In the ancient Hindu kingdoms, the temples were centers of learning, not just Sanskrit and Pooja bedi, but also medicine, hatha yoga and martial arts. The great armies of the Vijainagar Empire that influenced South-east Asia had Brahmins for their teachers. Unfortunately, Brahminism has come to be associated solely with Pooja, shraadh, patra reading, seedha and dakshina.
It was Drona, a Brahmin, who was the military commander of the Kauravas army in the Mahabharata war. Drona was the teacher of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas. All the princes including Arjuna got their military training from this Brahmin. When the Mahabharata war started Drona was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Kaurava Army.
Brahmins were the advisors to the kings. They also ran the revenue department and the public service and were the teachers in the schools and universities.
When Alexander of Greece invaded India in 300 BCE, the Buddhist king in Bihar was too self-indulgent and arrogant to resist the invaders. It was left to Chanakya, a teacher at Nalanda university, to mobilize resistance until the Greeks were expelled. Chanakya went on to established the Mauraya Empire- the first Indian Empire- that reigned over all of South Asia for almost 185 years.
Chanakya knew his role as a Brahmin which is a simple life and learning as the central duty….and yes, learning! Without learning or knowledge, a Brahmin would be unable to teach, thus ceasing the right to claim Brahmin status!
When the demons were destroying places of worship and killing the holy ones, Sage Viswamitra led the resistance. He recognized his role and duty as a Brahmin to safeguard the welfare of the community and protect dharma and to this end, he recruited Rama and Lakshmana to destroy the demons.
In Trinidad and Tobago, many Brahmins came aboard the ships that brought our ancestors to these parts of the world. Those early Brahmin knew their duty and held the community together. Our pandits walked miles or rode bicycles to reach out to devotees to conduct poojas.
The Capildeos were always uncompromising in their Brahminism. Simbhoonath Caildeo, a solicitor, played a significant role in the formation of the education program of the Maha Sabha. His brother Rudranath Capildeo was not only Opposition Leader but also a renowned Mathematician and physicist who wrote several scientific papers that assisted with space exploration. V.S Naipual, a nephew of the Capildeos, went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Brahmin knew the importance of preservation of cultural identity and so laid the foundation for our Hindu society when they formed the Maha Sabha and other social and cultural institutions. The Brahmins worked with the Sadhus whose piety and devotion are still remembered in the lands they donated for the building of temples and schools across the country.
Every Hindu has a social role to play in our society, and our Brahmins who are the teachers have to lead the way.
Unfortunately, Brahminism has been reduced to performing poojas and shraadh ceremonies and singing the Hanuman Chalisa.
The Brahmins are the embodiment of knowledge which is critical to solving social ills. Chanakya used his knowledge to expel the Greeks and create the first Indian Empire. Our local Brahmins need to dedicate their energies to politics, military training, medicine, finance and business management.
Are our Brahmins doing their duty? Why is diabetes running amok in our community? Where are our Brahmin doctors? What are they doing to arrest this epidemic? Too many families are burdened and beaten down with this disease which is causing pain and suffering.
Our Brahmin professionals need to take the lead in the resuscitation and strengthening of our community. They need to dedicate their knowledge to serving the community and not themselves. Success or failure is not self but linked to family and community.
Unfortunately, too many of our Brahmins are failing to play their roles notwithstanding the few who have converted to other belief systems and consuming beef and pork. They have thrown humility and learning to the wind and have allowed arrogance to take hold of them. They have become associates of individuals who have lost their ancestral identities-modern day slaves to foreign cultures.
Brahmins need to shun materialism and focus on learning. They have within them the receptacle to hold knowledge and most importantly, to use it for the uplift of society. Their ancestors have guided the kings that ruled over South-east Asia, and compiled the Vedas and the various sciences, architecture and the arts.
Our Hindu Community must address issues of health and fitness. Millions of hard earned cash is wasted in health care that can be put to better use. We need to develop keep fit classes and martial arts tournaments to equip our community to defend themselves. We cannot afford to burden the deans and safety officers with our child’s safety and security. Our children must be so equipped with the essential training and skills to survive in a hostile environment.