Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PM Kamla speaks of lessons for T&T from Hindu teachings

May the blessings of Mother Lakshmi shower us all with prosperity, good health, wisdom compassion and the ability to give love. 

Divali Nagar is a place that exudes love. In life, many of us feel unloved but how many of us have pondered the question, from where do we get love? Love is a response to us as a result of how we give love to others. To receive love one must first give love.
Our lives will be much more fulfilling if we make that special effort to give love to those who we encounter on a daily basis. Where there is love there will be an absence of hate; where there is love there will be peace. 

I sincerely believe that this is a nation filled with love. It is demonstrated every day in the myriad of personal and communal acts of charity and care; of volunteerism and of self-sacrifice. 

Divali is an expression of the love that the Goddess Lakshmi has for all her children. (devotees). Let us all be open to that love and be strengthened by her to be givers of love. 

I must admit that I have looked forward to coming to Divali Nagar to share in the festivities, to enjoy the cultural presentations and to witness the happiness on the faces of those who visit the Nagar. The colour, the music, the rhythmic dances, the beautiful clothing, the voices of children filled with laughter, the rich scent of East Indian delicacies, all serve to create an ambience of excitement. 

As Prime Minister my greatest happiness is experienced in the happiness of people. This has always been my mission and I want to assure you that in everything I do as your Prime Minister, I ask myself the question: Will this action or decision of mine result in greater happiness for the citizens of this country? I know that not everyone will be happy with every decision I make. However, I am always guided by the public good. 

Mr President, I have noted that this year you have chosen ‘Hanuman’ as the theme of this year’s Nagar. Hanuman arrived here as it were in 1845, in the form of the Ramayan and Hanuman Chalisa which were brought by our ancestors in their jahajhi bundles. He remains today, perhaps the most loved of all Hindu dieties. There is hardly a Hindu home where a murti of Hanuman cannot be found...

As a child growing up in a devout Hindu family in which there were Hindu priests, Tuesdays and Saturdays were days when intense worship of Hanuman took place and when we enjoyed the “Rote” – deep fried in homemade cow ghee and which was offered to Hanuman during pooja. 

Hanuman has a special significance for me from the point of view that he was a Minister in the government of Sugriva, who was the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Kishkinda. For those familiar with the story line of the Ramayan, Sugriva had been driven out of his Kingdom by his brother Bali and was living in exile.

Hanuman however never abandoned his leader, but instead looked for any opportunity to help him regain his Kingdom. He brought about an alliance with the Lord Sri Ram which helped Sugriva to achieve this. 

I have often reflected on this alliance which was engineered by Hanuman for it has many lessons for us here in Trinidad and Tobago. 

The first lesson for me is that the ability to succeed depends on the extent to which we can complement each other’s skills in order to be victorious. Sugriva had the manpower and knowledge of the forests, which Rama lacked, but which was vital in his desire to find his abducted wife Sita. 

On the other hand, Rama had the where-with-all to help Sugriva recover his kingdom. I am convinced that, as a nation, our ability to be globally competitive as well as the ability of our people to succeed depends on how we form partnerships amongst ourselves.

There is always strength in a partnership. It will take patience, a spirit of give and take, as well as the ability to create an environment of mutual respect to develop and sustain healthy and positive alliances.

However, in multi-cultural, multi religious, and multi ethnic societies, like ours, partnerships, in my respectful view, comprise the best formula for peace and for both individual and our nation’s success. 

The second lesson which I learned from Hanuman the Minister is the fearless but respectful way he spoke to his leader Sugriva. 

When Sugriva became aware of two strangers approaching the hill where he was hiding from his brother, he became paralyzed with fear. The words of Hanuman to his boss are significant for leaders everywhere: “Fear”, declared Hanuman to Sugriva “has no place in the personality and psychological make-up of a leader. A leader who is filled with fear has already lost the battle.” 

I want to assure you that, as your Prime Minister, I will go about my duties without fear. I am not easily driven to be fearful. I might be cautious, as I need to be, but I am not afraid to treat with the challenges that confront this nation, its peoples and its principles. 

The third lesson I have learned from Hanuman is his commitment to duty and his belief in God. 

