| The lifetime of service to humanity by Pandit Budhram Mahadeo was recognized by awarding him the Cacique Crown of Honor which is awarded to individuals or institutions for outstanding service or achivement by the Government of Guyana.
Pandit Budhram Mahadeo ‘Papa’
(Excerpt from 'The Heart of The Sun')
Pandit Budhram Mahadeo was born on the 22nd of July 1925 to a deeply religious couple, Mr. Mahadeo Shivdhan, who had emigrated from India and Mrs. Gangia Shivdhan, who was born in Guyana of Indian immigrants.
They were known as Ma and Pa to all had seven children. There were the eldest daughter Hubranie, also known as, Deedee, Budhram known by most as Papa or Bhaiya, Gowrinauth also called Dad and Dos, Bhanmatee, or Gayatree, Lutchmin, known by all as Savitri or Sabi, Indromatee or Asha and Ograsain also known as Baba or Ogra.
Ma and Pa had a house next to the 66 Village Koker, a sluice which opened and closed between tides to drain the water from the farms and rice fields. Here the Mahadeo grandchildren spend many childhood days playing and climbing the numerous guava trees in the back yard, playing hide and seek, and sometimes seeking refuge with their grandmother, whom they all called Ma, when they got into trouble at home for any mischievous behavior.
The three brothers, known to all as Papa or Bhaiya, Daad or Dos, and Baba or Ogra were all of very strong characters and personalities. Their strong-mindedness caused minor internal philosophical clashes among the three, but this also made for each becoming individually and independently stronger as time went by. At a young age Ogra went to study in Russia, (USSR at the time) then a few years after his return had migrated to Canada. Because of this he was, in many ways a stranger to the siblings of his brothers and sisters. Years later he would eventually create a strong and lasting fatherly bond to Jag and his family and they enjoyed many vacations at each other’s homes.
Pandit Budhram Mahadeo was married to Rajkumaree and together they had five children, three boys and two girls. They are Vidya, Vishwa Deva, Vishwanie, Jagdeep and Yoganand.
Budhram Mahadeo was a man for the people and his entire life was dedicated to his country, his community and his fellow man. He was the block of granite upon which the foundation of his family rested. He was the block of granite from which his five children were carved. This morally incorruptible man was one of a huge caring heart who saw and held the community and, in his words, ‘all of mankind’ as his family and treated everyone as part of his family. He was the kind of person who felt and understood the emotions and the heartbeat of the common man. He fought for their welfare by getting involved in every aspect of their lives in which he could be of help and make a difference in their lives. Everyone addressed him as ‘Papa’, which means father, ‘Bhaiya’, which means brother, or Pandit, which is a Hindu Priest, and in everyone he left a distinct impression of patience, love, caring, and empathy. He lived the example of the perfect son, brother, father, husband and teacher.
He was a well known and highly respected Arya Samaj Pandit (Hindu Priest). The Arya Samaj is an organization founded by Swami Dayananda on 10th April 1875 to re-establish and promote the teachings of the Vedas—the earliest scriptures in existence and the foundation of Hinduism. Meaning “Noble Society” the Arya Samaj has worked to further female education, opposes a caste system based on birth rather than on merit, opposes untouchability, child marriage, and idolatry. Over the past 136 years the organization has established missions, orphanages, homes for widows and a network of schools and colleges throughout the world. It has undertaken medical work, famine and other forms of relief efforts. The Arya Samaj Movement was in the forefront of the independence struggle in India and members of this organization, where ever they may be, are always found to be in the forefront fighting for democracy and freedom.
Based on his strong belief in the teachings of the Vedas and the goals of the Arya Samaj, Pandit Budhram Mahadeo worked hard to instill the Vedic culture and values in the younger generations. This included, taking the time to teach Hindi and English at his free private school held at his ‘bottom-house’. In his absence, his wife, his children or advanced students taught the classes. He encouraged impromptu sessions of philosophical discussions which seemed to arise spontaneously whenever he had a group of people around him—and it did not matter whether it was a political or spiritual gathering, or whether they were adults or children. People of all walks of life would drop in at his home at all hours for these discussions which he always entertained, for he believed that life was all about gaining knowledge and that one can learn from all experiences and from everyone.
