The world is recognising the critical importance of values-based education as is evident by the inclusion of value-based elements in the curriculum of academic institutions at all levels, executive training and organisational development. Sanaatan Dharma has been the first and continues to be the greatest advocate for values-based development, demonstrated by the very definition of Sanaatan Dharma as an eternal code of principles and values.
These principles and values are necessary to avoid disorder and chaos in the world since man must be guided by a system that lends to his spiritual development. Values of love, respect, appreciation, understanding and tolerance are all required for a society to coexist and so Sanaatan Dharma facilitates the development of these ideal values. In a postmodern world, with its great diversity, this becomes even more critical.
How are these values transferred to mankind, i.e., how does socialisation take place? There are many ways including lectures, modelling appropriate behaviour and documenting these principles in various forms. The structure of Sanaatan Dharma and its rituals allows for all three to be used in teaching values and principles. The structure of ‘yagya’ and ‘satsang’ demonstrates ideal behaviour and expounds lessons from our scriptures.
The scriptures are a very powerful tool for the transferring of these values as they are embedded within the various ‘katha’ for the pundits, saints and sages to interpret and expound to us. Of the entire collection of ‘Maha Grantha’, the epics are the most appealing: the ‘katha’ of Prabhu Shri Ram, Shri Krishna, the Mahabharath – all appeal to man’s sense of imagination and in so doing become etched in the memory. They then allow for love and adoration for the Lord to be built. Eventually, as faith, love and adoration for Bhagwan grows, we then begin to see beyond the ‘katha’ and principles begin to emerge. The realisation of principles and values through this process is most impactful on our personal philosophy and our behaviour becomes aligned with that which is recommended by Sanaatan Dharma. The movement of explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge is an indication of growth and development and so the epics, with their embedded value-based lessons, are a perfect tool for developing our value system.
The advice, therefore, is that we learn about our epics and we teach them to the young Hindu. It is the first step in socialisation and will ensure our survival as a community. The value of ‘mandir’ and ‘satsang’ can never be overemphasised and so, by exposing the children to our divine icons, we create a sense of adoration for the Lord in the minds and hearts of our children and this love and adoration will eventually evolve into a sense of inquiry. When they begin to connect their life experience to the epics, the values and principles will emerge and their faith will grow. We would therefore be securing our future and fulfilling our mandate as Hindus to ensure that we keep our way of life alive.
By Pt. Jaidath Maharaj
“Man Kram Vachan Dhyaan Jo Laaye.” The literal interpretation of this line taken from the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ means, “Those who remember Shri Hanuman in thoughts, words and deeds, with sincerity and faith, are rescued from all crises of life.”
Then why is it that even though humankind is blessed with such knowledge and guidance that we continue making mistakes? The answer is ‘maya’ – the delusion that influences every activity that we take part in or that influences us. To rise above this, Shri Hanuman, in the compilation by the famous sage, is asking us to be aware and remind ourselves of our thoughts, words and deeds.
The thoughts we entertain are influential in what we create. They can be a positive creation or demonic, violent and destructive. If one were to simply browse the history of humankind in terms of both constructive, positive creations and negative creations, we will see that our thoughts are always the precursor to the actions we perform. While this may be a statement of redundancy, nevertheless, it demonstrates the need to maintain self awareness of these three powerful forces we can use and have used.
These positive or negative actions are what may encompass a blessed and harmonious lifestyle or create anxious, negative forces that can work against us. The actions we perform are who we become.
As a sculptor uses various materials to create a masterpiece, so too, do our values and our deeds, negative or positive. For example, the charity we perform can help elevate us on the ladder of divinity.
These three simple words, expressed in the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ give us the answer if practised in dharma. We are again asked, as modern Sanaatanists, are we practising these age-old principles?
In contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, with the wanton need to simplify in our analysis of Sanaatan Dharma, I ask, would you practise these three simple doctrines to help rid yourself of the problems you may be afflicted with? If not, why? With proper priority and perseverance we can do it. We are constantly reminded, “As a man thinks, so he acts; as he acts, so he becomes.” What and who are we? Save yourself.
Hinduism has again exalted humankind with the intelligence to take responsibility over our thoughts, actions and deeds. This will rid us of our problems, taking us closer to God. Jai Hanuman!
By Pt. Vasistha Persad
Among His ten major manifestations, Bhagavan Vishnu incarnated as Shri Raam in Treta Yug with the drive towards idealism. Symbolizing spiritual perfection, this Vyuha avataar appeared on earth to present man with the blueprint necessary to steer him towards this state, the attainment of which is his true purpose on earth. A conglomerate of ideals, repository of human values and epitome of social, cultural and political finesse, this incarnation, in walking through the pages of the Raamaayana epic, presents a treatise on life. Such a treatise cuts across all boundaries of time, place and circumstances and connects every individual to his own Divinity.
