Satnarayan Maharaj was not a racist.
He was a patriot and one of the country’s “noblest sons” who helped shaped educational development.
This was the view of Sunday Express columnist Prof Selwyn Cudjoe who yesterday paid tribute to his “long-time friend” Maharaj.
“Sat was not a racist. If so, all of us are racists. He was concerned about the well-being of his people and was determined that Indo-Trinbagonians achieve an equal place in our society. It is something that he fought for relentlessly,” Cudjoe stated in response to emailed questions from the Sunday Express.
The Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) died early yesterday morning after suffering a stroke on November 7.
Cudjoe stated that he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Maharaj’s death, praising him as a man who was guided by his religion, stood for his people and was genuinely concerned about the development of his country.
“Sat, in spite of his irascibility, his stubbornness and his tendency to seek the limelight, was one of our foremost patriots. Those who seek the truth and want the best for the country will always honour Sat’s contribution to Trinidad and Tobago and rejoice in the fact that he was a ‘Trini to de bone’,” stated Cudjoe.
Asked what was his most memorable moment with Maharaj, Cudjoe recalled it was when he asked Maharaj to launch one of his books.
“Kamla (Persad-Bissessar) had won the election. I had written a book called Indian Time Ah Come. I went to Sat’s house in St Augustine and asked him to launch it. I knew if he launched it it would get the attention it deserved. He agreed to do so on one condition:- he would be free to criticise it. He didn’t even like the title. He came and launched the book and it got the attention it deserved,” Cudjoe stated.
In response to questions about Maharaj’s contribution to the country’s education sector, Cudjoe said over the years there were many notable educators who determined the direction of education in Trinidad.
“Some of the most important educators were Lord Harris (1851) who set up the ward system of primary education; Patrick Keenan, an Irish educator who did a major report on education in 1869 (The Keenan Report); Jos de Suze, the author of Little Folks’ Trinidad (1905) which placed local materials into the primary school curriculum; J O Cutteridge who controlled the educational system in the 1930s who was followed by Sat Maharaj who devoted his life to the education of Hindu students throughout the country. Rev John Morton did a good job in educating the Indians but Sat far surpassed him in this regard,” he stated.
“Sat will go down in T&T history as following in the path of those illustrious educators who shaped the education development of Trinidad and Tobago. That was one of his greatest achievements,” Cudjoe added.
Asked how he thought Maharaj should be honoured, Cudjoe responded: “We can think of erecting a statue of Sat; we (that is, the government, the Maha Saba, and University of Trinidad and Tobago) can initiate an annual Sat Maharaj lecture series to which national and international scholars can speak about the importance on inter-ethnic relations and education as a means of alleviating inter-ethnic tensions.”