By Pervez Bari,
Bhopal: Mumbai-based Baby Mariyam Asif Siddiqui, a class 6th student, who won the Shrimad Bhagwad Gita Champion League, met Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and sought his blessings here.
The 12-year-old Mariyam had established a unique example of respect for all religions when she won the Shrimad Bhagwat Gita Champion League held in January this year by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON).
Mariyam, along with her father, met the chief minister at the Mantralaya here on Wednesday.
After her Gita achievement, Mariyam has hogged the limelight all over the country putting several followers of Sanatana Dharma to shame as they did not know as many things that she knew written in Gita. Ever since many non-Muslim organisation have lined up to felicitate her all over the country.
Blessing her to move ahead and brighten the country’s name, the Chief Minister said that there is a need to absorb teachings of love and affection of all religions by the society. He asked Mariyam to follow the ideals of Bhagwad Gita and always remain active for public welfare. He said, “We wish that everyone become a winner in his life and not defeated by anyone. This is possible through religious teachings and spiritual knowledge.”
Mariyam then read out her poem on communal harmony before the Chief Minister and presented Rs 11,000 cheque from her savings for children’s welfare.
This is not the first time for her to make such a donation. Earlier on June 2, she was felicitated by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. She surprised the gathering by offering a cheque of Rs 11,000 to the chief minister of one of the rich states of the country with a request to utilise it for the education of poor girls. Then, when she met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on June 6, he too was similarly stumped when he honoured Maryam with a cheque of Rs 11 lakh. Maryam not only returned the cheque to the chief minister, but also offered two cheques of Rs 11,000 each to him with a plea to use all the money for the noble cause through various schemes, news agency IANS reported from Thane.
It may be recalled that Mariyam poured over a book of Bhagavad Gita stories, which ISKON provided to almost 5,000 students from the 5th to 10th class in more than 100 competing schools in the city. A student of Cosmopolitan High School Mira Road, Mumbai, she stood first among over 3,000 participants at the contest. She won in the sixth grade category.
Mariyam, who plans to be a lawyer, said she has already learned two life lessons from the Bhagavad Gita stories: “The path to the truth is non-violent and no one should insult anyone else.” Her discovery of other faiths began several years before this competition. “We are Muslims. But ever since I was a child, my parents pushed me to learn about religions other than Islam. The curiosity has grown since then,” she said.
In fact, not only is she well-versed with the Quran, she has also read the Bible “to acquire knowledge of all religions”. She asserted the most important teaching that has stayed with her after reading the Gita is that “you should always do the right thing and have the right faith.”
“I believe that there is one God but we call him by different names. My parents have played a big role in making me realise that we should respect all religions,” she added. She also shares her knowledge with her three younger brothers.