He was well known for his honesty and principled actions. In all his years of performing countless Havans (Hindu Religious sermons) and Hindu weddings, when it was normal practice for all other Pandits/priests to accept a substantial fee for their services, Pandit Mahadeo refused any form of payment. He insisted that it was his duty to perform service to his community and he did not take money to even cover the cost of transportation or personal expenses. Sometimes people insisted on paying for the religious services in the form of ‘dakshina’. (Donation in gratitude to the Guru as recommended by the scriptures) Usually this payment was in the form of cash, for which Pandit Mahadeo would give a receipt made out as donation to the Mandir/Temple. Sometimes the dakshina was in other material forms such as clothes, etc. These items were taken home and later given by his wife ‘Mama’ to the less fortunate such as the beggars who showed up daily at his home. Once every month he would sit at his table on the veranda, empty all the envelopes of dakshina money out on the table in a heap and diligently count it and prepare to give it to the Mandir the following Sunday.
A very active, solidly built man, five feet nine inches tall and about one hundred and seventy pounds, Pandit Mahadeo enjoyed being involved with the youths of the surrounding villages in all types of activities, from playing cricket, ‘kabadi,’ and ‘coco’ to engaging in political and/or philosophical discussions with them after a game of cricket. He took advantage of opportunities like these to infuse within them the values and philosophies he held dear to his own heart. This he did in a fun manner which kept the young ones interested in these otherwise boring subjects. He had a giant magnetic personality which drew people of all intellectual levels to him in discussions and debates in topics ranging from the political views and events of the day to ancient Vedic rituals and philosophical commentaries. Papa’s oratory skills were so profound and loved by his people that whenever he was present at a function or social gathering he was always asked to contribute by making a speech. Most people regarded it as an honor to have Pandit Mahadeo visit or speak at their house or event.
With an erect posture he walked with confidence in every step and always had a quick endearing smile which made those around him feel calm and comfortable. He was highly respected by his people and sometimes even feared by those of questionable morals. He always stood firm for the principles he believed in against all others. He dedicated his life to the defence and service of his country and community and always insisted that he will protect ‘his people at any costs, even with his life if necessary.
This block of granite was immovable in his dedication to others and he lived his life proud of the fact of never having once compromised his values under any circumstances, even during those many times when he was jailed for voicing or fighting for these values.
He shared a vision of freedom for his people with Dr Cheddi Jagan, the founder of the People’s Progressive Party, and was an active and dedicated founding member of the party. This vision of freedom coupled with his Vedic upbringing and his deep philosophical views made for a man committed to the cause of reducing suffering and oppression for his people and for the equal rights of all—men and women alike.
After numerous attempts of bribery to win over Pandit Mahadeo to the ruling People’s National Congress, (PNC)—a dictatorship installed by the CIA and kept in power by fraudulent means and rigged elections, the government resorted to pressure and harassment. His home and property were raided on a daily and nightly basis with no regard to time or circumstance, to search for ‘illegal guns’ which were never found. (documented in later stories in this book) On trumped up charges, he and his wife were jailed many times in order to try and subdue his strong will. Over the years every attempt failed miserably. He proved himself to be unbreakable and unshakeable.
As leader of the local and regional PPP groups he went door to door to spread the message of freedom and people power and to encourage the ‘common man’ to join in the struggle for freedom. He was a rice farmer and represented the country’s farmers as the President of the Rice Producers Association or the RPA. In this capacity he helped to resolve as many of their issues as he possibly could. This dedication to his work in helping people took him away from his family for extended periods of time when he went to help farmers in other regions of the country.
His communal work was non-ceasing and people from his community approached him with their political, public, personal and most private of their own problems to which he responded with confidence and ease, and their problems were always kept in confidence. His advice was highly respected by all. Broken families came to him for counseling and he used his tactful leadership and facilitation skills to bring them back together as a stronger family unit. His deep value system which he never compromised were based on his philosophical, yet considerate and kind approach to all his fellow men to whom he dedicated himself to be of service.
One of his teaching was that ‘we should be better tomorrow than we are today, better next week than we are this week, and better next year than we are this year’. He lived his teachings, always practiced what he preached, and advanced himself spiritually as well educationally every day of his life.
He was awarded the titles of Shastri and Dharmacharya by the Arya Samaj Movement and in his later years in 1996, was awarded with the Cacique Crown of Honor (CCH), the third highest national award of the country, by the Government of Guyana.
This was Budhram Mahadeo, a man of the people and for the people, Papa, (father) Bhaya, (brother) and Pandit to all and the epitome of strength, discipline, empathy, and love for all his people. Papa said “My duty in this life is service to all mankind” and he spent his entire life perfecting this belief and living these words to the best of his ability.