in prayers and worship, ignored raising an army and were finally converted to the faiths of their conquerors. The Buddhists of Mayanmar are not ready for another confrontation and hence their policies on expulsion of the Rohingers.
May the voice of dharma continue to prevail!