Some three years ago, Hegde-Kageri, a BJP Minister of education in Karnataka State, justifying his intention to introduce Bhagavad Gita as a school curriculum announced:
“This Country believes in the Gita. Those who oppose it and believe in philosophies that are not of this country can go there and propagate them”.
Immediately thereafter, a Minister of Madhya Pradesh announced his decision to introduce Surya Namaskar in all schools.
Shortly before General election, Giriraj Singh, a BJP leader from Bihar told an election rally in Jharkhand:
“Those who want to stop Narendra Modi from becoming prime minister will have no place in India in the coming days. They will only have place in Pakistan”
If you vote for an opposition, you will be exiled to Pakistan, period.
Barely a couple of weeks ago, On 24th July, 2015, Goa Minister Deepak Dhavalikar of the BJP announced in the State Assembly:
“If we all support it and we stand by Narendra Modi systematically, then I feel a Hindu Rashtra will be established,”
Explaining this statement, but not regretting it, Defence and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV:
“Don’t judge us by stray incidents like the Goa minister’s comment, judge us by what the mainstream players are doing”
That was an elusive statement from a minister who holds two of the most important portforlios, and an eminent lawyer, who should know the effect such a statement could lead to . Isn’t a minister of a state from the party a mainstream player?
Now the final call of it all, Justice Anil R Dave of the Supreme Court said:
“Had I been the dictator of India, I would have introduced Gita and Mahabharata in Class I. That is the way you learn how to live life. I am sorry if somebody says I am secular or I am not secular. But we have to get good things from everywhere……….“Our old tradition such as guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition) is lost; if it had been there, we would not have had all these problems in our country,”
If you didn’t know, the Hon’ble Judge was making his speech at an elite forum: “International conference on ‘contemporary issues and challenges of human rights in the era of globalization”, not at a shakha meeting.
Justice Dave is not a layman, but a judge of the Supreme Court of India, and he holds great credentials. He served the Gujarat High Court as a prominent lawyer, Lectured in a Gujarat Law college during all those nineteen years, served first as a judge of Gujarat High Court, then as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, CJ of Bombay High Court (2 months) and subsequently elevated to the Supreme Court of India in 2010. As per the new rules, he retires in 2019, and stands a good chance to become the CJI. The Hon’ble judge was on a bench that released a Pakistani prisoner who was languishing in India even after serving his term, rebuking those perpetuated such illegal action, and served notice on Mr. Narendra Modi (then the Chief Minister of Gujarat) to attend court in a well-known case, and then recalled the notice.
It must be expected and considered that whatever this august person pronounces in a public forum is his well considered view, legal and logical.
Analysing the logic and legality,
• “Had I been a dictator” (I would introduce Gita and Mahabharata from Class 1)
Logically,and by direct implication, the Hon’ble Judge has no objection to being a dictator, apparently he desires to be one since it could produce results, and then by one stroke of his pen he could introduce Gita and Mahabharata, thereby ensuring that “we would not have had all these problems facing the Country.”
Furthermore, he would also introduce the guru-shishya parambara (where a student learns all that he has to learn by living with, serving and learning from a teacher through his entire student life).
Think about it, a Supreme Court judge is a virtual dictator when he deals with a case that is brought before him. There is (normally) no scope for appeal. Hypothetically, if Mr. Subramanian Swamy files a case (as is his wont) that Gita and Mahabharata should be taught in all government-owned , government-aided, and all public schools in India, and the case appears before this judge, with a brother judge of the same views on the bench, he could order the government to admit Swami’s plea and order that the Government implement the order straight away
Nothing stops a Prime Minister of the Country on a future date (witness Indira Gandhi), inspired by this judicial wisdom, from advising the President to order internal emergency and issue an ordinance that Gita and Mahabharata be taught, “because that is the way you learn to live life”’
Nothing stops a President of India some time in future (witness Zail Singh contemplating dismissal of Rajiv Gandhi government and taking over the reins of power with a rubber stamp cabinet), inspired by these pearls of wisdom, becoming a dictator just for the pleasure of solving all problems of India by the single stroke of introducing Gita and Mahabharata, dismissing the multitude of teachers lecturers and professors and replacing them all with a single guru for, say, groups of ten resident students (who will not know girls since historically girls do not belong to the Guru-Shishya parambara) till they grow up, marry obedient (and unlettered because there is no place for them in the said parampara) wives and become lawyers, engineers, judges and doctors, not to forget priests, Ministers and Governors.
