The “ Gita Champions League ” organized by ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) saw a winner this year who has changed the way people perceive religion. Maryam Asif Siddiqui, a student of Cosmopolitan High School, class VI, came first in the competition which tested students participating from over 195 schools on their knowledge and understanding of Bhagwad Gita. Maryam who is twelve had started studying the sacramental works from an early age with taking lectures on Quran alongside Bible and Bhagwad Gita. Her victory shows that not only religious divides are superficial but their imposition being solely man made which avails no good.
After reading the holy works, Maryam Asif Siddiqui says none of them have preached to distinguish one man from another on religious basis but have always promoted brotherhood, with the virtue of giving one’s life for another human being. Is it so difficult to perceive this simple truth for our society which a twelve year old can discern? For Maryam reading increases knowledge, whether it be scriptures or academic reading, she embraces both with equal eagerness. Her motive is to learn and not differentiate.
The translated version of the Gita distributed by ISKCON in schools was based on 18 chapters where all the shlokas were translated into English for easy readability. Maryam’s school had barely finished teaching the work when the test was held. But Maryam’s keen interest urged her to read the entire book out of sheer curiosity of gaining knowledge and understanding the morals preached by each story.
Her favorite chapter being one with the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjun in the war field where the lesson of not hurting fellow humans even they might be our enemies, inspired Maryam the most. Her proud parents advocated a way of educating children where ones community does not form a barrier in the process for gaining knowledge or loosing respect for a fellow human belonging to another community, proving extremist wrong. Maryam has been taught likewise, becoming an example of preaching harmony and respect for each other’s religious practices.