Updated: January 21, 2021 8:10:19 am
The Karnataka government banned rationalist KS Bhagwan’s book ‘Rama Mandira Yeke Beda’ (Why Ram Mandir is not needed) from its public libraries. “The book may hurt public sentiments and I will not encourage this kind of book in public libraries,” said Education minister S Suresh Kumar.
After a social media campaign by Hindutva right-wing activists, the Public Library Book Selection Committee withdrew its recommendation to purchase the book, which was published in 2018.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Bhagavan said, “I oppose the dropping of my book from the library purchase list and public libraries are for all and everyone has the right to read all the arguments. The government cannot hold public libraries hostage to one ideology.”
“My book has already seen three editions in two years and now it is going for a fourth edition. My intention is not to hurt any religious sentiments of the people if you read the book, I have only written things within the precincts of Valmiki Ramayana,” he added.
The committee, led by Kannada writer Doddarange Gowda, said in a statement on Tuesday that initially the book was excluded from the selection list since ‘it hurt religious sentiments of a section of society’. “Later a review petition was filed by the publisher and the committee decided to recommend it for purchase. Though the book hurt sentiments, we thought the book could be part of our public libraries, providing readers various points of views,” Gowda said.
He said the committee decided to withdraw its recommendation after objections were raised.
“Rama Mandira Eke Beda?” is a collection of critical essays of the epic Ramayana and the politics around Ram temple. Earlier in 2019, the Hindu Jagran Vedike had filed a complaint against Bhagawan for his statement that Lord Rama drank “intoxicants”. Hindu Jagran Vedike also sought a ban on the same book in which Bhagwan has made these remarks.
Meanwhile, Bhagavan also said that recently members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and BJP had visited his house as part of a fund-raising drive for the Ram temple. “In a respectful manner I welcomed them and told them I will not give money to build Ram Temple, and suggested they read my book,” he added.
Earlier, Bhagavan had also received threats on social media soon after the killing of Kannada scholar and researcher MM Kalburgi in Dharwad on August 30, 2015. Bhagwan is a retired teacher from Maharaja’s College in Mysuru where he taught English literature. Bhagwan is now a full-time writer and lists philosophy, rationalism and religious texts as his main pursuits.
Investigations into the Gauri Lankesh murder had revealed a plot to kill Bhagwan, nixed just in time by the arrest of a Hindu Yuva Sena member. He calls himself a follower of Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
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