Individuals come and go but institutions remain, sometimes for decades and centuries, long after their founders have passed on. For example, the Maha Sabha founded by Bhadase Maharaj in 1952 and now serving a third generation, is still active. Had it been a one-man show, it would have died when its founder passed on in 1971.
The family is the oldest institution in our society. A family is governed by rules and every member has a role. If rules are followed and roles are effectively played out, such a family will survive. On the other hand, if a family is dysfunctional – abandonment of rules and roles- such a family would become a liability to society and the state would normally intervene to save the day.
Institutions are aimed at serving the welfare of society. If a Hindu is expected to feel proud to be a Hindu, then it is expected that when he has a crisis, there is an institution he can turn to for assistance. Do such institutions exist and if they do, what are their rules and modus operandi? How effective are they?
For example, are there institutions to help the poor and socially vulnerable Hindus? Where is the equivalent of a Living Waters Community or FEEL? Do we have financial institutions to serve the needs of the community such as credit unions and banks? How long are we to rely on the initiative of a few individuals who go out on a limb to assist needy individuals and families? Is there any organization with a properly constituted operational structure? It is critical that urgent steps be taken to establish such institutions to serve the welfare of needy families.
The average Hindu must understand that he has a duty to look beyond his family for the fulfillment of some needs. For example, a family would be able to assist with shelter, nutrition, and education. However, in the area of security, it must depend on the state. Also, major surgeries costing hundreds of thousands of dollars would need government health institutions.
No man should place himself above an institution. Our leaders must cease to have big men and women running around them like children. They have a duty to refashion them into MEN and WOMEN. Adults must be jolted to overcome the Radha-Krishna enrapture and recognize that they have some higher goals. Today, even our differently-abled are encouraged to live independently and fulfill their dreams and aspirations!
When Sri Krishna was 16 years of age, he left Brindavan and moved to Mathura to assume the role of a king. Acknowledging his adulthood, Sri Krishna abandoned his frolicking and embraced his new responsibilities. Our leaders must release their ‘gaged birds’ so they can explore their potential and shape their personalities!
Unfortunately, for too many of us our ‘vision’ does not go beyond a few pleasures. At every turn, the conversation is on upgrading vehicles. Too many have been misled to believe that ‘the car makes the man.’? One friend hinted to me that If I purchase an SUV my image will improve in the eyes of people. That may be good advice but I beg to differ!
It is time that we look at more substantial ways to gauge our success. For example, the excellence of Lakshmi Girls’ College, the Chinmaya Mission led by Swami Prakashananda, and the Saraswati Vidya Niketan of Guyana led by Swami Aksharnanda must be acknowledged and celebrated. One cannot ignore the efforts of SEVA TT in the field of social outreach programs such as blood drives, hamper distribution in times of natural disasters notwithstanding the significant role it played in the execution of vaccines to arrest the spread of Covid 19.
Where are the next V S Naipaul, Chanderpaul, Basdeo Panday, and Vijay Naraynsingh? Are we building institutions to provide the education and skills to strengthen the aspiration of our youths? The truth is the journey to excellence can be helped by institutions rather than abandoning the individual to struggle on his own like kids from ghetto communities. The truth is institutions are like bomb shelters to safeguard us from missiles.
The challenge is for educated Hindus in good well-paying jobs and businesses to do more to reflect their newfound wealth. Instead of measuring success in the number of trips to resorts abroad, we should build social and sporting institutions that would help us realize our fullest potential. By doing such we would be displaying some kind of background with a vision for the future.
Or, do we prefer to be engrossed in regular social gatherings with such rapaciousness as though compensating for our barrack-yard deprivations? It’s time that we wake up from our slumber and acknowledge that the ‘chickens are already coming home to roost’ as reflected in recent appointments to leadership roles. If this malady is not remedied, our society would continue to be governed by personalities who rule by their whims and fancies and personal loyalties.