SWAHA International

Hindu based non-profit organisation based in Trinidad & Tobago

Book Launch: What You Need To Know About Hindu Death Ceremonies


The Dharma Mandal of SWAHA cordially invites you to the book launch and book signing of  What You Need To Know About Hindu Death Ceremonies authored by the Paramacharya of SWAHA, His Holiness Pt. Hardeo Persad, Spiritual head of SWAHA.

Date: Sunday 21st February 2016
Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm
Venue: Learning Resource Centre Auditorium, UWI ST. Augustine.
Book signing with the Paramacharya: 8:00pm – 9:00pm

Guests should be seated by 6.15pm
The book will be available for sale at a cost of $50.

What is the book about?

Death is inevitable. From the perspective of Sanaatan Dharma, the various death and after-death ceremonies are grounded in deep philosophical and psychological foundations. This philosophical basis is the benchmark against which many misunderstandings can be cleared up and where adaptations could be implemented.

SWAHA International emphasises enlightened ritualism, and this book provides the justification for some of the practices that are carried out in death and post-death rituals. The book also provides recommendations for modifications to these rituals while maintaining underlying principles and compatibility with our changing social, economic and cultural landscape.

Book Contents

1    Acknowledgements
2    Introduction
3    Death and the Soul
4    Preparation for Death
5    The Three Main Hindu Death Ceremonies
6    The Antyeshti Sanskaar – The Funeral Ceremony
7    Dasgaatra – The Purification Ceremony
8    Shraadh (Bhandaara)
9    Suggested Adaptations to these Ceremonies
10    Conclusion
11    Items Required for Ceremonies
12    Glossary

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Animal Abuse

6436363_origI barked, no one could hear me.  I moaned and howled but no one could find me. This place of battered old wood was all I could see and my neck was entangled with long rusty chain links. I was sleeping in hallow tubs of bristly cold rain water because my roof is now called a grater. There’s nothing left on my body. My four paws are nothing but claws and fur; I could almost feel my heart beat.

They wake up in the morning and with all smiles they throw in my food. “Isn’t it bothering you?” I barked to myself because I knew they wouldn’t hear, eating as much leftovers as I could because who knew what tomorrow would bring. Later that day they opened my door. I was rudely interrupted so I slightly growled. Unfortunately, that was the mistake I made. He yanked my chain and pulled me out. I raised my head only to see the anger in his eyes. My vision is black and white but I’m surely not colorblind. I screamed, but in his ears all he heard was the sound of his achievement. He tied me up in the blazing sun and headed on his way. I searched in circles anxiously wanting to rest my feet. I stumbled upon something new. My chain has unruffled and the fur on my back got an ease. I dug my way under the fence being quite dextrous. I could smell freedom around the bend as my desperation for being free came instantly. I was finally out of that cruel place, my heart was filled with glee, and everything they deprived me of was coming back to me.

It has been four days and I feel fifty days stronger! My bruises are starting to heal, and although my struggle was real, I must admit being free has never felt better. But this feeling is soon short-lived. I walked along the side walk, and then suddenly it happened. Two men were yanking their catchers at me. I barked as loud as I could, “Stop… you don’t understand!” But all they heard was me, plotting my escape. They surrounded me, and my last taste of freedom came to an end.

From glory to lock down, they had me in a cell waiting for adoption and it was that morning , the vet came and gave me my regular shot, but this time , I didn’t wake up as soon as I thought. Its been two days and I’m now starting to recover. I looked around and sadly for me, there was nothing but old battered wood and tangled chains and I knew I was right back where I used to be .

Anderson Etienne
Form 5
SWAHA Hindu College

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What you need to know about Saraswati Maata

ma_saraswatiWho is Saraswati Maata?

  • Goddess of Knowledge, wisdom, music and speech.
  • The consort of Lord Brahma, the Creator.
  • Her vehicle is the swan.
  • She carries the veena, a musical instrument.
  • Her colour is white.
  • Her number is 7, the number of the intellect.

Who should worship Saraswati Maata?

  • Everyone should worship Her, especially persons in the field of study, eg. students and those involved in music.

Is Saraswati Maata different from Laksmi, Durga, Kali or other forms of Devi?

  • She is no different from the other forms of Devi.
  • She represents the ‘shakti’ or energy of Lord Brahma. She is the personification of ‘kriya shakti’- the energy of activity. It is with this energy that the creative processes can take place.

What are the benefits of worshipping Saraswati Maata?

Sincere worship of this form of the Divine Mother yields the following benefits:

  • one acquires the right knowledge and attains a high degree of intelligence in his/her field of study or work.
  • one acquires the ability to discriminate between right and wrong, good and evil choices, etc.
  • -one is granted the power of right and fluent speech.
  • -one becomes proficient in music and acquires mastery of musical notes.
  • one ascends the pinnacle of excellence in all aspects of human development.
  • one is inspired to achieve the highest accomplishment in whichever field he /she chooses.
  • one acquires the ability to create harmony and pure, divine vibrations in all aspects of life.

