Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government on Friday launched a supplementary textbook on the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ to be added to the curriculum of classes 6 to 8 from the next academic year with a minister saying the move is aimed at connecting students to India’s rich, diverse and ancient culture and knowledge systems.
Minister of State for Education Praful Pansheriya said the decision has been taken under the framework of the new National Education Policy (NEP) drafted by the Centre three years ago.
The state education department has taken a decision under the NEP-2020 “to include the spiritual principles and values embodied in ‘Shrimad Bhagavad Gita’ as a supplementary textbook in the curriculum of Class 6 to Class 8,” Pansheriya said in a post on micro-blogging site X.
Thanking Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel for the decision, he further said, “Through this academic decision, students will feel proud and connected to the rich, diverse, ancient culture and knowledge systems and traditions of India through the teachings of ‘Shrimad Bhagavad Gita.”
The supplementary textbook on the revered scripture, which is part of the epic Mahabharata, will instil moral values among student, he maintained.
“This decision taken under the ‘National Education Policy 2020’ under the guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji will play an important role in improving values among students,” Pansheriya added.
Two more parts for classes 9 to 12 to soon be out: Pansheriya
The textbook was launched on the occasion of Gita Jayanti, a Hindu observance marking the day the Bhagavad Gita conversation took place between Arjuna, a Pandava and warrior prince, and Lord Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Talking to reporters later, Pansheriya said this is the first part of the textbook which is meant for the students of classes 6 to 8 and will be soon sent to schools across the state.
Two more parts, for students of classes 9 to 12, will be made available soon, said the minister.
The Gujarat government had in March last year announced in the assembly that the Bhagavad Gita will be a part of the school syllabus for classes 6 to 12 across the state.
The decision to introduce the values and principles enshrined in the holy book in the school curriculum was in line with the NEP 2020, which advocates the introduction of modern and ancient culture, traditions and knowledge systems for students to feel proud, the then-education minister Jitu Vaghani had said.
An education department resolution introducing the Bhagavad Gita in schools as a prayer programme and verse recitation, among other activities, was later challenged in the Gujarat High Court. The HC had, however, declined to stay the resolution, and the matter is still pending in the court.
Through a public interest litigation (PIL), the Jamiat Ulama-E-Hind (JUEH) challenged the resolution on the grounds of constitutional validity and claimed it contravened the NEP.
The petitioner claimed that the values and principles of Indian culture and systems of knowledge can certainly be prescribed in school curriculum, but “the question is whether it should be done by giving primacy to the values and principles of the holy book of only one religion.”