Teaching Sanskrit has nothing to do with religion: BHU prof Firoz Khan amid student protests

After being appointed around a fortnight ago on November 5, 2019 as assistant professor, Firoz Khan had gone into hiding switching off his mobile phone. 

Published: 19th November 2019 08:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th November 2019 08:33 PM   |  A+A-

BHU stir against Professor Khan’s appointment, has been probably one of worst examples of the communalisation BHU has seen.

BHU stir against Professor Khan’s appointment, has been probably one of worst examples of the communalisation BHU has seen. (File Photo)

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: Sanskrit teaching has nothing to do with religion, feels Professor Firoz Khan, who has been in the eye of storm following ongoing protests over his appointment as an assistant professor at Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV) of BHU on November 5, 2019.

Stir against Professor Khan’s appointment, has been probably one of worst examples of the communalisation of the appointment of a Muslim teacher at BHU which is considered to be a prestigious and an evolved central university. 

With BHU administration standing firmly by its decision of having appointed  Professor Khan on merit, a handful of cynic and rogue elements on BHU campus are trying to whip up the communal passions as a publicity stunt.

After being appointed around a fortnight ago on November 5, 2019 as assistant professor, Firoz Khan had gone into hiding switching off his mobile phone. 

As the university administration including Vice-Chancellor Prof Rakesh Bhatnagar himself came out to justify the appointment of Professor Firoz Khan saying he was the most deserving of the last 10 candidates selected from 30 shortlisted for the post, the newly appointed assistant professor got confidence and strength to face the situation.

Sharing his plight, Professor Khan shared that he had been into Sanskrit learning since standard II but never felt that he was a Muslim “who was not entitled to study the language.”

“Now after my appointment to as prestigious an institution as BHU, I am being made to realise my religious credentials which some people think make me ineligible to study or teach Sanskrit,” said the distraught professor.

Prof Khan belongs to Bagru village in Jaipur, Rajasthan took pride in sharing that he was the only Muslim student in his batch when he opted Sanskrit for higher studies. Last year, he completed his PhD from Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan where he also taught Sanskrit as a guest faculty.

He comes from a family of Sanskrit scholars. Not only his younger brother has studied Sanskrit but the seeds of Sanskrit learning were sown by his father Ramzan Khan who is a Sanskrit graduate himself. Ramzan Khan used to sing bhajans to raise money for gaushalas, a legacy of his father.

Prof Firoz Khan secured Shastri (Bachelor degree), Shiksha Shastri (B.Ed), Acharya (post-graduate) and received his PhD in 2018 from Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a deemed university, in Jaipur. Khan has also cleared NET and JRF. 

‘The excitement and the sense of pride over selection to BHU as assistant professor vanished when such a clamour started over my appointment,” said the professor who was clueless about his next step but hoped that the protestors would come along.

He hoped to convince the students that Sanskrit teaching should not be seen together with the religion. He said he would have understood that his religious credentials were coming in his way as Sanskrit teacher had he been asked to teach the Vedas, Hindu scriptures and astrology (jyotish), but he would be teaching just Sanskrit literature comprising the literary epics like Abhigyan Shakuntalam, Uttar Ramcharitam or Mahakavya like Raghuvansh Mahakavya or Harshcharitam and all that had nothing to do with religion.

Though the BHU administration has explained it umpteen number of times to the protestors that Prof Khan was found to be the most deserving by the screening and the selection committee comprising even the V-C, but the protestors have been finding novel ways to humiliate not only the authorities but Professor Khan also.

He fails to forget how he used to be praised and heaped with accolades by the prominent Hindus of his native place for his knowledge of Sanskrit. “I may not be knowing holy Quran as much as I do Sanskrit literature,” he said to substantiate his point.

With no classes in Sanskrit department since November 7, students and faculty of other departments find the protest against Prof Firoz Khan’s appointment despicable and protestors liable for punishment under rule of law.

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