A Muslim professor of ancient Sanskrit language in India has gone into hiding due to mounting pressure exerted by right wing Hindu students, who refused to take lessons from him at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.
“A Muslim cannot teach us our religion,” read a placard at a protest staged two days after Feroz Khan’s appoint as the assistant professor of Sanskrit literature at the campus earlier this month, The Guardian reported.
Khan, 29, was the unanimous choice of a selection committee for the post to teach the students the ancient classical language of Hinduism. The committee members were impressed with his erudition, which stems from a childhood passion for the language that continued into further education.
Political row in Indian state sparks debate on land rights for Dalits
Students, influenced by growing Hindu nationalism under the Narendra Modi government, vowed to keep protesting until Khan was moved to a different faculty.
Khan has been stunned at the protests. Before vanishing, he made only a few remarks to the media. “Since my childhood, till the completion of my studies … I never faced any discrimination because of my religion. This is so disheartening. A group of students don’t want me to teach them Sanskrit because I am not a Hindu,” he was quoted by the local media as saying.
Sanskrit is 3,500 years old language and has the same status in Hinduism as Latin did in Christianity – only it is not quite as “dead” as Latin. It is still used in some academic and literary circles, as well as during Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals and ceremonies.
This article originally appeared in The Guardian