|The Vishnu Mandir in Toronto|
"What I have seen is too much emphasis on ritualism, the ritual part of it. And sometimes with very shallow understanding of the philosophy of the religion," the High Commissioner said at a media briefing on the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Indian Hindu monk and famed spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda.He said the most important point of Vivekananda's teachings is revision of the understanding of Hinduism.
"And I stress this point because a lot of confusion and errors have crept into understanding this religion not only in India but in Trinidad and Tobago among the so-called priests and pundits of this country about what Hinduism really amounts to," he said.
In a letter to Mishra Bissoon said, "Let me say at the outset that I ... was brought up as a Sanathanist Hindu and remain one up to today. Pooja and rituals have been a part of my life. The belief in the teachings and the guidance of Guru sustained me and kept me from converting to Christianity.
"Your comments on Pundits and rituals have the potential to create significant damage to our culture. And please don't tell me the culture should be strong enough to sustain the onslaught.
"From birth we were pressured to convert to Christianity. Our belief in our culture sustained about half of us. Now your comments, made from the pulpit which you occupy will serve as new ammunition for those in the new Christianity to call us heathens and seek to convert the less educated.
"All my life I have been called an idol worshipper. You have just confirmed that to those who preach it daily. Swami Vivekananda himself preached that if one needs a physical aid or symbol to pray then there is nothing wrong with it.
"There is no doubt that there are Pundits who are Charlatans with little knowledge and who prey on unsuspected people. The same thing happens on the Banks of the Ganga...
"I do not care about the rightness nor wrongness of our comments. What bothers me, as one who has worked for the last 58 years in the propagation of our culture is that today I find that someone whom I have admired and respected...in one fell swoop (has) virtually destroy all the good he has done in making a totally unnecessary comment that places ammunition in the hands of the enemies of our Culture...
Respectfully | Ramnarine T. Bissoon.