SAT Maharaj died one minute after midnight on Saturday which also marked the beginning of Hanuman day in the Hindu faith. Maharaj’s eldest son Vijay Maharaj revealed this detail as he spoke to Sunday Newsday at the family’s Champs Fleurs home on Saturday.
Sharing that Maharaj was devoted to Hanuman which inspired the logo of TV and Radio Jaagriti, Vijay said, “Mr Maharaj waited until one minute past twelve to die. Today (Saturday) is Hanuman day according to the Hindu scriptures. He waited until today.”
Vijay believes that faith guided the moment in which his father died and Maharaj knew that it was time.
“Mr Maharaj knew exactly what he was doing and we the family appreciated what he did. That he waited until it was his time and we accepted that.”
Maharaj, 88, died at the Medical Associates Hospital in St Joseph where he was admitted after suffering a stroke on November 7.
Vijay shared insights on his father's final hours.
“He was giving us signs he was tired and it was time to take a rest, time to take a holiday.”
A family devoted in faith, he said, “We were not able to figure out if he meant it (the rest) would be temporary or permanently and it was for him to decide and he decided it.”
Though the family is grieving, Vijay said they are at peace because of faith and added, “I think what you have to take into consideration is that Mr Maharaj was almost 89.”
“The family is obviously grieving but we were preparing for this.”
Vijay said the family is now focusing on preparing a proper send-off which will allow the public to participate and honour Maharaj’s legacy. The funeral is set for Tuesday at the Maha Sabha Headquarters, St Augustine
“This is not going to be a private family funeral. Many moons ago when he became secretary of the Maha Sabha, we as his blood family knew we had to share him. We shared him with the Hindu community and as years went by his family grew to the national community.”
After the funeral, Vijay said Maharaj’s body will be passed on to the Pundits Parishad of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, the religious and spiritual arm of the Maha Sabha.
“I’ll be doing that after I finish the (funeral) service at the home.”
Vijay said the Pundits Parishad will take the body until to be cremated on the banks of the Caroni River according to Hindu rites.
Members of the public are invited to the family’s home to participate in nightly wakes, from 6.30 pm until the funeral. Vijay said, “There are no invitations and dis-invitations, it is open to the public.”
Meetings are in progress to plan the funeral and Vijay is thankful for the support the family has received.
“Religious leaders of all denominational faiths have reached out. They came to meet Mr Maharaj (in hospital) and they are still making phone calls (following his passing).”
He also thanked Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. “He has reached out because he knows the nature of what has to take place for the funeral. He has assured us he and the TTPS will do all they can.”
Vijay serves as the first assistant secretary of the Maha Sabha and is set to assume his father’s duties of general secretary of the Maha Sabha. Present at the family’s home was Dinesh Rambally, legal adviser to Maharaj and the Maha Sabha.
Asked about Vijay’s ascension to replace Maharaj, Rambally said, “The question is being asked over and over again. I see a lot of commentators, who have no affiliations with the Maha Sabha, proffering what the (Maha Sabha) constitution says.”
“The constitution makes provisions, we have several persons who are designated to act as assistant generals.” Rambally said upon the death of an elected Maha Sabha leader, these assistant generals are expected to assume the role.
Rambally said Vijay was elected first assistant secretary – a post that meant he, or whoever would have been the office-holder, would have assumed Maharaj’s position in the event of his death.
He said the same principle was applied following the 2018 death of Dharmacharya and president general Shri Uttam Maharaj.
“When he died, the first assistant president general took the position according to the constitution.
“In this particular case it is not going to be any different, Mr Vijay Maharaj is the first assistant secretary, the constitution provides that he will have to hold Maharaj’s portfolio and it will be ratified at a conference of delegates which will take place next year.”
Vijay added, “There can also be other people from the fold of the Maha Sabha, it is not an automatic ratification. I just want to clarify that.”
The Maha Sabha has announced three days of mourning.