By: M R Lalu
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) once again proved its uninterrupted and indubitable proximity towards what its political adversaries call an aggressive push of the Hindutva agenda. This time it is about the inclusion of the Bhagavad Gita in the school syllabus in the party ruled state of Gujarat. Karnataka, another BJP ruled state recently witnessed upheavals in the name of Hijab. The Hijab controversy was scoffed at as a deliberate weapon that the BJP consciously brought out from its Hindutva casket, propelling an issue well before its bastion Uttar Pradesh went to polls. The issue remained in discussion for months until the appellants were told by the court to stop unnecessary commotions and directing them to fall in line with the democratic principles of the state. The Karnataka high court candidly made its observation enlightening the minority community, by pronouncing its verdict that the Hijab had never been an integral part of Islam. For the critics it is the BJP’s saffron agenda but the party is unaffected by the hubbubs of the liberals on the streets and now it has come out with a different issue. The party steered another controversy by revamping the education system with the inclusion of the Gita which it probably thinks would bring about greater understanding among the children about India and its spiritual heritage. But the writing on the wall is incredulously indicative to a motivated push keeping an eye on the forthcoming state elections in Gujarat. A little dose of dharmic values to the young generation, according to the party, would do greater good to any society but a complexity such as India would reciprocate to everything with a deceptive note as it has deeply been entangled in the intricacies of secularism. And secularism, except for accepting different faiths with equal benchmarks, does everything that it can; to disregard, disorient and disproportionately demean everything that is part of human life. Concerns are genuine as to why the party that is in power is taking strides in the direction of genuinely appeasing a particular community and disregarding the emotions of the other, probably by hurting their sentiments and beliefs.
The country had witnessed aggression in the name of cow vigilantism by a bunch of transgressors vandalizing the spiritual ethos that India stood for generations. Dharma or righteousness is the core principle that the Gita exhorts through its seven hundred verses. The central idea of the Gita runs through an intense friendly conversation that happens between Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the middle of the battlefield. It envisages and urges the followers to take one among the three paths that it advocates, the Karma yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga which, if simply translated could be termed as the path of sincere work, knowledge and devotion. The paths to liberation or salvation or nirvana, according to Gita, is possible through choosing any one of the above three by following its principles diligently. The plight of Arjuna in the battlefield was terrible and disproportionate to his being, a warrior prince, and the discourse that Lord Krishna puts him through reveals the ways in which life should be lived and critically examines the folly of principles that manipulated people’s mind. India and Hinduism are defined as the essence of plurality and the strength it squeezes to survive is from the unity that the plurality ultimately aims at. The idea of pluralism is directly indicating what monism stands for. Essentially, pluralism in India always maintained the impression that “ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti”, which means truth is one and people call it by different names. Semitic religions exhorted that there was one spiritual principle that was capable of awarding salvation, possibly discrediting the multiplicity that India offered with more freedom and liberty- undoubtedly, perplexity and animosity taking centerstage and skepticism becoming the villain.
By including the Gita in the syllabus, does the BJP plan to impose its version of Hinduism on others. Implementation to the level of gaining acceptance from all corners would define its purpose and the intention behind the initiative. As a country or a conglomeration of principalities, India remained and still remains to be one in essence and principle mainly due to the values that we propagated from the great epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Nobody can deny the fact that the spiritual essence that India is gaining acceptance across the globe, is mainly due to the secular spiritual values that the Vedas and the Upanishads and the Epics that we have been handed over through generations. Our existence during the British period remained limited to the country of “Brown Sahibs” that Lord Macaulay wanted Indians to be transformed as. He wanted a new education system based on the English culture and spirit substituting the one that traditionally existed in India which taught the world,” Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which means the world is one family. The BJP’s experimentation, introducing the Gita in school curriculum should explain the manner in which it might complicate the indispensable cord of distrust that it was successful in tying the country with. The party must take sincere efforts to win the hearts of all the stakeholders convincing them the need of such an exercise through which the constitutional concomitance of multiplicity would be strengthened. This should also help to rediscover the spiritual essence of India which is inclusiveness in its purest form which nobody, even the immature standards of politics, should be capable of meddling with. Therefore, the party cannot have an underhanded plan to infuse the social supremacy of a particular religion. This would lead to mistrust and friction further.
With most of the Hindus and all the other Indian religions living together with acceptance in India, the presence of a large population of Muslims and Christians with their semitic credentials should also be seen with greater appreciation. The Hindus believe in Karma, the focal factor that they think would determine the destiny and a key to rebirths. This is one of the main tenets that the Gita elaborates at length and an idea that people across the globe are giving attention to. The Biblical maxim “you reap what you sow” is in line with what Lord Krishna propounded to Arjuna saying that it is the Karma that determines what we are destined to land upon. Going further Krishna makes the point clear. He says if the Karma is performed with dedication, the result is bound to be good. The Gita holds the philosophical depth to transform young minds with clarity of vision and the ability to untie the complexity of life. The saffron political patronage of the BJP should not be jumping into making political dividends out of the initiative that it takes to implement the Gita in curriculum. It should handle a complex philosophy such as the Gita with meticulous care. Before the curriculum is revamped in a haste, there should be preparatory exercises by experts to dilute the philosophy into a digestible fashion for the children. With exam-driven minds, the children need proper guidance to deal with the philosophy of the text while the real secular message of the Gita holds the power to strengthen them. The dilemma and the discord that Arjuna went through could hit anyone’s life and the Gita offers a solution to those who sincerely seek. The whole theme of practice by the government should not end as a political gimmick making nothing solid out of it. That would break the cohesiveness in the learning atmosphere of schools, making young minds offensive to the life-giving principles available in the holy text. (The author is a freelance journalist/social worker. He can be reached at email@example.com)