The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, has said the bow and arrow in the state government's emblem stood for Lord Ram, coming up with an interpretation not all historians agree with.
'Besides the Ganga and the Yamuna in the emblem of the government, there is the bow and arrow of Maryada Purushottam Ram in it,' the BJP leader said in a speech to mark the first celebration of Uttar Pradesh Day.
The idea of celebrating the day had been conceived by the Governor, Ram Naik, three years ago but the then Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government had rejected the suggestion.
For the record, historians are not unanimous about the meaning of the emblem, which was adopted the day the state came into being on January 24, 1950.
While some say the bow and arrow represent Lord Ram, others claim they symbolise the heroes of the Mahabharata.
Some historians say it was first taken in 1916 from the Royal Society of the United Kingdom when this part of India was within the United Provinces of Agra and Awadh.
The emblem also has a pair of fish, like the emblem of the rulers of Awadh, and two streams, representing the Ganga and the Yamuna, as symbols of social harmony.
Sanobar Haider, assistant professor of medieval and modern history at Lucknow's Maharaj Bijli Pasi Government Degree College, said the bow and arrow represent bravery, courage and valour. 'As per my research, the streams of water symbolise life. There are two fish because there was Shia rule in Awadh and the community considers it (fish) auspicious. The bow and arrow represent courage, valour and bravery.'
'Since the name Awadh was derived from Ayodhya, the mythical kingdom of Lord Ram, some try to associate the bow and arrow with him.'
Yogi Adityanath said the people of the state should be proud of their tradition as three of the country's most revered religious places - Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura - are situated in Uttar Pradesh.
'Out of seven sacred rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna are in our state. Maharishi Valmiki had written the Ramayan in Uttar Pradesh and 88,000 rishis had lived in Naimisharanya (Sitapur district) in the ancient times,' Yogi Adityanath told the event, inaugurated by the Vice-President, M. Venkaiah Naidu.
The Yogi said the 'Kriya Yoga, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has popularised across the world', was first practised and preached by Guru Gorakhnath in the state.
Yogi Adityanath is the mahant of Gorakhpur's Gorakhnath temple, considered the centre of the Nath sect founded by Gorakhnath in the 11th century.
The Chief Minister also made a brief mention of the Sufi saint Kabir, who was born in Uttar Pradesh. 'It is UP which has preserved the tradition of Kabir,' he said.