Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh government is planning to introduce Bhagavad Gita as an elective subject for second-year students across 1,360 colleges from the next academic year, officials aware of the matter said.
State higher education minister Mohan Yadav said this is being done to inculcate life management and ethics among students. “The purpose…is to make students understand the values of life. Under the New Education Policy, students should get modern education as well as learn about the rich Indian history. The Gita and the Ramayana are not only religious books but teach us values of life.”
Yadav said as part of the elective course related to the Bhagavad Gita, students will be taught about “values of life, how to manage life, and how to lead a fearless life”.
Other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states such as Gujarat and Karnataka have earlier announced plans to introduce the Bhagavad Gita as part of the curriculum.
An official of Madhya Pradesh’s higher education department’s syllabus committee said examples of famous personalities like Annie Besant, who followed the teachings of the Gita and inculcated them in their life, will also be included in the course. He added the subject would not have shlokas and their translations alone. “The course is being designed to make students mentally strong.”
The state government is also planning to introduce the works of philosopher Chanakya as an elective subject for third-year college students.
In 2021, it introduced the 16th-century bhakti poet Tulsidas’s Shri Ramcharitmanas, an epic poem narrating the story of Lord Ram, and Sanskrit Karmkand Vidhan (mantras and ways of conducting puja) as elective subjects for the first-year students.
Officials said only 97 found students across 1,360 colleges have opted for Shri Ramcharitmanas and five for Sanskrit Karmkand Vidhan. “The students chose Ramcharitmanas only to score well as they had read the book,” said a college teacher, requesting anonymity.
The state’s Bhoj Open University, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University, and Vikram University have also introduced courses on Jain religion, Ved Shastra, Ramayana, and Mahabharat. Only 100 students have enrolled for the one-year diploma in the Ramayana at Bhopal’s Bhoj Open University.
Educationist Lokesh Malti Prakash said the inclusion of religious books impacts critical thinking. “A book cannot be read only from one perspective…religious books can only be seen as positive. Criticism is difficult and thus courses that bring restrictions to critical thinking may be a problem.”
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