Its time for Ram Mandir!

Note: Views of author are personal!

The first thought which strikes any logical thinker that why is there so much conflict to build a temple for Ram in the birthplace of Ram! Why do the community of Hindus need to struggle to build a temple for their deepest religious impression and sentiment in the the country which was the cradle of Hinduism and gives the right to pursue and practise one’s religion.

The action shifts to Ram Janmabhoomi issue which has been one of the biggest religious conflicts in the history of independent India irrespective of the governments and civil societies. For beginners, Ram Janmabhoomi is a portion of land claimed to be the birthplace of Ram, who is worshipped widely across the sections of Hinduism. Archaelogical surveys in 2003 claim the existence of human activity thousands of years back along with the existence of a temple since 10th century. History claims that the temple was destroyed in 1528 by Mir Baqi, the commander of Mughal Emperor Babur. Mir Baqi also built a construction named Babri as a symbol of his victory on the existing structure of Ram Mandir. For 4 centuries later which followed, Ram Janmabhoomi was the searing point of conflict along with a shared space for the communities of Hindus and Muslims.In 1949, a group of people placed the idols inside Babri Masjid leading to its closure. In 1986, the locks of the Babri were opened. In 1992, a group of Hindu activists demolished the construction at the Ram Janmabhoomi site leading to widespread violence across India which led to killing over 2000 people. A make-shift temple was made at the site while the matter was sub-judice for 18 years. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court dished out a justice which ordered the land to be divided into 3 equal parts which would be given to Ram Temple, Sunni WAQF Board and Nirmohi Akhara respectively. Its 7 years since this has happened and yet nothing moved forward and issue still remains as an elephant in the room waiting to be addressed!

While the Hindus claim that the land and the temple assume monumental sentiment to them, Muslims allege that a religious place of worship has been destroyed raising existential question of religious freedom. One of the biggest questions to be asked here is What is bigger — religious sentiment of 85% of people of land which is backed by history or allowing another religion to still put its feet into the door of the altar on grounds of religious freedom. On a personal note, I believe a majority sentiments needs to be respected. If this country is regarded as a place where all religions are respected and sentiments are appreciated, Ram Janmabhoomi should also be treated in the same way. To date, there are 33 mosques in Ayodhya and there are thousands of other mosques across the length and breadth of India. Yet the issue remains status quo as Muslim remain muscle minded about their identity in the country. Today, one of the major hurdles towards the construction of the temple remains the acceptance of the Islamic communities towards the same. As much as we all hypocritically endorse religious tolerance and mutual brotherhood between the two religions we still fail to resolve this intense dissent at the very core.

As the issue remained in court, it was extensively exploited for electoral benefits and vote-bank politics. Certain political parties destroyed the issue in derogatory terms and hurt the sentiments of Hindus. A few other political parties endorsed the historical and religious claim of the people. Ram Janmabhoomi and its resolution was on manifestos of all major political parties, both left and right winged. The Congress Governments led by PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh in 1991–96 and 2004–14 have been on the negative side of the issue by neglecting the issue to protect the minority votebanks of their party in Uttar Pradesh with a considerable Muslim population. While BJP is alleged to be one motivators of the demolition, former PM Chandrasekhar and Late PM Rajiv Gandhi can be said to have done good gestures in this regard. While Chandrasekhar invited both communities to have a dialogue and seek a solution, Rajiv Gandhi started his election campaign from Ayodhya in 1989 with an intention to bring “Rama Rajya” along with allowing VHP to lay foundation stone for Ram Mandir. Although criticised for being an accessory to the violence, Rajiv Gandhi is the only leader who took any step towards this. Ever since, LK Advani, AB Vajpayee and many other BJP leaders have been crusaders of this terrain to ensure a closure. While Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas is working on a construction of a temple, All India Babri Masjid Action Committee is working on a reconstruction of Masjid.

As we are talking so much, who is this Ram?

