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Arrival of Hindus in 1845
According to the Puranic Encyclopedia, the root “VID” in Sanskrit means to know. The books comprised of the ancient Hindu knowledge collected and compiled, were known as the Vedas which are considered the most ancient and sacred scriptures of Hinduism. The mantras (sacred chants) and rituals were revealed to the ancient Rishis (holy men) and are referred to as ‘sruits,’ meaning what was heard by and revealed to our ancients.
Holy hymns and Sanskrit mantras were put together in four collections known as Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda and Sama Veda. For thousands of years they were passed on orally from generation to generation, but dating of these sacred Hindu religious instructions is difficult to pin-point.
Some of these Sanskrit chants are considered secret and today in Trinidad, when Pundits initiate their young devotees (chela), the standard Vedic mantra for this ceremony is whispered by the Pundit directly into the ear of the devotee. The mantras (hymns) contained in the Vedas are considered by Hindu historians to have been written as early as 12,000 BC.
Professor MacDonnell who, writing from the perspective of the conqueror, expressed the view that the Vedas were compiled between BC 1500 and 1200. But Professor’s Jacobi’s opinion is that, “All the Vedas were made before BC 4000.” The Hindu traditions however, remain firm in its belief that the Vedas were revealed at the dawn of civilization to Hindu sages.
According to our sages, Bramha, a member of the Hindu trinity was the creator of the Vedas. Traditional belief is that Brahma for the performance of sacrifices created Agni (fire), Vayu (wind), and Ravi (the sun).
The same ancient source also point to the fact that there are two sides to the Vedas, the mundane and the spiritual.
Hindus believe that the incantations contained in the Vedas are not man-made but are revelations by God. We consider them beginningless and endless. Westerners who conquered and colonized India for centuries will obviously not share this view. They will have us believe that the early Aryans entered India and introduced the Vedic message and what we now consider a Hindu civilization.
The abundance of evidence that has recently emerged in a modern and independent India with its own intelligentsia, have successfully proven that there was no Aryan invasion and that European conquerors used this non-existent theory to divide India into two parts-the light-skinned north of the country and the darker skinned people who inhabit the lower half of India. They hoped this way to convert inhabitants of India to European religious beliefs.
In Trinidad and in many Hindu outposts across the world, the Ramayan of Tulsidas is considered to be a Fifth Veda. The Ramayan was first written by the sage Valmiki who was regarded as a contemporary of Lord Ram. Because of his literary skills, Valmiki was known as the “Adi Kavi,” a divine poet.
But the version of the Ramayan that has sustained Hindus who have been transported as sugar-cane workers in Trinidad, Guyana, Surinam, South Africa, Mauritius, Fuji and other destinations, has been the stories contained in Tulsidass’s Ramayan. In this version, the exile and the difficulties encountered by Lord Ram is identified closely with our ancestors who were virtually forcefully transported throughout the far flung possessions of our colonial British masters.
The simple life of Ram, his brother Lutchman and Mother Sita during his fourteen year exile to regions of the forest areas and beyond, served as support to our ancestors who had to toil endlessly in the sugar industry without proper nutrition, health and educational facilities and ‘barrack’ type accommodations.
The success of our ancestors and their present day descendants is a reflection of devotion to Dharma (religious duty), hard work and perseverance that was displayed by Lord Ram in the Ramayan. The words and description of the Ramayan may be different from those contained in the Vedas but the messages portrayed in the Dohas, Chowpais and other poetic chants of the Ramayan, make it equal to the Vedas in the view of the average Trinidad Hindu.
In today’s Trinidad and Tobago, as we observe Indian Arrival Month, the Hindu population is still being guided by the stories of hardship and eventual triumph that our God in human form endured while on planet Earth.
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