The authority has spoken. Those opposed to the teaching of the Gita in
schools should get out of the Country. Mr. Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri, School education minister in the state of Karnataka, is the authority. He didn’t say it so many words, but he also implied that you can take the Constitution of India along with you when you get lost. He didn’t say that you get out of Karnataka, but out of the Country. His inherited property.
I have no way but to apply for a visa. Which country’s consulate would
entertain me? Not Australia, because as one of my friends, who successfully emigrated, told me that what they look for in you in immigration interviews is the colour of the skin. I won’t pass. Not Europe or United States; they wouldn’t want an additional mouth to feed in the waiting row of the unemployed. Not Canada, for I do not have a hundred thousand dollars to invest in their banks.
I should try Saudi Arabia. They would surely welcome those who are
opposed to teaching the Gita in schools – their schools. They are not going to ask me if I am opposed to teaching the Quran in their schools. The question wouldn’t arise. If I fail there, I should try Northern Sudan. They have stopped massacring non-believers and perceived non-believers. Since I am not from South Sudan, I might stand a chance.
If, in the meanwhile, Kageri does not burn all copies of the Constitution
or throw them out of the Country, I should carry at least my own copy that I so faithfully preserve, with all the amendments that have been scratched into it by Parliament.
Why?Because the Kageri-disgraced document says:
28. (1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any
educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.
(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to an educational institution which is administered by the State but has been established under any endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institution.
(3) No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.
“This information is downloaded from the website of Ministry of Law and Justice
Kageri was not speaking of schools that were established under any endowment or trust which required religious instruction. He was speaking of all schools. He was threatening the students who demonstrated against a religion being pushed down their throat in the name of education and against the spirit of the Constitution.
Whether exiled by Kageri or not, I am strongly opposed to teaching the Gita in any school, private or government-owned. It’s no less a document than the Bible or Quran in justifying massive fratricide and murders of the worst kind.
In Gita, Lord Krishna, the Hindu God, tells a vacilating Arjuna to grab property that does not truly belong to him by any reckoning – inheritance or adoption.
“Do your duty – start killing,” is the call of the Lord, “Never mind what the results would be. You’d be fine if you keep nursing my ego.”
When you take apart poetic justifications and one-sided excuses, facts are like this. Neither Dhritarashtra nor Pandu were direct descendants of the Kuru dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Hastinapura. However, with the only surviving descendant, Bhishma, having denounced the right to the throne and having recognized the duo as alternative rulers, their rights were legal enough. At the time of his death Pandu, the younger of the two, was not occupying the throne. Dhritarashtra, the older one, was. His sons rightly carried the surname Kauravas – Kuru-descendants. .Arjuna had no blood relationship to the Kuru dynasty to whom the kingdom belonged. Nor did Yudhishtira, his older brother or Bheema, the second one. Pandu was not the king when he died after a pathetic and sexless life. Dhritarashtra, though blind, was on the throne. It was his right to hand over the reigns to his oldest son – a Kuru descendant – whenever he pleased. If he gave a distant kingdom to the Pandavas with a view to avoid squabbles, that was admirable generosity.
The Pandavas – Yudhishtira, Bheema and Arjuna – were results of one-night stands resorted to by a sex-starved Kunti. So were Nakula and Sahadeva, the youngest of the five, who were born to similar adventures by Pandu’s second wife. At best, the Pandavas were Pandu’s stepsons, illegitimate in their origin. If they had any right left by way of land and palace gifted by their “uncle” Dhritarashtra (who had no real blood relation with them and the old man knew it), that was bartered away along with their shared wife, by the eldest of the lot, Youdhishtira, in a gambling game. Like all losers, they later claimed that they were cheated, but that argument had no legitimacy. Some iota of kindness remaining among the victors, combined with the persuasive power of the elders, made them to let the Pandavas and their common wife go scot free from their bondage on condition that they would not show their faces for the next thirteen years.
In any case, once the lone legitimate descendant of the dynasty, Bhishma, supported Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas (who alone carried the family name) inherited the right to the throne. Pandavas had no legitimate right whatever to the kingdom. So what the good Lord (full of mischief right from the day he was born) was doing was to persuade and cajole Arjuna to commit aggression on the legitimate rulers. The verses of the Gita, most of which is self-eulogy and euology of his devotees by Lord Krishna apart from the forceful argument in favour of mass murder of relatives had its desired effect : every member of the Kuru clan, including the self-sacrificing and principled Bhishma were annihilated. The Lord’s trickery, lies and magic (making daylight look like night – a trick that PC Sarkar should try doing) won the battle for the aggressors.
Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of non-violence, praised the Gita, the document in aid of purposeless (nishkama) violence. An irony that escapes my comprehension. Gandhiji said that whenever he was faced with an insurmountable problem, he found the solution by opening a random page of the Gita. My friend Aziz says the same thing about his Quran; so does Abraham, my other friend, find solace in his Bible. I can open Vikram Seth’s Suitable Boy or Arundhati Roy’s God of Small things at random and find a “solution” by interpreting a phrase or word on that page to suit the occasion. Like you could interpret a vague prediction of an astrologer to suit the occasion and marvel at its correctness.
Yet I shall not force my opinion of the Gita on my children or grandchildren. I shall try not ridicule the many saffron-clad scoundrels who make a living and a fortune by misinterpreting the Sanskrit verses and finding meanings that don’t exist in the original. Not until they walk up to me and threaten to throw me out of the Country or to overturn the Constitution that I, as an ordinary citizen, cherish.
I know that Kageri is not alone. Some time in December 1993, I found myself invited to a school, named after Swami Vivekananda, in Tamil Nadu. The Director, a good friend (still a good friend while I hope that he is not into the habit of reading my blogs), took me around and proudly displayed huge billboards of quotations from Vivekananda, Ramkrishna Paramhans and Bhagavad Gita displayed on the walls. The madrasa-like religiosity was blatant, uninhibited. Finally he took me to a vast auditorium and played a video recording of the destruction of Babri Masjid. The audience was small, but the clapping was loud when the dome of the mosque came shattering down. LK Advani and other senior leaders came on the screen, not shedding tears as they later claimed, but beaming and praising the brave act.
“Don’t your Muslim students or their parents feel offended with these religious posters and video screening?” I asked the director.
“We have no Muslim students,” interpolated a teacher while switching off the video player.
The town had a large Muslim population.
“But don’t they apply for admission? You must be pretty much in demand with the excellent results that you manage to get.”
“They do. But we fail them in the admission tests.” There. Straight from the shoulders.
The headmaster invited me for tea. A friend of the director deserved hospitality.
As I sat down opposite him, a saying by Vivekananda looked down upon me from the wall behind him. It said:
We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
The thought whose expression I found that day did travel quite far – to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, a train meant to create understanding between two warring nations – killing and maiming thousands of Hindus and Muslims. Mass murder practised no discrimination. God-ordered Nishkama karma. Purposeless action. You can’t say that Muslims did not join Hindus in practising the true spirit of Gita – purposeless action. Wanton killing. Murders don’t matter; killing is like helping the other guy change his clothes.
How far will the promulgation of Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri, Minister for schools in Karnataka, take us?