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BHU protest: Prof Vashisht Tripathi blames VC, said chaos could have been avoided if management had followed rules

Besides drawing support from current and past professors of BHU, this protest has also attained the support of other gurus and maha acharyas of various institutions in Banaras.

The BHU students’ agitation over the appointment of Dr Feroz Khan in the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan (SVDV) faculty of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) with has today entered its 21st day.

Though the students had decided to stop their demonstration temporarily, giving 10 days to the management to come to an amicable decision regarding their demands over the appointment of a Muslim professor, they have continued with their agitation against the same. And to keep up the tempo of the movement, the students have been organising various programs, discussion sessions and meetings every day in which prominent personalities and intellectuals are being invited as guest speakers.

Since most of the dignitaries who are being invited are mostly former professors and lecturers no longer associated with the University, they have no qualms in pointing out the role of the vice-chancellor in the ensnare.

Today, as a part of the ongoing agitation, the students had taken out a torchlight procession from BHU’s Simha Dwar at 4.30 pm.

Yesterday, the students had organised a consultation meeting at Assi ghat in Varanasi. Speaking at the event, former SVDV student and Sampurnanand Sanskrit University Rector Prof Vashisht Tripathi called the appointment of non-Hindu to the faculty of theology against the values of Mahamana and the constitution of the University.

Addressing the students, Tripathi said: “History is written on the basis of inscriptions. If we rely on the inscriptions present at BHU’ foundation site for the date on which the university came into existence then we should also rely on the rules written for the department of theology and religion where Sanskrit has deep religious significance and is just not a linguistic endeavour. Traditionally a law student cannot teach history or grammar then how can one expect that a person belonging to a different religion be allowed to teach in the SVDV faculty”, said Prof Vashisht Tripathi.

Vashisht Tripathi, who is an alumnus of the university, and has been conferred with the President’s Award for Educational Achievement and Vishwa Bharti award, the highest award of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Sansthan in Lucknow, questioned the administration and the selection committee on their decision to appoint a non-Hindu to the faculty of theology. He asserted that such an appointment in any other department would not be a problem but even the constitution does not give the right to anyone to interfere in someones religious beliefs”.

Refuting claims that Jainism or Buddhism is not a part of Hinduism, Tripathi said that any religion that emerged in India is an offshoot of Sanatana Dharma and the people who make such ridiculous claims are mentally unstable, said the Rector.

He furthered that this is a fight of beliefs and congratulated the students to stick to their faith. Praising the student’s mettle, Tripathi asked “initially how many professors could muster the courage to openly question the vice-chancellor, head of the department and the faculty head’s wrong decision? It was due to the courage shown by the students that gradually professors and others started joining the movement, said Vashisht Tripathi.

He furthered that people who have mostly relied on media for the updates on the ongoing protest were initially misled by the malicious coverage and now gradually are getting the real picture.

It is noteworthy that when the students were protesting about the appointment of Professor Feroz Khan, all the media groups across the country ran this news as if the appointment of a Muslim teacher was being opposed in the entire BHU but it is not the case.

Read: As students burn VC’s effigies, Shankacharya writes to PM Modi on the BHU protests, PMO asks BHU admin for report

Tripathi said that the old professors of the university are well versed with the college rules but the faculty head and vice-chancellor did not consider to ask for their suggestions before taking such a decision. Calling the movement one of its kind, Tripathi asserted that had the administration acted prudently the students wouldn’t have had to take to the streets trying to protect their religion and eternal values.

Dr Shivaram Gangopadhyay, another alumnus and professor in the law department of the Faculty of Religion, who was also present in the meeting convened on the 26th of November at the Assi Ghat said: No two religions can go hand in hand. If one says that he believes in two religions at the same time he is nothing but an atheist, said the professor.

Talking about Dr Feroz Khan’ claims on his adulation for the Sanskrit language, the professor asserted that if he has so much respect for the religion and language then he should have adopted Sanathana Dharma by now. He also said that everyone should respect their religion and under no circumstances, one should disown his or her own religion. It is different to know a language but entirely different to feel or imbue the deep significance of culture and religion. It is possible that while teaching, he interprets our scriptures according to his religion, which would, in turn, destroy our traditions, asserted Gangopadhyay.

The professor furthered that there is no harm in teaching Sanskrit as a linguistic endeavour but one would definitely want to learn their own faith from someone who is a practitioner of the faith.

Another ex-SVDV student and renowned poet Dr Anil Chaubey, who could not participate in the discussions due to bad health remained present in the meeting throughout to encourage and provide his support to the students.

Meanwhile, another professor named Dr Munish Mishra, who could not be present in the meeting, extended his support to the students through the media and also blamed the administrations for its flawed decisions, which led to the prolonged protests, stigmatizing the university’s name. Mishra said that the government should think twice before appointing a vice-chancellor for the university as one wrong decision can cost the university dearly.

At the end of the meet, Sashikant Mishra, one of the main organisers of the event along with other students namely Shubham Tiwari, the convener of the event, Krishna Kumar Mishra, who was the presenter and Chakrapani Ojha, while giving the vote of thanks, invited everyone to join the movement.

In reality, the current protests are against the appointment of a non-Hindu to the ‘Faculty of Theology’. There are two departments for Sanskrit in BHU, one under Arts Faculty and the other under SVDV Faculty. The first is the study of Sanskrit and the other is the theology of religion. There are different ways of studying in these two. Sanskrit is taught as a language in the Sanskrit department. At the same time, in the SVDV,  students are taught about the customs, mantras, shlokas, rituals of worship and rituals of Sanatan Dharma.

The fact to understand in the entire controversy is that BHU has a separate Arts department that teaches Sanskrit as a linguistic endeavour. Just as one would perhaps learn French or English or even Hindi. The Sanskrit being taught at the Dharma Vigyan department has deep religious significance.

It is not wrong for BHU students to want to learn their own faith from someone who is a practitioner of the faith. In fact, the BHU students have categorically stated that they have no problem with Dr Khan and that he should be shifted to the Arts faculty to teach Sanskrit as a linguistic endeavour.

Besides drawing support from current and past professors of BHU, this protest has also attained the support of other gurus and maha acharyas of various institutions in Banaras. In fact, professors of the famous Kashi Vidhut Parishad in Banaras and the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith have also extended their support to the same.

Meanwhile, a day before, on November 24, two Emeritus Professors of SVDV, Prof. Reva Prasad Dwivedi and Prof. Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi had written a three-page letter to President Ramnath Kovind, signed by 50 other professors, expressing their displeasure over the entire controversy. Both professors are well-known names in the field of Sanskrit and Religion and having served in the faculty for almost 50 years, have also held the posts of Head of Department and Dean.

Both Emeritus Professors of the Faculty of Religion said that the appointment of a Muslim teacher in the Religious Literature Department of this Faculty is against both the sentiments of religious education and the Kashi scholarly tradition and the Act and tradition of BHU. He has also requested the President to protect the dignity of the university and to get rid of this problem.

It is pertinent to note here, that OpIndia has been persistently following every single development and bringing to you exclusive ground reports and the accurate version of the students demands from the very beginning. A deliberate attempt has been made by the media to demonize the students for their fair concerns. However, we have striven hard to portray the accurate version of events.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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