What can I offer as Prasaad to Saraswati Maata?

Saraswati Prasaad can be 7 pairs of lapsi and sohari.  If one is unable to prepare this, then fruits, meethai or other Prasaad can be offered. The important ingredient in these offerings is love, purity and sincerity.

Saraswati Maata Mantras

  • Om Sreem Hreem Saraswatyai Swaha.
  • Om Shri Saraswatyai Namah.


Yaa Kundendu Tushaara Haara-Dhavalaa,
Yaa Shubhra Vrastaa-Vritaa
Yaa Veenaa Varadanda Mandita-karaa,
Yaa Shwaytaa Padmaasana
Yaa Brahma Achyuta Shankara

Prabhir  Tibhir Dayvai  Sadaa Vanditaa
Saamam Paatu Saraswatee
Nihshesha Jaadya Paahaa

Meaning: May the Goddess Saraswati protect me. She is fair like the jasmine-colored moon. Her pure white garland is like frosty dew drops. She is adorned in radiant white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus. She is surrounded and respected by the Gods. Please remove my weariness, sluggishness and ignorance.

Saraswati Namastubhyam,Varadey Kaamarupinee
Vidyarambham Karishyaami, Sidhir Bhavatu Mein Sadaa

O Goddess Saraswati, my humble prostrations unto Thee. As I embark on my studies/ventures/tasks/etc. may success always be mine.

Saraswati Bhajan

Jai Jai Jai Maataa Saraswatee
Jai Shubha Daayinee Varadaayinee
Hansa – vaahinee Padmaasana Maataa
Veenaa Pustaka Dhaarinee
Jai Shubha Daayinee Varadaayinee

Tu Hi Durgaa, Tu Hi Kaalee
Tu Hi Maataa Paarvati
Sakala Jagata Kee Paalana Karinee
Vidyaa Buddhi Daayinee
Jai Shubha Daayinee Varadaayinee

Brahma Vishnu Mahaysha Shaysha Saba
Tayray Hi Gunagaana Karay
Hama Saba Kaa Kalyaana Karo Maa
Vidyaa Buddhi Daayinee
Jai Shubha Daayinee Varadaayinee

Victory to Mother Saraswati. Glory and praise to You.
You are the bestower of all good things.
You are the one who sits in the lotus position on the swan with scriptures and plays the veena.
You are Durga and Kali. You are also Mother Parvati.
You are the supporter of this world and the source and giver of all knowledge.
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva sing your praises.
Help me, O Mother, to see your brilliance.

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The practice of Sva-dharma and Purva Paksha

krishna-arjunaIn western civilization, the language, customs, beliefs and traditions have undergone change through our Gurus’ committed practice of Purva paksha, or direct mutual engagement with major differences between the West and India.  To identify without much elaboration on the elements of both the western traditions and the East, they answered the question of how can Purva Paksha contribute to the establishment of a harmonious approach to social and spiritual growth and on what basis can it fairly and effectively be pursued.

They achieved this by using Dharma as guidance. In the central story of the Bhagvad Gita, Arjuna is confronted by the mandate to advance on the battlefield. He balks at first wishing to retreat from confrontation because he fears running away will do more harm than good. It takes much persuasion from Lord Krishna to get him to advance. Arjuna can only see this, however, by taking a stance that involves risk and a willingness to sacrifice ego in the service of dharma.

Like Arjuna, who has already perfected himself in yoga for many years and trials brought down upon him from time to time, the spiritual leaders of Swaha and other committed Hindu bodies exposed to the challenges of Purva Paksha, are often called to the engagement of their own nature and social obligations- their particular sva-dharma. In other words, it is their duty to engage, whereas it might not be the same for others with a different calling. One such manifestation and contemporary engagement is the publication explaining the difference between superstition and identifying the meaning of the traditions and practices in after-death ceremonies soon to be published.

Our identity is multifaceted. To deny any one or more parts that constitute who we are would only put us in crisis. Sanatan Dharma is dynamic, and so the teachings and guidance from our leaders have buffered and reconciled where we may not be able to through the committed practice of Purva paksh as sva dharma is retained.

Jai Swaha Maata.
Pt. Vasistha Persad

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A Return to Enlightened Creativity

917593-8Carnival. Its splendour is manifested in the Dimanche Gras Kings and Queens, the colour and creativity of the costume portrayals and the unique style of music. The calypsos of yore remain memorable for their strong messages that bonded communities. They were often uplifting, serving as a unifying influence that contributed to nation- building. Carnival’s music not only provided poignant social commentary clothed in humour and wit, but also offered social direction to a newly independent country.

