Students at the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan (SVDV) in Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have been protesting over the appointment of a Muslim professor, Dr Firoz Khan, at the institution. As expected, the students have been demonized as bigots and the matter has been given a hue of communal bigotry when the matter is a lot more complicated than that.
Our ground report on the matter mentions the allegations of corruption in the recruitment process, which are pretty serious in nature, but even if allegations do not hold true, the students have got a very good case. And it has nothing to do with bigotry. Student leader Chakrapani Ojha explains the issue quite eloquently.
He said, “If we do not protest now, then 15 years hence this department will have one Muslim professor, department head and even dean. They will appoint more Muslims and a time will come when the ones who will be in charge of ‘Hindu Dharma Vigyan’ stream will be non-Hindus. Those who do not have any connection to Hindu Sanatan traditions, Yagnas and Jyotish.”
Ojha further explained that ‘Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan’ is the full name of the stream. There are two parts to it. First is “Sanskrit Vidya” and other is “Dharma Vigyan” (theology). While it’s true that Sanskrit can be taught by any person with the necessary skill set, it will be much too much to expect that Hindu theology could ever be taught by a person of a different religion who doesn’t have any faith in the scriptures he is supposed to teach.
Another student said, “We do not have teachers, we have gurus. Everyone here keeps a ‘choti’, touches feet of the elders and conduct havans and yagnas. The professor who has been appointed identifies his religion as ‘Muslim’. If he is appointed, will it not be discrimination against the students who follow the Vedic Sanatan traditions?”
Under such circumstances, it is unimaginable to think that Khan could ever do justice to the traditions of the institution. It is not his fault but it’s not the fault of the students either. Someone who doesn’t have faith in the sacred texts of the Hindu faith doesn’t have the necessary skill set to teach Hindu theology to students. This is not communal bigotry, these are facts.
Throughout the entire controversy, we witness again the utter lack of respect for sacred spaces. Under the universalist march of Secularism, Hindus are expected to even surrender the teaching of their theology to non-Hindus. This desire to trample upon the sentiments of the Hindu community, regardless of consequences, is precisely what leads to unfortunate circumstances such as the one at BHU.
It’s the same mentality that encourages the desecration of the Sabarimala Temple. The secularists have no respect for the fact that different rules apply to the abode of Swami Ayyappa and an individual has to meet certain criteria to be eligible to enter the Temple. There are ‘sacred spaces’ in any society and the rules for entry to such places will vary according to the nature of the place. It’s not communal bigotry to assert that a person who does not meet the standard should not be permitted entry to it.
Hindu Theology cannot be adequately taught by non-Hindus for the same reason that Christian theology cannot be taught by non-Christians or the Quran cannot be taught by non-Muslims. It’s not communal bigotry for students of a particular religious disposition to assert that they are taught the same by a person who has faith in the religious doctrines. Scriptures cannot be taught by a person who has no faith in them. This is not a controversial opinion.
Authorities in a sane society are expected to understand such simple matters. Society, at the end of the day, is dependent upon social norms and traditions. If society is to function smoothly, such norms ought to be respected. However, secularists have no respect for such laws. They wish to impose their own version of morality and rules and regulations in violation of social norms. Thus, conflict such as the one we are currently witnessing at BHU is inevitable.
The mainstream media, which rewards and thrives upon gross incompetence, is again at the throat of the protesting BHU students. They are being accused of being bigots, fundamentalists and much worse. And for what exactly? Because they wish to be taught Hindu religious doctrines by someone who actually has faith in them?
Have we, as a society, abandoned all common sense? Are we seriously arguing that Hindus should consent to being taught the Hindu religion by atheists? Because that’s what monotheists essentially are, atheistic to Hindu doctrines. If secularists insist upon imposing their own set of beliefs on Hindus, there will be resistance and justifiably so. Should Hindu theology by allowed to be taught by someone whose religion assumes that Hindus are Kafirs?
For those who argue that BHU is a government-funded institution and therefore, secular norms must apply to it, they should remember that considering the huge amount of money the secular state loots from Hindu Temples, funding a Hindu institution with explicitly Hindu departments is the least the secular state can do. We can argue about the government-funded nature of the institution once the secular state has stopped looting Temples and after minoritarian schemes have been put an end to. Before that, such arguments are pointless.
Nevertheless, even in a secular state, if there are departments at any Universities that teach Hindu religious doctrines, it is ridiculous to assume that the doctrines can be adequately taught by someone who has no faith in them. And students, who have taken admission to the particular university to learn precisely that, have every right to protest if the University fails to meet the adequate educational standards.