Can one remain a Hindu despite embracing Buddhism? Or more specifically, does one have to necessarily renounce Hinduism in order to be legally regarded as a Buddhist?
Three promoters of Kanpur based educational institutions, who took to Buddhism in 2008, have moved the High Court against an order of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, which, after rejecting their claim for granting minority status to their institutes, has also remarked on the “alleged conversion”, describing it as a “distortion of religion.”
The institutes are: KM College of Education, Pandit Kundanlal Shukla Mahavidyalaya and Abhinav Sewa Sansthan.
The commission in its June 5 ruling has stated that prior to August 9, 2008, when the promoters turned petitioners took to Buddhism – they were Hindus, a position which the commission feels remains unaltered as the promoters haven’t renounced Hinduism.
It has then gone on to mention that ever since the National Commission for Teachers’ Education (NCTE) banned opening of new colleges imparting Bachelor of Education (B Ed) course, except by institutions covered under article 30(1) of the constitution, many promoters are claiming that they belong to the minority community by changing their religion.
Irked by the commission’s order, the petitioners have moved court, submitting through senior counsel Prashant Chandra that the minority commission has applied the Islamic principles to Hindu and Buddhist faiths in rendering the said decisions.
The argument extended against the minority commission’s order is that it ignores the fact that quintessence of Buddhism is the Hindu religion.
Prashant Chandra on being contacted said,
“The commission besides having travelled beyond the jurisdiction vested in itin passing the orders, was endeavoring to create a religious divide.” He also said it was time that the centre and state governments woke up to the miseries of the citizens of this country and ensure that in accordance with the constitutional guarantees, the religious sentiments were not played with.
The petitioners, meanwhile, have also prayed for a direction that the state and the universities be directed not to interfere with the privileges of minority institutions for want of a certificate of recognition from the Commission, as they have constitutional rights under Article 30 of the Constitution of India.