Paramacharya Pt.Hardeo Persad
Sunday 19th November, 2017 became an historic day for SWAHA as the twenty-four old organization hosted a well-appointed Programme in Honour of its Spiritual Leader and Theological Head – Paramacharya Pundit Hardeo Persad who marked his 50th Anniversary of practicing Punditai.
The JFK Auditorium at the St. Augustine campus of University of the West Indies was the chosen venue for the evening’s proceedings at which over four-hundred guests were in attendance. From as early as 4:00 pm, specially invited guests, including core, founding and current members, supporters and sponsors of SWAHA, Pundit Hardeo’s former colleagues from the teaching fraternity, members of the business community, close members of his paternal and maternal families as well as his immediate family began gathering.
At exactly five minutes past five o-clock in the evening, Ms. Kavita Maharaj of Radio 90.5FM who was Chair of the proceedings requested everyone to stand, signalling the arrival of the Paramacharyaji and Mrs. Bhanmati Persad, who stood dutifully at his side. They both entered from the southern side of the hall and proceeded in a northerly direction to a parade of the auspicious live sounding of sankh and ghanti. They were then positioned at the front centre of the hall, where countless eyes were affixed on them for the remainder of the evening.
The ninety-minute official programme was a most appropriate blend of speeches and engaging entertainment. The genuine verbal tributes enlightened all on the most dynamic three-fold life of Paramacharyaji – that of a family man, a teacher in the Public-School System and Pundit and Guru.
Pundit Professor Prakash Persad spoke admirably of his brother, recounting personal sibling adventures from their boyhood, including details on the avid Cricketer Pundit Hardeo was in his youth. Leaving the audience almost in awe, Pundit Prakash’s dedication portrayed his eldest brother as an icon of the national community and as an invaluable gem of humanity!
Accounting for a side of the Paramacharya rarely known to many was Mr Anthony Collymore- a former Colleague of his, from Morvant-Lavantille Secondary School. He described the Paramacharya as a ‘pillar amongst men’ and while he admitted not knowing too much of the emerging Hindu Leader’s ‘Hindu Life’ and practice of Punditai back then, it was no surprise to him that given the tremendous human values and principled disposition the Paramacharya emulated even over thirty years ago, his spiritual and societal advancement was imminent. He was impressed with the august audience and pleased with the fitting tribute to the Spiritual Head.
Adding to the welcomed anthology of tributes for the evening, Mrs Esha Ramlagan-Persad, who had the unenviable task of speaking as shishya (disciple) of the Paramacharya, essentially representing thousands who found the security of solace in him as Guru. Mrs Ramlagan-Persad is the third of four generations of her family for whom, like many others, Paramacharya has been both Kul and Deeksha Guru. Having developed such a relationship with someone who is an institution of tradition and guidance during one’s lifetime was one of her greatest joys. She passionately heaped accolades of glowing tribute onto the Paramacharya much to the agreement and confirmation of the audience.
The general festive and lighter tone of the evening changed slightly as the crescendo approached and the Paramacharya ascended the stage. Here, he was offered a seat where Mr Arjoon Daniel, a Founding Member of the Gyaan Deepak Kirtan Mandali and then SWAHA, garlanded his Guru, offered him chandan and aarti. That simple act of adoration and honour set the tone for an almost emotional feature address to be delivered by Paramacharya – the Guest of Honour. A fitting introduction of Punditji was presented by his daughter-in-law, Mrs AartiPersad whose unique, poetic rendition was masterfully delivered.
The Paramacharya expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the event and spoke of how happy he was to see his former colleagues and associates from the past. He lauded the great vision of his father Shankaracharya, the late Pundit Hari Prasad, the Head and Founder of SWAHA. Paramacharyaji expressed how much of an influence both his parents were in his life and admired the tremendous spiritual wealth his father possessed. The Paramacharya recounted his many years of travelling around Trinidad and other parts of the world in fulfilling his duty of Punditai, much to the expense of the little time available to be spent with his family.
He especially thanked Mrs.Bhanmatie Persad for her invaluable support and unfailing understanding of him and his practice of Punditai over these years. Similar sentiments were expressed to his children, daughter-in-law and grandchildren whom he said are the joys of his life. Conceding that even the continuing demand of being away from home often, given his extremely hectic schedule as a Practicing Pundit which is his passion, he prays that this aspect of his life, which has allowed him to attain a level of spiritual-satisfaction which is indescribable be “Never taken away from him” as his daily prayer.
Following resounding applause from a grateful audience, Mrs BissondayeMaharaj – daughter-in-law of his Guru, presented Punditji with a commemorative picture of five-generations of his family. Etched at the very top was his Aaja – the late Pundit PatesriTewarie, then from left to right were impressions of his father – the late Pundit Hari Prasad, Pundit Hardeo Persad himself in the middle, his son Pt. Dr Umesh Persad and his grandson Abhinav.
Special guests included Pundit Deodath Vyas, Pundit Khemraj Vyas and their families, Pundit Ramsundar Parasram, Pundit Nandram Maharaj, Shri Raviji of the Hindu Prachar Kendra, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Senator the Honourable Wade Mark, and Mrs Mark and Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan S.C., Archbishop Barbara Gray-Burke – newly-installed President of the Inter-Religious Organization (IRO), Brother Harry Persad Maharaj of the Bramha Kumaris Raj Yoga Centre, and Mr and Mrs Bob Gopee of the Bob Gopee Foundation.
Pundit Dr Umesh Persad, accomplished sitarist Mungal Patasar, and Susan and Rana Mohip dotted the evening with the elegance of song, music, dance which accentuated the reverence of such an auspicious occasion.
Following a lavish dinner, long queues formed toward the Head Table as all guests added their personal congratulations and best wishes to Punditji’s celebration.
Ronald Chuckaree (Attorney at Law)