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, ipso fact, 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; 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 per se, 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 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.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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