Karnataka Government Revises School Textbooks, Sparks Controversy Over Sanatana Dharma


Bengaluru: The Karnataka government has finalized the revision of textbooks for classes one to ten, introducing key changes that are likely to fuel debates and controversies, especially around “Sanatana Dharma”. This came amid controversy on remarks by DMK leaders.

What are the changes?

The revision, now set for printing, includes a notable addition of a chapter on Sanatana Dharma, signaling a shift in the ideological direction of the curriculum. Sanatana Dharma, which is often translated as the eternal way of life, is a term used by some Hindus to refer to their religion and culture. Sanatana Dharma will be given a “precise definition” in the Class 8th History textbook.

The government has also brought back the works of progressive writers like Girish Karnad, Periyar, and Devanur Mahadev which were dropped by the earlier textbook revision committee under Rohit Chakrathirtha formed by the BJP government. These writers are known for their criticism of caste, religion, and social norms.

Furthermore, the revised textbooks emphasize constitutional principles, fundamental duties, fundamental rights, and democracy across various grades. New chapters introducing Jainism and Buddhism have been included, while certain terms like “dharma” have been changed to “religion.” Sections on dynasties from Jammu, Kashmir, and the northeast have been trimmed while the new chapters have been added.

The committee has retained all the corrections introduced into the textbooks as soon as Congress came into power last year.

Notably, the committee chose not to introduce any content related to Tipu Sultan beyond what was retained by the BJP, avoiding potential controversies that could have emerged. Tipu Sultan was an 18th-century ruler of Mysore who fought against the British and is considered a hero by some and a tyrant by others.

How did the BJP react?

The BJP, which is the main opposition party in the state, opposed the move, saying the Congress government is trying to bring people who are against Sanatana Dharma.

Ashwath Narayan, BJP MLA, and former Higher education minister, said: “They don’t respect the constitution and faith and belief of the people of Karnataka. They want to create chaos, confusion, and polarization. They don’t respect the Sanatana Dharma we believe in, so they are trying to bring people who are against Sanatana Dharma, who are against our faith. By doing this they are trying to create confusion and they are working against Sanatana Dharma who we condemn we’ll expose the Congress government and create awareness, we’ll oppose the syllabus strongly and ensure that the inclusion doesn’t happen.”


The BJP also accused the Congress of appeasing the DMK, which is its ally in Tamil Nadu, and has recently made remarks against Hindu gods and scriptures. The DMK, however, has denied any involvement in the textbook revision.