20 December 2011
When I congratulated Laluji, Mulayam Singhji, Sharad Yadavji, Mahtabji along with the Congress leaders Arun Kumarji and Pawan Bansal ji with our stalwarts like Joshiji and Hukum Dev Narayanji, in a media briefing in Parliament yesterday, mediapersons were surprised. They all spoke in one voice against the ban on the Gita in Russia and I said that such national issues should not be a matter of concern for any single party or organization. It involves us all Indians and it’s a great day for us that the Gita issue was taken up so vigorously by all, cutting across party lines with the sole exception of the Left.
It was not just a Hindu issue. The honour of the nation and its people, the civilizational heritage of India and the cultural ethos that gave the world its best gift in the form of the Gita, the ultimate message of karma, pluralism and universal values for a noble society, was at stake. And hence it was a day when India rose in one voice, as one people and one culture.
Let the chroniclers write this day as a golden day in our history when all differences were deleted to express solidarity for the Gita, the book of India.
The anguish and the angst of the people of India on the move to ban the Gita in Russia was best expressed by Lalu Prasad, Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh and Arun Kumar Vundavalli in the Lok Sabha on December 19.
It was such a historic occasion that the entire house immediately took up the issue raised by a senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab. He said through a special mention: “The religious rights of the Hindus in Russia should be protected. Curiously, the State Prosecutor had referred the scripture to Tomsk State University for an expert examination. This university is not qualified as it lacks Indologists who study history, culture, language and literature of the Indian subcontinent. As this case is inspired by religious bias and intolerance from a majority religious group in Russia, I would like to urge upon the government to impress upon their Russian counterpart so that their right to practise their religion and belief is upheld. The Gita does not preach hatred. Indian embassy in Moscow should intervene through diplomatic channels immediately.”
Lalu Yadav demanded a discussion and stern action against the Russian authorities. Murli Manohar Joshi and Harin Pathak supported and voiced serious concern. The uproarious scenes followed when members demanded a discussion and the Speaker had to adjourn the house till 2pm with a promise to allow the discussion. Mulayam Singh was first to rise to the occasion brilliantly and he said: “The Gita is a universal book accepted by the world which guides to be a better human being and work for the good of the society. It’s a classic that teaches honesty and how to lead a sacred life. Gandhiji used to read the Gita daily and most of his speeches were based on the teachings of the Gita. He wanted to build our nation on the message of the Gita. But the government has not taken the Gita seriously and all parties will accept this fact. The government has not taken any step to propagate the Gita among the people of the nation. I request the parliamentary affairs minister to make this government take steps to so that teaching the Gita from the primary classes to the university level in this country becomes a possibility. Chairperson madam, please do something so that he students of our country begin studying the Gita. Once this happens, the dream of Gandhiji would be realized and the people would understand the core message of the Gita making a better nation. All should condemn whatever the attorney in Siberia has said about the Gita. I appeal that the entire house must condemn that statement (against the Gita)."
The inimitable Lalu Prasad said: “Insulting the Gita is insulting Krishna. A big conspiracy is being hatched against Lord Krishna. Politicians base their life inspired with the message of the Gita. The Parliament is on and still no word has come from the government on the issue of banning the Gita in Russia. Government is keeping a silence. We wouldn’t tolerate this. We condemn this incident on behalf of the whole House. We will not tolerate this (ban on the Gita). We will take revenge of this insult and punish (the government) too if they don’t take any action. Recently, the Prime Minister had gone on a Russia tour. Did he speak to them about this matter? All that we want to say is that we won’t tolerate the insults to Lord Krishna. Bol Shri Krishna Bhagwan ki jai.”
The entire House cheered him. (I am quoting them as I heard them or got uncorrected copies, hence I will stand corrected if anyone brings any discrepancies to my notice)
Sharad Yadav eloquently said: “The issue affects millions of people. The government must take some immediate action to change the illogical decision (of banning the Gita). This is the wish of the people of this nation.”
Arun Kumar Vundavalli (Congress, Andhra) gave a scholarly speech on the importance and the universal message of the Gita for the good of entire mankind. He quoted many shlokas of the Gita in chaste Sanskrit to the delight of all. Shri Satpal Maharaj (Congress, Uttarakhand) was chairing the proceedings and he also, from his chair, quoted many Gita shlokas to drive home the message of humanity as described in the Gita. Hukum Dev Narayan (BJP) in his impressive presentation demanded that the house must pass a unanimous resolution condemning the Russian decision to ban the Gita.
The stunned and speechless Talibanised seculars saw this unity with awe and would like to see some politics in it. Some even floated the idea that it’s the Yadav unity taking over Hindu solidarity. I beg to differ strongly. It’s the quintessential Hindu spirit, the Indian core values that cannot be submerged under any tsunami. Why should any single organization or ideology be allowed to speak and act singlehandedly on such issues? Let us differ on thousands of issues, on policies, programmes and actions, but there must remain some issue that binds us all as Indians and that factor would be the defining one for our tricolour and the Constitution.
If any classic can be truly termed as the best gift of India to the world, it’s the Gita. Vinoba Bhave wrote a wonderful book on the Gita in Marathi, called Geetai meaning Mother Gita, and it’s as popular in every Maharashtrian household as Tulasi’s Ramcharitmanas is in the Hindi world. It’s ironical that when the controversy was making headlines all over, our Prime minister was in Moscow and he didn’t broach the subject with the highest authorities there. Millions across the globe, all religionists and races, have read the Gita. The greatest minds ever born on this planet were inspired by its contents.