FLASHBACK: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar pays reverence to Sat Maharaj during a function in 2018.

The decision to ban the media from the funeral of Satnayaran Maharaj is an insult to his legacy, says Pundit Satyanand Maharaj, spiritual leader of the Satya Anand Ashram in Aranguez.

In a Facebook post, Maharaj described Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) general secretary as a “media man himself”.

Maharaj, he said, was managing director of Radio/TVJaagriti, publisher of the Bomb newspaper, and a columnist who “always stood up and fought for not only freedom of speech and the press”.

And he noted that most of Maharaj’s SDMS stewardship involved “courting” the media not only to cover the many SDMS events but also his national pronouncements.

He wrote, “The decision to ban the media from the funeral is indicative that there is no appreciation for the fact that Sat was a national personality and not merely a Hindu bossman. The media's interest in the funeral proceedings is not only reflective of this but also a testimony to the success of Sat's struggle to have Hindu Trinidad accepted as an integral and essential part of the fabric of Trinidad and Tobago. I shudder to think that the media ban was done to merely funnel a ready made audience to Radio/TV Jaagriti.”

Maharaj stated that it was disturbing that one of the first acts of the new regime in the Maha Sabha was “this regressive position” of banning the entire media from the funeral. “The rationale that a single reporter who attempted to get a scoop by covering the wake resulted in the whole media fraternity being banned from the funeral lacks proportionality,” he stated.

Maharaj reminded the SDMS, “I recall that Sat had specifically not invited the then Prime Minister to Puja 2000, but when Patrick Manning did show at the Debe event Sat rolled out the red carpet for the uninvited guest. This example of Sat's appreciation of the situation appears to be lost on the inexperienced hands at the wheel of the SDMS. While no one has ever accused Sat of being cultured or classy he appears to be shoulders above his successor.”

The SDMS executive issued a release via its media house Radio and TV Jaagriti on Monday stating that this decision was taken after a reporter from a media house which was not named disrespected religious proceedings at the wake on Sunday night.

Maharaj died at 12.01 a.m. on Saturday after suffering a stroke on November 7.

His funeral is carded to take place at the Lakshmi Girls Hindu College at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.