Behind Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma's claim that journalism began in ancient India, is there the RSS belief that mythical peripatetic sage Narada was the "first journalist of the entire universe"?
Sharma, who has a Ph.D. In Psychology, started his political career as a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh.
Linking modern technology to ancient India, he had on Wednesday said that journalism started in the Mahabharata era and equated Narada with the present-day Google.
Narendra Jain, the RSS's regional publicity in-charge, corroborates: "Narada was the first journalist of the entire universe. No two ways about it. It's a matter of faith. A debate on the issue will be futile."
"Naradaji worked for world peace. Both devtas and danavs respected him. He endeavoured to unite all into one family," he says.
"Naradaji was a master communicator. He knew the crux of journalism. The Maharishi followed the basics tenets of journalism ages ago. He was omnipresent as journalists are required to be," another RSS leader says.
According to Jain, the RSS celebrates Narada's birth anniversary across the country in May as per the traditional Hindu calendar. The Hindu organization also awards "deserving journalists" on the occasion.
Sharma, who was a professor in the Lucknow University before he took charge as UP deputy chief minister, had said that Narada was the epitome of information. He could reach anywhere and transfer a message from one place to another by saying ‘Narayana' thrice.
The BJP minister was speaking at an event organized in Mathura to mark the ‘Hindi Journalism Day".
He had also said that the mythological character Sanjaya, sitting at Hastinapur, narrated a bird's eye view of the war of Mahabharata to the blind king Dhritarashtra.
In April, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, who is known for his unwavering loyalty to the RSS, had linked Narada with Google.
He had said that Narada had information about everything happening in the entire world. “Just like Narad Muni, Google is the source of information,” he had said.
Rupani, who had joined an RSS shakha as a schoolboy, graduated to the BJP via the ABVP.
His Tripura counterpart Biplab Deb, who served the RSS for 16 years, had drawn ridicule for his remarks that Internet existed in the Mahabharata era. He had claimed that India had been using the Internet since ages and that satellite also existed at that time.
“In Mahabharata, Sanjay narrated the war to Dhritarashtra. This was due to Internet and technology.”
Days after Deb's 'Internet in Mahabharata era' comments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the BJP MPs and MLAs to refrain from making controversial statements and providing "masala" to the media.