There is a most inspiring moment in the Ramayan when Hanuman returns from Lanka and reports to Sri Ram his boss, on his exploits in Lanka where he had been sent to find Seeta. 

Having reported to Ram, The Lord then expressed his own gratitude to Hanuman by telling him: “No man, no sage no one born on this earth has served me as well as you have done. Ask of me anything and I shall give it to you.” 

Before Hanuman had a chance to answer, the Lord asked him: “Tell me Hanuman, how did you contrive to enter Lanka, the Kingdom of Ravan that was so well guarded and how were you single-handedly able to destroy his fruit groves and burn his city? 

Hanuman replied: “That I was able to leap across the ocean, enter Lanka and burn the city was all due to your might Lord, not mine. It was all your doing my Lord not mine.” 

I have been inspired by this response of Hanuman for it has always been my mantra – to put God in front and then follow. The greater message, therefore, brothers and sisters, is the message of humility. Hanuman knew, and we must all know, that whatever power we have, or position, or status, or skill, they have been gifted to us by God and we should use such power and position for the good of humankind. 

In so doing, it will make us humble in our unconditional service to others. This is spirituality in action, and the world needs a lot more humility and selfless service. 

This is also my personal philosophy as a Prime Minister with respect to the use of power entrusted by the people. I have, from the inception of my Government, always enjoined my Ministers to Serve the People because I also believe that SEVA or service is the real goal of human existence. 

In the joy brought to others, one is imbued with joy and contentment. If the ultimate goal of a human being, as pointed out in Hinduism, is happiness, then service is the way to that happiness. 

The icon of Hanuman stands majestically at the entrance to the Nagar. It is awe inspiring as is the 85 foot murti of Hanuman in Central Trinidad – which, I am advised, is the tallest in the Western hemisphere. 

Mr. President, let me say again, that I am very glad that you chose the theme of ‘Hanuman’ for your celebration in this the fiftieth year of our independence as a nation. 

The study of Hanuman affords us the opportunity to test our own adherence to the values of loyalty, responsibility in the performance of our duties, courage in the face of challenges and the commitment to excellence – all of which are found and recorded in the life and exploits of Hanuman. 

These are the very values we need for success. Religion, if it is to be meaningful in a society, must inspire people to aspire to higher values, and I feel certain that many of us will be so inspired through the study of Hanumanji. 

In a country that is so diverse, we must always have an open mind and seek to find the similarities in traditions that are not our own, as well as to understand the basis of the beliefs of our fellow citizens. This will always require openness and a willingness to enter the cultural frame of others. I assure you that there is merit doing so. 

May I also take this opportunity to congratulate the NCIC on your 46 years in service to the Hindu community and the entire nation of Trinidad and Tobago as you have brought the noblest traditions of our foreparents to the national agenda, so that today all of our nation’s children can embrace Diwali as a truly national festival. 

You have also embraced those who do not share your values. 

You will recall that it was a few months ago that I led a high powered delegation to the Republic of India to promote greater economic cooperation and deepen our cultural ties. 

On that visit, I received, on your behalf, the highest award conferred by the people of India and in the most established and deepest show of reverence I bowed at the feet of the President of India. In so doing paying homage to our elders and expressing respect and humility. This you all know to be a common and cultured expression of love and reverence. 

The opposition leader expressed shock, contempt and poured scorn on this sacred exercise in devotion, today a few short months later that same person came kurta clad to share in your festivities and admire your art forms. 

The same individual who rejected your values. Such is the power of light that it can draw all darkness away from its path. You are the light. You are the hope, you are the faith and you are the optimism inherent in our national endeavour. 

And I praise you today for embracing all without hate, malice or recrimination. 
Mr President, I take this opportunity to warmly congratulate you on the recognition you received from the University of the West Indies. It is well deserved Sir. Most, if not all of your life, has been in the service of people, your religion and your country. May you continue to work for the prosperity and success of others as you have selflessly done over the years. 

My fellow citizens, as we move from Divali to Christmas, may God grant all your needs, and may you all experience the love of family and friends as you give love to one another and to your country. 

I pray for Mother Lakshmi’s choicest blessings on all of us. May God bless you and may God bless our nation.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai