Lucknow, Dec 26 (IANS) Schools across the country may have modified textbooks over the decades, but an institution in Lucknow has persisted with the Bhagavad Gita as a moral science textbook for the last 75 years. Hindu as well as Muslim students have to study it.
Besides being the 'prescribed book' for the moral science subject, the holy scripture is also a compulsory subject for all students of Gita Vidyalaya in the Babuganj area here.
'Holy scriptures like the Gita guide human beings, their behaviour towards individual, family and society. So by teaching lessons from the Gita we, in a way, are teaching students about the importance of their life and making them realise their responsibilities,' school principal U.P. Mishra told IANS.
'We take pride in keeping the unique tradition alive at the school that was started around 1935 by a group of three friends who were deeply religious,' he added.
The 30-odd Muslims among the school's 200 students also study the Hindu text as part of their curriculum.
According to school officials, three friends - Hanuman Prasad, Jai Prakash and R.S. Kotwal - decided to establish the school for not only promoting education but also to inculcate moral values among kids.
The school gradually became one of the prominent learning centres in Lucknow.
Some prominent admirers of the school who visited it during its early years include patriot Sarojini Naidu and former union minister Govind Ballabh Pant.
It was in 1947 that Gita Vidyalaya got affiliation from the Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad. In 1973, it became eligible for receiving financial assistance from the state government.
'Even after the government-appointed staff started coming to the school, the teachers made every effort to continue the tradition of teaching the Gita to students. Without their cooperation it would have been really difficult to keep alive such an old practice in changing times,' said Mishra.
'The former as well as the present teachers of the school need to be congratulated for their efforts. I think the glorious past of the school inspired the teachers and made them work in this regard,' he added.
The school students have to clear written and oral examinations annually that test their knowledge of the text.
At present, there are over 200 students - both girls and boys - from Class 6 to Class 10 in the school.
'On a daily basis, five 'shlokas' (verses) are taught to students. We not only make students learn the shlokas, we also try that students understand their meaning and relate them with the day-to-day activities in their lives,' said Savita Saxena, a teacher.
'Every year, students have to appear for a written examination that mainly comprises 10 questions framed from different chapters of the Gita,' the teacher said.
'While questions for students of Class 6-8 are objective in nature, questions for students of Class 9-10 are based on application of moral teachings in the Gita and they are supposed to answer them in a subjective manner,' Sharma added.
(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)