News Americas, BRONX, NY, Fri. Sept. 11, 2015: Panditai is just a job. One of the puzzling characteristics of Hindus, even those with quality academic credentials, critical thinkers, objective analysts and logicians of some repute, is this instinctive assumption that being a pandit, automatically, makes one a person of deep spirituality, abiding goodness and an infinite capacity to solve all things problematic.
So perhaps its opportune to deconstruct this assumption.
But this deconstruction must be premised on the very basic understanding that a panditai is a profession, much like teaching, lawyering, real estate or construction. One becomes a pandit on the basis of certain ‘qualifications’: an ability to read, speak, write and comprehend Hindi and for some Sanskrit; some knowledge of the scriptural texts; the capacity to officiate in religious ceremonies and be able to make inferences, draw analogies and present lessons for contemporary times via the philosophy, the myths/legends and the rituals.
In effect, when a pandit performs a pooja or any other religious ceremony he is simply performing a job that anyone can, if that person undergoes the relevant training. That is not, in itself, an indication that person is highly spiritual or intrinsically good. When a pandit reads from scriptures he is simply doing a job that anyone can who is conversant in Hindi and possibly Sanskrit. That, in itself, is not an indication that that person is a philosopher, or is imbued with capacity to be master of all trades.
When a pandit gets involved in setting up and/or administering a mandir he is simply doing what many, many others who were not pandits have done before and many more who are not pandits are currently doing and will continue to do in the future. A pandit is no more an expert in management and administration simply than the average person unless he has to obtained and requisite credentials, competency and skills. In fact many pandits have been at the center of maladministration and divisiveness at mandirs both in the Caribbean and the Diaspora.
In effect, a person should not be put on spiritual pedestal or be regarded as a leader filled with goodness simply because of a title; that person must display requisite behavior, traits, actions et al that characterize spirituality. On the flip side a person does not need a title to be a spiritual person, instead anyone imbued with requisite traits and who displays requisite behavior and actions is a spiritual person. It is also opportune to point out that a religious person is not necessary a spiritual person, that spirituality is not premised on religious practice in itself and that spiritualism pervades religion. Those traits and actions would be addressed in another article.
Within this context it cannot be emphasized enough that a pandit is NOT a master of all trades and, if fact, unless that person has specific professional training in a particular discipline, a pandit should never, ever be regarded as someone other than who he is. A PANDIT IS NOT A DOCTOR and should never ever be called in when someone is ill!
Take a sick person to a doctor or hospital PLEASE.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Annan Boodram is founder of The Caribbean Voice and is ardently putting the spotlight on suicide in Guyana. For more join the conversationatwww.facebook.com/groups/suicideepidemic/ or CHECK out the group’s YouTube page.