Karnataka Official: Indian Children Must Read Bhagavad Gita in the Classroom

Looks like forced religion in public schools is a problem in India, too:

Karnataka education minister Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri has said that it the duty of every Indian to respect sacred Hindu text, Bhagavad Gita, else they should leave the country.

“The Bhagavad Gita is like the Sun. I think that it is the duty of every Indian to respect the Bhagvad Gita like they respect other elements surrounding them. I strongly feel that if someone does not respect it, they have no place in India. They should leave the country and settle abroad,” said Kageri.

India, like America, is a secular nation. This is a case of unconstitutional religious indoctrination, no different from Kansas forcing public school students to read the Bible in class several times a week.

The Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation has filed a petition against the mandatory Gita readings with the state’s High Court, and they’ll be looking into the issue starting on Thursday.

(Thanks to Rohit for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Surgoshan

    Please, how can anyone doubt the holy veracity of the Bhagavad Gita?  Arjuna was a legitimate historical figure and the Gita was *obviously* handed to him in its entirety by Krishna Himself.  *scoff* It’s just SENSE.

  • Surgoshan

    Please, how can anyone doubt the holy veracity of the Bhagavad Gita?  Arjuna was a legitimate historical figure and the Gita was *obviously* handed to him in its entirety by Krishna Himself.  *scoff* It’s just SENSE.

  • Surgoshan

    Please, how can anyone doubt the holy veracity of the Bhagavad Gita?  Arjuna was a legitimate historical figure and the Gita was *obviously* handed to him in its entirety by Krishna Himself.  *scoff* It’s just SENSE.

  • http://www.inklesspen.com Jon Rosebaugh

    I guess I always thought the Mahabharat and the Gita were more like Homer than scripture. Or the Arthurian cycle, which some students have to read bits of in school, even though that has a lot of Christian symbolism in it.

    • Salcia

      I think that’s an important point, Jon. There’s a difference between having to read a holy book because it’s important to cultural literacy in a given society and having to read it as a holy text and base worship upon it.

  • http://www.inklesspen.com Jon Rosebaugh

    I guess I always thought the Mahabharat and the Gita were more like Homer than scripture. Or the Arthurian cycle, which some students have to read bits of in school, even though that has a lot of Christian symbolism in it.

  • Trace

    Yeah, and if they don’t like it they too can leave their country…because…it is like the Sun.

  • Anonymous

    Is the Bhagavad Gita an element then?  Is it near Carbon on the periodic table?  I ask because I can’t remember my periodic table that well but I’m pretty sure that there is no Bg element. /sarcasm

    Also no book, no idea, no tradition deserves respect simply because it exists.  If it is useful or valuable in some way to people then respect that but never demand respect for something simply by virtue of the fact that some people like it. 

  • Annie

    I’m confused.  The headline says he wants to require school children to read Bhagavad Gita in school, but his quote says that he thinks everyone should respect it.  Two different things.  Reading is an action that can be enforced and monitored… respecting?  Not so much. 

  • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

    This is what makes people loose respect for people like Jim.

    Cheers!

  • Jgills

    Yes, it’s a shame, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  The absolutely bitterest student discussion I ever heard in over 30 years of teaching happened when a group of students discovered that they’d all attended Catholic schools.  Force feeding will eventually backfire.

  • http://twitter.com/meyekael Meyekael

    What Kageri wants is emotional validation. He wants everyone to feel as strongly towards the Gita as he does, and if they don’t, he feels rejected and wants them to leave town.

  • Douglas Kirk

    This is awful!  Can’t you see guys?  They’re taking PRAYERS out of SCHOOLS!  How are we supposed to brainwash children here if they can’t brainwash children there?

    • http://twitter.com/meyekael Meyekael

      I went to Catholic grammar school for a few years, and every morning we had to say the Our Father and Hail, Mary. It wasn’t until years later when I was trying to see how much of these prayers I could remember that I finally realised what the words I had been saying each morning all those years ago actually meant.

      Believe me, making kids recite things by rote is not going to brain-wash them.

  • cipher

    So I guess the millions of Muslims whose families have been there since the twelfth century will be leaving soon.

    Usually one has to come to America to find that kind of religious asshattery. Well played, sir.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    “The Bhagavad Gita is like the Sun”

    It has topless women on page three?

  • http://twitter.com/rohit_ajitkumar Rohit Ajitkumar

    Unlike the Bible and the Koran which are the texts on which Christians and Muslims base their beliefs, the Bhagvad Gita is not truly the sacred text of Hindus. It is just one of the many writings that Hindus derive their beliefs from. The promotion of the Gita as the sacred book is a fairly recent phenomenon and has deep ties to the independence movement in India which was championed by Gandhi. The Gita, along with several Indian texts, contain several lessons which people like Ralph Waldo Emerson have been inspired by.

    That said, I think forcibly indoctrinating children with lessons from any holy book, no matter how sane it seems, is fundamentally wrong. India has been doing lip service to secularism for many years because religion is even bigger in India than the US. It permeates every aspect of peoples’ lives there to such an extent that it is like white noise. People find it difficult to rid themselves of it. In several government funded schools, there are daily compulsory prayers and students are punished for not attending or refusing to participate. But nobody questions the constitutional validity of these prayers. It is a sad state of affairs because nobody can question this practice without facing persecution there.

  • Aleena051985

    Kansas using the bible in the classroom?  Is this something about the of use of creationism or is this referring to something else?  I have kids in school in kansas

  • Gig Searle

    “I strongly feel that if someone does not respect it, they have
    no place in India. They should leave the country and settle abroad,”

    You know, in the end, it may be the only solution the saving the planet:
    Divide the world into sections, one area (desert) is pure shariah, one (small) section can be communist, other sections for other theocracies, and one nice section (about 25% of the planets surface?) for atheists and people who wish to live in a truly secular society. Unrestricted travel between sections, on the understanding that the laws prevailing in the region you travel to are not subject to interference from the other sections.
    If I enter a shariah area in a bikini, I shall no doubt we whipped into submission.
    If a masked person walks into the  atheist area, or starts preaching religion on the streets, they will get kicked out.
    Anyone disobeying the laws of the area, gets thrown out, regardless.  (png)

  • kk

    Hemanta, I think you reported only half the story. In all fairess, take a look at this. 

    http://blog.offstumped.in/2011/07/20/manufacturing-outrage-method-to-the-madness-revisited/

    ——
    July 9th – Karnataka Minister clarifies “no government order was issued, no funding was provided”. Same article also explains how the Program works on a voluntary basis and not on a mandatory basis.
    ….
    ….
    ….
    ——-

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    DAAAMN, The Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation is all up in your shit, bro! KSMEIMF is like “OH NO YOU DI’ENT!”

  • sanya

    I Live in the UK and in our school we are taught every religion. We have to study chrsitianity because we live in a white country. India is a Hindu asian community so why shouldnt bhagwat gita be expressed in schools. If it is such a problem then religion should not be taught in schools and should be an optional module.


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