It is now 50 years since the idea from one man changed the face of Hinduism in Guyana. The 10th Anniversary brochure of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha said that: “Pandit was approached to consider heading the Organisation. Though reluctant at first, he eventually acquiesced.’’
Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud related the following story at a Bhagwat Puran Yagna at the Triumph Temple on 12th January 1992. Pandit Reep said he was at home when he received a phone call from Mohanlall Sahadeo. He said that Jer (Mohanlall’s nickname was Jerome) asked him (Reepu), Pandit what are you doing now? (Pandit Reepu Daman was expelled from the Maha Sabha.) Pandit Reepu said that he answered, “nothing, am just home.” He said Mohanlall then said to him…”Pandit, let us start our own Organisation.” Pandit Reepu’s immediate reply was…Jer, you think it will work? And Jer promptly replied that….’’we will make it work!”
The rest of the story of that meeting was related one year later by the first General Secretary and a founding member of the Sabha – Harry Persaud Ramdass. Uncle Harry came to attend the one year Sharaadh of our father Mohanlall Sahadeo and he related how he first met Dad. He said Pandit Reepu Daman had invited him over to his home for a meeting. Uncle Harry was a member of the Political Affairs Committee then P.P.P. and said that was when he was introduced to our father. He said that Pandit then told him to listen to Dad’s proposal—-the formation of a Hindu Organisation, separate from the Maha Sabha. Prior to this, there was only the Maha Sabha of which Pandit Reepu Daman was part of until he was expelled. Mohanlall Sahadeo was an active Youth member of the Maha Sabha along with Uncle Latch Harrinarine. Dad left when Pandit Reepu Daman was kicked out.
At that meeting, the 3 of them then decided to discuss this proposal with others and so the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha was launched on the 8th of January 1974 at the Campbellville Mandir. Our mother was present at this celebration.
The present day President of the Sabha who happens to be the daughter of Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud mentioned that her father was ‘ petitioned’’ by ‘people for leadership—he acceded,’’ then later she said in the same speech that ‘’Panditji started the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha.’’ Reepu Daman did not start the Sabha. Nowhere in her speech did she mention the names of the first Executive. Maybe it is that she does not know who they are. As kids who grew up in the Dharmic Sabha, my siblings and I can tell her who they are.
Lastly, at the parade at the Kendra, one wonders why one of the only survivors of the Sabha when it started 50 years ago, was not given the honour of taking the salute? Aunty Indra was present when my Dad was in their home to discuss his idea to form the Sabha. She made him tea. It is very sad when one does not honour elders and give them due respect as per our Dharma. Same disrespect was shown to one of the people who was in the first discussion and who was the first General Secretary. Harry Persaud Ramdass was alive when there was a grand celebration in Queens, New York to observe the 45th Anniversary of the Sabha. The chief organiser agreed to honour this founding member who was the lone survivor of the first Executive. This organiser later chickened out and was afraid to disclose who made him do so.
karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ‘stvakarmaṇi
You have the right to work only but never to its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.
My father and most of the Executives of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha in the initial formative years, lived that Motto. Only one person hogged the fruits of the labour of all those who sacrificed to give Guyanese Hindus what they have today. It is now the norm in GY to spin false versions of our history to suit certain people’s self aggrandisement and political agendas- the truth is one though and those of us who know will not be silenced. Give credit where it is due.
A founding member of the Youth Arm/Dharmic Youth Section; Former Assist. Sec. East Coast Praant.