The Early Years
"This is a historic occasion because we are today bringing to fruition one of the most cherished wishes of our forefathers who were brought to Mauritius in conditions which you know only too well. This is also a solemn moment because this is yet another instance of how we wish to assert ourselves by breaking away from the hold of an incubus which for too long warped our vision of what Mauritius is and what it ought to be".
Late Sir Kher Jagatsing, addressing a seminar on Hinduism as Minister of Education at Presidency college on 8th August 1980. (Kher Jagatsing: Petals of Dust, p204).
The photo shows him visiting a Hinduism exhibition at the College in 1979.
To the Reader
We have pleasure in presenting to you the 7th Edition of Arunodaya devoted to our 20th Anniversary. In it you will see, along with the usual essays and speeches in English and Hindi prized at the Finals of our competitions on 23rd June 1997 (1) the aims of our Movement and their implementation, (2) our 20th anniversary celebrations, (3) extracts from speeches made during the Finals, (4) the two best adult essays selected for the Sir Kher Jagatsing Memorial Prize, (5) an account of our Antavãs or Spiritual Camps, and (6) the launching of Arunodaya 96 by Prof. R. R. Pandey in March 97 during our first HSC seminar in Curepipe. All these with relevant illustrations.
Looking back after 20 years we have satisfaction at the ground covered. Thirty colleges are since the past few years participating in our competitions and the level is rising year by year. The preliminaries were held two weeks earlier at Curepipe and Calebasses in an electric atmosphere of sound, colour and enchantment that was a credit to the schools, the teachers and the parents. The Finals were still grand and unforgettable, as observed by the adjudicators and the guest speakers. The illustrations in the picture section can give an idea about them.
The aims of this publication given in our first Edition in 1991, can be summarized as follows:
Anyone going through these pages will realize that our youth are responding favourably to the above and that we were right in preserving for posterity these promising instances of youthful articulation and eloquence. A welcome addition is our internet site which opens these pages to the whole world.
20 years ago the Movement started to mark the acceptance of Hinduism as subject for the Cambridge exams as a result of my tireless efforts. It underwent successive stages of popularization and consolidation and has now reached that of competition amidst growing enthusiasm. Another popular development since 1996 is the renewal of our Antavãs or Spiritual Camps which are furthering the transformation of our youths and promising more changes to come to face the challenges of the next millennium.
We want our education to be complete, integral, holistic — to translate the ancient gurukula spirit in our modern context. We want our religion to leave the rut of centuries and take the highways of change as taught by the "world-building" rishis of old. We want our youths to adapt the best of the West to the immortal values of the East so that, anchored in the bedrock of the spirit, they will be able to ensure the perennity of Hinduism in the new age looming on our horizon. Great goals that are already within the range of our aims and their vigorous implementation.
The theme of the competitions was Hindu Unity in Diversity. We adopted it after having covered the United Nations reflection topics on (1) The Family, (2) Tolerance and (3) The Elimination of poverty in previous years, and each of our main scriptures every year since the International Ramayana Year in 1989.
What the flower of our youth have to say on the subject are now in your hands. They make delightful reading and show the healthy effect of the teaching of Hinduism on plastic minds. Suffice it for me to add that if there is one thing that is most needed today by the world, by Mauritius, and by Hindus specially, it is unity. The reason is the presence of diversity coupled with it. Had it been otherwise the need would not have been as crying; but a monolithic society or religion cannot last long. If Hinduism is the world's oldest surviving religion going back to thousands of years, it is because of its diversity and adaptability. But every gain has a price attached.
The ancient rishis who proclaimed this diversity by the celebrated phrase — ekram sat viprã bahudhã vadanti [Truth (God) is one, though sages call it by different names] — these ancient rishis saw the difficulty of grasping the essence through many names and forms. That is why at the end of the Rg Veda they urge: Sangacchadhvan sam vadadhvam sam vo manãnsi jãnatãm (come together, speak together, be of one mind). And down the ages the same message of unity, of one essence amidst diversity, has dominated the thought of our rishis. Vyasa in the Mahabharata has issued a terrible warning to all to avoid a holocaust. That should be heeded today by the world, by everyone, by Hindus in particular.
In this Anniversary year, the Movement makes it its duty to pay its humble tribute to the memory of late Kher Jagatsing, the learned Minister of Education in 1977 who took no time to understand the problem and back our efforts. Another friend was late B. D. Purmanun, Manager of the ex-Durhan College of Rose Belle, who helped us from the beginning till he passed away some years ago.
We are grateful to the Prime Minister Dr the Hon. Navin Ramgoolam for his distinguished presence and encouragement, the Minister of Education Hon. James Burty David and the Ag. High Commissioner of India Shri A. Gopinathan for their presence and appreciation, as well as Prof. R. R. Pandey currently Head, Dept. of Philosophy and Religion, B.H.U. for attending several of our functions and giving us his blessings. We thank our other guests and supporters and also the schools for their usual cooperation and participation, while congratulating the winners and wishing better luck next time to the others.
We also express our gratitude to the Panel of Adjudicators (Prof. P. Roodurmun, Dr. Dev Ramnauth, Dr. M. Chintamunnee, Dr. N.K.Sharma of the Indian High Commission, and Mr. G. Dhunnookchand who was the Chairman as well as Dr. Girish Bakhshi of Delhi University and Acharya Umanath of Tribhuvan University, Nepal, who helped us in the preliminaries) for their loving service and dedication. In the same vein we thank Mr. P. Neermul for editorial assistance with the Hindi scripts; Messrs Balraj and Vishwa Appadu for technical help, the Pyrouman Printing Press for their patience and diligence, and the College Secretarial Staff (Mrs. Sangeeta Khadaroo, Mrs. Amita Ghurburrun, Miss Satee Keerpah and Mrs. Lalita Goorbin) for putting in all their love and devotion in the final production of this work.
May the light of the rishis ever shine on our youths!
Charaiveti! Move on!
20 May 1998
One who lies down is Kali
One who awakes is Dvãpara
One who stands up becomes Tretã
And one who moves on realises the Satya Yuga.
Therefore move on!