Ten years ago, millionaire businessman and medical doctor, Ravi Maharaj, 63, was found dead at his San Fernando home in Trinidad and Tobago, on 11 January 2006.
In a press statement released yesterday,Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, Founder/Director of the Saraswati Mandiram in the USA and First Hindu Chaplain at Boston University, passed the following statement concerning the murder trial of Dr Ravi Maharaj and hate crimes against Hindus.
It was recently reported in a daily newspaper (Newsday June 3, 2016) that two men (Roger Greene and Brian Worrel) allegedly robbed and murdered Dr Ravi Maharaj in Trinidad and Tobago.
Greene was motivated by the belief that Maharaj was a Hindu worshipper and “God don’t like that.” Greene ‘chooked’ the Hindu with an ice pick and destroyed his murtis [sacred statues].
Jones (State attorney) asked Worrel what he had asked Greene, and he (Worrel) replied, “I said, like the job you went on, the man dead? Like you kill the man.” Worrel told the judge and jury from the witness box, that Greene told him the man (Dr. Maharaj) was an idol worshipper, a Hare Krishna worshipper and that he didn’t serve God.
“Roger said the man (Dr. Maharaj) was a Hare Krishna worshipper and he mashed down statues and idols. God does not like those things. Roger took out TT$500. and said he will bless me with another TT$500. He said the man does worship idols and the man don’t want to show him where the safe was. He then told me, ‘I take an ice pick and chook up he feet’,” Worrel said from the witness box.
When the victim is a member of the peaceful and tolerant Hindu community, and when the gruesome act is fuelled with hate speech, and when the accused relishes the fact that the victim is an “idol worshipper,” and when the accused uses God as a motivation for such action, there must not be only a cause for concern, but a call for action.
In many countries there are laws against such hate crimes. In some countries such crimes are viewed so seriously that they are punishable by death.
Hate crimes have been committed on the Temple-in-the-sea in Waterloo, as well as on murtis [sacred statues] and jhandis[sacred flags] in many parts of the country.
Where will this trend take us? Today, we live in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious society in Trinidad and Tobago. People of different faiths live in one neighbourhood.
We condemn this barbaric act and hate speech against Dr. Ravi Maharaj. May his soul rest in peace.
Let us use his passing to educate our spiritual leaders and their congregations about the brotherhood of man, love for God and his creation, and peace on earth through respect, tolerance and coexistence.
Just as how we are now displaying that we have a passion for changing the laws relating to the legal age of marriage, we should engender the same passion for creating laws against hate speech and hate crimes.
-Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, Ph.D.
Founder/Director of the Saraswati Mandiram in the USA
First Hindu Chaplain at Boston University
Adjunct Professor in the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth
So, we have entered the third phase of nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial turbulence has now settled down to a great extent in terms of peoples’ acceptance and willingness to follow this lockdown. Apart from a few stray incidences of rule violations, India has been doing much better than many other countries in the world, better than many first world countries.
The rate of increase in active cases is also not very high and we have been hopeful to see a flattening of the curve in the near future. There is a steady increase in the total number of positive cases and death albeit at a slow pace. The time for doubling of cases is 11 days, and it is expected to increase further. Some places are having active spread of the infection and containment zones have been created based on the number of positive cases in that area.
The lockdown has been extended for another two weeks, and it is likely that it may last till May end. The new guidelines have relaxed the activities allowed in three zones — red, orange and green. Let us discuss from a different perspective and share my views. What should be the “priority” in this lockdown 3.0!
1. Resuming Non-COVID healthcare for acute illness: Although every health facility is trying their level best to provide adequate emergency care, it may not be equal to pre-lockdown state. I am concerned about thousands of patients with stroke, heart attack, acute surgical conditions, acute metabolic illness and many other emergency health problems! It is a growing perception among the medical fraternity that non-Covid healthcare is not getting adequate priority at this moment.
2. Resuming Non-COVID healthcare for chronic disease: As a cancer specialist, I can see the difference of care being received by cancer patients across the country compared to pre-lockdown time. Cancer patients require different types of treatments including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy etc. Also, the treatment should start and finish in a timely manner to provide adequate benefit of treatment. I fear to see many premature deaths in cancer patients in the coming days whose cancer will progress to advanced stage or end stage in the absence of a timely treatment.
The same is true for other life threatening chronic illnesses like renal failure where patients survive depending on regular dialysis! People with hypertension or diabetes also need proper care to avoid untimely death due to sudden heart attack or stroke or renal failure or metabolic complications in the absence of regular supervised treatment.
Worldwide, 5.5 million kids under five years of age die because of malnutrition. This number can increase to a great extent after this pandemic is over. They also need priority to have access to food not only after lifting the lockdown, but also during this phase.
