It is quite unacceptable and reprehensible to declare the Gita as the ‘national holy book’ in a multi-religious country like India, said Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind general secretary Maulana Syed Mahmood Madani while making an announcement to challenge the pronouncement made by a judge of the Allahabad High Court Justice S N Srivastava in this regard.
While hearing a case filed by Shyamlal Ranjan Mukherji, a priest at the Gopal Thakur Mandir in Varanasi, Justice Srivastava of Allahabad High Court pronounced on August 30, “It is the duty of every citizen of India under Article 51-A of the Constitution of India, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, to follow dharma as propounded by the Bhagvad Gita”.
In the words of the judge, if we can have a national bird, we might as well have a national holy book too.
Justice Srivastava, whose ode to dharma came just five days before retirement, is the judge who on April 5 this year had ruled that Muslims were not a minority group in Uttar Pradesh – the order which was stayed the very next day by a division bench of the High Court.
The Jamiat leader, in a statement released on September 11, expressed concern over this highly controversial and provocative pronouncement made not by a Saffron brigade but a custodian of law. He termed the pronouncement as one aimed at imposing the faith and culture of one particular community on all other communities and thus spreading misgivings in the multi-religious and multi-cultural society that India is.
Maulana Mahmood Madani further said that a bird or flower does not belong to any religion or community; it may be adopted as a national symbol but linking it to a particular community or faith is highly reprehensible and speaks volumes of communal thinking.
Similarly the Gita is considered a book of a particular ideology and declaring it as the national holy book is direct intervention in matters of faith and stands in sharp contrast with the freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution of India.
The Jamiat leader announced that his organisation would challenge the controversial move in a court of law and consultation with senior lawyers in this regard is going on.