Who is Pdt. Munelal Maharaj?
Pdt. Munelal Maharaj is a youthful, dynamic Hindu leader, who inspires countless devotees of all ages and walks of life with his riveting lectures, packed with deep philosophy, moral guidance and practical lessons and stories. Having been raised in the Caribbean and studies at Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai, India, he touches the hearts of audiences throughout the world, who thrill to the sound of his soul-stirring voice offering its melodious and enchanting renditions to the Lord with unparalleled love, devotion and sincerity. His advice, though given from the platform of Hindu Dharma, is universal, and has reached lost youths, repaired broken families, healed wounded hearts and instilled new courage among those who were ready to give up.
His personal aim is to dispel the myth that Hinduism is as an incomprehensible, antiquated religion that has no relevance to modern society. His lifelong goal is to promote Hinduism as a dynamic, blissful, incomparable pathway to better living, especially for the youth. In today’s world, where questions abound, and answers are few, he offers spirituality, morality and devotion as the key to society’s problems. He attempts to explain the teachings and practices of Hinduism in such a way that it becomes applicable to our daily lives. His message to the world, simply put, is “Learn about your religion – learn how to live life to its fullest”, and “Always keep inspired.”
He is currently based at the Chaguanas Hindu Mandir where he conducts regular services and classes. He also hosts an inspirational radio program every Saturday morning from 8-9 A.M on Radio Jaagriti 102.7FM or www.jaagriti.com.
Pdt. Munelal Maharaj was born in Chickland Village, Upper Carapichaima, Central Trinidad, to Shree Parmanand and Shreemati Kissoondai Maharaj. As a young boy, he eagerly attended Raamaayana yagnas and satsangs whenever he could, and would often join with the Bhajan groups to play harmonium, dholak, manjeera or dholak with great spirit.
His enthusiasm for the religious and cultural sphere led him to devote his time and attention to further developing his commitment to this field. At the age of 13, he began performing Poojas, and delivering public discourses on the Raamaayana - the youngest Pandit at the time to do so. He began to develop his skills as a lecturer, singer and musician, and in 1990, he released his first Bhajan cassette, for which he won a national award in 1991 - the NAFEITA award for youth achievement in culture. In 1990, he also performed the singing of 108 Bhajans in a single session - a feat he has since repeated on seven more occasions.
His desire to deepen his knowledge led him to India in 1993, where he spent three years at the Chinmaya Mission in Mumbai, studying Hindu Philosophy, Sanskrit and Vedanta under Swami Anubhavananda, along with the guidance of Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Tejomayananda and many others. After completing his studies, he toured India extensively and received the blessings of many great saints and Masters, including Shree Satya Sai Baba. He also completed several recordings in India before returning to Trinidad in 1996.
Since his return from India, he has dedicated himself to taking Hinduism to new dimensions in the western world through his many different projects, which include Yagyas, Satsangs, Bhajan Concerts, Workshops, Retreats, Youth Camps, as well as his books and CD’s.
Just a few of his pioneering activities are mentioned below:
In August 1996, he performed the first Shiva Puraana Yagna in Ocala, Florida.
In May 1997, he conducted the first Indian Arrival Day celebrations in Tobago and embarked upon a historic project, involving 108 consecutive nights of Raamaayana satsangs, becoming the first person in the Western hemisphere to do so. These sessions took place at 108 different venues throughout Trinidad as well as in Tobago and Guyana.
In August 1998, he officiated at the first Bhaagavatam Mahaa Puraana Yagna to be performed in Florida at the Oakland Park Shiva Mandir, Ft. Lauderdale.
In January 2001, he held the first 108 Gaayatree Havan, where over 1000 people gathered at the DLS Temple in Carlsen Field, Trinidad, to perform worship using 108 Havan Kunds all simultaneously lit, while reciting the Surya Gaayatree 108 times. In subsequent years, the number of Havan Kunds used for worship increased to over 200.
In June 2003, he conducted the 108 Gaayatree Havan in Dallas, Texas.
In November 1998, he was one of the first Pandits to release a devotional CD - his first CD entitled 'Satya Shakti' was released in Canada. This was followed by the release of 'Shivoham' and 'Parama Bhakta' in 1999, while spending a year as the spiritual leader of the Pickering Devi Mandir, Toronto, Canada.
He has also produced a “New Age-style” meditation CD (Eternal Echoes of the Soul), which is more universal in its appeal, and is geared for relaxation and stress relief.
His second book, Death & the Soul’s Journey, co-written with Naveeta Maharaj and Pdt. Randhir Maharaj, was released in January 2003, and contains two sections. The first section deals with the rituals and observances that take place when someone dies. The second part discusses the philosophy of the soul and what takes place, according to various scriptures, after the soul leaves the body.
He is married to Naveeta Maharaj, daughter of Pdt. Randhir and Shreemati Draupatie Maharaj, and they have two beautiful daughters, Vaishnavi and Saakshi. They currently reside in Orchard Gardens, Chaguanas, Trinidad.
His focus on keeping the youth involved in religion and culture has led him to conduct lectures, yagnas, satsangs, workshops, retreats and youth camps throughout many parts of the world. At present, his travels have taken him to:
Various parts of Florida, including the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Ocala, Tampa, Jacksonville and Port St. Lucie
Various parts of Texas, including Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston
Various parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
California - Los Angeles, San Diego
Atlanta, Washington, Baltimore, Maryland, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Ohio
Various parts of Ontario – Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Missisauga, Brampton, Pickering, Cambridge
-Caribbean – Barbados, Guyana, Antigua, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, St. Marteen, Grand Cayman, Mexico, Dominica, -Jamaica
-South Africa – Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and other small towns
-Europe - England, Russia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland