Kendriya Vidyalayas

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Morning Prayer

SC questions school prayer in Kendriya Vidyalayas

A Vaidyanathan, January 10, 2018: The Times of India

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

The court was acting on a petition by a lawyer who argues that the morning prayer is in violation of the constitution as it promotes a particular religion. The lawyer's children also studied in the Kendriya Vidyalaya.

The prayer has been sung since 1964 in more than 1,100 Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country.

Whether a morning prayer at Kendriya Vidyalayas or central government-run schools across the country promotes the Hindu religion and defies constitutional principles will be examined by the Supreme Court, which today asked for the centre's view.

"It is a serious constitutional issue," the top court said, asking the centre and the Kendriya Vidyalayas to respond within two weeks to a petition that says the prayer is unconstitutional as it promotes a particular religion.

The prayer in Hindi has featured in the morning assembly in more than 1,100 Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country since 1964. It ends with a Sanskrit shloka.

Lawyer Veenayak Shah, the petitioner, argues that the prayer is in violation of the constitution and "impedes nurturing of reasoning and scientific temper among impressionable young minds".

"The prayer is in Hindi and Sanskrit. Students of other religions have to compulsorily attend the assembly and recite it," said Mr Shah, whose children also studied in a Kendriya Vidyalaya.

Urging the court to put a stop to any kind of prayer at these schools, Mr Shah said that "there is no scientific reason to call this prayer beneficial, so it should be scrapped."

The prayer is "constitutionally impermissible", says his petition, adding that institutions funded by the state cannot propagate any religion.

Compulsory shlokas and prayers, the petition says, are contrary to the Articles in the constitution that state that "no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution maintained out of state funds" and "all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression."

The prayer and its meaning

Green Message

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।

 तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । 

मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय । 

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya | 

Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya | 

Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya | 

Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||


Om, (O Lord) Keep me not in the Unreality (of the bondage of the Phenomenal World), but lead me towards the Reality (of the Eternal Self),

(O Lord) Keep me not in the Darkness (of Ignorance), but lead me towards the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),

(O Lord) Keep me not in the (Fear of) Death (due to the bondage of the Mortal World), but lead me towards the Immortality (gained by the Knowledge of the Immortal Self beyond Death),

Om, (May there be) Peace, Peace, Peace (at the the three levels - Adidaivika, Adibhautika and Adhyatmika).

See also

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas

Kendriya Vidyalayas

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