On Thursday, March 17, in Gujarat, India, the state government announced that Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu holy scripture, will be integrated into the curriculum for grade 6 to grade 12 students. The announcement was made during a legislative assembly for budgetary allocations for the education department.
Jitu Vaghani, Gujarat’s education minister, explained that the assembly’s move is an implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP). The new NEP was passed by India in 2020 and was intended to address the lack of a new education policy for almost three decades.
The last education policy established by India was in 1986 and was later revised in 1992.
During a press conference, Vaghani explained that despite the Bhagavad Gita being a Hindu scripture, “all faiths have accepted the moral values and principles outlined,” The Wire reported.
Vaghani also explained that portions of the scripture would be introduced across different grade levels in varying degrees.
“For students of classes 6 to 8, the scripture will be introduced in the textbook of holistic education.” From classes 9 to 12, it will be introduced in the form of storytelling in the textbook of the first language,” Vaghani explained.
The decision of Gujarat’s assembly also points to the NEP’s emphasis on “the introduction of modern and ancient culture, traditions and knowledge systems,” Vaghani added.
Despite Vaghani’s claims that other faiths have accepted the state’s decision, the announcement was quickly condemned by representatives from other religions.
Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest, accused Gujarat’s government of majoritarianism. “The study of any and every religious or holy book needs to be welcomed all at all times,” he explained. But “introducing only the study of Bhagavad Gita smacks of majoritarianism,” he added.
A.C. Michael, the founder of the United Christian Forum in India, recommended giving the students the option to choose which religious scripture they can learn about. “Many minority educational institutions are already teaching their students their respective religious texts,” he said.
“Maybe options could be given to individual students to choose religious books,” he added.
After Gujarat’s announcement, Karnataka’s assembly is also considering establishing the same policy. BC Nagesh, Karnataka’s education minister, said they are working on implementing a “Moral Science” subject.
If passed, Karnataka’s curriculum will make Bhagavad Gita compulsory.