The decision of the government to introduce study of the Bhagavad Gita in government schools has evoked resentment, and a majority of the people, whose opinions were sought, were opposed to it.
The arrest of a leader who had protested against the preaching of the spiritual contents of the Gita in a junior college in Kolar by Gangadhareshwara Saraswati Swamiji, has fuelled the resentment further.
V Ambarish, Kolar district president of Students Federation of India, who was arrested in connection with the above incident, began fast at the local jail, demanding the arrest of the Swamiji. In view of the furore, the Bhagavad Gita campaign has been put on hold in Chikballapur district for the present. The programme has faced stiff resistance in Kolar and Chikballapur districts.
Various scholars including Prof G Venkatsubbaiah and Nirananjan Aradhya, educationist, Dr Mahabaleshwar Rao, veteran writers, Hampa Nagarajaiah and Amrit Someshar and also former Kannada Sahitya Parishat president, Chandrashekhar Patil, have opposed the move, with some of them even terming it anti-constitutional. Wakf minister, Mumtaz Ali Khan, opines that it would be better, if alongside the Bhagavad Gita, teaching of the Quran and the Bible is also introduced in schools, as all the religions preach the same principles.
While the programme has reportedly received good response in some districts, there are others who term it as an attempt at saffronization of education. Minister for primary and secondary education, Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, claims that this programme was awaiting clearance since long, and that this campaign is aimed at preaching moral and ethical values to the children when they are young. Stressing that the Bhagavad Gita is universally acclaimed book without religious overtones, he said that the programme is not backed by any hidden agenda.