On 22nd of January 2017, BHU witnessed its 102nd foundation celebrations with a lot of pomp and show. Each year BHU’s foundation day is commemorated on the Basant Panchami day. This year as usual it was also celebrated with full energy and enthusiasm. Devotion to the deity of knowledge was expressed through Poojas, Sanskrit recitation and other religious functions as organized in different departments and hostels. Each department displayed tableau in the procession that was held. Enthusiasm of faculty members, students and other workers were seen in the way they were shouting slogans, dancing to DJs and exhibiting social issues through tableau, fancy dressings and so on.
Any institution witnessing a centenary year is remarkable. Centenary is a good time where we can feel proud of the achievements of an institution and reflect to look forward. BHU can take pride for itself for its alumni who are renowned academicians, civil servants, artists, politicians, scientists and even have been conferred with civilian awards.
BHU as an institution has also been in the media for various negative reasons. I would like to draw your attention to the recent issue of violence that broke out in relation to the DJ night. I would like to take your attention to the true purport of BHU as envisioned by Pandit Madhan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of BHU. In his biography, biographer Sitaram chaturvedi observes, “The word ‘Hindu’ in the name of Banaras Hindu University does not carry any communal and sectarian connotation. Malaviyaji was very clear on this point. In a speech delivered at the time when the Banaras Hindu University Bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly, Malaviyaji took great pains to clarify this point and to explain the true purport of the Banaras Hindu University. He said: “It (the University) will not promote narrow sectarianism but a broad liberation of mind and a religious spirit which will promote brotherly feeling between man and man. Unfortunately we are all aware that the absence of sectarian religious Universities, the absence of any compulsory religious education in our State Universities, has not prevented the growth of sectarian feeling in the country. I believe that the instruction in the truth of religion, whether it be Hindu or Musalman, whether it be imparted to the students of the Banaras Hindu University or to the Aligarh Muslim University, will tend to produce men, who, if they are true to their religion, will be true to their God, their kind and their country. And, I look forward to the time when the students who will pass out of such Universities, will meet each other in a closer embrace as the sons of the same Motherland than they do at present.” However I am saddened that growingly I see narrow sectarianism and communal attitude been developed. DJ night incident is one such example in this regard. There have been previous incidents too which prove the same. It is high time we reflect on Malaviyaji’s founding vision and shun away from communalism and narrow sectarianism.
Malaviya envisioned an university which aimed at “‘Promotion of scientific, technical and artistic education combined with religious instruction and classical culture.” But I am saddened by the inter departmental and institutional hatred that exists in the university which is expressed through different clashes. Arts students are despised by IIT, Science and Medicine and same kind of hatred is also expressed vice versa. Malaviyaji envisioned a residential university system which would be a confluence of arts, science, medicine, etc interacting with each other. I think it is high time we celebrate mutual respect and get into much of inter departmental and inter institute friendship and cooperation, joint ventures and taking each others’ help in understanding ones own academics and the universe in a better way.
In its first foundation day of BHU Gandhiji was present and delivered a lecture which was not very much welcomed by the esteemed members in the dais but was something that attracted the students fraternity. I would like to bring to give a glimpse of his first speech, ” I myself have been fed up with speeches and lectures. I except the lectures that have been delivered here during the last two days from this category, because they are necessary. But I do venture to suggest to you that we have now reached almost the end of our resources in speech-making; it is not enough that our ears are feasted, that our eyes are feasted, but it is necessary that our hearts have got to be touched and that out hands and feet have got to be moved”. BHU witness a lot of lectures, symposium and so on. I recollect being a part of a lecture series where the speaker challenged all the members to be true to rules, involve in nation building and all good character one should have as ideal member living in the university. I could overhear a neighbor sitting next to me who happened to be a faculty member saying “it’s good to listen to all these lectures. how bad it is for us who propose to be the first to overrule all these.” I have been many times saddened by seeing child labour, indifference to women, caste feeling, lazy work culture, unhygenic pan spitting and so on in BHU. BHU would be a pioneer to have a lecture series and discuss all these but all in words. Aren’t the words of Gandhiji prophetical? When will we be doers and not just preachers?
I pray to the God almighty that as BHU enters into another remarkable year may God flourish this institution, let this institution involve in nation building, foster brotherhood, practice what it preaches and nurture and give birth to many shining stars!