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May 22, 2011

Page: 48/48

Home > 2011 Issues > May 22, 2011

Ridiculous opposition to Gita Saar
By Adhitya Srinivasan

EFFULGENCE, forgiveness, fortitude, sanctity, freedom from rancour and vanity. These, O Son of Bharat are the qualities of him who is endowed with divine nature.”

In April, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan issued a directive to the Education Department to introduce Gita Saar in the school curriculum. Gita Saar is a condensed form of the teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. Almost on cue, certain religious leaders and the Opposition Congress condemned the move and saw it as the BJP government’s move to saffronise the education system by giving supremacy to one religion over the other.

Before addressing the arguments forwarded by the religious leaders against the introduction of Gita Saar, it is important to note that this incident adds to the familiar pattern of ‘secularists’ standing up to BJP governments in various states whenever such a government makes any effort to protect or promote the interests of the Hindu community. Needless to say, it is perfectly fine for these ‘secularists’ whenever any other government takes steps to promote the interests of the minority communities.

Now to the present issue of the Gita. Firstly, it is ironical that religious groups and personalities have come out to condemn the introduction of the Gita in school curriculum on grounds of it being ‘un-secular’. This is the clearest evidence of their lack of bona fide on this issue. To make matters worse, none of these religious outfits would have condemned the introduction of teachings from their own religions in the curriculum. It is only when the teachings of Hinduism are introduced that they see a threat to their religions and rise up in arms.

Secondly, the opposition to the introduction of teachings from the Gita in school curriculum has been premised on the assumption that the teachings in the Gita are ‘religious’ or ‘theocratic’ in nature. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even someone who has never read the Gita before will come to the conclusion that the contents of the Gita are essentially secular lessons on morality, ethics and values. In fact, the whole discourse in the Gita is entirely secular. To say otherwise is to do a great disservice to the Gita and plainly exposes the malicious nature of the opposition to this policy.

Thirdly, there are some within the mainstream secular establishment who will construe references to Lord Krishna in the Gita as being sufficient reason to detract from the secular lessons contained in the Gita. This dates back to an old misunderstanding. Unlike the Abrahamic faiths which expressly prescribe that their God is the only God, religious texts in Hinduism have always accepted the concept of God as being attainable through different paths. Thus the references to Lord Krishna can just as easily be seen as a reference to any other higher being without changing the essence of the narrative. This demolishes the bogus argument of the BJP government attempting to ‘saffronise’, education.

Finally, there is the argument that the state government should have made a collection of the moral lessons from all major religions. This argument is flawed for several reasons. As per the ‘secularists’, if the introduction of Gita Saar is a move to saffronise the education system, then certainly the remedy cannot lie in ‘Islamisising’ and ‘Christianising’ the same education system. Moreover, the democratic framework allows elected government to make choices within the scope of the Constitution. Thus the State Government is at liberty to independently evaluate this suggestion.

It is imperative that we understand that the true test for determining the efficacy of this policy is to evaluate the impact it has on the students to whom it is imparted. If the teachings in the Gita impact their outlook and behaviour positively, it will be a matter of pride for the entire Nation.

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Published on: 2011-05-16 (21890 reads)

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