JAIPUR: The group of Banaras Hindu University students protesting against the appointment of a Muslim at their Sanskrit department might just change their minds if they visited the professor's father.
At a temple in the premises of Shree Ramdev Gaushala Chetanya Dham in Bagru, 35 kilometres from the Rajasthan capital, Ramzan Khan participates in the aarti, sitting at a harmonium and singing a bhajan.
The atmosphere there is in sharp contrast to the protest by some students at the BHU.
They say only a Hindu can teach Sanskrit.
But a visit to Bagru, where the family lives in a modest three-room house, reveals that the professor grew up in an atmosphere immersed in Sanskrit and 'Hindu traditions'.
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His father Ramzan Khan himself holds the Shastri qualification in Sanskrit, composes religious songs and performs 'gau sewa' at the nearby cattle shed.
At the same time, he visits the mosque and offers namaz.
The local Hindu community, as well as his own relatives, are okay with this.
'I was very happy when my son was appointed at the prestigious Banaras Hindu University. The protest by students is unfortunate and I would like to urge the agitating students to recognise my son and see what kind of background he has,' he said.
'My son wanted to learn Sanskrit like me so I got him admission at the school. He had the blessings of the teachers, acquired a high qualification and got selected at BHU,' Khan said on Wednesday.
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'I am confident that if the students listen to him with patience and see his family background, they would be convinced and satisfied,' he added.
Ramzan Khan has had a better deal than his son.
'I never faced discrimination on the basis of religion. We all live in brotherhood. I go to the mosque and often offer namaz, I go to the temple and do Krishna Bhakti and gau sewa,' he said.
He said Sanskrit runs through his veins.
'My father also used to sing songs at temples. I learnt this from him. He made me learn Sanskrit and I also started dedicating time for gau sewa, and also composed songs. My time goes in Krishna and Bhagwad bhakti,' he said.
At temples, he sings songs dedicated to Rama, Krishna, Shiva and other Hindu deities.
Singing bhajans at temples and events like "jagrans" is also his source of livelihood.
Hindu seers in the area have come out in support of the family after the BHU row.
'This is very condemnable that a person who is highly qualified in Sanskrit and got appointed on merit is being opposed only because he is Muslim. This intolerance should be stopped,' said Saurabh Raghvendracharya, a 'sadhu' from the Raghunathdham temple near Bagru.
'All our religious functions and the temple aarti are incomplete without Ramzan Khan. People in large numbers turn up to listen to him. He does it all in dedication to Krishna bhakti and never expects anything in return,' said Mohan Lal Sharma, a priest from another temple.
'He too is a Sanskrit scholar, serves cows and loves them,' the priest added.
While Ramzan Khan meets people who call on him following the BHU protests, other family members appear reluctant to do so.
'I only want to convey that people should see the qualifications of my son instead of judging him on the basis of religion,' he said.