Ram is an avatar or the descent of Lord Vishnu who took birth and ruled as king of Ayodhya. His story is recorded in a Hindu religious book called Ramayana and his birth is celebrated in India as Sri Ramanavami. Ram took birth as a human to show that it is possible to lead a perfect and a flawless life as a human being abiding bythe laws of Dharma. Ram was always regarded as “Ramo Vigrahavan Dharamha” which means Ram is the epitome of Dharma. His life, his teachings and his message of universal brotherhood and righteousness are of highest importance to the epithet of Hinduism. Ram Rajya is often regarded as an ideal place where Dharma is present in its fullest potential and life is perfect and peaceful and has been a reference to many Indian politicians. Ram is a Satyavakya Paripalaka or someone who spoke the truth always. Ram is a Pitruvakya Paripalaka or someone who obeyed the elders. Ram is a Dharma Rakshaka as he protected the Dharma. Ram is an Adarsha Purusha as he lived by example. And thats why — Aho Rama is used as a jargon just like Good Lord or Oh God! I personally have a habit of saying Ramaa! myself. Hence, this sentiment of Hindus which is the central to the aspect of practising religion needs to be adhered and respected by every citizen of India. This is the Constitution’s word. If you may want to know, Ram is celebrated and worshipped across Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and many places across the world.

When we make the Ram Mandir, we get an opportunity to preserve the ideals and identity of this religion to pass it forward to the future generations. When we make the the Ram Mandir, millions of Hindus reinstall their faith in the legal system of this country which respected their sentiments which has given them a chance to protect their religion. Last but not the least, Ram Mandir is an opportunity to enshrine the history of Ram, an idol figure for the human race. Every religion has got its way in this country in pursuing its interests and why should Hinduism not do so. If Ram Mandir is an interest for Hinduism, so be it. The issue boils down to the fact that is it millions of people’s sentiments or a few thousands of votes for electoral politics. Hindus have been large-hearted and have been magnamious and accomodating in the entire framework of Ram Janmabhoomi. They have been so to the extent of taking derogatory comments on Ram and his identity and also bearing a terrorist attack by LeT on Babri site in 2005. On another instance, DMK Leader M. Karunanidhi, a faithfully ally of Congress sarcastically called out- “Was Ram born? Did Ram live like all of us?” and drove a dagger into millions of hearts. Weren’t these acts abusive and downright malicious? So while courts and governments need time, agreements and evidence to decide, the verdict and truths are out in open for intelligent people to see and understand. After all, when the future generations go to see Ayodhya as a birthplace of Ram, what would they like to us see — a temple which enshrines his greatness or a barbed fence with debris with security?

Changing winds with Yogi Adityanath and Narendra Modi

In the latest developments, the Supreme Court has advised the two parties to settle the issue amicably. Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar offered a 3-way solution to two parties and advised a peaceful all-inclusive way forward. Last but not the least, Subramanian Swamy also insisted on a mutual consenus of the both the religious groups. What really would bring this to a closure is the political will and statesmanship to build the temple. Leadership to understand what is long term gain for the interests of the society. Indian politics have taken a decisive and definitive turn in the last few years. 2014 saw Narendra Modi led BJP form a government with a record breaking mandate with clear majority. Modi government has done good work and has worked to protect the interests of the country very well. As an icing on the cake, the recent UP elections saw the rise of a BJP yet again with another resounding victory. UP also saw a monk turned political leader and 5 time MP Yogi Adityanath assume office as CM of the State. Yogi Adityanath has been credited to take some of the toughest decisions in the office in last few days. Yogi Adityanath and the BJP have been very vocal and clear about building the Ram Mandir and have been awarded 300 out of the 400 seats in what can be called a decisive Hindu mandate. With Yogi Adityanath at the helm of affairs and credited as a fire-fisted decision maker and with the all support of leaders like Narendra Modi and the Rajya Sabha slowly falling into the support of the BJP, Ram Mandir would be a reality very very soon. I look forward to visiting a beautifully constructed Ram Mandir in the my first visit to Uttar Pradesh!

As I end my blog wanted to end it with a relevant story from a European history which may be worth mentioning.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Warsaw

Russia invaded Poland and ruled it for many years. During their rule, the Russians built Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in orthodox Russian style. It opened in 1912 and was situated in Saxon Square in the heart of Warsaw City. Fifteen years later after Poland regained independence from Russia, One of the many things Poland government did was to demolish the Alexander Cathedral. Many other cathedrals across Poland also met the same fate. The demolition act was countered by protests from Catholic communities and other groups. The Poland Government simply dismissed off the case saying that — the church may be a symbol of religion and a place of worship but it is an edifice of Poland’s slavery to Russia and its imperial stamp on the history of Poland. It is a mark of insult to Poland national feelings and was purposely built to hurt them and had to be uprooted. This incident narrated to me by a Polish national while I was on a train in Europe still gives me the same emotions as it did that day.

Jai Sri Ram! Happy Ram Navami!

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