Sixteen-year-old Nadeem Khan, who recently won the state-level Bhagavad Gita shloka recitation competition in Rajasthan, is passionate about learning Sanskrit. He finds the language quite simple, interesting, and easy. According to him, the Bhagavad Gita shlokas have deeply inspiring messages and he loves reciting them. This Sanskrit lover started learning the language when he was in Class VI. He feels that there is something magical about Sanskrit which drew his interest.
"My teachers helped me in developing my passion (for Sanskrit)," Nadeem remarks. He first saw the Bhagavad Gita in his school library; as he opened it and started to read it, he was immediately drawn into it. Then and there, Nadeem decided that he would learn the shlokas. He says,
"We used to have regular assembly sessions in the morning, after which we were given freedom to say anything inspiring. It was on this platform that I started sharing these inspiring shlokas."
Nadeem also shares a strong bonding with his friends, most of whom are Hindus. "Whenever I visit the home of my friends, I make sure I touch the feet of their mothers who treat me as their son," he adds. He gives credit for his success to his parents who always prompted him to follow his heart and never stopped him from reading the Gita. Also, they never pressurised him to learn Urdu.
"I always used to recite these shlokas with my father who would sit and listen to them with patience despite the fact that he couldn't understand them," he said.
Nadeem felt truly happy when he was felicitated for winning the Gita Fest. Recalling the moment, he says,
I also felt proud when our village Sarpanch came to our place and felicitated me. His words were really inspiring. I had tears in my eyes when he said, 'This boy proved that school is a temple of knowledge as he has learnt a language without having any bias for caste, creed or any such parameter.'
A student of Rashtriya Adarsh Uchh Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Kanota, Nadeem wants to become a doctor. He remarks,
I belong to a poor family and have seen financial challenges coming in when any member of my family fell ill. I want to serve the poor by becoming a doctor.
There were two other Muslim students from Jaipur who bagged top positions in the shloka recitation contest of the Gita verses. They are siblings -- Zaheen Naqvi of Class II and Zorabia Nagori of Class IV. Their father Tanweer Ahmad is proud of his young kids who, according to him, learnt the Sanskrit verses on their own.
The two siblings are yet to have Sanskrit as the official subject in their school, but they made efforts to get their name registered in the competition and then worked hard. Their teachers also helped them come out with flying colours, he said.
As the siblings were out on their winter vacation, they could not be contacted. However, their father was determined to help his children carve a niche for themselves in the fields of their choice.
With inputs from IANS