On Thurs 7 Aug 08 @9PM I had a deeply moving and spiritual experience when I lit candles and deeyas for Tibet. This was in unison with everyone in my time zone and done globally. I'd like to explore this and share my experiences with you and hear yours as we participate in universal collective prayer events together. I hope to work together with all the universe's beings as we move toward the ideal of Universal Collective Prayer.

Come join me in Universal Collective Prayer!

May God Bless Us All!

UCP-Universal Collective Prayer is produced by Meady's Musings Production . Copyright 2006-2011

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ode to My Ancestors!- Happy Republic Day Trinidad and Tobago!

All photos in this blog by Meady's Musings Production copyright 2006 to 2008

Temple Views, Siewdass Sadhu Temple in the Sea, Waterloo, Trinidad

According to Hinduism as is practised in Trinidad and Tobago we are in the period know as Pitri Paksha (pronounced Paksh)which is during the period 15 Sep to 29 Sep this year. It's a time in Hinduism (as practised here and I guess in other parts of India where my ancestors came from like the UP region) where something called Shraddh is perfomed in honour of one's ancestors who have died. In my home today was the day that all my extended family got together at the home that was originally owned by my maternal grandparents to honour all our departed ancestors. The rituals are performed by the males of the family usually (hence one of the reasons for the unfortunate Hindu obsession with having a son?) and done by the family pundit or other available pundit. In keeping with the tradition a form of pooja is done honouring Vishnu and food is offered symbolically to the departed ancestors. It is believed that carrying out these rituals help the souls of the ancestors wherever they are even if they have reincarnated already. It is believed that doing these rituals help in some way to reduce their karmic debt. I guess it is like offering prayers to the Lord on their behalf when they may not be anymore in the flesh to do so or have reincarnated into a home where they are no longer capable of such prayers perhaps given their new situations. It is seen as the least one can do for their dearly departed ancestors when they would have taken care of the younger ones and done things for them and really in balancing the living descendants' karmic debt too cause aren't they for instance perhaps enjoying some form of inheritance left to them by the ancestors? Of haven't they been taught lessons from these departed souls etc?

Additionally in conducting such services one can be seen to be worshipping Krishna or Vishnu in the end as according to the Bhagvad Gita (Chapter 9 Verse 16)Krishna says to Arjun:

'But it is I who am the ritual, I the sacrifice, the offering to the ancestors, the healing herb, the transcendental chant. I am the butter and the fire and the offering.'

And in Chapter 9 Verse 17 he goes on to say:

'I am the father of the universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the symbol Om. I am the Rig, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas (pronounced Veds).

Ancient rituals aside...times like these make us reflect as a family on our roots and our ancestors. What have they done for us? What do we have to be grateful to them for? How far along the road have they taken us so that we no longer have to fight for things that they had to fight for? Sure some of us have bad ancestors too but I will choose only to reflect on the positive here.

I will reflect today on the fight my ancestors put up as pundits (one of them my maternal grandfather) and Hindus as a whole to maintain our religion when they came here to Trinidad in the 19th century as indentured labourers to work on the cane plantations. It was at the time a society where Hindu marriages were not recognized and as a result the children of such marriages were seen as 'bastards' and their birth certificates said so under the then British rule. I thank the Presbyterians who came then predominantly from Canada to teach my ancestors English and the secular laws and learnings. Yes, they were missionaries and many Hindus and Muslims back then became Christians as a result of their work but also many were educated and many remained Hindus and Muslims none the less.

I thank my ancestors who fought with the story of the Ramayan (a Hindu book about the hero of the story's fight for good over evil illustrated by his journey to free the heroine Sita from her captor Ravan) in their hearts to build schools and temples , and get Hindu marriages recognized as legal. And in particular today, I remember those who fought what I understand, was one of the tougher battles, to get Hindu cremation sites since it required getting land near to seafront and many other facilities put into place.

Later on a Sadhu know as Siewdass Sadhu had a dream to build a temple in the sea and he did not even own the land but he had this vision which he often discussed with my grandfather who was his family pundit. He wanted to build a temple in the sea as was told to him in his dream. And so this simple sadhu (a hindu holy man) would go daily out into the water and put bricks he carried in his wheel barrow. He had to fight battles to get the state owned land but he did indeed build this simple structure in the end. However it was being eaten away by the sea after his death and in early 1990s long after the death of the sadhu the government of a now independent and republic Trinidad and Tobago rebuilt the temple and it is now called the Siewdass Sadhu Temple in the Sea and is a national heritage site which boasts of nearby cremation facilities as well. The Sadhu's wife was still alive at the opening and my maternal grandfather Pundit Parasram perfomed the opening rites for the temple as he was the long time pundit of the family.

Statute of Siewdass Sadhu, Siewdass Sadhu Temple in the Sea, Waterloo, Trinidad

So on this day Wednesday 24 September 2008 during the period of Pitri Paksha and on the day my nation Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic I salute my immediate ancestors, past outstanding fellow Hindus of my nation and my nation as a whole for reaching to the point where a temple is now considered a national heritage site. How far we have come from a time when under the then British rule I, a Hindu child born out of a Hindu marriage would have been seen as a 'bastard'.

On a personal level I would also like to thank my maternal grandparents for perserving this tree in our family's yard that has been here for over 50 years. A peepal (in Sanskrit) tree which is also called the sacred fig or banyan tree or the bodhi tree (as it is the tree under which Buddha is said to have found enlightenment). Below I show a picture of it as it is in our yard and I leave your with this quote as I wish Trinidad and Tobago a happy 32nd republic day!

The Bhagvad Gita Chapter 10 Verse 26 Krishna says to Arjun:

'Of all the trees I am the Peepal tree (banyan),...'

Peepal Tree, Couva, Trinidad

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