Mandatory teaching of the Bhagavad Gita in primary and secondary schools has received some opposition from minority groups recently. However, volunteers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Mumbai have come up with an idea to popularise the study of the Gita.
There is a test that is going to be held on January 22 next year in Mumbai, named, the Gita Champions League (GCL). It is a written test for students who belong from std V to X and will comprise of the first six chapters of Bhagavad Gita in the test as it is written by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-teacher of ISKCON. The organizers are planning a very high scale event where the top scorers can be given the money prize of Rs 1 lakh. The organizers are expecting to see atleast a thousand candidates to compete in the examination.
Last year, GCL was organized in Pune and Ahmednagar and a total number of 5, 000 candidates had appeared. According to Shubha Vilas Das, co-ordinator for the Mumbai GCL, “We were pleasantly surprised to find that not only were children eagerly studying Gita but entire families were getting involved.” Thus, this year the students above the age of 15 are also allowed to participate.
In order to reduce the stress of the students, the question paper has been set in a multiple-choice question format. The candidates can answer the questions in English, Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati.
According to Das, “Children today identify with so many ‘external’ heroes but none of them can compare with Arjun who represents not just outer competence but also inner character which does not bend in any situation.”
About 2, 500 students have already registered themselves for the contest. Co-ordinator Shefali Doshi said, “People from western suburbs of Kandivli, Borivli, Nalasopara, Vasai and Ulhasnagar have shown the most interest. Participation elsewhere and in south Bombay is relatively low.”