Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas, apart from importance of yoga, find place in the books on moral education that will be taught in Classes VI-XII in Haryana schools.
The BJP government, which released the books in Kurukshetra, had sought suggestions from RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra on the content.
A committee of experts comprising officials from State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) finalised the books. Introduction of the Gita in schools was a proposal that the Khattar government in Haryana has been talking about since coming to power.
A scrutiny of the books shows that the books for Classes VI to X contain a gist of three chapters each of the Gita.
Education experts in Haryana had contemplated different ways in which Gita could be introduced so that the students could understand it. It was Dinanath Batra who suggested that the gist of the chapters be taught in every class.
There are also chapters highlighting the importance of the Gita. In one chapter, the Gita has been termed as the “most superior” religious text in the world. Excerpts from the Gita have been used in several chapters, highlighting the importance of discipline in one’s life.
There is a generous dose of excerpts from the Vedas in the chapters. While dohas (couplets) of Kabir and some quotations from the Quran and Guru Granth Sahib have also been included, the numbers are less as compared to the teachings from the Gita and Vedas.
The first chapter of all books comprise prayers to Goddess Saraswati. Further there are stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Ram Charitra Manas.
A chapter each is dedicated to the life of Jesus Christ and Guru Gobind Singh.
The achievements of astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta, scientist Nagarjuna as well as mathematicians Bhaskaracharya and Brahmagupta are part of the books. Leaders such as Shivaji, Veer Savarkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Swami Vivekananda have chapters dedicated to them.
The books contain chapters on inspirational women, including Mother Teresa, Rani Laxmi Bai, Rani Durgawati and IAS officer Ira Singhal among others. The stories of freedom fighters such as Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaq Ullah Khan are also included.
“To propagate religion is the work of religious preachers and not of the government. We live in a secular country and all religions have an equal place. The government got the books released by preachers. What are they trying to prove? The place of the Gita is undisputed. The government is unnecessarily making it a subject of dispute,” said former state education minister Geeta Bhukkal.