New Delhi: From school and college syllabi to even technical education, the Bhagavad Gita has been included in curriculums at various levels in the Indian education system, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Parliament Monday.
He was responding to a written question in Lok Sabha about efforts made towards inclusion of the Hindu scripture in school and college curriculums.
“The National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT) has informed that contents related to ‘Shrimad Bhagwat Gita’ (sic) are already included in its Class 11 and 12 Sanskrit textbooks,” the minister said in his reply.
“NCERT’s history textbook, under social science, for Class 6, namely, ‘Our Pasts-I’, has made a reference to Shrimad Bhagwat Gita under the theme ‘Traders, Kings and Pilgrims’, in connection with the Bhakti movement,” it further said.
Pradhan said the textbook ‘Our Pasts-II’ for Class 7 also includes portions of the scripture under the theme ‘Devotional Paths to the Divine’.
When it comes to higher education, the minister said that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has included parts of the scripture in the National Eligibility Test (NET) exam for the ‘yoga’ subject. NET is a qualifying exam for university teachers in India.
“Universities are autonomous institutions created/incorporated under respective Central/ Provincial/State Act, which are governed by their own Acts, Statutes and Ordinances/ Regulations made thereunder; therefore, have autonomy to decide the curriculum for any programmes with due approval of their statutory bodies,” Pradhan told the Lok Sabha.
Additionally, he informed the Parliament that the technical education regulator — the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) — had introduced a course, the ‘Indian Traditional Knowledge System’, in 2018, in the model curriculum of undergraduate engineering courses, which includes some portions from the Gita.
Haryana, Delhi take the lead
The new National Education Policy (NEP), under the theme ‘Indian Knowledge Systems’ says that “All curriculum and pedagogy, from the foundational stage onwards, will be redesigned to be strongly rooted in the Indian and local context and ethos in terms of culture, traditions, heritage, customs, language, philosophy, geography, ancient and contemporary knowledge, societal and scientific needs, indigenous and traditional ways of learning etc. in order to ensure that education is maximally relatable, relevant, interesting, and effective for our students.”
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation also made a proposal regarding the same last week.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had in September demanded that the scripture be made a “compulsory” part of the Indian education system, adding that it should be taught to everyone.
VHP national secretary Acharya Radhe Krishna Manodi had in a statement said that teachers from minority communities should also be made to read the scripture and it should be made a compulsory part of the teachers’ training syllabus.
Teaching of the Gita has also been endorsed by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. Speaking at the ‘Gita Seminar’ organised by Kurukshetra University in Haryana earlier this month, Birla had said: “Gita does not belong to a particular language, region or religion, but to all of humanity.”
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)