Hindus challenged

Dear Editor,
The festival of Holi is over and Hindus seemed to be quite happy that many non-Hindus participated in the celebrations. Others opined that it was just another religious event that was being overshadowed by alcohol and Bollywood-type entertainment. What Hindus ought to share with all mankind is the universal knowledge that is the very foundation of their culture.
Our Indo-Guyanese ancestors were the first East Indians to inhabit any country in the Western Hemisphere when the first ships landed in British Guiana in 1838.However, a quick comparison with the vibrancy of Hinduism in neighbouring Trinidad and Suriname would show that Hindus of Guyana have a lot of catching up to do. Indentured servants may not have brought many books when they first came aboard ships, but there is no reason why the oral method of sharing knowledge should limit the methods of learning today. In 1939, devotees at Windsor Forest imagined that the Vedas was so large that they took a painted donkey cart to pick up the book at the train station. They must have been shocked when Professor Bhaskaranand appeared holding the book in one hand.
Every year, current and past Presidents attend graduation ceremonies at Saraswati Vidya Niketan at Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara (WCD) and praise the success of this Hindu learning institution, its principal and its teachers, yet Hindus seem unwilling to duplicate this success. Organisations in Guyana and even in NORTH AMERICA seem unable to meet the challenge to operate a private school. While some are in the initial stages they all appear to be struggling generally because parents themselves seem not to appreciate the value of cultural education. While we wait for more classrooms, the temples can encourage more Hindus to read about Hinduism. The Vedic civilisation produced the first books, the Vedas, the first universities and some of the greatest minds in the world yet one would have to look with a microscope to find a library or books in many temples. Not songs, not a CD or a DVD that limits the imagination, but a book that can be read over and over anywhere without the need for electricity or a battery. Many will finance a yagna or sponsor a murti, but few are willing to finance written knowledge even when devotees worship Mother Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. If the temples do not wish to participate, this does not prevent the enlightened devotee from taking the lead at their private functions at home or elsewhere.
Vedic scholars have produced masterpieces in literature, philosophy, science, history and every other field of study. These include writings of Nobel Prize winner Rabindranauth Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Dayananda, Rajagopalachari. In every home, there should be a copy of the Ramayan and the Bhagavad Gita. The latter was described by Gandhi as a book of Universal Ethics and by Vivekananda as a bouquet of the beautiful flowers of the spiritual truths collected from the Vedas and the Upanishads.
Once it is realised that these are the best gifts for family and friends, the demand would quickly lead to the establishment of specialised book stores, libraries and hopefully more private Hindu schools open to everyone wishing to find answers to mankind’s enduring questions; answers that are still relevant to modern technological societies.

Tamnarine Sahadeo
Brampton, Canada