The protests at the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan (SVDV) faculty at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students opposing appointment of a Muslim faculty professor Dr Firoz Khan have been going on for almost a fortnight now. Even today, Hanuman Chalisa was recited as a mark of protest. However, so far no concrete assurance has been received from the university administration and the Vice-Chancellor regarding the same. The students are still peacefully fighting for the protection of Sanatan Dharma, values of Madan Mohan Malaviya values and their ideals.
Vice Chancellor (VC) Rakesh Bhatnagar, who is also a professor at the JNU, held a conversation with students which was also inconclusive. When the students’ representatives went to meet the VC, he propped up the Constitution of India and refused to accept the ‘constitution’ of BHU. He said that Madan Mohan Malaviya was a human being, humans can be wrong but not written constitution. For him, ‘Malaviya values’ and ‘ideals’ hold no value. Students who study in BHU, still believe in the ideals of Madan Mohan Malviya and live by them. The VC is refusing to accept the constitution on which the BHU was built. In fact, it was recently reprinted and the same was launched by the VC. But he now says that he hadn’t read it but he had launched it as it is a tradition.
On one hand, the students of SVDV are struggling to defend their traditions, the procedures and practices of the educational institution they are studying in. On the other hand, a section of media like BBC, The Wire, ThePrint is trying to downplay this movement and the issue of appointment of Dr Firoz Khan by portraying it as if is only about ‘Sanskrit language’. They are writing various articles about this trying to make it about bigotry that there is some Sanskrit school somewhere where 80% students are Muslims. I have made it clear in the past that this is not a matter of language. BHU has a separate department for ‘Sanskrit language’ and literature under the Faculty of Arts, while Dr Firoz Khan has been appointed in the ‘Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan’. It was established by Madan Mohan Malaviya for protection of ‘Hindu Sanatan Dharma’ and give ‘scientific interpretation’ to Hinduism and its preservation. Where even today, education here is imparted like in Vedic gurukuls.
After the propaganda spread by Leftist media, OpIndia again spoke to the students of SVDV to understand what exactly is taught there. What was the purpose of establishing this faculty? What was Madan Mohan Malviya’s vision behind this? What subjects are there? How is the routine of the students? And why are they studying there? What is their purpose? At the same time, after studying there, what kind of future do they see for themselves and also the most important why they objecting to the appointment of Dr Firoz Khan?
Why was SVDV faculty established?
So, first of all, let us understand the purpose behind establishing Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan faculty which will clear up a lot of things. It is also on the BHU website: SVDV was established by Mahamana in 1918 with the objective to preserve and promote the study ancient Indian scriptures, Sanskrit language and literature. The major objective of this faculty is to remove misconceptions about religion, spirituality, astrology and tantra. Here classical texts are studied ‘Strictly’ keeping in mind the traditional methods as well as oral-cum-written tradition.
The faculty itself proclaims that we insist on interpreting each word of the texts in order to understand their ‘essential’ implications. This is also one of the reasons the protesting students fear appointment of a Muslim or Christian, who does not follow the Varnashrama as prescribed in our religion. Our classical Vedic and ancient texts may get influenced by Islam and Christianity as is the case in the whole world toda. This is the only institution left where our ancient Sanatan tradition is safe in its original form due. It is due to the efforts of Madan Mohan Malviya. Education is imparted at Shastri, Acharya and even research level by following the traditions of Gurukul. We wear the Yajnopavit before reading the Vedas, our teacher and professors also worship Lord Shiva before entering the building and then bow down to all the pictures and idols of gods and goddesses, including Shiva and Parvati and pay obeisance to them. We do not expect the same from person of any other faith. This whole matter is related to our faith, faith and religion and we do not want any kind of adulteration in it. You and I exist today and will cease to exist tomorrow. But our tradition and Sanatan Dharma must remain constant and eternal. Letting it flow in its full purity with the roots of Hindu religion is the our duty and responsibility.
What subjects are taught at SVDV? Which departments are there?
Moving on, let’s have a look what subjects are studied in SVDV. What are the departments there? Veda, Vyakran, Sahitya, Jyotish, Vaidic Darshan, Dharmagam, Dharmashastra and Mimamsa, Jain-Baudhha Darshan as well as literature related to them. Are these subjects merely literature? Would you like to be taught these subjects by someone who has no relation to the basic and core values of these subjects? Would you like them to mix Islamic and Christian interpretations in the Sanatan Dharma? Or would you like Sanatan Dharma mixed with the violent interpretations of these religions which emerged later? The influence and mixed interpretation becomes so much that that it becomes difficult to find the origin?
If you are also a Hindu and have faith in Sanatan Dharma, spirituality and its values, then you too will not wish so. Then why are we expecting those students to accept Dr Firoz Khan? Let them just sit and let their faith and values get destroyed in front of their eyes the way atheists with leftist mindset like JNU professor and presently Vice Chancellor of BHU, Rakesh Bhatnagar wants? He does not go to the recitation of Gita which takes place in Malaviya Bhavan. But, these students are not ready at all. The biggest reason for this is that they not only study Sanatan tradition but live it. Whether it is at the level of attire, tilak, choti and Yagnopavit, or from getting up in Brahmamuhart to Sandhyavandan and the passage of religious texts, this is their life and their purpose of living as well.