Unfortunately, in recent times, the art form seems to be drifting away from its original moorings. The clever insights into the nature of our society that could be found in many a calypso are now outnumbered by those celebrating derogatory innuendo and personal attack. The current fare seems to have crossed a line of civility and respect for each other, as fellow citizens and human beings sharing the same space in our small but dynamic islands. In several cases, poetic licence is abused, with artistry giving way to open vilification of character. Unfortunately, this development is accepted unquestioningly as the norm today. Similarly, our costumes, once proudly elaborate and inventive, have been reduced to unimaginative, minimal coverings of beads, feathers and strings.  If we continue to push these floodgates of civility a little further every Carnival season, will our society be able to face the deluge of further societal devastation? Will we be able to cut the sombre scenes of degeneration by which we are daily subsumed? Will we be able to stem this continuing tide of self-destruction, cleverly masquerading as popular culture?

Perhaps it is more a sense of Divine balance than coincidence that Saraswati Jayanti will be celebrated during the same week as Carnival. Time and again, Maha Shivraatri, in which the Divine Cosmic Dancer is worshipped, is also celebrated on Carnival days.  Saraswati Mata herself is the Divine energy associated with music and the arts. Religious festivals such as these provide us with the opportunity to truly observe “carne vale” or “farewell to the flesh” as we reconnect once again with our inner Divine essence.

Saraswati Mata is representative of ‘Kriyaa Shakti’, the power of activity and creativity. She is depicted wearing white clothing, symbolic of purity of the mind. Saraswati Jayanti, or the manifestation of Saraswati Mata, is the opportunity to recreate ourselves through right actions and pure intentions towards an enlightened state of awareness. On this journey towards experiencing our subtler, more refined self, our ability to discriminate between actions that bring us closer to our spiritual goal and those that take us further away becomes integral. Saraswati Mata is representative of this ability to distinguish between the eternal and the transient; the swan, with which she is associated, is said to have the ability to separate milk from water; moreover, its feathers remain dry although immersed in water, characterising our ability to be immersed in the activities of the world without forgetting our true selves.

This Saraswati Jayanti, let us celebrate the birth of Divine knowledge and spirituality so that, in turn, we may transform our society through enlightened activity.  May that Divine Mother, who represents music and the arts, infuse a more spiritual energy into our creative art forms, culture and nation.

Paramacharya Pt. Hardeo Persad
Spiritual Head

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Swadeshi 2016 Guidelines

Click to download – SWADESHI 2016 Booklet And Registration Form

Bhagavad Gita Verses for Choral Speaking – Click play below to listen.




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Paramacharya’s New Year’s Message 2016: Spirituality, A Steady Ship in A Turbulent Ocean

paramacharyaFor Trinidad and Tobago, the New Year is unfurling on a note of sober reflection. The turbulent waters of 2015, with its attendant storm clouds of recession, job losses and financial cutbacks, may have dampened the normally jubilant mood that ushers in a new year. For many among us, there is less celebration and more cause for worry: from the workers who may have lost their jobs, or who live with the knowledge that their livelihood may soon end, to the business persons who must now strive to maintain a balance between retaining their employees and ensuring a profitable enterprise, to the Government who must wisely discern how to navigate in this time of recession while simultaneously preserving the social safety nets for the most vulnerable and encouraging growth in new and diverse areas of the economy. For all of us, it may portend more prudent spending habits and a return to a simpler lifestyle.

As our ship faces the challenging waves of economic contraction, it is vital that we do not surrender to the clouds of depression, anxiety, ill health and unhappiness that may gather. Our scriptures provide mountains of wisdom and sustenance during challenging times. They teach us that the happiness that comes from material wealth is only temporary and that life changes constantly, buffeting us about on this ocean of mundane existence. In the holy Ramayan, we are reminded that spirituality is the bridge that takes us across this ocean. Rather than surrendering to our various problems, we should surrender, instead, to the Divine.

It is said that in every problem lies the seed of an opportunity; the challenging material conditions may prove to be a significant opportunity to focus our attention on and cultivate our spirituality. As a country, we have been blessed with great amounts of wealth, but has this made us better human beings? Let us seek to return to the values that keep us anchored in a safe harbour during the world’s storms: values such as truth, contentment and selflessness. We must bear in mind the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed.” We must remember that we are in the same boat together and, where possible, extend a helping hand to our fellow citizens in need.

This revered value of ‘santosh’ or ‘contentment’ should not be underestimated, whether in times of abundance or struggle. It is an important quality of spirituality and is considered among the positive virtues that should be cultivated; it involves the acceptance of one’s circumstances and others as they are and optimism for the self. It is considered the greatest form of wealth. In this state of being, the feeling of having enough fills us with heartfelt gratitude for all the blessings that have already been granted to us. It turns us away from the constant craving and desire gratification that forms the allure of the material world.

As we face the challenges of 2016, may we do so with a prayer of contentment in our heart, with spirituality in every breath we take and an extended hand to help those who need it. Let us teach our youngsters the value of a life lived with contentment and may our absorption in spirituality strengthen our minds and our hearts and carry us safely across this ocean of existence.

Paramacharya Pt. Hardeo Persad – Spiritual Head of SWAHA

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