Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslim girls chant Sanskrit hymns

Muslim students reading Sanskrit
Muslim students reading Sanskrit

GOMOH: It’s a language traditionally associated with sacred Hindu texts. But about 100 Muslim girls in two Jharkhand schools have shattered the stereotype about Sanskrit, choosing the classical language over Urdu and Persian, saying it is much easier to learn and score good marks in. Dozens of these girls in customary headscarves chanting Sanskrit hymns from the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagwad Gita is a common sight at the schools in Gomoh, a sleepy hamlet in Jharkhand.

So, do the parents object? “No, not at all,” said Shalu Nisha, who is preparing for her class X examinations at the Government Girls High School. “In fact, they insisted that I take up Sanskrit instead of Urdu for my matriculation,” she added.

Read more: Communal Harmony

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Indonesian Muslims perform Ramayana ballet

Javanese perform Ramayana
Javanese perform Ramayana

BALI: In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, this Ramayana ballet, performed in the Javanese style—a finessed form, associated with slow and deliberate movements—has been running continuously since 1961. In 2012, it was anointed by the Guinness Book as the most continuously staged performance in the world

“We are not just Muslim,” said Sotya, who was playing Janaka, Sita’s father, that evening. “We are people of Java. Here we learn Hindu and Buddhist stories, too.”

Temples in honour of Vishnu and Shiva are scattered through the islands, words from Sanskrit make appearances in the language, and names from the Mahabharata and Ramayana dot establishments and shops across cities. Still, in modern-day Indonesia, Hindus account for less than 2% of the population.

What is this culture that everyone in Java speaks of? In the nation’s most populous island, syncretism is locked into the DNA. It is bizarre for the Javanese to think of their religion and their cultural history as incompatible; Hindu stories are part of their legacy, even though their religious affiliation might lie elsewhere.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Quran and Gita promote same message and values

Two scriptures are placed before me. Both scriptures are believed to be the words of God. Over two billion people, representing a third of the humanity, swear by one or the other. Says God, I am the originator of heaven and earth… I alone have the power to create and to destroy. I open the other scripture and find these words of God: I am the creator of the whole world, and I have the power to destroy it.

To those who believe in the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita, or those (few) who believe in both, the striking similarity in the sayings of the two scriptures should cause no surprise. Both scriptures tell us that God’s message has come to the people from time to time all through the history of mankind (Quran, 40:79; Gita 4:1-3). A thread has been preordained to run through all the scriptures which came into being from time to time but no two scriptures are as close to each other in the letter and spirit as the Bhagvad Gita and the Quran.

Read more: Communal Harmony