What do SVDV students have to say?
Next I would like to talk about the conversations I had with students pursuing various degrees in that faculty. They study mantra, shloka, yagna, vaidik rituals, Purohit Karm, recitation, Bhagwat recitation, jyotish and karmakand. They are not only involved in the studies but it is also the source of their livelihood. Not all students studying there are studying for government jobs. However, some do go on to becoming Professor-Acharyas etc. by going through the method of study-teaching, but most of them spend their whole lives performing Purohit Karm and teaching and spreading knowledge and Vedas and Vedangs and ancient literature.
Today, all those students of SVDV are apprehensive about the appointment of Dr Firoz Khan. Their apprehensions are not unfounded as they are thinking not only of today but of the time to come. What if 15-20 years from now when this same Firoz Khan will be HOD, Dean and many other Muslim and Christian professors will join the faculty? You can only imagine what will happen when they start interpreting Sanatan Dharma according to their understanding.
Abhinayak Mishra, a student of Shastri course, said, “Not that Muslims and Christians have not done any less damage to Sanatan Dharma. We will not let the only institution in the world which has preserved Sanatan Dharma in its original form get destroyed.”
Aman Kumar said, “We study with SVDV for our livelihood. Not only in Benaras but we perform rituals and Purohit Karm anywhere in the world. Tomorrow when we learn about Sanatan Dharma mixed with Islam from a Muslim, will the society have the same faith and belief in our knowledge and on our interpretations? More than that, we do not consider any Muslim capable of teaching and interpreting Vedic Sanatan Dharma and Shastras. We will never be accepted by any Muslim person teaching Dharma Vigyan as our Guru.”
Roshan, who is pursuing Acharya course says, “I read that media is reporting that Firoz Khan sings hymns well, they remember verses and chants. He may even have the knowledge of Sanskrit literature. But here it is not only literature. For us, ‘Dharma Vigyan’ is paramount. Since the texts are in Sanskrit, Sanskrit language is a medium. Then just because one knows Sanskrit language we can ask him to impart religious studies? By that logic, if a non-Muslim knows a little about Islam, will he be considered capable of imparting knowledge about Islamic rituals? And if this were to happen, the same media which is calling us regressive and conservative today will question us why does a Hindu need to teach about Islam and Christianity? And even then the culprits will be Hindus. It is these Leftists and the people who are against Sanatan Dharma who have done the most harm to Hinduism.”
On all these issues, we once again spoke to Saurabh Dwivedi, who is a former researcher of BHU and currently Assistant Professor. He reiterated, “I am the student of the same Umakant Chaturvedi who has been appointed Dr Firoz Khan in the department. And I know them well. I said earlier while talking to OpIndia and I still repeat that Firoz Khan’s appointment in SVDV has been done on the basis of money. Firoz Khan was Umakant Chaturvedi’s student five years back.”
He further added, “Had there been another Hindu in his place, there would not have been any protests even if there was corruption in his appointment. Today the biggest reason for protest is that we do not want Islamic interpretation of our texts and Sanatan traditions. Muslims have done enough damage to our temples and Sanatan Hindu religion on the strength of violence in the past. Not any more. At least not where the soul of Mahamana resides.”
When asked about the ideals of Madan Mohan Malviya, Saurabh Dwivedi said, “Malaviya ji had put up his perspective by placing the word ‘Hindu’ in the name of Banaras Hindu University. Even when there was a ‘Sanskrit Department’, a separate Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan faculty was set up. He himself got the inscription placed which talks about Varnashram Dharma rules about the admission process. No institution can reject the objectives of its founder, least of all the great ‘Mahamana’. He had to beg and struggle to built this institution at a time when the country was caught in the chains of slavery. Today, the vice-chancellor may not value ideals of Malaviya or the constitution of the BHU, but the spirit in which the institution was founded has continued to be alive.”
Speaking about the VC, Saurabh Dwivedi said, “We do not want to learn lessons of secularism from an atheist VC. BHU is secular since its inception. There is no discrimination of any kind. Today, under the guise of the constitution, there has been a conspiracy to corrupt ‘Dharma Vigyan’. We are against it and will keep opposing it. If we lose, it will not only be our defeat but it will be a loss to the Sanatan tradition. And today all those who are silent will be guilty.”
Another student from SVDV, Rahul Dubey and many other students pursuing Acharya and Shastri courses said they are not against any Muslim professor and neither are they demanding expulsion of Firoz Khan from BHU. They say their demand is that there should not be any Muslim or Christian in Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan. Only those who believe and live in the Sanatan tradition and Hindu religion should be there. If the vice-chancellor wishes he may transfer him to the Faculty of Arts or the Department of Natya Sastra of the Faculty of Arts to teach Sanskrit. But his stubbornness while taking refuge of the Constitution is a conspiracy to disrupt the eternal tradition of religion. And we are against it. It is also the responsibility of the government in the coming times that whenever there is an election for the post of vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, at least he should have faith in Hinduism. He should Sanatani and should believe in the values of Madan Mohan Malviya.
Note: The above article was first published in Hindi. It can be read here.