Through His various roles in the unfolding sequence of Raamaayana kathaa, whether as a child, son, student, brother, friend, husband, king or leader, the character of Shri Raam is most relevant to a world that networks through relationships. The qualities He embodied, the relationships He forged, the dharma (righteousness) He upheld and philosophy employed are all contextual even today.
Assuming form within the Raghu dynasty, renowned for its stable and ideal governance, practised by King Dasrath and his ancestors, Shri Raam found a firm foundation on which to pattern his Raam-raajya, the utopian model of ideal reign. From his early teenage years, the Lord demonstrated such competence most effectively in restoring peace, justice and calm to His land and people. He destroyed the negative elements of Taaraka, Subahu and the host of demons in the Dandaka forest, halting the spread of lawlessness, discrimination, inequality and other violations. Later, he caused to be installed on the throne in Lanka, Vibheeshan, the personification of ‘sattva’ or goodness, purity and truth, replacing the limited human personality, Raavan. Many countries worldwide cry out for such leadership today.
The exile of Shri Raam is a most defining one for present circumstances globally. The challenges He overcame during His fourteen years of forest life, the unwavering stance of morals that He projected, the principles He steadfastly protected and human values He dedicatedly maintained demonstrate the route needed for spiritual, social and cultural uplift today. The daily oppression, dissension and unending pain that are daily ripping the world apart show a world in dire need of Shri Raam.
Most applicable to our situation today is Shri Raam’s handling of kidnapping, His utmost regard and gratitude to those who offered Him service and His firm abiding by righteousness and duty. Who can refute the necessity of following His example?
The Raam-Hanumaan relationship is one that speaks volumes of devotion and true service that gives unceasingly and asks for nothing in return. It authenticates the dictum that service to man is service to God and also that service to king or leader is service to oneself. No room is there for service with material and personal gains or for social mobility and recognition.
Whoever is on the route to social, political, moral and spiritual uplift can take lessons from every aspect of Shri Raam’s life. By imbibing His ideals, as individuals, as nations, as people of a global community, each of us can move closer towards the enhancement of peace and prosperity and attain to the state of utopian bliss, of Raam-raajya.
The reign of Raam’s utopia
Raam raajya, with ideal ruler.
This ancient rule, needed kingship
Rare gem of sought-for leadership.
With working mouth, hands and feet,
A healthy heart with steady beats.
Subjects bereft of age and unhappiness
Neither physical nor mental illness
Distress or pain, no place there
Unknown to all, hate and fear.
Activity, gyaan and intense will
Steer five duties, daily to fulfil
Religion is duty, serving ceaselessly
Duty is religion, performng eternally
Peace, pleasure and prosperity
Rewards enjoyed by man and family
A blessed rule led by inspiration
Basking in divinity, full devotion.
Yearning daily today for Raam raajya
Seeking perfection, seeking utopia.
On Wednesday 5th February, students from Swaha Hindu College participated in a survival of the fittest obstacle course, which took place on the school’s grounds. Its aim was to create a successful sporting event designed to introduce students to the current trend of fitness (that is, using explosive movement with everyday tasks to increase performance) packaged in a fun and competitive environment.
The diligent Mr. Malcolm Ramlogan, Physical Education teacher at the college, explained that the students (and the people of the Sangre Grande community by extension) have not been exposed to a wide variety of fitness activities, apart from the popular sports such as cricket and football. The changing trend of fitness demands more from the fitness enthusiast than simply performing pull ups and sit ups. As teachers, it is our duty to expose the children under our purview to as many opportunities for excellence as possible.
From a broader view, with the onset of the Reebok CrossFit games and increasing popularity of the Caribbean Hardcore tournament, there is a definite window of opportunity for an event such as this to thrive not only at our school, but at secondary schools nationwide.
The event operated under a house system, where competitors from each house, namely, Satyam, Soucham, Daaya and Daan, were required to finish the 10 event course first. Prizes were awarded to the individual as well as the house that he/she represented. The course was as follows:
- 15 push ups
- Skip to my lou (skipping through a area with 15 tyres)
- 30 crunches
- The ragged run (3 laps on the stairwell of the students’ block)
- 10 burpees
- Slip n Slide Slalom (fulling a water bottle with water while manoeuvring through a slippery tarpaulin with cones on it)
- Army crawl (pulling your body weight under a 20ft x 20ft grid)
- Tyre drag and pull (flipping a truck tyre 15 metres then dragging it back to its starting point)
- The SWAHA Summit (climbing a rock wall and retrieving the house flag)
- 50m hurdle sprint to the finish line.
Both teachers and students alike had a wonderful time cheering on each other to the finish line.
First place was Daan in the individual round and Satyam in the group competition. Soucham placed second in both the individual and group competition and third place was Daan in the group category with Satyam for the individual category. Congrats to all the winners as well as Mr. Malcolm for a job well done!
Submitted by Swaha Hindu College