By Vishnu Bisram
Land for the construction of a gurukula (a learning institution) in Guyana was consecrated with a havan (prayer) on February 4 in Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara.
A historic ground-breaking ceremony that was conducted on the land. This prized Land is donated by Uitvlugt Arya Samaj. It is a huge property [measuring 300’ by 100’] and the entire area will be used for the construction of the Gurukula. The sketch of the project is most impressive – it will be modern facility, the first of its kind in Guyana and the first established gurukula in the Caribbean.
Dr. Satish Prakash, who spearheads the drive to build this educational institution, explains that Gurukula is a residential school run along disciplined ashram lines – students live in and diligently focus on a set curriculum.
Dr. Satish says that the curriculum is to be dual – secular and religious. Secular curriculum aims at giving a second chance to students who failed the CXC and wish to rewrite 8 CXC subjects to either gain admission to UG or another university or to qualify for a commensurate job. Religious curriculum aims at training Vedic-Hindu missionaries who, upon graduation, will serve all across Guyana. Dual curriculum caters to CXC subjects, Hindi, Sanskrit, Shastras, Yoga and Music. He says that the main objective is to also make the Gurukula a center of social service and a health center to provide basic health care.
On the land, the OM flag (Jhanda) was hoisted and the sod was turned amidst songs and chanting from the holy Vedas. Dr. Satish, the man behind the project, led the group in the ceremonial offerings of the havan. Dr. Satish is the Founder-Acharya, Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula, Missionary of the Arya Samaj. He said it has been his dream to see this project completed in Guyana and he has the calling to see it through.
Speaking about the project, Dr. Satish said Prof. Bhaskarananda of the Arya Samaj had hoped that with the establishment of the American Aryan League, Guyana would have been a hub to attract young students from Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname. Dr. Staish also noted that Swami Purnananda had the same vision when he established the Cove and John Ashram. “Unfortunately, both institutions collapsed and the Prof’s vision remained unfulfilled. It is my hope that this Gurukula will represent an additional effort in that very vital direction”.
Some 400 people came from far and wide to show support for the project at the ground breaking ceremony. People donated funds on the spot for the construction of the building and many more pledged huge donations to see the project through.
In praising Dr. Satish’s effort to realize the gurukula, speakers at the event focused on the erosion of social and moral values among Guyanese and the role it must play to address these issues. They made mention of suicides, broken homes, alcoholism, school dropouts, banditry, and economic slide, among other problems. They expressed the hope that the new gurukula will train people to help arrest this current social erosion and also provide training for youngsters to obtain jobs in Guyana’s changing economy.
Dr Satish Prakash, Vyakaranacharya, confirmed that he traveled all over Guyana, year after year, and “I see the continual erosion of values. It is sad that people lose their valuable connections – with family, neighbors, temples, schools and good economy. There is a constant struggle to surmount these challenges. Village elders die or emigrate, and are not replaced. There is hardly anyone to raise a finger for what is acceptable and worth pursuing and to reprimand or re-direct those who have gone astray or lost direction. There is need for an institution that can impart morals, ethics and values through both secular and religion education, for free. This gurukula institution must and will provide shelter to young people who can’t look up to parents and village elders anymore”.
Dr. Satish said he hopes the Gurukula can fulfill the role once played by elders. He hopes to have it completed by 2020.
Dr. Satish Prakash will head the team of secular and religious teachers and others will be recruited. Volunteers will come from abroad. Dr. Satish explains that two Guyanese youths – Deepak and Chandrashekhar – are currently in Gurukula in India pursuing studies in classical music and Hindi. They are due back in Guyana on July 1. A third youth, from India, is accompanying them to serve for 2 years in Guyana. He is an accomplished scholar of Sanskrit.
Students will be recruited initially from Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad. Later, students from Fiji, Mauritius and South Africa [countries that Dr Satish has visited, and where the Arya Samaj is active] are expected to arrive in Guyana to pursue missionary studies. Living arrangements are being made at the location of the institution for guests.
The current plan is that the Gurukula will be declared open in September 2020. Both Guyanese and devotees from abroad are expected to attend. He said funding has been tight and he welcomes all assistance including voluntary labor and professional services.
The public is encouraged to support this worthy charitable, non-for-profit venture that will benefit the public. Dr Satish can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org