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Central-based school teacher launches ‘Doon Pundit’

Wednesday, September 13 2006

Having spent an entire year in research, the central-based secondary school teacher, Deochand Hanooman Singh has completed the book, Doon Pundit: His Life and Times (1900-1958).

All set to be launched and reviewed on September 19 at the Conference Room, Xtra Foods Commercial Building, Chagunanas at 7.30 pm. Well-known pundit Prakash Persad and Dr Jerome Teelucksingh are the main speakers at the launch.

According to Singh, the efforts of Doon Pandit and fellow pandits in the 1930s and 1940s contributed greatly to the re-kindling of pride in Sanatan Dharma (religious education) when Hindus were enjoying a very low social status in an alien and hostile social environment.

Singh said, “While some Indians willingly consigned themselves to the social experiments of the colonial powers, the Sanatanist (religious minded) Hindus held their heads high.

“They knew the value of their Dharma and held on dearly to it. The western education and the social opportunities that presented themselves were incomparable to the values that they placed in their culture.”

In his research Singh discovered that the indentured labourers from India were a part of a game plan of the British to make us ‘good’ Christians. It was then that John Morton, a Presbyterian Minister, and his wife Sara Morton came and settled in Trinidad to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Hindus.

He noted that Hindus who were scattered about in the sugar-cane estates were steadfast in their belief of Hinduism. They treasured the teachings of the holy ‘Ramayan’ singing in their earthen kutiyas or under mango trees.

As recorded in this book on Doon Pundit, Hindu Trinidad persevered and kept their faith. It was at this point in time that Doon Pandit, Goberdhan Pandit, Pandit Teeluckdharry, Pandit Jankie Persad Sharma and others came to our rescue.

Through his devotion to Hanoman Ji, ‘the monkey god’, Doon Pandit built faith and confidence in himself. This confidence provided him with the knowledge and devotion to help and heal the scores of people that came to his temples daily.

His devotion provided him with the conviction to initiate schools to educate those who could not read; he reached out to the lepers and extended his hands of service to the national community through the Red Cross and the Blind Welfare League.

The Colonial State, impressed with the social work that Doon Pandit was rendering to the people, recommended that he be a recipient of the MBE Award in 1949.

This award brought to the fore the capacity of the Hindu for social service to the community; social service and caring for the weak was no longer a Christian monopoly.

Doon Pandit’s newly won status as a holder of the MBE did not stop him from doing social work. In fact, he used the title of MBE to organise the Hindu community. In 1950 he mobilised the Pandits’ Parishad and was elected its president for the tenth consecutive year.

Under his watch the task of the Parishad was focused on, firstly, the continuation of the temple building programme and secondly, to lobby the colonial state for the Sanatanist Hindus to have the right to build schools to educate members of their community.

The Sanatan Dharma Association under the presidency of Pandit Teeluckdharry formed a delegation to meet with the colonial authority to discuss an ecclesiastical by the state for Hindu organisations.

The Governor of the day turned down the request of the SDA. They were told that the Sanatanist organisations- the Association and the Board of Control- would have to unite as a single voice.

Doon Pandit took up the challenge and called a meeting of the executives of the two bodies at the Arima (Doon Pandit) mandir which led to the legal dissolution of those two organisations and the birth of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha under the leadership of Bhadase Sagan Maharaj.

The first six schools that the SDMS opened in 1952 were all initiated by Doon Pandit and his colleagues in the Parishad. This led to the construction of more than 40 primary schools throughout the country.

Singh said. Doon Pandit: His Life and Times provides an insight into the potential of the Hindu community greatness when it organises itself for action.”

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