India has a very thin line of defense between the political gimmicks and its ultrasensitive religious sentiments. The latest controversy on Suryanamaskar has shown us how feeble is our religious tolerance and how cunning our political maneuvers are.
While the government of Madhya Pradesh claims it an attempt to break a Guinness World Record by conducting Suryanamaskar with a crowd of 6 million people, many minority religious communities in the state argue that the act promotes communal discord in the society. Muslim clerics in MP declared Fatwa against Suryanamaskar and the Christian organizations like Isai Mahasangh are planning to approach the Guinness World Records authorities demanding them not to include the Suryanamaskar attempt in the record book.
The opposing minority communities claim that the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had made it mandatory for schools and the department of education verbally mounted heavy pressure on several schools to conduct Suryanamaskar. “Surya Namaskar is a part of Hindu worship, which should not be allowed in the schools as it violates the constitution,” National convener of National Secular Manch, LS Hardenia was quoted as saying in Hindustan Times. “It has also violated Article 28 of the Indian Constitution, which clearly states that, no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds,” he said. Several of the education institutions on condition of anonymity revealed that they didn’t want to be involved in any controversy, reveals the report. “It has also violated Article 28 of the Indian Constitution, which clearly states that, no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds. It also requires that the State Government must seek consent of the guardian to impart any religious instruction to minors but the Government has not done that either. So it is a clear violation of the Constitution of India,” the article quoted John Antony, the State Office Secretary of Isai Mahasangh.
However, the Chief Minister of the state tried to clear the air and said Suryanamaskar is not mandatory in schools and that this yoga asana, which is a part of a routine exercise in most schools across the state, is optional.
According to the School Education Department of the state, more than 70 Lakh people have taken part in the mass event out of which there were students from 6000 schools across the state. According to the reports, the event also witnessed participation of large number of Muslim students defying the fatwa issued by some Muslim bodies.
However, it can also be understood in a lighter sense where it was just an attempt to create a record by doing mass Suryanamaskar whereby the economically backward state tries to put itself on the world map. The communal part of this healthy exercise is hard to understand as it’s a common sequence of Hatha yoga asanas or in simple words, a physical and meditative activity. The state government officials claim that this was only an effort to unite citizens through a group activity and if at all to give a religious connotation, it could be termed an act of religious harmony and universal brotherhood, because no religion preaches hatred.
- MP govt to go ahead with Surya Namaskar show (ibnlive.in.com)
- Debate over Surya Namaskar heats up (thehindu.com)
- How to Do Surya Namaskar Steps Mantras (ktrmurali.wordpress.com)