The controversy over the removal of historian AK Ramanujan's essay, 300 Ramayanas, from Delhi University 's undergraduate history syllabus refuses to die.
The debate has been raging for close to a month but Friday was the first time when students, teachers and experts came together to discuss the issue. Most were heard criticising the academic council's decision to interfere in the formulation of syllabus - a task, they said, best left to experts.
Last month, the academic council, the highest decision-making body of the university, had decided to remove the essay from the syllabus as it hurt religious sentiments. The essay - not new to controversy - talks about the different versions of the epic prevalent in varied cultures across the country.
"Saying that one particular version of the text is the only correct one is a totalitarian claim. The phenomenon of 'wounded sentiment' is being used to crush the process of reasonable conversation," said Dilip Simeon, a noted historian.
Since the removal, two resolutions have been passed by the history department, requesting the vice-chancellor and the academic council to reconsider the decision.
"Curriculum and reading lists are prepared and revamped by a process initiated at the level of the committee of courses. It is then sent to the academic council for approval. Here the opposite has happened," said Pankaj Jha, who teaches at Lady Shri Ram College for Women.
Those who knew Ramanujan personally believe that calling him a Leftist, a destroyer of tradition and a Maoist - that pamphlets being distributed by ABVP activists do - is erroneous.
"Ramanujan celebrated Hindu tradition. His essay is an ode to the Ramayana," said noted scholar Harbans Mukhia, who taught history at JNU.