Friday, December 23, 2011

Bhagavad Gita ban: Three views, three solutions

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The move to ban the Bhagawad Gita in Siberia, Russia has triggered major debates across India.

While a majority doesn't favour a ban on the sacred text of the Hindus, there are others who ask that if people in India are so sentimental about the issue they should have extended the same support to the likes of Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie.'s Vicky Nanjappa talked to leaders across the religious and social spectrum on their views on the move to ban Bhagavad Gita.

'Any modifications to sacred books are meaningless'

(Inset) Dr Ram Puniyani
Dr Ram Puniyani, member, EKTA Committee for Communal Amity
A ban on any book is irrational. The Bhagavad Gita is a historic and religious book, and it has certain preachings. In that sense, whatever errors a translator has made should be rectified. That would be the ideal solution. Translators' errors are not a ground to ban a book.

The Gita is not an opinion of any political leader that mandates a ban. It has existed for centuries together.

Even if the book were to have an objectionable portion, let it be analysed and criticised but not banned.

Mind you, I am not suggesting that paragraphs should be removed if found to be objectionable. Even the Quran is a religious book. Any modification to such books is meaningless. Debate it not ban it.

'We have double standards when it comes to religion'

(Left) Salman Rushdie (Right) Tasleema Nasrin (Centre) Dr Shahid Badr Falahi
Dr Shahid Badr Falahi, former president, Students Islamic Movement of India
A religious book should never be banned. I am completely against it, as it hurts the sentiments of many people. However, I would like to draw your attention to the double standards that our people have when it comes to religion.

Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen had made comments against the Quran and there was an outcry. Why didn't our people realise that sentiments of Muslims in India too were hurt?

Why did we extend our hand of friendship to these people and treat them as state guests in our country? When we speak out against a ban on the Gita, then we should have an equal opinion on issues pertaining to every religion.

'They have projected the Gita as a terror manual, it is shameful'

(Inset) Ram Madhav
Ram Madhav, national executive member, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Some fundamentalist groups in Russia have attempted a shameful act. They have projected the Gita as a terror manual. I really hope that some sense would prevail upon the Russian government and such a mischief will not be allowed to succeed.
The Gita is one of the most sacred texts and is respected across all religions.

In Russia, we are aware that there is a particular group that has been attempting to enforce a ban on the book. Some members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness foundation faced a similar problem in Russia a couple of years ago.

This group has been working contrary to the interests for sometime now and this, according to me, is a planned attempt. We do sincerely hope that the people of Russia realise what is happening and show some wisdom on this issue.
I know people have been quoting the Nasreen and Rushdie incident. Please do not mix up issues. Every issue needs to be dealt with on its own merit. In those cases someone writes something that someone deems offensive and these people try to kill them.

That is not the right approach and of course this is not the issue on hand at the moment. The issue is about the Gita, which is available in 300 languages and followed by millions of people.

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