Samajwadi Party MLC Swami Prasad Maurya, who has sparked controversy by calling certain verses of the Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas insulting to Dalits, tribals, Backwards and women, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra demanding removal or modification of those verses.
“It is our demand that the objectionable parts of Ramcharitmanas be removed or amended, respecting the sentiments of 97 per cent of the country’s majority society such as women, tribals, Dalits and Backward people,” read the letter written by Maurya Wednesday.
“Written during the feudal era in medieval times, some of the parts are based on the varna system. The discriminatory caste system has been justified in many of its chapters. In some chapters, some castes have been deemed to be superior and the shudras are told to be lowly. In some parts, derogatory language has been used for women. The context to this is because of Tulsidas’s medieval thinking,” the SP national general secretary said.
“Many storytellers and people pretending to be the custodians of religion everyday quote such chapters of Ramcharitmanas and claim to be godly, which hurts the sentiments of crores of people of this country,” he said, adding that the Constitution established equality, justice and fraternity in principle in the country.
“Babasaheb Ambedkar had clearly underlined that it is our intention to establish equality and justice on a practical basis. That is why Article 15 of the Constitution mentions no discrimination in the name of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth,” the former BJP minister added.
Quoting some of the verses from the epic in his letter, he wrote: “The above verses are just some examples. More than a hundred times in Ramcharitmanas, weak and deprived castes have been called adham and neech.”
Maurya then recalled the episode during the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when he was called “neech” by a political leader.
“You had said that because you were born in a Backward caste, a specific party had called you neech (lowly) whereas you had been Gujarat CM multiple times and were a contender to be the Prime Minister… When such humiliation can happen to you as a top leader, then using the above mentioned verses of Ramcharitmanas, women, so-called shudra castes, adivasis, Dalits and Backwards face social humiliation,” Maurya wrote.
The row over Ramcharitmanas started in Bihar after the state’s Education Minister Chandra Shekhar called the epic “a divisive text”.
On January 22, Maurya also criticised the text, saying the epic contained “objectionable language” about women, Dalits, tribals, and backward classes.
The BJP slammed Maurya’s take on the epic and asked the SP to remove him from the party.
Initially, Maurya’s party – the Samajwadi Party — appeared to be distancing itself from him but party chief Akhilesh did not criticise Maurya, subtly indicating that the senior leader had his support.