A photo of Sat Maharaj with a mala at his funeral service. Photo: Prior Beharry
By PRIOR BEHARRY
ST AUGUSTINE – THE late Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) secretary general Satnarayan Maharaj has been described as an educational icon and compared to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
These were some of the tributes paid to Maharaj at his funeral at the SDMS Headquarters, Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College, Eastern Main Road, St Augustine on Tuesday.
Maharaj, fondly called Sat, died on November 16 after being hospitalised for a stroke. He was 88.
Speaking at his funeral, Minister of Education Anthony Garcia said Maharaj dedicated his life to service.
Garcia said, “At the helm of everything that he did was service, service to the Hindu community, education system and the country in general.”
He said, “And I thank him for many things, because he has emphasised that in the education system, we cannot do it alone.
“We need the assistance of all our stakeholders, and Mr Maharaj assisted in ensuring that quality education was delivered to all.
“He stood resolutely behind this mantra, and therefore today we can all boast that the schools that fell under his jurisdiction have been doing exceedingly well.”
Watch: The hearse carrying the body of Sat Maharaj leaving Maha Sabha Headquarters to go to the Caroni Cremation Site
Historian and Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College Selwyn Cudjoe said Maharaj should be likened more with the United States civil rights leader King and not Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi.
Cudjoe said King’s major contribution was to make the US “a perfect union,” according to its Constitution.
Cudjoe said Trinidad and Tobago was a broken nation in the 1970s and it was up to Maharaj and others to keep up the fight for the minority. Cudjoe was quick to add that Indo-Trinidadians were now a majority.
He said, “Like Dr King, Sat Maharaj would go down in our history as one of the major architects in helping to perfect our union, to make ours a fairer society and to make this a better place in which to live.”
Cudjoe described Maharaj as “Trini to the bone” and wished for his ashes to be scattered in the Gulf of Paria and not in the Ganges in India.
He said,”Sat served his country by serving his people, but in so doing, he helped us all to develop our national identity and to recognise that Trinbagonianism comes in different forms and in different shapes, in different theological formulations and in varying religious alignments.
“Most importantly, Sat understood that service to others, in all of its manifold ways, is the primary obligation that Trinidadians and Tobagonians have and owe the country.
“He did that by constantly demanding that citizens constantly rise out of the darkness, see the light and discover what we have in common as people, and not as individual units.”
Cudjoe said,”No man or woman in this twin-island nation loved this island better than he did. And he loved with a rare devotion and pride.”
After the service Marahaj’s body was cremated at the Caroni Cremation Site under Hindu rites.