Constitution is above the Gita

Constitution is above the Gita

In essence, the state does not owe loyalty to any specific or particular religion as such; it gives equal freedom for all religions and holds that the religion of the citizen has nothing to do in the matter of governance and administration.

If we translate these principles of the Constitution in the context of school education it means no religious instruction is to be carried out in any educational institution maintained by the state.

Not secular

In this backdrop, the present controversy about the state sponsored programme to teach Bhagavad-Gita or the essence of it in the state-run government schools through an ‘abhiyan’ is not only anti-secular, but unconstitutional too. Under the Indian Constitution no religion is to get precedence or priority over other religions in any institution run and managed by the state.

Constitutionally speaking it is the responsibility of each individual who is holding the public office as part of the state to keep religion or matters connected to a particular sect away from the state machinery or institutions run by the state.

Even if one thinks of defending the state action (as done by the present honourable education minister) saying that teaching the Bhagavad Gita would bring great transformation amongst the children, a quick and careful examination of the contents of Bhagavad Gita proves that such claim has no basis and it is a great myth. Any citizen who upholds the Constitution is bound to end up supporting the groups protesting against the Gita ‘abhiyan’ in schools for the simple reason that they have a rationale to do so, because we are bound by the Constitution which is a mother and universal law of the land.

Basically Bhagavad-Gita is a text containing the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna in the war field. The war, death, and a soldier's duty are vehemently defended by Lord Krishna in the Gita when the whole world is debating the issue of total disarmament including the non-proliferation of nuclear arms to demand peace and harmony for humanity from all forms of war and violence.

The need of the hour as put forth by the spiritual teacher Osho “the first expression of love towards the child is to leave his first seven years (rather the childhood) absolutely innocent, unconditioned and to leave for seven years completely wild, a pagan. He should not be converted to Hinduism, to Islam or to Christianity. Anybody who is trying to convert a child into some other religion is not compassionate, he is cruel; he is contaminating the very soul of a fresh arrival. Before the child has even asked questions he has been answered with readymade philosophy, dogmas, ideologies (excerpts from the book ‘Being in love’ by Osho with added emphasis)”.

Therefore, let us not venture to poison the minds of young children so that they end developing hatredness by being taught a religious scripture that belongs to a particular religion. Instead, let our children develop love and affection amongst each other through natural interactions without any indoctrination.

The space in the school (a miniature society) should be exclusively left for children to learn themselves to uphold the unity and integrity of the nation and also to respect the secular foundation embodied in the Constitution through universal brotherhood.

If we are so obsessed with conducting Gita abhiyans in schools it will be beneficial to introduce the teaching of the Constitution to our children, but certainly not the Bhagavad Gita.

(The writer is a fellow at the National Law School of India)

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