edge

Sacred Cows

Photographs by Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Today’s feature is drawn from a 2007 interview that began as a discussion about the agreement between the State and religious schools but soon descended into a sustained attack the interviewer still recollects fondly and with much laughter.

My name is Sat Maharaj and I was in favour of the Concordat between religions and the State.

Education is never a static thing [though] it has been in Trinidad. The Concordat was an agreement originally signed by the Catholic church and the State in 1960 [and amended by] all the traditions [or all the religions] developed over the last 60 years. A slow erosion of all the agreements in the Concordat [has led to] less authority over the management of your schools. The secondary schools run by the churches are the premier secondary schools in Trinidad & Tobago, because of the commitment of the teachers and management of the churches to ensure you don’t only have a secular education but also a sacred education.

The excuse that schools that do well attract a better quality of student is put forward by those who wish to nationalise the school system. But I have the experience. By the time we were ready to admit students at three Hindu colleges – Vishnu, Shiva and Parvati Girls – the SEA had already been written and we got only what you call children of the least ability – and yet, when the examination results came out the first time, we had a tremendous amount of full passes.

In supproting church schools, the State is not supproting religious belief! The State is paying a price for others educating their children! Mr BC Pires is anti-church and [only] pro-God so long as the God is a Pires. Every major country in the world today is going back to church education! Because they see the benefit of the church in education. The church is people! Community! This is community education! Listen! They give us half-an-hour every morning for religious education, that’s all!

What is the difference between religious education and religious instruction? You explain that to me, Mr Lexicographer BC Pires! Instruction and education is the same thing! In a classroom, you don’t give instruction in mathematics? Don’t split hairs, Mr BC Pires! You are mixing up what we call comparative religion, where you say, “This believe that, and the other believe this, that and the other”.

All the Christians are telling you the law of God is contained in the Bible! I saw a whole big series on TV about the tablets of the Ten Commandments! These are the laws for the Christian! They might not be laws for BC Pires! A million scientists have been trying to disprove the existence of God and God’s instructions! I hope you’re printing all I saying about you!

We believe in the manifestation of God. He come down from time to time and instructs us! Don’t come with this law of gravity thing! Science has believed many things they disproved afterwards. Hello! Right now, in medical science, they’re changing everyday! Things they believed 50 years ago, Mr BC Pires, they have changed their belief now, because of their experiments!

Religious instruction is NOT child abuse, Mr BC Pires! Hello! If I have a child, whose responsibility is it to bring up that child? People like you, BC Pires, if you in the Ministry of Education, feel you must educate my child? Education begins with the family! Isn’t it political abuse when you decide, from an office of power, what my child should learn or eat in school, isn’t that abuse? No, no, isn’t that abuse? I’m taking your argument to the other end.

Who tell you religious belief is not fact, Mr BC Pires? Hello! Who tell you religious belief is superstition? Have you read the Bhagavad Gita, Mr BC Pires? You are a superstitious man who believes only in Pires! You don’t believe there is a god out there! People like you could walk out there 11 o’clock in the morning and disprove the existence of the sun. Who tell you what you are seeing is reality? My religion refer to that as maya (illusion).

If Rastafarian believe that Haile Selassie was the last manifestation of God, let them teach it to their children! The Concordat permits any religion to go into a school and teach their beliefs, with the permission of the owner of the school.

It is not better to teach beliefs at home but, at school, deal only with reality! Mr BC Pires, I recognise you as a caustic and witty writer but I don’t regard you as an educator in any way at all. You don’t understand the education structure, either in Trinidad or worldwide.

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, if children should be taught belief as though it were fact? Why should children be taught the difference between right and wrong? Who is to decide what is right or wrong? You are just arguing for argument’s sake, Mr BC Pires! Education is the expansion of the child’s mind.

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, how teaching something that is not true could expand a child’s mind? Who tell you God is not true! Sages throughout the ages have discovered God! You sit with a little microphone in your hand and you are an expert on God? You are the descendant of a conqueror! You are the people who incarcerated people who disagreed with you, like Galileo!

Parents have the absolute responsibility to teach their children, choose the school, the mosque.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayWhy are you asking, Mr BC Pires, if schools should teach that the world was created in six days? Hello! You’re talking to a Hindu! We have our own big technical belief! Why are you talking about religions making up stories? Religious stories are better than your stories! You make up two stories a week! I hope you putting everything I say about you! If the Pentecostals believe [the world was made in six days], I advise you to go to Patrick Manning; he is the expert on Pentecostals these days. I am saying Hinduism must be taught at home, in the mandir, in the Hindu schools at least.

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, if children should believe in Santa Claus? What’s wrong with believing in Santa? You, like you never had childhood, that’s your problem! Your father was a businessman, he never had time for you, that’s your problem! Put that down in your paper! If grownups want to believe in Santat, that is their personal belief! Why are you intruding into others’ minds and hearts?

Why wouldn’t I trust a grownup who believed in Santa Claus and flying reindeer? One of the best cardiologists in this land probably believed in Santa Claus when he was growing up. It helped shape the man! [Too besides,] grownups don’t believe in that, only profiteer from it, businessmen like your father! Why should you or I decide this is irrational or that is rational? Why are you trying to live other people’s lives?

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, if it is irrational for a grownup to believe in a god who made him and a Garden of Eden or not eating pig? Isn’t it presumptuous of you to judge other people? It has not been proven scientifically! That is what you’re calling irrational! For people like you, everything has to be proven scientifically, otherwise you don’t believe it at all!

If there was no Hindu school close by, I would send my grandchild to a Pentecostal school! I went to a Presbyterian school! I knew the Lord’s Prayer in Hindi! It didn’t make me worse as a citizen! It made me better!


