Dr Satish Prakash, Guru-ji or Acharya of the Maharshi Swami Dayanand Spiritual Center of Jamaica, New York City launched a Gurukula in Uitvlugt, West Coast last week. It was officially launched on Sunday December 18. It was attended by Guyanese in the diaspora and other guests from all over the world, including India. Among the distinguish dignitaries were Ministers of government and the High Commissioner of India His Excellency Dr KJ Srinivasa.
The HC reminisced about his presence for the foundation laying of the institution in 2019 and applauded the efforts of the Arya Samaj group headed by Acharya Dr Satish Prakash in establishing such an institution devoted to both secular and core Arya Samaj values including the study of the Vedas.
Dr LJ Srinivasa spoke at length about the history of the Arya Samaj in India and in Guyana and stated that the movement started by Swami Dayananda Saraswati in 1875 had left a deep impact on the Indian society and the concept of religion and transformed India. Swami was considered as one of the ‘Makers of Modern India’. He noted how Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s teachings are equally relevant in today’s times. By calling on all to go back to the Vedas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati felt that Indians would be able to improve the depressive religious, social, political, and economic conditions prevailing in the country at the time. He preached ‘Universalism’.
Although Swami Dayananda Saraswati was never really involved in politics directly, his political observations were the source of inspiration for a number of political leaders during India’s struggle for independence. For instance, he was the first to give the call for ‘Swarajya’ as ‘India for Indians’ in 1876, later taken up by Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak. One of his most influential works is the book Satyarth Prakash, which contributed to the Indian independence movement. His followers included Sri Aurobindo Ghosh the revolutionary philosopher and nationalist, President of India S Radhakrishnan and Baba Ramdev. He brought about a complete overhaul of the education system of India by introducing Anglo-Vedic schools to offer students an updated curriculum — imparting both the knowledge of the Vedas and contemporary English education.
High commissioner also spoke about the ancient system of Gurukula in India and lauded that such an initiative in Guyana would be a momentous one. He assured that the High commission of India would support this initiative and as a token gesture donated a pair of tablas and 200 books on Indian history/culture/heritage for use at the Gurukul.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Hon. Deodat Indar, welcomed the school on behalf of the government, noting that it will play an important role in the community and country at large. He urged persons who will attend the school to honour their core principles, so that they may set a good example for the organisation. Minister Indar also spoke about the importance of Vedic study, how the cycle of life works and called on every one to take the responsibility to do good, to help others, to speak for those who don’t have a voice. He explained “It is our responsibility, individually. That is what the Vedic study is about: how to be a better human being”.
The minister expressed the government’s commitment to embracing all religious practices, and noted that all of Guyana’s major religions are represented in the Cabinet, a testament to the diversity embraced in Guyana.
Minister Indar hoisted the Guyanese flag, while the Indian High commissioner hoisted the Indian flag and Acharya Dr Satish Prakash hoisted the Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula flag together. The event included speeches by other representatives of Arya Samaj from across the world and devotional songs / chants.
In January 2021, Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula launched its online classes for persons interested in learning Hindi and Sanskrit. The second phase will see the completion of the building, furniture added, and courses expanding to cater to several age groups. Persons from all religions are invited to register once the school commences operation.