Not that education starting with holy religious books have not been introduced by a dictator before. When General Zia-ul-Haq took over the dictatorship of Pakistan he introduced compulsory learning of Quran from class I (as if the children were already not learning it in Madrassas), adding that religious education should receive priority. Notice how all problems of Pakistan have been solved ever since.
• “Because that is the way you learn how to live life”
What is the way? Mahabharata, probably the best and the most complex classic of all times is magnificently representative of the times: A story of illicit relationships, child pregnancy and abandonment of the newborn, polyandry, polygamy, casteism, treachery, burning alive a whole family by the good men and their revered mother to escape detection, gambling away wife and brothers by the ‘good’ man, gory murders, illicit relations with wild tribes by the heroes, unjust battles, violation of laws of war, fratricide, treacherous killing of a royal Patriarch, uncles, teachers and faithful friends, cannibalism by drinking the blood of the vanquished, and victory of the undeserving. (It is another matter that in history the victors become the deserving). The epic is certainly exciting reading, much like Tolstoy’s story of unfaithful Anna Karenina is good reading, but certainly no way to lead a good life.
In Gita, the Divine Person renders a discourse at length how non-violence is cowardice, why it is good Karma to kill your cousins and relatives, that being your duty. Also because by dying one doesn’t die, only changes clothes, so it is OK to kill. If a killer is brought before this judge and he argues that as a man of the warrior-class, it was his duty to kill the victim and quotes chapter 2 of Gita, would this judge set the man free?
Some way to live good life.
• “We would not have had all these problems facing the Country.”
I rented my house to a young Bengali Hindu family, including their pious old mother, leaving behind complete DVD volumes of the famous Mahabharat serial because they were too many to carry, and , after all, I was only renting the house. The same evening, the young man found me out while I was leaving for the airport, with all the volumes in a huge bundle. Along with it was a marble carving of “Gitopadesh”, depicting Krishna, as the charioteer, and Arjuna, listening to the famous discourse, which I had forgotten behind.
“Mataji says it is dangerous to keep these in the house. It will lead to domestic quarrels,” he apologized.
Apparently the pious old lady thought that keeping the volumes of Mahabharata was no way for peaceful living. My saying that the DVDs were with me for more than three years and that we had no quarrel in the house (apart from occasional bickerings) did not cut ice with the young man.
When I recounted this incident, a wise Guru of my doctor friend told me : “You should listen to the interpretations of Mahabharat by knowledgeable Gyanis. Never read it by yourself“. You would not understand the inner meanings“.
That made sense. I know of at least one Christian sect in Kerala that bans their faithful from reading the Bible on their own. The ignorant sheep would fail to understand the inner meanings of why God asked his favourite tribes to kill all other people, “men women and children, babies in the womb and cattle, by the edge of your sword“.
• “I am sorry If somebody says I am secular or unsecular”.
Get the meaning of those words : If somebody says I am secular, I am sorry. If he says I am NOT secular, I am sorry too. The new expression for this old word, approved by the government and extensively used by the ministers and their supporters, is sickular. Being secular is sick. It sucks.
That interpretation, I beg to submit, does not apply to a learned and esteemed judge bound by the Constitution of India.
The catch lies in the fact that the said “I” is a judge of the highest court of India. The said “I” had solemnly sworn on oath that “ I do swear in the name of God /solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established,”.
Now the Constitution of India as by law established is very clear in the opening sentence of its Preamble:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, HAVING SOLEMNLY RESOLVED TO CONSTITUTE INDIA INTO A SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC…
The word Secular was inserted, no doubt, into the 42nd amendment of 1977. However, equality for all citizens was clearly implied in the original preamble :
|WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26th day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
Neither the preamble nor the body text of the Constitution provides for a superior status to any culture or religion. Even if the Indira Gandhi government had not added the word secular to the preamble in 1977, it was well recognized by the makers of the Constitution that religion has no place in the government of delivery of justice in India.
In any case, the word Secular was well in place in the Constitution at the time that the judge swore on oath to abide by it and thus stay secular one 30th April, 2010.
I humbly submit, Your Honour, that your speech goes against your solemn oath to preserve the constitution with its secular ideal enshrined in the Preamble and in at least half a dozen sections of our Constitution, none of which has been amended till date.
That speech by a sitting judge, I humbly submit, is an ominous sign.