Sacred Cows

Photographs by Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Today’s feature is drawn from a 2007 interview that began as a discussion about the agreement between the State and religious schools but soon descended into a sustained attack the interviewer still recollects fondly and with much laughter.

My name is Sat Maharaj and I was in favour of the Concordat between religions and the State.

Education is never a static thing [though] it has been in Trinidad. The Concordat was an agreement originally signed by the Catholic church and the State in 1960 [and amended by] all the traditions [or all the religions] developed over the last 60 years. A slow erosion of all the agreements in the Concordat [has led to] less authority over the management of your schools. The secondary schools run by the churches are the premier secondary schools in Trinidad & Tobago, because of the commitment of the teachers and management of the churches to ensure you don’t only have a secular education but also a sacred education.

The excuse that schools that do well attract a better quality of student is put forward by those who wish to nationalise the school system. But I have the experience. By the time we were ready to admit students at three Hindu colleges – Vishnu, Shiva and Parvati Girls – the SEA had already been written and we got only what you call children of the least ability – and yet, when the examination results came out the first time, we had a tremendous amount of full passes.

In supproting church schools, the State is not supproting religious belief! The State is paying a price for others educating their children! Mr BC Pires is anti-church and [only] pro-God so long as the God is a Pires. Every major country in the world today is going back to church education! Because they see the benefit of the church in education. The church is people! Community! This is community education! Listen! They give us half-an-hour every morning for religious education, that’s all!

What is the difference between religious education and religious instruction? You explain that to me, Mr Lexicographer BC Pires! Instruction and education is the same thing! In a classroom, you don’t give instruction in mathematics? Don’t split hairs, Mr BC Pires! You are mixing up what we call comparative religion, where you say, “This believe that, and the other believe this, that and the other”.

All the Christians are telling you the law of God is contained in the Bible! I saw a whole big series on TV about the tablets of the Ten Commandments! These are the laws for the Christian! They might not be laws for BC Pires! A million scientists have been trying to disprove the existence of God and God’s instructions! I hope you’re printing all I saying about you!

We believe in the manifestation of God. He come down from time to time and instructs us! Don’t come with this law of gravity thing! Science has believed many things they disproved afterwards. Hello! Right now, in medical science, they’re changing everyday! Things they believed 50 years ago, Mr BC Pires, they have changed their belief now, because of their experiments!

Religious instruction is NOT child abuse, Mr BC Pires! Hello! If I have a child, whose responsibility is it to bring up that child? People like you, BC Pires, if you in the Ministry of Education, feel you must educate my child? Education begins with the family! Isn’t it political abuse when you decide, from an office of power, what my child should learn or eat in school, isn’t that abuse? No, no, isn’t that abuse? I’m taking your argument to the other end.

Who tell you religious belief is not fact, Mr BC Pires? Hello! Who tell you religious belief is superstition? Have you read the Bhagavad Gita, Mr BC Pires? You are a superstitious man who believes only in Pires! You don’t believe there is a god out there! People like you could walk out there 11 o’clock in the morning and disprove the existence of the sun. Who tell you what you are seeing is reality? My religion refer to that as maya (illusion).

If Rastafarian believe that Haile Selassie was the last manifestation of God, let them teach it to their children! The Concordat permits any religion to go into a school and teach their beliefs, with the permission of the owner of the school.

It is not better to teach beliefs at home but, at school, deal only with reality! Mr BC Pires, I recognise you as a caustic and witty writer but I don’t regard you as an educator in any way at all. You don’t understand the education structure, either in Trinidad or worldwide.

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, if children should be taught belief as though it were fact? Why should children be taught the difference between right and wrong? Who is to decide what is right or wrong? You are just arguing for argument’s sake, Mr BC Pires! Education is the expansion of the child’s mind.

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, how teaching something that is not true could expand a child’s mind? Who tell you God is not true! Sages throughout the ages have discovered God! You sit with a little microphone in your hand and you are an expert on God? You are the descendant of a conqueror! You are the people who incarcerated people who disagreed with you, like Galileo!

Parents have the absolute responsibility to teach their children, choose the school, the mosque.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayWhy are you asking, Mr BC Pires, if schools should teach that the world was created in six days? Hello! You’re talking to a Hindu! We have our own big technical belief! Why are you talking about religions making up stories? Religious stories are better than your stories! You make up two stories a week! I hope you putting everything I say about you! If the Pentecostals believe [the world was made in six days], I advise you to go to Patrick Manning; he is the expert on Pentecostals these days. I am saying Hinduism must be taught at home, in the mandir, in the Hindu schools at least.

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, if children should believe in Santa Claus? What’s wrong with believing in Santa? You, like you never had childhood, that’s your problem! Your father was a businessman, he never had time for you, that’s your problem! Put that down in your paper! If grownups want to believe in Santat, that is their personal belief! Why are you intruding into others’ minds and hearts?

Why wouldn’t I trust a grownup who believed in Santa Claus and flying reindeer? One of the best cardiologists in this land probably believed in Santa Claus when he was growing up. It helped shape the man! [Too besides,] grownups don’t believe in that, only profiteer from it, businessmen like your father! Why should you or I decide this is irrational or that is rational? Why are you trying to live other people’s lives?

Why do you ask, Mr BC Pires, if it is irrational for a grownup to believe in a god who made him and a Garden of Eden or not eating pig? Isn’t it presumptuous of you to judge other people? It has not been proven scientifically! That is what you’re calling irrational! For people like you, everything has to be proven scientifically, otherwise you don’t believe it at all!

If there was no Hindu school close by, I would send my grandchild to a Pentecostal school! I went to a Presbyterian school! I knew the Lord’s Prayer in Hindi! It didn’t make me worse as a citizen! It made me better!