Making fun of Bharatiya epics has become a new normal for leaders and commentators in the era of social media to get instant attention. In a similar attempt, the education minister of Bihar, Chandra Shekhar Yadav calls the founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad, ‘Maryada Purshottam’, a term used widely by Sanatanis for Bhagwan Ram.
A video of Yadav, a minister for the Rashtriya Janata Dal party, went viral on social media on September 9 with a bizarre comment. The video was originally recorded on September 7.
While speaking at an event organised on Janmashtami at Hilsa in Bihar’s Nalanda district, the RJD-MLA said, “When satanism increased in the world, faith was lost, dishonesty and satan took over, then in the region of Central Asia, the God created Maryada Purushottam Prophet, Muhammad Sahib. To bring faith, Islam came for the believers. Islam came against dishonesty and satanism. Even if the dishonest call themselves Muslims, then God does not allow it.”
"मोहम्मद साहब मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम थे"
◆ RJD के विधायक और बिहार के शिक्षा मंत्री प्रो. चंद्रशेखर का विवादित बयान
— News24 (@news24tvchannel) September 9, 2023
This is not the first time that Yadav has launched an attack on Sanatan Dharma or the epics and emotions associated with it. Earlier this year he attacked the most revered epic in Sanatan Dharma, ‘Ramcharit Manas’.
On 11th January 2023, Chandra Shekhar referred to a doha (couplet) from Ramcharitmanas and said that it is a book spreading hatred in society. The couplet was – अधम जाति में विद्या पाए, भयहु यथा अहि दूध पिलाए (Adham jaati me vidya paaye, Bhayau yatha ahi doodh pilaye).
While referring to this Yadav said, that the word ‘Adham’ here denotes the downtrodden section of the society, including Dalits and other backward sections. He said these verses imply that the lower section of society does not have the right to education.
He claimed these verses mean, ‘Lower caste people become poisonous after getting an education like snake becomes after drinking milk’. On the contrary, the verse actually means— that just like the snake feels happy after drinking milk, the speaker – who is referring to himself as Adham Jati – also feels happy after getting an education.
Before this Yadav once talked about clearing all the garbage from the epics. He said, “I stand by my old statement. Whatever garbage is there in Ramcharitmanas, should be cleaned. Till now, just a few couplets have been questioned. But there are dozens of couplets that need to be changed. I am not going to remain silent on Ramcharitmanas. There are many such couplets in this, which I will continue to question.”
Notably, for the current remark, Yadav is facing backlash from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members in the state.
Danish Iqbal, the media in charge of Bihar BJP, said that Chandrashekhar Yadav’s statement represents the epitome of appeasement. He said, “The education minister had earlier made a condemnable statement about a religious book. Now this statement is also going to divide society. This has been the tradition of RJD. This party has done politics of religion by dividing the society in a similar manner.”
Iqbal also said, “The Education Minister has made such a statement to appease the vote bank of a religion. He should not make such statements. All religions give the message of peace. BJP respects all religions. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should take action against such an education minister.”