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Teaching Gita in schools not state policy: K'taka BJP

Last updated on: July 21, 2011 11:12 IST

Teaching Gita in schools not policy: K'taka BJP

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru

An initiative by a mutt in Karnataka to teach the Bhagavad-Gita has broken out into a controversy after plan by the Swarnavalli Mutt, was endorsed by the Karnataka state government.       

The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka has been insisting that it is the prerogative of the institution to teach the Bhagavad-Gita and not state policy. However, the remarks made by Education Minister Vishveshwar Kageri that people must "leave the country, if they do not respect the Bhagavad-Gita has upset many.

Kageri, however, clarified that the circular only says that the programme is good and schools can cooperate. "We are not funding it in any way," he said.

Following the minister's statement, the Students Federation of India launched an agitation, while the state minorities association approached the high court. The question that many are asking is whether the Bhagavad-Gita should be part of the syllabus and whether it is associated only with the Hindus.

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Image: Vishveshwar Kageri, minister for primary and secondary education in the Karnataka government.

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'Bhagavad-Gita teaches the way of life for all of mankind'

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Former Member of Parliament and senior BJP leader Dhananjay Kumar, who has been vocal on the issue, has this to say: "For starters, I was quoted out of context when some news channels quoted me stating that all other religions are western religions. All I was trying to say was that the Quran and the Bible have come from outside the country and nothing more. There is nothing wrong in what I just said."

Kumar said that people must realise that the Bhagavad-Gita is not a holy grantha and is not meant for one single religion. It teaches the way of life for all of mankind and hence it cannot be associated with one particular religion.

Countries like Indonesia and Malaysia respect the Bhagavad-Gita, as they do not feel that it belongs to one particular religion. Kumar said he does not understand the fuss being made over this issue.

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'Teaching from Gita in schools should not be made into a controversy'

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"The point I am making here is that nobody is forcing anybody to study the Gita. If there are people who want to study it then why should anyone oppose it or even object to it," Kumar said.

The minister said that he wanted the protestors to know that it was not the policy of the BJP government that the Bhagavad-Gita should be taught in schools. "There are some institutions that want to teach it and if students are willing to learn then I really do not see what the problem really is," Kumar said.

Teaching the Bhagavad-Gita in schools should not be made into a controversy. "It need not be part of the syllabus or taught as part if the curriculum. But I would say that it is good for individuals and there is no harm in learning what the Gita has to preach since it will help improve individuals," he said.

Kumar said that it was unfortunate that singing Vande Mataram was being opposed in India. "Can we sing it in the United States or the United Kingdom? If we do not sing it in India then where else do we sing it? We always tend to meekly submit to such pressures. This is a question of our country and we should not forget that," Kumar said.

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'It pains me to learn that Gita is being associated with one religion'

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"I am not trying to say that teaching of the Bhagwad Gita should become a part of the state policy. At no point has the government ever indicated that it would want teaching the Gita to become a part of its state policy. All we are saying is that if someone wants to learn it then let's not oppose it. It pains me to learn that the Bhagavad-Gita is being associated with one particular religion when that is not the case," he added. 

What we need to realise is that it has nothing to do with a particular religion and it is only a way of life and studying it would help people become better humans and individuals," the minister added.

The President of the Students Federation of India, H R Naveen, however, has another take on the subject. "This is a secular country and how can the text of one religious group be taught in a school. The Congress in Karnataka too has adopted the view of the SFI and the Minorities Federation and says that the BJP has been trying to impose its saffron ideology on the students in Karnataka."


Image: Former Member of Parliament and senior BJP leader Dhananjay Kumar

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