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Rituals form the art of religion Pt 2
The India High Commissioner to Trinidad made a number of ill-informed comments about the practicums of Hinduism of T&T. He is reported to have said in a daily newspaper that there is too much emphasis “on ritualism…with very shallow understanding of philosophy.” He also went on to say that there is misunderstanding in T&T “among the so-called priests and pundits of this country.”
In part two of our response to the Indian diplomat who we consider to be way out of his crease, we wish to remind him of Lord Krishna’s advice to his devotees as expressed in Bhagavad Gita 9.26. “Whoever offers me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I accept that, the pious offering of the pure in heart.” No philosophy and intellectual understanding of the nature of God is a pre-requisite to God realisation.
The Express carried a headline, First Hindu elected to US Congress, on Monday, January 16, with a picture of Representative Tulsi Gabbard. She took her oath of office with the Bhagavad Gita and said of this Hindu scriptural text, “I chose to take the oath of office with my personal copy of the Bhagavad Gita because its teachings have inspired me to be a servant-leader, dedicating my life in the service of others and to my country.”
The land that has produced the greatest and wisest sages and saints who have spread the universal teachings of Sanatan Dharma throughout the world, has ironically, posted one of its religiously uninformed to the elevated position of diplomat to T&T.
Most previous Indian diplomats have quietly listened and learned about Hinduism in Trinidad and they became better Hindus during their stints here. A previous commissioner had invited pundits to officiate at ceremonies at the residence of the Indian High Commissioner and proudly declared that he learnt about Hinduism in Trinidad.
What is even more ironical is that hundreds of Indian nationals work and reside in T&T, and admire the authenticity, resilience and vigour of Hinduism in Trinidad. These Indian nationals regularly attend the temples, private homes and other Hindu religious places and eagerly participate in the devotional services. They also provide financial and other support to Hindu institutions here because they appreciate our devotion towards Hinduism.
To pretend to be knowledgeable in the absence of an understanding of the topic must be considered obscene. This diplomat lacks a fundamental understanding of the limbs of Hinduism and the integration into a collective whole to complete the most awesome jigsaw known to humanity, Hinduism.
Mr Mishra seems to be blissfully ignorant and unaware that the practice of Hinduism has been admired and validated by some of the greatest saints and teachers of 21st century India. Dozens of religious masters have visited Trinidad over several decades and applauded the impeccable practices of Hinduism here.
Saints and sages who visited Trinidad over the last century and have brought and taught the highest philosophy of Hinduism, have been consolidated over time. Three years ago we brought on contract, a sanskrit Professor/Pundit from Sarnath University India, to work with our pundits on improving their pronunciation of sanskrit mantras. We are also in constant contact with a number of other professors at Banares Hindu University.
From the most esoteric philosophy to the simplest practice, there is no depth to learning. Like a western mind, this diplomat sees America as the world axis. The presence of Hinduism in America did not change the course of Hinduism. It is the presence of Hinduism in other Asian and Caribbean countries that provided the most telling impact.
Trinidad has been exporting the highest level of Hinduism to North America, the US, England and Canada, and elsewhere for decades and our contribution is well documented and honoured.
We even have pundits who travel to Venezuela regularly to perform Pooja and other Hindu activities, but this critic seems to be unaware of the extensive knowledge, skill and capability of our Hindu devotees. If Hinduism had to depend on the “knowledge” of any diplomat, it would have been extinct in this part of the world.
At a time of expansion of relationships between Trinidad and India in the fields of tourism, economics and politics, this diplomat is clearly playing the wrong taal (tune). He should be focusing on goods and services India has to offer and products that T&T could export to India in return. India is a top IT producer/supplier in the world today. The diplomat should leave religion to the religionists and focus on trade and other mutually beneficial activities.
Hinduism has progressed and developed from the earliest days of indentureship to a situation today where Hinduism and Hindu leadership in Trinidad is recognised, renowned and respected at the highest levels throughout the Hindu world.
In this context therefore, no advice is required from any diplomat who should focus on diplomacy.
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