External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday urged that the Bhagwad Gita be declared a ‘Rashtriya Granth’, adding that only a formal announcement to this effect was pending. “The Prime Minister has already given it the stature of national granth by gifting it to US President Barack Obama,” she said.
Speaking at an event on Red Front grounds to mark the “5,151st anniversary” of the Gita, organised by RSS-affiliate Global Inspiration and Enlightenment Organization of Gita (GIEOGITA), Swaraj also advised psychiatrists to read and prescribe the Gita to patients suffering from depression.
Soon after her statement, VHP president Ashok Singhal demanded that PM Narendra Modi declare the Gita a national scripture.
At the same event, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the religious book has been considered above the Constitution.
Representatives of embassies of 20 countries were present at the event.
Criticising Swaraj’s remarks, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) said the Constitution was the “holy book” in a democracy. The Congress called her statement “frivolous”.
“All holy books are our pride,” Mamata Banerjee said. “The Quran, Puranas, Vedas, Vedanta, Bible, Tripitak, Zend-Avesta, Guru Granth Sahib, Gita — we respect all.”
The essence of the Gita lies in its substance and not in its symbolism, said the Congress’s Manish Tewari.
Khattar, who had to rush for a meeting of chief ministers called by the PM, was the first to speak among the leaders. “Gita ke sandesh ko jab hum dhyan se padhte hain to… to jaisa kaha hai hamare desh ka samvidhan hi Gita hai. Gita ko samvidhaan se upar maan liya gaya hai. Kisi bhi desh ka samvidhan kaal aur paristhithi ke hisab se badalta rehta hai, lekin Gita aisa saar hai jo sahasvat hai (When we read the Gita carefully… as has been said, our Constitution is the Gita itself. In fact, the Gita is considered above the Constitution. Any country’s constitution changes with time and circumstances, but the Gita is eternal),” said Khattar.
He added that Haryana had doubled the budget for ‘Gita Jayanti’, and requested the PM to issue a postal stamp on Gita Jayanti celebrations.
Urging that the Gita be prescribed to those suffering from depression, Swaraj said, “Depression is a rising problem. People believe eating chocolates and medicines will cure depression. My remedy is that if we read the Gita and live life as per it, we won’t be depressed. Our psychiatrists and counsellors should read the Gita and advise patients according to it. Every argument will end, every doubt will be removed.”
The Union minister credited the Gita with giving her strength during a particularly bad time in her life, and said she attributed her achievements to “Krishna kripa”. Swaraj also said that on December 11, the UN would declare June 21 as ‘Yoga Diwas’.