BHU row over Muslim Asst Prof: Can’t separate Sanskrit Sahitya from religion

“To students who are protesting with an argument that how can I teach Hinduism when I am a Muslim, I want to say that in Sahitya department, we have to study about the technicalities of Sanskrit literature and famous dramas like Abhigyan Shakuntalam, Uttar Ramcharitam or Mahakavya like Raghuvansh Mahakavya or Harshcharitam and all this has nothing to do with religion,” said Dr. Firoze Khan in an interview to Indian Express (

Dr. Khan, a doctorate in Sanskrit, joined as Assistant Professor at Banaras Hindu University’s Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV) recently. Ever since, the students have been protesting against his appointment.

Hinduism has been described as the easiest religion to follow. There are apparently no compulsory rituals, no compulsory fasts, no compulsory Pujas to be done every day, and so on. You are either a Hindu or you are not, since it has been described by the courts as a ‘way of life’. Basically, this means that it is not a structured religion following any one dogma or head, unlike the Abrahamic religions like Christianity or Islam. It sounds so simple when it is claimed that you are a Hindu whether you go to a temple or not, whether you pray or not, whether you are an atheist or not, whether you are a vegetarian or not, etc. etc. But guess what? If one were to believe the proselytising religions of the world, we are the most regressive and backward religion and we need to be tutored. Worse still, we Hindus love to prove our progressiveness by looking down upon our own rituals, our customs, our desires to keep some things sacred and exclusive for ourselves. That is why we have sects like Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, Brahmakumaris, and more, all talking about either how our rituals and beliefs are out-dated or regressive and need to be amputated and cleaned for it to be acceptable in the modern world. I am not saying that there should be restrictions on changing beliefs – all I am saying is that the path of proving that a sect is good or better than core Hinduism, by quoting that something in core Hinduism is bad, is a dangerous and slippery path.

Similarly, in our haste to prove that we are the most acceptable and tolerant of all faiths, we are ever accepting of others to teach us our own religious scriptures, our own rituals and more. Countless videos of foreigners chanting the Rudra or any shloka, wearing beautiful Indian attires and chanting in a melodious voice, shows up on my phone every day. And these are shared endlessly with people appreciating how much effort has gone in to learning it. But try sharing a Hindu priest with a ‘choti’ chanting the Rudra the way it is to be chanted, with perfect pronunciation and tone – I guarantee you that very few will listen to the same after two minutes. Why? I believe that it is because we have fallen in love with the idea of a Hinduism which is Secular and Easy to follow as per our desires. We want the melodious chant, not the strict recitation, unless it is during a Yagya which is for granting us our desires or relief from our problems. At that time, no one wants to call a priest who will mispronounce or chant in a melodious voice.

Today we have less than 40,000 students out of a population of 1.32 billion people, who have dedicated their lives to learning Sanskrit and Dharma. These are the students who are in it because they have a desire to learn and follow the rituals, the customs, the wisdom of the ages and then earn from it. And instead of training such students in a way that they keep the fire alive, we want them to bow down to ‘secularism’ and ‘reservations’. Is this not a shame? In such a huge country which is the only country which still has its ancient civilization and Dharma in a living form, we cannot find and train Acharyas who can teach in the traditional way? Should we not be ashamed to give tarpan to our ancestors when we shame the Brahmins who helped us keep our rituals and knowledge systems alive, but were subject to the vilest of accusations, especially since the time we gained independence from the British?

Various newspaper reports quote that Dr. Firoze Khan performed the best from a bunch of other Hindu applicants. And that this is the reason he was selected for this post over other Hindus who had applied. On paper, it is quite possible that Dr. Khan is good, but any person who says, “… famous dramas like Abhigyan Shakuntalam, Uttar Ramcharitam or Mahakavya like Raghuvansh Mahakavya or Harshcharitam and all this has nothing to do with religion” doesn’t care about the core of these dramas. Didn’t Kalidasa start his Raghuvamsham with a prayer to Shiva – Vagarthaviva Sampraktau …”? Is this not part of Hindu Religion? Can one talk about Harishchandra and the Maangalyam of Shaivya or about why daan to Vishwamitra without giving dakshina was incomplete, without talking about Hindu rituals? These are integral to Hindu religion and not to be taken just as Natya.

In fact, Natya Shastra is known as the Pancham Veda and it is through Natya Shastra that Hinduism was kept alive all through our invasions by followers of the Abrahamic cults. If one were to look at them as just drama or dance drama, we are taking out the soul from these texts and are just talking about the body. That in the modern world is called “Post Mortem” and much to the annoyance of many all over the world and especially in our country, we Hindus are alive and breathing still.