These patients also have the right to survive and this is just the tip of the iceberg!
3. Resuming treatment and prevention of communicable disease:In 2018, more than 1,40,000 people died of measles; in 2017, 13 lakh people died from tuberculosis (data source WHO website). Measles is a preventable disease with vaccination. Among tuberculosis patients, many are MDR or XDR who require intense monitored treatment. Many other deadly infectious diseases are preventable by vaccination only. Routine immunization, including that of pulse polio, is heavily hit due to lockdown. It is now important to safeguard millions of newborn kids and other people by resuming vaccination, providing treatments (like DOTS in tuberculosis patients or anti-retroviral treatment in HIV/AIDS patients) at the right time in the right manner. Otherwise, there is always a fear of seeing thousands of deaths from such conditions (many will eventually go unnoticed as not all of these are so rigorously screened or monitored for as in COVID-19).
4. Resuming blood donation services: There is a crisis of blood and blood components. Enough number of blood donations is not possible during this lockdown due to fear of spread of infection. It will be important to resume such activities with priority. The demand for the same will be high after lifting the lockdown.
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5. Resuming industry connected with emergency care: Not only for money, industry and business need to run to serve people in many ways including manufacturing essential items, food, necessary machines for different sectors involved in emergency care and routine livelihood etc. There is already a staggered plan by the government. With time many more sectors will need to function. It is important to lay down the structure of such functions to avoid infection among these groups.
6. Restricted lifting of lockdown:Wuhan in China followed a restricted lifting of lockdown model to prevent further rise of cases. Public transports including rail, airlines should frame and implement physical distancing norms even after this lockdown is over. Meeting at public places, gatherings should be banned for even a longer time till the virus is under control. Necessary public awareness and preparedness campaigns should start beforehand to sensitize people.
7. Encouraging work from home: This lockdown has proven that at least in few cases, work from home is a reasonably valid option. That will not only reduce the risk of infection but also reduce the load of cars and transport on road and subsequent pollution. Studies show that pollution worsens coronavirus outbreak. Let the world breath.
The world will not look the same after this lockdown is over. It will look good in a few aspects; it will look terrible in others. Priorities should be based on the need of a particular geographic area, their people, their lifestyle etc. However, few things remain basic as always. They have access to food, a roof over their head, clothes for modesty and medical services to save life. And we have to keep our compassion intact. Rest can wait. (IANS)
Om and Namah are separate words. Leaving those two words, everything else has to be combined into a single word.
An NRI doctor- as a tribute to her motherland has written the qualities unique only to India as an ashtottarm (108 names).
As Indians, we are very blessed to receive the spiritual wisdom of the ancient seers (rishis) of India that shaped our values, customs, traditions and culture for millennia.
Though I now live in the United States, I had the good fortune to grow up in India. As a result, the positive values included in this article were deeply instilled in me. They’ve made me more mindful, compassionate, and centered. They’ve also contributed to my success as a neurologist, teacher, and professor of medicine at Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. With that nostalgia in my mind, as a tribute to my motherland and with great enthusiasm I have written the qualities unique only to India as an ashtottarm (108 names). In today’s “modern” world, where the positive values are too often replaced with materialism, intolerance, violence, extremism, and terrorism; these mantras will help you stay calm and centered in face of adversity, and in the “little” moments. We can all find beauty, peace, strength everywhere we look—if we remember to look for it.
I believe ignorance is the root cause of all the problems in the world. Divisions, differences and duality are due to ignorance only and knowledge alone is the solution. I hope you feel that way when you read this article. And, in addition to you enjoying learning more about India, I hope this ashtottaram on our Bhāratamata brings you greater peace, happiness, and harmony.
‘Sri Bhārata Māta Ashtottaram
108 Sanskrit Mantras
Om and namah are separate words. Leaving those two words, everything else has to be combined into a single word.
Ekavimśaṫi means 21 (Eka- means One, Vimsati- means Twenty). Our body has 21 ṫaṫṫvams (essence, root, reality). The 3×7 Ṫrayi Sapṫa Samidha Kṛitaha is the offering of 21 sticks of fire wood (samidhās) in a homam. I have composed this song with very simple lyrics so that it’s easy to hum and sing by every Indian from a rickshaw puller to a college professor, house wives and children making it a catchy household song, constantly reminding us of the glory of our mother-land. According to Hindu culture, the earth, Bhoomi, is considered to be our mother.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is an Indian hindu-faith based nationalist voluntary organization which was founded in 1925 by the Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a doctor in Nagpur. The organization believes that he Hindu culture is the life-breath of Hindustan. The prime aim of the organization is to provide service to the humanity during critical situations. They provide their services irrespective of any diveristy, be it religion, gender or caste.