Swami Prasad Maurya, one of the newly appointed national general secretaries of Uttar Pradesh’s main opposition Samajwadi Party (SP), courted a controversy after flagging some verses in the Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas as “anti-backward and anti-women”.

“I am not against any God, but the self-proclaimed torchbearers of religion have linked it with religion and hence I ask, if insulting women, backwards, Dalits is religion “he asked

A group called Akhil Bharatiya OBC Mahasabha on Sunday in Vrindavan burned photocopies of pages allegedly carrying “objectionable comments on women and Dalits” in Ramcharitmanas, supporting SP leader Swami Prasad Maurya.

The protest was held in Vrindavan Yojana sector, apparently in solidarity with Maurya, who had on January 22 in a statement said the Hindu epic contained passages discriminatory towards women and Shudras.

The ‘Ramcharitmanas’ issue was set off in UP by Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya who claimed on January 22 that some portions insult a large section of society on the basis of caste and had sought that they be “banned”.

Bihar’s Education Minister Chandrashekhar Singh

has mentioned 3 quatrains of Uttarkand of Ramcharit Manas. The first stanza in this is-‘Pujhi Vipra Sakal Gun Heena, Shudra na Pujhu Ved Praveena’. This means that he told that the people of the lower strata of the society are not worshipable even if they are educated. ‘Je Barnadham Teli Kumhara, Swapach Kirat Kol Kalwara’ This means that he told that Teli, Kumhar, Kahar, Kol, Kalwara, Adivasi, Dalit, all these are Adham, lowly. ‘Vidya paaye bhayahu yatha ahi milk paaye’ in the low caste. This means that he told that a person of low caste becomes poisonous like a snake after getting knowledge.

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath retorted in complaint mode “‘Ramcharitmanas’ issue raised to derail our development agenda”

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Friday said the row over some parts of Tulsidas’ epic ‘Ramcharitmanas’ allegedly being against women and those from backward communities was being created by leaders in Uttar Pradesh as part of vote-bank politics.

“It (controversy) suited both (UP CM) Yogi Adityanath and Maurya to garner votes. However, people face the wrath (of such tussles), while essential issues are ignored,” Baghel told reporters.

Asserting that “two or four couplets” do not make any difference to such a great epic, Baghel said one must adhere to social reformer Vinoba Bhave’s advice that the merits of any religious book or philosophy must be discussed in the present context.

He said Bhave advised that the basic elements (of the book or philosophy) must be discussed and its subtle facts must be accepted after consideration.

“This controversy is wrong. Ramcharitmanas was written 650 years ago by Tulsidas while Valmiki had written it much earlier. There is no need to accept it as it is written in the current situation. You should accept good things from Ramayana and the things you don’t like, leave it,” the senior Congress leader said.

Tulsidas had faced opposition at the time for writing Ramcharitmanas in Hindi but he must be credited for taking the epic to every household, Baghel asserted.

“By creating controversies around such small issues, you are just doing politics of votes,” Baghel said without naming anyone.