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Why blame BJP? Congress propagated values of Gita Press, an 'anti-woman' outfit

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

The Gita Press, Gorakhpur, has been awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize. Our 'intellectual' circles of the right, centre and left are fighting among themselves whether the award was rightly given or or not. Frankly speaking, it is not the award but the authority that the government gives that is important. The current regime would go to any extent to 'help' its cronies and darbaris. The Gita Press is not a darbari of the BJP but of the Brahmanical system.
It is unfortunate that we are discussing here whether he liked Gandhi or not. RSS-BJP ideologues are suggesting that Jagadayal Guyendka and Hanuman Prasad Poddar both originally hailed from Kolkata and were good friends of Gandhi. I don't think anybody needs to feel disturbed about it. Whether it was Gandhi or Poddar or Goyenka, all of them were Banias/Marwaris. Gandhi's model had a special place for both the Brahmins and the Banias.
The Congress and others have suggested that the Gita Press did not condemn the assassination of Gandhi, and that there is not a word written about it in its magazine "Kalyan". It is also claimed by Congress party leader Jairam Ramesh that Goyendka and others actually supported Gandhi's assassination.
More and more evidences will come out, but look at the modus operandi of the ruling party: It is awarding different project to its darbaris and cronies. Many get funds through government projects in the name of investments, others acquire authority.
The Gandhi Peace Prize is given to peace builders, but I don't know how is the Gita Press, Gorakhpur, a peace builder. What has it done to bring people together? As for its a magazine, I am not sure whether it is an institution but a "lala ji kee dukaan." I don't know whether they paid proper salaries to their staff.
I don't want to judge Jagadayal Goyendak, Hanuman Prasad Poddar and others in the Gita Press, or their relationship with Gandhi or his assassins. If they supported the assassin, as most of the Hindutva votaries have done, then it is shameful for the government to have bestowed this award to it.
But my point is simple, one must judge the Gita Press by its publications, especially the absolutely disgusting material it produces in the 'service' of the nation. Goyendka and Poddar are two individuals who actually explained the Bhagwat Geeta and other religious texts 'honestly', when 'others' allegedly tried to 'secularise' these books.
The fact is, if you go through the writings of Jagadyal Goyenka and Hanuman Prasad Poddar, particularly on the issue of women, you will only feel how reactionary and absolutely anti-human being they were. If the BJP and its supporters can read out chapters from its publication, 'Naariyo Ki Adarsh Shiksha', one will only feel ashamed.
Goyendka or Poddar are against women's freedom. They want widows to shave their head, wear white saree, sleep on the floor, never laugh or speak to other men, not eat spicy food, and many such things. Perhaps, this is the 'ideal' society they envisage. We should not be surprised by their choice, because Gandhi himself had been extremely conservative and orthodox in his religious values.
Some Congress leaders promoted the type of ideas Gita Press propagates. PV Narsimha Rao actually honoured the organisation
The Gita Press honestly does what the Brahmanical Hinduism believe in -- a caste based hierarchical society which has no place for women. It insists: A woman cannot look beyond her husband. She has to remain in the shadow of her husband or male members of the family.
The NRI 'desis' are proud of our great heritage, as that of the Gita Press -- would they care to distribute copies of Goyendka's book on ideal women? Have they at all read and enjoyed the ideas of subjugating women?
If Indian women today are liberated and are part of the power structure, and are have property rights, it is the hard work of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar and his committed work on the Hindu Code Bill. When Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru faced extreme protest from the right-wing of the Congress party against this Bill, the fact is that a section of the Congress leaders promoted the type of ideas the Gita Press seeks to propagate. In fact, let me recall, PV Narsimha Rao actually honoured the Gita Press.
Today, the Congress is blaming the BJP, but it is time the party also accepts its fault lines of the past. But for its mistakes, the Gita Press would not have got the free space to advertise itself, including at the railway stations and other important public places.
The Congress cannot hide from the fact that the party was filled by the right-wingers who celebrated Brahmanism. The Gita Press is nothing but celebration of Brahmanism, and many people across the political spectrum still love that. The need is to proliferate the Ambedkarite-Periyarist thought of fighting against such reactionary ideologies, which justify the hierarchical system.
June 21 was the World Humanist Day and we all celebrated it. The only way to humanise the world is to make people believe in modern Constitutional values and let religion be just individual's affair. One should not bring religion to politics. Moreover, there is no need to justify a thing because it was written several thousands of years back. One should enjoy philosophy that helps human beings revolve around issues of humanity.
The Gita Press, or for that matter any religious book, does not really help think about human beings, but makes us a slave to the ideas that it is God who is more important than the human being. It is time human life and humanism are celebrated. Attempt should be made to spread the ideas of humanism by promoting scientific thinking, so that we can overcome irrationality, superstition and blind faith, and so that exploitation of human beings in the name of religious values and customs is stopped.
It will be good for our governments to actually acknowledge and support the ideas that bring enlightenment in the lives of people and celebrate humanism, and not those who take us back to the dark ages.
*Human rights defender



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