Naveeta Maharaj. Photo Ishmael Salandy

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THE PUNDIT'S WIFE

By By Anna Ramdass

Naveeta Maharaj is not just a Pundit's wife; she's a woman who has built a life on the foundation of spirituality, family and moral values, etching her own place in this world.

At 37, Naveeta has travelled the globe in the company of her husband, Pundit Muneelal Maharaj whom she married at age 24.

Through her journeys Naveeta has met people from all walks of life and in her interview with Woman at her Orchard Gardens home in Chaguanas, she lamented that the world is in trouble as morality and spirituality are fast fading away.

Born to parents Pundit Randhir Maharaj and Drupatee Maharaj, Naveeta's way of life has always revolved around family and religious values.

Although she grew up as a "city girl" in Cascade, Port of Spain and was schooled at St Joseph's Convent in Port of Spain she confessed that she was never tempted by the glitz and glamour of clubbing or painting the town red.

Her stomping ground outside of school was the Chaguanas Hindu temple.

"My life revolved around religion but that wasn't why I married a pundit," she joked.

Naveeta won a national scholarship and went on the University of the West Indies where she earned a BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering and after marriage she went on to complete a MSc in Communications Engineering.

While she excelled academically, music was her passion and she pursued this to her heart's spiritual content.

"In my home the two most important things were religion and education," she said as she expressed thanks that her peers shared her same interests and activities.

"People always tell me that I am an old soul, I wasn't interested in the activities I was restricted from....I never faced much temptation to say I wanted to go to parties," she said.

She's also no stranger to the Express having graced the pages of the Junior Express as a child for her love of music.

Through family and social circles Naveeta met her husband who was not only her soulmate but was on the same spiritual path as she.

After marriage, Naveeta did not slip away into the role of "the pundit's wife" but was the pundit's business partner and the backbone of the family.

The mother of two girls - Vaishnavi, 11 and Saakshi, 5 - Naveeta has a schedule that might compete with that of the Prime Minister.

Together she and her husband have recoded some 18 religious CDs as well as DVDs.

Naveeta plays the harmonium/keyboard and sings satsangs (Hindu devotional songs).

She has also written a religious book- Lakshmi Mahimaa - which is a guide to the adoration and worship of Hindu Goddess Mother Lakshmi.

Her input and support is also placed in the publications of Jyothir Vijyaan - a handbook on Hinduism, Death and the Souls Journey, Puja Vandanam - a booklet which guides the performance of pujas (Hindu holy prayers) and Satya Sai Bhajans Mala- a songbook written by her father.

In addition to her motherly and musical roles, Naveeta also organises tours to India - she plans the trips and her husband is the tour guide.

Her strength, she said, lies in her family and her belief in God.

"Once you have that faith and you live your life with that consciousness that God is always with you and in you I think automatically you will avoid the wrong people, you would avoid the wrong places because at some level we know when we are doing the wrong things and when we are gravitating towards the wrong people," she said.

She pointed out that women are silently suffering in this country and globally because of fear and lack of confidence.

"There are so many women out there who are being lied to and they know it but because they are in a comfort zone and they don't want to lose what they have because they don't know what they would get to replace that, they settle for something they don't deserve," she said.

"You have to do the best for yourself. If you can't do what is best for you then you can't be a good wife or a good mother or contribute to society in a positive way when you are stuck in a wrong pattern," she added.

"For me it's true what they say, you can't find happiness in a relationship. If you're not happy with yourself there's nobody on earth who can make you happy," she continued.

She urged young women to take control of their lives and purse an education or skill set that can liberate not just a life but the mind and spirit.

"Once people see that strength in you they will automatically respect you because respect is not something you can demand; you have to find that space within yourself.'' she said.

Naveeta said she and her husband strive to share positive messages with people and motivate their lives.

She said every year they journey to South Africa where they perform satsangs and give motivational lectures at temples in that country.

Family values, she said, are not as strong as they were in the past and people need to work on rebuilding the foundation of the home.

"A lot of people think that life is about liming and having a good time, when it comes to settling down to family and responsibilities many people cannot deal with that," she noted.

Naveeta said people need to recognise their purpose on earth - to find the divinity within one self and realise a oneness with God.

Although she was born into a strong Hindu home and was married into one, Naveeta said her own personal belief is that religion is all embracing.

"I see Hinduism as my roots, in my personal life I don't consider myself an orthodox person. I believe that God is beyond religion, I believe that God is a divine energy and he or she is not any one religion," she said.

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