IIT Kanpur starts service on Hindu sacred texts, says ready for criticism

Lucknow Jan 11 : Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has become the first engineering college in India to start a text and audio service related to Hindu sacred texts. The services are being offered on the official portal of the premier college which displays the link www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in.

Srimad Bhagwadgita, Ramcharitmanas, Brahma Sutra, Yoga Sutra, Shri Ram Mangal Dasji and the Narada Bhakti Sutra are among the nine sacred texts uploaded.

Among its latest offerings are Sanskrit renditions of the Sundarkand and Balakkand of the Valmiki Ramayan, introduced, incidentally, a month before the Supreme Court was to hear the Ram temple matter on a dailybasis.

Though the IITs operate autonomously, their charter has often seen controversial proposals by the ministry of human resource development which funds them. This project was started with Rs 25 lakh in funding in 2001 by the Union ministry of information technology of the then Atal Behari Vajpayee government.

“We have from time to time worked on this project with a team of scholars from within the IITs and outside to make available the sacred texts. This is the first of its kind in the world and in India and it must be respected,” said T V Prabhakar, professor, Resource Centre for Indian language Technology Solutions, department of computer science and engineering, IIT Kanpur.

Both Prabhakar and IIT Kanpur director Mahendra Aggarwal rejected controversies on thrusting Hindu religion through these services. “There will be criticism for the sake of it for every good thing. Secular credentials can’t be questioned on such a noble and pious initiative,” added Prabhakar.

One of the objectives of the website describes “Vedanta” as “knowledge gyana” of a qualified “adhikari (worker, officer, employee)”.

Subject specialists holding post-doctoral degrees in philosophy from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have been roped in to render the English audio tranlsation of the Bhagdvad Gita while the Sanskrit chanting has been done by Swami Brahmnanda.

Similarly, the rendition of the Ramcharitmanas in Awadhi is by IIT Guwahati faculty member Dev Ananand Pathak. The IIT intends to seek more funds from the Centre to include more sacred texts.

TNN