External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday urged the Centre to declare the Bhagavad Gita a national scripture and applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for presenting the book to world leaders.
“PM Modi gifted the Gita to US President Barack Obama, which means it has already received the honour of a national scripture. What we require is only a formal announcement now,” Sushma Swaraj said in a public meeting to mark 5,151 years of the Bhagavad Gita at the Red Fort.
Underscoring the importance of the Gita's role in daily life, she said its message to perform one's duty without feeling attached to its outcome is what guides her sense of duty at the ministry.
The Gita, believed to be the advice of Lord Krishna, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata. Its call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the independence movement, including Mahatma Gandhi who referred to the Gita as his ‘spiritual dictionary’.
PM Modi had also gifted the Gita to Japan PM Shinzo Abe and the Emperor of Japan during his five-day trip in September.
Her comment evoked instant reactions from Opposition parties including the Congress, Janata Dal (United) and the Trinamool Congress. They are likely to raise the issue in the Parliament on Monday.
Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal, yoga guru Ramdev and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar were present at the function.
“I am able to face the challenges as minister only because of the teachings of the Gita. The book contains answers to everybody’s problems,” Swaraj said at the function.
Reacting to her comment, the Trinamool Congress tweeted: “The constitution is the holy book in a democracy”, adding that they respected all religious books.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said the essence of the Gita lies in its substance and not in its symbolism. “Whoever has internalised the teachings of the Gita will not make frivolous comments such as these,” said Tiwari.
JD (U) president Sharad Yadav dismissed Swaraj’s comments as “rubbish”, saying that “instead of focusing on the task of governance, the National Democratic Alliance leaders were raising mindless issues”.
I urged to make Bhagwat Gita our 'Rashtriya Granth' (national holy book) inside Parliament also: Sushma Swaraj pic.twitter.com/V3Q5e1mD7W— ANI (@ANI_news) December 7, 2014