09/12/2007, 00.00
INDIA

Judge rules Hindu epic poem ‘Bhagavad Gita’ a national religious doctrine

by Nirmala Carvalho
For S. N. Srivastava, of the Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh, the state must recognise the Bhagavad Gita (a Hindu epic poem) as the national religious doctrine and impose it on members of other religions. Minority group leaders react angrily.

Allahabad (AsiaNews) – S. N. Srivastava, of the Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh, has ruled that the state has a duty to recognise the Bhagavad Gita as rashtriya dharma shastra or national religious doctrine. According to the judge, the Bhagavad Gita, the most popular and best loved Hindu epic poems, must be taught to members of other religions.

Judge Srivastava has a track record on intervening in religious matters. At the start of this year he denied Muslims the status of religious minority, thus depriving them of state subsidies in the educational field.

Reactions to the ruling were swift. A Hindu lawmaker, B. P. Singhal, said the judge “has justice in mind, not as a Hindu but as a judge.”

By contrast, Sajan K. George, who chairs the Global Council of Indian Christians, said that whilst the Bhagavad Gita “is part of Indian culture, it cannot be seen as a religious text for all faiths. This goes against the constitution which guarantees religious freedom.”

Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, minces even fewer words. He told AsiaNews that “this sentence strikes at religious minorities, but also at the pluralistic nature of our society. If we go in this direction we run the risk of undermining social harmony.”

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