Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 29th 2016 Contents 16
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Keshari Pragg has been heavily in-
volved in her religion for as long as she
can remember. She is a disciple of Sri
Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji of
Mysore, India. She fondly remembers
her parents taking her and her five sib-
lings to his Ashram, the Sri Dattatreya
Yoga Centre in Carapichaima, faithfully
every week while growing up.
Although both parents were employed
full-time, they ensured their children had
a firm religious and cultural foundation.
At a very tender age, they enrolled her to
Indian Classical Odissi Dance classes
under the tutelage of Kumari Sandra
Sookdeo and Indian Classical Singing
classes at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute
for Cultural Cooperation. Looking back
now, Keshari says she spent most of her
life engrossed in her religion and culture,
while balancing her studies.
Her faith ran deep, and every year, even
as a child, she would perform special fast-
ing for all Hindu religious festivals. Little
did she know, this constant faith would
one day get her through the darkest time
in her life.
In September 2006, still heavily in-
volved in her religion and culture, Keshari
began pursuing a Bachelor of Science de-
gree in Computer Science at the University of the
West Indies (UWI). Everything was going great,
until one day she started feeling unlike herself.
While having breakfast one Sunday in January
2007, she had a seizure and collapsed. Her family
rushed her to a public health facility, where she
was seen and discharged. That night, she had an-
other seizure while asleep, and was again rushed
to a public health facility where she was warded.
However, no one was able to diagnose her symp-
She remembers her faith in God being shaken
as she wondered why this was happening to her.
Her family spared no expense in ensuring she
received proper treatment and admitted her to a
private health facility where she was warded in
ICU while doctors ran numerous tests. They were
puzzled at her symptoms which left her in a com-
atose state. Through it all, her family and friends
remained at her side, continually praying for her
After many days, they were given the shock of
their life. The neurologist diagnosed Keshari with
viral encephalitis, a rare inflammation of the brain
caused by a virus, which if not properly treated in
time, could result in permanent brain damage or
death. The doctor did all he could and discharged
her with medication.
She was bedridden and experienced excruciat-
ing pain on a daily basis. She felt numb and
cheated. Hopeless, as she seemed to not be recov-
ering as expected, her family decided it would be
best to visit her Guru's Ashram in Mysore, India in
While there, due to the intense physical pain she
felt, Keshari literally gave up. She threw her med-
ication to the back of the cupboard and thought to
herself this may be the end.
At that time, Sri Swamiji was touring his
Ashrams across India. She was fortunate to ac-
company him, enabling her to see a lot of India.
However, between touring, her Guru advised her
to begin learning Bharatanatyam dance three
times a week. She was terrified, but adhered to
his advice with faith. She could not understand her
Guru's decision as it was indeed painful for her
weak body. She participated in the many pro-
grammes and activities of all the Ashrams visited.
In March 2008, she returned to Trinidad fully re-
covered. She has never had a relapse since.
Looking back on the entire experience, she ad-
mitted she should have taken her medication but
there was a certain time she was angry with God,
praying to die because of the intense physical pain.
She attributes her well-being to the therapeutic
effect of her involvement in the Ashram and
strictly adhering to her Guru's advice. Her faith is
In 2011, Keshari graduated from UWI with First
Class Honours. With faith as her guiding light, she
overcame that dark period in her life. A highly self-
motivated and positive individual, she now encour-
ages all to truly treasure every second of life,
giving and doing as much as you can as it could
unexpectedly be your last. Work towards your
goals, have faith and trust in God. He will definitely
help you weather the worst of storms.
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