After Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, it is now the turn of veteran politician Sushma Swaraj to put her party into a false position. Our External Affairs minister has been on the eye of the storm since she proposed last week that the Bhagwad Gita be declared the national Holy Book! In my opinion, no amount of condemnation is enough for such an insensible, politically immature proposition on the part of a union minister.
Over the past few months PM Modi has been seen presenting Gita to his counterparts abroad. Well, it has been entirely a matter of personal choice that he could not find anything more appropriate to share with the heads of the states. But it is plain weird to capitalize in the gesture and make demands that the Hindu holy book be proclaimed as India’s national scripture.
Not only in India, Bhagwad Gita is universally revered all over the world. For ages, both the mass and class in India have drawn inspiration from the message of Gita in their spiritual and mundane discourses. It is absolutely unnecessary to confer an official designation to this universally-admired book as if in an attempt to elevate its prestige. Thus any attempt at constricting the vastness of Gita into the narrow confinement of national symbol was bound to evoke suspicion and treated as nothing but cheap political gimmick. It is hardly surprising that the External Affairs minister’s statement has irked the entire nation, not just the parties in opposition.
BJP has taken a childish stand by insisting that Gita is not a Dharmagranth (religious scripture) but a karma granth (book that strives to guide one’s actions). Holy books of every religion do just that—they preaches the ideal way of leading life for the highest spiritual attainment in lifetime and beyond. Then why impose the holy book of Hindus on the people belonging to other religions? It is clearly against India’s secular spirit. As I told earlier to the press, the Union Minister’s statement is coated with religiously provocative fervor that is hurting the sentiments of the people of other faiths.
Lastly and most importantly, India already has its national book – the Constitution and no holy book – Gita, Quran, Bible or any other can replace it. It is sad that a veteran politician like Ms Swaraj has missed the point. Bhagwad Gita can provide us with the blueprint for a fulfilling life and spiritual experience on a personal plane. But when it comes to the interest of a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religion nation like India, the Indian Constitution is the ultimate holy book.
And since when has the creation of a national symbol started to fall under the purview of the Ministry of External Affairs? As an ardent follower of the Gita, she should not have forgotten one of the Gita’s fundamental teachings that one’s Dharma or duty involves discharging the divine-ordained responsibilities in the most impeccable manner. In charge of one of the most important offices, Ms Swaraj is thus expected to refrain from meddling in other’s duties and focus more on those of her own.