Muslim, Tribal professors to teach Sanskrit at RKM Vidyamandira

Kolkata: Ramzan Khan and Ganesh Tudu have been appointed as assistant professors of Sanskrit at the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira on Tuesday. This is for the first time in Bengal when a Muslim and a Tribal teacher, both of whom are non-Hindus, will be teaching in an autonomous college.

Vidyamandira is one of the finest educational institutions in the country as declared by the Human Resource Development ministry in 2018.

This has happened at a time when the students of Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vidyam (SVDV) of Benaras Hindu University have refused to learn Sanskrit from Firoze Khan, a PhD in the subject. The students have been demonstrating in front of the residence of the Vice-Chancellor, an incident which has shocked the academia in the country.

It may be mentioned that in almost all the speeches delivered by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on communal harmony and tolerance, she has made references to the universal religion of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

Sheikh Sabir Ali, who got the highest marks in the undergraduate and post-graduate levels in Sanskrit from Calcutta University, now teaches the subject at West Bengal State University in Barasat.

It may be recalled that Vidyamandira had appointed Shamim Ahmed in the department of Philosophy in 2000. Ahmed is now the head of department and did his PhD on Mahabharata. He teaches Indian Philosophy for the past two decades. Along with Ahmed, Faridul Rahaman was also appointed in the department.

Reacting sharply to the incident in BHU, eminent Sanskrit scholar Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri said: "It is uncalled for and most unfortunate." He said that in order to study Sanskrit in English, one has to read the translations of Mahanirvanatantram by Sir John George Woodroffe (1865- 1936) and the books on Hinduism translated by him along with his critical appreciation.

"The Sacred Books of the East by Fredrick Max Muller is a must read for the students of Sanskrit. Every year, Sanskrit scholars from the Heidelberg, Chicago and other universities come and deliver lectures in BHU. But the students never stop them. Why have they become so violent now? Just because Khan is a Muslim?" he asked.

Swami Suvirananda, general secretary of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, said: "Ours is an organisation which is pluralistic in nature and inclusive in practice. Sri Ramakrishna has preached harmony at all levels." Swami Atmapriyananda, V-C of Ramakrishna Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute, said: "We practice tolerance and universal acceptance. Swamiji has talked about universal religion and we practice this in real life."

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