Self-actualization is the goal of Hindu dharma, that is to discover our true nature which is divinity. The personification of this trait was best idolized in our sadhus who lived simple and austere lives and placed emphasized on doing good to others.
Kutiya Sadhu, the resident sadhu at the El Dorado Shiv Mandir and Sewdass Sadhu of Waterloo and the builder of the Temple in the Sea are two names that are known nationally. However, there were sadhus in every village and they were renowned for their service to the community.
As we celebrate Navratri we must reflect on these pious men and women who sacrificed their wealth and their actions to the service of the community. They laid the foundation for Hinduism and they did so with no fanfare but with faith and dedication.
Durga is the first goddess worshipped in the Navratri-nine nights of worship to the Goddesses. She is the Goddess of destruction, destroying the negative qualities in us so that we can strive for the higher goals. The demons of hate, greed anger and lust are destroying us. As individuals we need to resolve in our minds the destruction of those negative qualities. It is only when these negative values are destroyed that we shall be ready to move forward.
Mother Durga is the collective energies of the gods. Driven from their home by the demon Mahish, the gods merged their energies to bring forth Durga, a weapon to defeat the demon. The story from the Devi Mahatmaya stressed the need for unity in the family, community and nation for the welfare of all.
After Mother Durga defeated the evil Mahish, the gods were secured in their heaven. Refugees are forced to leave their home because of hostile and oppressive governments that rule not in the interest of the people but to fulfil their personal ambition and pride.
The Hindu community is under siege in Trinidad and Tobago. Discrimination is rampant. Indian culture receives limited funding from the State. The teaching of Hindi and Sanskrit is not in the curriculum and the proselytizers are always banging on our doors and kidnapping our brothers and sisters.
Any Hindu with an iota of self-respect must stand up to resist this assault. Unfortunately, this is seen as freedom of worship. I wonder if Hindus are going to be tolerated if they decide to walk to non-Hindus homes to invite them to the mandir?
Despite this aggression there is deafening silence from our leaders. Many Hindus are saying that since the demise of Sat Maharaj the Hindu leadership has fallen into a coma. Who is in charge?
Equal opportunity and equality of treatment by the State must be made a reality. When Hindus are discriminated, it is the duty of Hindu leaders to speak out. Too many Hindus do not have equal access to health care and education so long as the Couva Children’s Hospital and the Debe Campus remain shut!
We cannot pretend that all is well after a Hindu is denied an appointment though he is first in the merit list. What is even worst is that individuals who speaks out against discrimination are labelled miscreant and fired from their positions as in the case of Nizam Mohammed, former Chair of the Police Service Commission.
Hindus continue to be absent from the senior ranks of the armed forces, state enterprises, public service and statutory boards, etc. Again, those grievances are not addressed by Hindu leaders thus bringing into question the relevance of excelling in examinations. Imagine, in this country columnists are given space in the daily newspapers to berate our children who have done well is the SEA. And yet there is no outrage by Hindu leaders!
A recent table is circulating showing the allocation of funding per electorate in the various regional corporations. The discrimination in the distribution is blatant and glaring. Imagine the UNC controlled Couva/ Tabaquite/ Talparo allocated a sum of $666 per electorate. Compared to the PNM controlled Diego Martin the sum is $1,156. While the Boroughs of Arima and Point Fortin get $2,805 and $4,076 respectively, the Borough of Chaguanas gets $1,018.
Strangely, many discourses will be given on Mother Durga’s battles with the demons but nothing would be said about this obvious discrimination. This is more that discrimination! This is apartheid!
Vassan Ramracha spoke about the trend for Indians/Hindus to march to protest an event that happened 100 years ago during colonialism while ignoring ongoing acts of discrimination in the distribution of houses and employment. He asked: “Why are Indians not protesting when keys to HDC houses are not given to families in the neighborhood.” Ramracha also questioned the failure of conferences on the Indian diaspora to address contemporary issues of discrimination rather than talking about the Fatal Razak and conditions in the barracks.
I trust and hope that life of Mother Durga would inspire us to fight against social injustices.