In 1950 60% of the Hindu population in Trinidad and Tobago were illiterate, that is, cannot read or write in English. The Christian denominational schools targeted them for conversion to Christianity. The Canadian Mission was foisted on the community to drive mass conversion. Funded by the State, the Canadian Mission constructed 72 schools in the rural districts of south and central Trinidad to execute this mission. Thankfully, most Hindus did not fall for this bait. Today, after 130 years of evangelism the Presbyterian Church has a mere 40,000 members.
In 1952 the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha was born, and schools were constructed which afforded the opportunity for Hindu boys and girls to have access to an education. Had those SDMS schools not been built Hindus would have been worse than their compatriots in Pakistan and Bangladesh where they are treated as second class citizens.
The opening of the Maha Schools did not only brought education to Hindu children but also orchestrated the demise of the Canadian Mission. Seeing defeat ahead, the foreign missionaries abandoned the Mission, leaving it for their chamchas. This defeat of the Canadian Mission is a red-letter day for Hindus.
Humankind, like vegetation, need deep roots to survive in challenging social environment. Our Hindu dharma offers us such roots, hence our ability to survive for millenniums. We have succeeded in defeating all imperial powers that set their eyes on Bharat-from the Greeks and Islamic invaders to the British.
Indians in the diaspora had their share of challenges but have not given up. No one would have expected a Hindu to take power in Trinidad and Tobago after thirty consecutive years of Afro Christian misrule backed by imperial interests. With not a Hindu in government where they formed 25% of the population, the tide eventually turned when Basdeo Panday was sworn in as a cabinet minister. The contempt for Hindus was demonstrated when a copy of the Bhagavad Gita was not at hand for Basdeo Panday to take the oath. Copies of both the Quran and Bible were available but not a Bhagavad Gita! The swearing in ceremony was held up until a copy was sourced at the residence of a Hindu family.
Education must always be the central trust of any community if it wishes to not only succeed but to flourish. The Jewish community never compromised on education and so were the Brahmins of India. Our Brahmin ancestors- Pandays, Tewaries, Gosines, Misirs- were advisors to the Maharajas of India. They not only managed the treasury but also trained the armies and devised strategies to defeat the enemies.
The Kashmiri Pandits have survived the onslaughts of Islamic invaders and the recent pogroms by Jihadis supported by the Islamic State of Pakistan. Today, the Pandits continue to fight back and soon they would be taking their rightful place in their land of Kashmir. Without the Pandits, Kashmir has no hope to step into the modern world. The Pandits, as a highly educated community, are the only hope to usher Kashmir into the 21st century.
Brahminism is a thirst for knowledge. Leaders such are Raja Ramohan Roy of the Bramo Samaj in Calcutta opened their minds to all that was good and noble in British learning. Future leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, and Aurobindo Ghose embraced western education but later used it to rebel against the British.
Today’s wars would be fought in cyberspace and cultures that are technologically advanced will be the winners. The days of throwing rocks and wielding swords are long over. It is the Brahmins- the learned – that are going to decide the outcomes of wars.
If Hindus must survive it is critical that education be placed in the front burner, not the SUVs, the luxury mansions, fancy suits and dresses and the gourmet dishes.
Let us renew our commitment to strengthen the Brahmin consciousness with us. It is this leadership that have brought us thus far and would continue to take us forward. We certainly must renew our trust in education in all its facets to give us the competitive advantage in this hostile world.