Amravati university withdraws book that described ritual to conceive male child | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Amravati university withdraws book that described ritual to conceive male child

The the book also suggests that the caste system has been beneficial for the society

mumbai Updated: Sep 14, 2017 15:02 IST
Musab Qazi
The Marathi book, Bhartacha Itihas (Indian History), describes the conceiving ritual in a chapter on social development or ‘Samajik Vikas’, under the subhead Sanskar or values.
The Marathi book, Bhartacha Itihas (Indian History), describes the conceiving ritual in a chapter on social development or ‘Samajik Vikas’, under the subhead Sanskar or values.(Ht file)

A history textbook prescribed by Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University, that came under fire for describing an ancient ritual to conceive a male child, has been removed from the curriculum.

Ajit Deshmukh, registrar of the university, said that the vice-chancellor took the decision to remove the book from the list of reference books provided in the syllabus. The university issued a notification to announce this decision last month.

HT had reported that the book in Marathi for first- year Bachelor of Arts (BA) students titled Bhartacha Itihas (Indian History), published by a Nagpur-based publisher, described the ritual in a chapter named Samajik Vikas (Social Development) that enlists 16 sacraments of life adopted under the Ashram system prevalent in ancient India. While explaining Punswan - the second sacrament - the book reads, “ It was a ritual to conceive a male child. It involved inserting powder of the stem of a Soma-like vegetable in the right nostril of the pregnant woman. Some texts have mentioned the Banyan tree.”

In another chapter titled Varnayavastha (caste-system), the book suggests that the caste system has been beneficial for the society. It claims that the caste system has been instrumental in protecting “Hindu culture” from foreign invaders and has contributed to development of various skills. It goes on to suggest that lack of inter-caste marriage has helped in preserving ‘purity of blood’.

The passage on conceiving male child was flagged by Ganesh Borhade, an Ahmednagar-based activist, who suggested that the passage violates Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994. The act seeks to stop female foeticide and has banned prenatal sex determination. Section 22 of the law deals with the “issue, publish, distribute or communicate any advertisement regarding pre-natal determination of preconception selection of sex by any means whatsoever, scientific or otherwise.”

Following a complaint by Borhade, the additional director of health services at the state family welfare office in Pune, in a letter, had directed the Amravati district surgeon to act against the registrar of the university. “Describing the ritual, publishing it and making it available for public, prima-facie seems to be a violation of section 22 of the act,” read the letter.

“The district collector took up the matter and it was resolved promptly. We hope that the state will now act against all such violations of PCPNDT Act in curricula,” said Borhade.

Earlier, a third-year Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine, and Surgery (BAMS) textbook was also flagged for teaching techniques to conceive a boy. Dr Asaram Khade, the Maharashtra PCPNDT Act consultant, had sent a letter to the joint secretary, public health, government of India, regarding the supposed violation of the PCPNDT Act in the syllabus.

Passages from the book

“Caste-system is prevalent in India since centuries. If it were dispensable, it would have been thrown out of the society as per the law of nature. That’s why scholars of the opinion that the system is prevalent only due to its benefits.”

“It’s the pride of one’s caste (sic) that protected Indian society and culture from foreign invaders. For example, The Rajputs had a such an intense sense of honour that they would prefer to be killed than to leave their religion. As a result, Greece, Hunas and Muslims couldn’t claim victory over Hindu culture.”

“Skills were developed as generation after generations were engaged in the same profession... This brought the country fame in every field.”

The caste barriers were strong. With a few exceptions, there were no inter-caste marriages. This helped in preserving the purity of blood.

What is Punswan?

It was a ritual to conceive a male child. It involved inserting powder of the stem of a Soma-like vegetable in the right nostril of the pregnant woman. Some texts have mentioned the Banyan tree.