Amid a controversy in Karnataka over a school allegedly making Bible study mandatory, the state's education minister BC Nagesh on Wednesday, 27 April, said that religious texts such as the Bible and the Quran cannot be compared with the Bhagavad Gita.
"Bible and Quran are religious texts. The book says that whoever believes the religion must read the respective religious texts. But Bhagavad Gita doesn’t speak about religion but speaks only about values needed to lead life," Nagesh was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
The statement comes a day after Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado questioned, "If children are requested to buy books of Bhagavad Gita or other religions, can it be considered as forcing them to be influenced or inducing them to be converted to these particular religions?"
"We cannot compare Bhagavad Gita with other religious books like the Quran and Bible. You can teach about Jesus’ life just like Swamy Vivekananda and others but should not impose religious text on students,” Nagesh was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
What's the Controversy?
The Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate of Bengaluru Urban, J Manjunath, has initiated an inquiry into the Clarence High School for the forceful imposition of Christian religious views on children.
As per a letter by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) dated 25 April to the official, the school allegedly made Bible study mandatory and instructed minors to participate in Christian morning prayers and other religious activities.
As per the statement by the NCPCR, the child rights panel received a complaint against the school on 22 April. The Hindu Jana Jagruti has filed a complaint against the school as well.
Reacting to the news, Education Minister BC Nagesh told the media, "The conduct of the school is in violation of the Karnataka Education Act. Religious matters cannot be taught in schools."
He added, "Many complain that the BJP breaks the society based on religion. Where did all this go now? Even public intellectuals are silent. They all speak only when it comes to Bhagavad Gita or Tipu Sultan. Why is nobody talking about Bible now?"
Nagesh has reportedly issued a notice seeking action against the school, and urged Block Education Officers (BEOs) to inspect all Christian institutions to monitor similar practices.
Meanwhile, reacting to the development, Archbishop Machado said, "The institutions run by other religious sects also give religious instructions, based on their sacred books. It is extremely unfair to target only the Christian Institutions, and whatever good is being done is labelled as "for conversion".