SC opens door for Vedic studies for all

KATHMANDU :In its groundbreaking verdict, the Supreme Court (SC) today directed th Education ministry and Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) to allow everybody, irrespective of their caste, to study the Vedas.

A division bench of Justices Kalyan Shrestha and Abadhesh Kumar Yadav issued the order, paving the way for the Dalits and Janajatis to study the Vedas at the Pashupati Veda School, Bankali.

This verdict breaks the age-old tradition of inducting only Upadhyaya Bramhin boys as batuks in the Vedic education. These boys were expected to uphold the Hindu culture as pundits and priests after graduating from the school of the Vedas.

“Since the Pashupati Veda School is a state-owned educational institution regulated by the PADT law, there should not be any discrimination on the basis of caste or ethnicity,” the bench directed. In its mandamus order, the apex court also told the PADT to select batuks impartially on a merit basis.

“The Vedic education is an income-generating opportunity. Everybody should be entitled to it and the SC cannot uphold discrimination in a state entity,” the bench observed.

The bench stated that people of all the castes should be allowed to perform their rituals. It noted that the tradition had violated Article 13, 14 and 23 of the Interim Constitution, which has guaranteed the right to religion and right against caste-based discrimination. The apex court judged that setting up separate schools with particular castes in focus would deepen discrimination and threaten social harmony.

The ministry and the PADT have also been directed to manage infrastructure to address the inflow of students following the order. Mohan Sashankar had filed the writ petition seeking an order to end discrimination in the sacred education.