The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha is a home-grown Hindu organization. Founded in 1952, the late General Secretary, Sri Sat Maharaj did not favor foreign Hindu missionaries coming to the country. In the 1980s a Swami from the Ramakrishna Mission of India who was a guest of the Vedanta Society of Princes Town was expelled. Many suspected that the Ministry of National Security acted after complaints by the Maha Sabha.
The Chinmaya Mission of Trinidad and Tobago promoted education and teaching of the scriptures. Students interested in learning Sanskrit, Puja bedi and other aspects of Hindu dharma can enroll in the classes offered.
Both the Maha Sabha and the Chinmaya Mission are vibrant organizations and their records of excellence in education are second to none. While the Chinmaya Mission of Trinidad is affiliated with the Chinmaya Mission in India, the day to day running of the organization is in the hands of Swami Prakashananda, a local born and a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.
Hindus welcome organizations like the Chinmaya Mission of TT and the Maha Sabha which are working for their welfare. Can the same be said for all foreign-based organizations that are present in Trinidad? Are these organizations executing projects to develop the human resource capital of the local Hindu community?
It is significant to note that parent bodies in India have schools, hospitals, hostels, and other programs serving the welfare of the people. However, the local affiliates of these organizations fail to make themselves relevant to the needs of the people.
In the 1980s Pandit Rabindranath Maharaj of Endeavour raised money for the Hindu Seva Sangh to assist Hindus who had to undergo life-saving surgeries. Pandit Rabindranath also serves as the manager of the Endeavour Hindu School and was responsible for raising funds to repair the school and provide other amenities to make the environment more comfortable for ease of learning. He also assisted with the repairing and construction of many mandirs across the country.
The Hindu Jawaan Sangh (1975-79) and the Hindu Seva Sangh (1983- ) were two vibrant organizations. With no affiliation to any parent body, these organizations were known for being self-reliant. Through shared hard work and dedication to their tasks, these organizations rescued Hindu dharma in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the Jawaan Sangh that revived Phagwa and Chowtaal. The Hindu Seva Sangh did the groundwork that prepared the foundation for Indian Arrival Day. May 30, to be declared a public holiday.
The Hindu Seva Sangh trained scores of boys and girls who went back to their local mandirs and shared their knowledge. Those who did not have a mandir for worship started satsanghs in their homes that later expanded to a mandir as in the case of Moruga.
When the Temple in the Sea had collapsed the Seva Sangh erected the Seedas Sadhu Monument inspired the reconstruction of the Temple in the Sea. Thanks to the Hindu Seva Sangh the legacy of Seedas Sadhu lives on!
Hindu organizations and groups need to become relevant if they must survive in this rapidly changing society. More so, greater leadership roles must be given to the youths who know and understand the needs of their peers.
Whether affiliated with foreign-based organizations or not, groups are going to survive only when they are relevant to the needs of the people. It would now be necessary to introduce market research to establish the kind of programs that interest Hindus. This corporate governance approach is the way to go. It would mean having a management team with varied skill sets to respond to the needs of the community and the many threats it faces.