ISKCON Bhagavad Gita Contest Won By Muslim Student
Marryam Siddiqui, a young Muslim girl, won first prize in an inter-school Bhagavad Gita competition held in January 2015 in Mumbai.
The 12-year-old Class VI student of Cosmopolitan High School won the ‘Gita Champions League’ contest for explaining the teachings of the scripture in the best possible manner. Around 3,000 students participated in the event, which was organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon).
The 100 mark multiple choice question test evaluates children on their knowledge of the Gita. “I have always been inquisitive about religions, and I often read up on them during my free time. So when my teacher told me about this contest I thought it would be a good chance to understand what the book is about. My parents too supported my idea of participating in the contest,” said Maryam, who received the prize on March 15.
A student of Cosmopolitan High School, Mira Road, Maryam studied material that was provided by Iskcon for almost a month before giving the test in English. “I read through the material and tried to understand what the Gita tries to tell us. The more I read about different religions, the more I have realized that humanity is the most important religion that we must follow,” she said.
Maryam has always had conversations about religion with her parents. “Our family believes that one needs to respect and accept all religions. No religion preaches hatred or wrong. However, there are some members who have misguided us. Before these have a bad influence on the children, we need to talk to them and make them understand what is right,” said her father, Asif Siddiqui.
While speaking to news agency ANI, Maryam said, “Humanity is the ultimate religion.” The Gita, believed to be the divine advice of Lord Krishna, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is a part of the epic Mahabharata. Its call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the independence movement, including Mahatma Gandhi who referred to the Gita as his “spiritual dictionary.”
Teachers at the school are proud of Maryam’s achievement. “The contest is open to students from all religions, so we asked if anyone from school wanted to participate. Maryam is excellent at school exams, and she showed the same excellence at this contest too,” said her teacher, Sapna Brahmandkar.