Nine books introduced in Gujarat’s schools celebrate the gurukul style of learning in ancient India, prescribe a code of conduct for teachers and students that conforms to “Bharatiya sanskriti” (Indian culture), redraw the map of India to include other countries, and interpret history through a series of stories on rishi-munis, dev-daanav (saints, demons, deities) and “heroes” of pre-Independence India.
The Gujarat government published the nine books in March this year and, through a recent circular, mandated them as supplementary reading for primary and secondary students, with distribution free to 42,000 government schools.
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Four books in a series titled Prernadeep compile anecdotes about how a childless couple got children by doing gau seva, how the country’s second president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had told the British that Indians were “rotis cooked right by God”, and how a “Bal Narendra” hid behind a bunch of plantains waiting for Hanuman.
Shikshan Nu Bharatiyakaran defines “entertainment” for school students as: “Collecting tickets, stones, stamps, pictures, feathers of birds, or cards, and preparing a scrapbook of these, participating in social activities, watching programmes on Doordarshan, and organising a programme on Akashvani for the school”
The same book pushes for the use of the word “acharya” in place of “professor”, saying the latter is a legacy of the British. “Professors profess, or preach, while the acharya practises. So quit such pretentious usage and permanently use acharya,” it says.
Eight of these books, published by Gujarat State School Textbook Board, are by Dina Nath Batra, national executive of the RSS education wing, Vidya Bharati. The ninth, Tejomay Bharat, has members of Vidya Bharati in its review committee, and seeks to redefine history, science, geography and redraw the map of India.
As many as 50,000 copies of each of these books have been distributed. These are Vidyalaya: Pravruttiyon Nu Ghar; Shikshan Maa Triveni; Prernadeep 1,2,3, and 4; Shikshan Nu Bhartiyakaran, Vedic Mathematics and Tejomay Bharat. “No royalty or any fee has been paid to the author. We are not charging any amount from school students for 45,000 copies,” said the chairman of GSSTB, Nitin Pethani.
All eight of Batra’s books carry a full-page bio of the author, with messages from then chief minister Narendra Modi, and education ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Nanubhai Vanani and Vasuben Trivedi.
The books were written by Dina Nath Batra in Hindi around seven or eight years back. “The Gujarat State School Textbook Board had seen and read our books. They liked them and said they wanted to translate them into Gujarati and introduce them in schools. No financial exchange has been made; it was entirely on good relations. I have not taken a single paisa,” Batra told The Indian Express from Delhi.
Indians as ‘rotis, cooked just right’
“Once Dr Radhakrishnan went for a dinner. There was a Briton at the event who said, ‘We are very dear to God’. Radhakrishnan laughed and told the gathering, “Friends, one day God felt like making rotis. When he was cooking the rotis, the first one was cooked less and the English were born. The second one stayed longer on the fire and the Negroes were born. Alert after His first two mistakes, when God went on to cook the third roti, it came out just right and as a result Indians were born.” | Page 8, Prernadeep-3 (above)
“King Dilip was sad and worried that he did not have children, and about how he would take his lineage forward. He went to Guru Vashisht’s ashram and told him of his problem. The rishi told him, ‘Take a pledge that you and your wife will take care of cows, herd them and follow them wherever they go’. The king and queen agreed. One day a lion attacked a cow. The king came forward and told the lion, ‘Eat me first but spare the cow’. Seeing the king’s commitment, worship and responsibility towards the cow, the lion released the cow and did not harm the king either. As time passed, the king had the best children and his lineage progressed. Page 39, Prernadeep-3
Pride in swastika
“A Patel family lived in Connecticut, America, and was deeply connected with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, a cultured family. Their two children, Harish and Satish, began going to a school there. Harish drew a swastika on the cover of his notebook and began colouring it in class when the teacher, who happened to be Jewish, got curious. When she saw the swastika, she got furious, because Jews see swastika as a symbol of Hitler-Nazism… She grabbed Harish’s book and screamed at him. Harish told her, ‘Madam, this is a symbol of our peaceful and progressive religion. How can I tear this?’ She asked Harish to get out of the class. Other Hindu students tried to make her understand. Harish went out of the class and told her he would tell his father about it. His father called up the principal and complained about the teacher’s misbehaviour and she had to apologise. We should be proud of our religion and its symbols.” Page 16, Prernadeep-3
“One day Swami Vivekananda went to give a lecture. He told the gathering, ‘We should always wear Indian clothes’… He was wearing saffron robes but his shoes were foreign. An Englishwoman noticed this and said, ‘Swamiji! You are insisting on wearing Indian clothes but your shoes are foreign’. Vivekanand listened to this and laughed. And he quietened down and said, ‘I was saying exactly this, that in our view, the place of a foreigner is here’. The woman was dumbfounded.” Page 10, Prernadeep-1 (above)
“Modernisation of education should not mean westernisation, but Indianisation.” Page 8, Shikshan Nu Bharatiyakaran (inset)
“Sanskriti (culture) does not come by drawing from different regions. After mixing in the Ganga, there is no entity for those who flowed in it… Therefore, it is not correct to say that Indian culture is a mixed culture. It is appropriate only to call it Indian
culture.” Page 15, Shikshan Nu Bharatiyakaran
Acharya, not prof
“Professors profess, or preach, while the acharya practises. So quit such pretentious usage and permanently use acharya.” Page 40, Shikshan nu Bharatiyakaran
“The aircraft was flying thousands of feet high in the sky. A very strongly built negro reached the rear door and tried to open it. The air-hostesses tried to stop him but the strongly built negro pushed the soft-bodied hostesses to the floor and shouted, ‘Nobody dare move a step ahead’. An Indian grabbed the negro and he could not escape. The pilot and the Indian together thrashed the negro and tied him up with a rope. Like a tied buffalo, he frantically tried to escape but could not. The plane landed safely in Chicago. The negro was a serious criminal in the Chicago records and this brave Indian was an employee of Air India.”
Story on brave gurudev Singh, Page 3, Prernadeep-2 (above)
Religion and music
“In 1923, a Congress conference was going on under the chairmanship of Mohammad Ali at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. As per tradition, when Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar stood up to sing Vande Mataram, Maulana Ali objected and said that in his religion there is a ban on music and singing. Gandhiji along with other leaders present were shocked at this reaction. Then Vishnu Digambar said that this is a national platform where no one can object to music. Before the chairman could say anything, he started singing Vande Mataram. Mohammad Ali left his seat and went outside and Vishnu Digamabar completed the song. People praised his courage for swadeshabhiman.” Pages 14-15, Prernadeep-2
On today’s politicians
“In 1929, when people stood up against British rule under the leadership of Gandhi…. the King of Bikaner, Ganga Singh Babu, one day spotted the picture of Mahatma Gandhi hanging from a wall of the warden’s room at Dungar College hostel… The king called Sampoorna Anand, the then principal of the college, and ordered him to ask for the warden’s resignation… To this Anand said, ‘I am sorry, Maharaj. If putting Mahatma Gandhi’s picture on the walls is a crime, then please accept my resignation as well’. At that very moment, he submitted his resignation and left. In independent India, all those patriotic politicians who would not hesitate to sell the country, could you please take lessons from this story?” Page 4, Prernadeep-2