Intro: While the potent argument is that a secular democracy cannot adopt Bhagwad Gita as a national scripture as it is revered by one religion, the counter argument is since the book is not a religious book, has been translated word over, and is meant for the whole humanity- then why not?
Call to declare Gita as National Book has been welcomed by one and all. There has been no intellectual argument against it, but there have been feeble protests from the usual Rudaali’s i.e. the professional weepers.
The one (confused) argument that has been put forward and that is worth mentioning is that Constitution of India is a national book. Well it will be worthwhile to reiterate the point that the “Constitution of India” is not applicable all over India e.g. J&K and, it is not applicable to all the Indians e.g. followers of Islam have a different set of laws for them. Hence ‘Constitution of India’ is out of contention as National Book.
Following box gives few examples of Gita’s effect on best brains of the world.
~ Albert Einstein
~ Dr. Albert Schweizer
~ Aldous Huxley
~ Henry David Thoreau
~ Herman Hesse
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
~ Rudolph Steiner
There is precedence to this argument; which is as follows:
Tiger was adopted as the National Animal by the Indian Board for Wildlife in 1972. It was selected over the Asiatic Lion because of its presence in larger swathes of the country (it is found in 16 states while the lion is found only in the Gir forest). And, Peacock was chosen from among other contenders—including the Great Indian Bustard, the Sarus crane, the mythical Garuda, and the swan—because of its distribution throughout India, for being easily recognisable, and its association with Indian myths and legends. It was selected also because it would not be confused with the national birds of other countries, and could lend itself to formal depictions in government documents.
Similarly, Gita has made impact across the world and across different disciplines. Business Week magazine said that Bhagavad Gita is the favoured text in US for ideas about leadership. Sessions on corporate learning's from Bhagavad Gita have been conducted for members of the Young Presidents' Organization, at the Wharton School etc. Mustafa Bulent Ecevit, the four-times Turkish Prime Minister, was asked what had given him the courage to send Turkish troops to Cyprus. He answered that he was fortified by the Bhagavad Gita, which taught that if one were morally right, one need not hesitate to fight injustice. (The Telegraph)
|Prime Minister Modi gifted the Bhagavad Gita to US President Barack Obama, which means it has already received the honour of a national scripture. What we require is only a formal announcement now to officially declare the Gita as a national scripture.|
—Sushma Swaraj said in a public meeting to commemorate 5,151 years of the Bhagavad Gita at the Red Fort
Gita is truly a book of the world. Quran and Bible can’t be compared with Gita, as they are specific to the religion. Hence, the attempt to create a religious divide by the rudaalis is futile. Urdu poet Anwar Jalalpuri, former chairman of Uttar Pradesh Madarsa Board and former member of the Urdu Akademi (UP), has translated The Bhagavad Gita into Urdu shayari. (Tehelka)
Bint Zehra Rizvi, a devout scholarly lady translated the Bhagavad-Gita into Urdu language. Rizvi is a Muslim woman, 66 years old and a Professor of Hindi from Allahabad. She has done Masters in Sanskrit and Hindi. At the age of 19, Zehera Rizvi came across the Gita and felt that one’s life is incomplete if one does not read this heightened philosophy of life. (India Tribune)
In 1981, Larson listed more than 40 English translations of the Gita, stating that “A complete listing of Gita translations and a related secondary bibliography would be nearly endless.”
Modern day India has been created by freedom fighters. Gita was the common thread among freedom fighters separated by time and ideology from Bose to Gandhi, Tilak to R C Dutt, Madan Mohan Malviya to Khudiram Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai to Damodar-panth Chapekar, C Rajagopalachari to Madanlal Dhingra, Khudiram Bose to Hemu Kalani. So one book that deserves to be called as National Book of India post 1947; has to be Gita.
National portal of India, www.national.gov.in lists National Symbols and calls it National Identity Elements of India. It says, these symbols are intrinsic to the Indian identity and heritage. Indians of all demographics backgrounds across the world are proud of these National Symbols as they infuse a sense of pride and patriotism in every Indian's heart.
Going by the definition there is every reason why Gita should be declared National Book at the earliest.
One should remember that there are 12 National Symbols; they are Anthem – Jana Gana Mana, Animal – Tiger, Aquatic Animal – Dolphin, Bird – Peacock, Calendar – Saka, Flag – Tri Colour, Flower – Lotus, River – Ganga, Song, – Vande Mataram, State Emblem – Lion, Tree – Banyan.
Yes, you have read it correctly; it doesn’t include Hockey and Gandhi i.e. what we think to be National Game and National Father.
And of the 12, National River: Ganga and National Aquatic Animal – Gangetic Dolphin was declared national symbols in 2009 and 2008 respectively by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. There was no issue of secular-communal then, hence it is simple to conclude that recent protests are political in nature and should be ignored at best. Other 10 selections also happened when so called secular parties where in power.
Last but not the least National Tree, Banyan is the resting place of Lord Krishna and National Flower, Lotus as per Gita is a metaphor for detachment; so it is time that the book of Knowledge of Krishna be declared as National Book.
Sandeep Singh (The writer is founder of www.swastik.net.in and writes a weekly column Narendra Modi & CXO Leadership)