Bhagavad Gita & Upanishads in BTech kicks up political controversy

Chennai: A political row over the attempt of the Anna University, a premier technological university in Tamil Nadu, to introduce Bhagavad Gita and Upanishad for its BTech (Information Technology) students put the university on the backfoot with Vice Chancellor M K Surappa declaring that the course was not mandatory.

The Anna University, which has over 500 engineering colleges affiliated to it, is among the only two State-run universities in the country that was shortlisted by the HRD Ministry recently for being declared as Institute of Eminence along with Jadavpur University in West Bengal.

It came to light that the university, which is expected to build scientific temper in the minds of budding engineers, had introduced Philosophy as a course based on the recommendation of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The aim of the course, according to the curriculum, was to “bridge the gap between the sciences and humanities through introspective analyses.”

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Origin of Universe And Creation – 'Nasidiya Sukta' in Relation With Big Bang Theory, Chandogya Upanishad and Brihadaryanaka Upanishad, and Concept of Yin/Yang were among the part of the curriculum.

The university had prescribed the works of  Swami Nikhilananda: The Upanishads; Swami Nikhilananda, Advaita Ashrama; Swamy Tapasyananda: Srimad Bhagavad Gita; and Swami Lokeswarananda: Chandogya as for the students.

Dravidian party leaders including DMK president M K Stalin and MDMK founder Vaiko were quick to assail the move. Stalin dubbed it as a move to impose Sanskrit.

Seeking to cool frayed tempers, Vice Chancellor Surappa said, “The course is not mandatory. It will be made optional. The university is very much secular and no student will be forced to study the subject.

It was prescribed for study – that too only from next year – among 32 new subjects recommended by the AICTE. You can rest assured that there will no imposition of any kind on the students.”

By Dravida Thambi

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