Paramacharya Pt. Hardeo Persad, Spiritual Head of SWAHA marks his fiftieth year as a practicing pundit this month, August 2017. Through these five decades, this illustrious Hindu priest/teacher/mentor/spiritual guide has been actively involved in the religious, educational, socio-civic and physical spheres of development, both locally and internationally. This altruistic servant-leader has been walking the path of advancement of human aspirations unceasingly, while nurturing and enhancing the welfare of others. He has been nourishing the dynamism of life through all these years without any expectations of reciprocity. But what was his journey like?
From infancy, the child Hardeo, the first son of Shankaracharya Pt. Hari Prasad and Mrs.Chandrawtie Persad, was deeply inspired by his illustrious father, and wanted to be a pundit of his ilk. This child saw in him a role model and mentor par excellence, a leader who knew the way, walked the way and showed the way. This spark was further ignited by the training he received from his Guru, the late Pt Ramchandra Maharaj. The eager student embarked on formal training in punditai (field of service of a Hindu priest) alongside his pursuit of secular education. The young pundit embraced his calling with pride, enthusiasm and courage. In August 1967, he conducted his first puja, marking the formal commencement of his service as a pundit. This step also meant his initiation into active Hindu religious services where he began distinguishing himself as a clear inspiration and driving force to enlightenment. This later blossomed into an intense commitment and dedication to the strengthening of religious, spiritual, moral and ethical ideals of Sanatan Dharma in a changing environment.
It is often said that progress occurs when courageous, skilful leaders seize the opportunity to improve and uplift. Of course, innovation with vision and fearlessness is the key factor to change. Such innovation and characteristics distinguished Paramacharya as a leader of man. His genuine interest in the growth of Hinduism drove him to pursue intensely the vision of enlightenment for Hindus through encouragement and empowerment. He saw leadership as a privilege to improve the lives of others. As a leader within the community, he stepped into the world of service, broadening the scope of humanitarian work in the religious, educational, cultural and spiritual spheres. Today, the Amar Jyot Kirtan Mandali and Gyaan Deepak Kirtan Mandali, which were initiated by Paramacharya in the sixties and seventies, are still vibrant institutions that bear witness to the excellence of his mentorship.
Paramacharya pursued the path of service in his professional life at Sangre Grande Junior Secondary and Morvant/Laventille Junior Secondary, where he taught Mathematics. During these years, his humane and philanthropic touch in handling students’ issues impacted positively on their lives and earned him their deepest respect and gratitude.
On his retirement from the teaching service in 2000, Paramacharyaji intensified his efforts in attending to the human cause. He employed novel strategies for education, training in Hindu value systems, and servicing the welfare needs of the national community. With the formation of SWAHA in 1993, many large-scale service-oriented projects were initiated that impacted positively on the national landscape. Today, the nation has become enriched with the establishment of SWAHA ECCE centres, primary and secondary educational institutions, a Children’s Home and growing religious centres and branches. These are all spread across the length and breadth of country.
Punditji assumed the position of Paramacharya, Spiritual Head of SWAHA in 2008, on the demise of the Shankaracharya. True leader as he is, he continued the journey of his father with the steady support, determination and strength of SWAHA’s Theological Board.
This stalwart of dharma keeps aloft his flag of service wherever he goes. He has completed countless yagyas over five decades, both locally and internationally. The tremendous impact he has created in different areas amidst varying cultures has positively influenced the lives of many. Today, Paramacharya is the Guru of over ten thousand ‘shishyas’(students initiated by Guru).
The straightforward, refreshing views of Paramacharya on topical issues have been frequently sought and publicly expressed on national media. These views are reflective of his depth and clarity of thought.Not only is he a visionary leader but also, a principal agent of change. His five-decade experience of walking the talk has gifted him a voice that has triggered the growth- momentum of Hinduism. He has challenged the status quo in many instances. The recent issue of Child Marriage is just one of several matters which he addressed nationally and for which he recommended an increase in age. The resounding success of his publication ‘What You Need to Know About Hindu Death Ceremonies’ is a clear indication that Paramacharya is indeed a game-changer. Today, his suggestions for modifications are gradually being embraced by Hindus.
As Paramacharya marks his golden anniversary in active service of punditai, he continues to labour in his down-to-earth manner. SWAHA pays tribute to our Spiritual Head, a true soldier of Sanatan Dharma, an individual who serves a cause greater than himself. Amidst it all, he maintains a humble stance. SWAHA extends deepest appreciation to this servant of dharma who continues to journey on the watchwords of humility, perseverance and devotion. To an outstanding son of the soil and a true hero of this nation, may you be abundantly blessed to continue your divine work. May all follow your shining example.