Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ayodhya Politics - 1


The Sarayu must have wept quite a lot.  The river which bathed Rama’s childhood and watched the conflicts that the Maryada Purushottam suffered during his adult life went on to witness much more nasty conflicts a whole yug later.

When India became independent more than half of the Muslims made arduous journeys across the new national border reducing their population in India to a meagre 10%.  The first Prime Minister of secular India, a visionary who considered dams more sacred than gods, announced that “All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations.”

Ayodhya was not much affected by the Partition.  The Muslims there chose to stay back placing their trust in Nehru’s secularism.  The Muslims had working relationships with the Hindus in Ayodhya.  Muslim artisans made many of the idols that adorned Hindu temples.  One temple there even had a Muslim manager.

Then someone had a dream.  The dream shattered the peace that had hitherto marked the “quiet town of temples, narrow byways, wandering cows and the ancient, mossy walls of ashrams and shrines.”* Abhiram Das, a sadhu, told his disciples that Lord Ram appeared to him in many dreams standing under the central dome of the mosque/temple.  The dream was shared with the Faizabad city magistrate, Guru Dutt Singh, who claimed to have had the same dream many times.  The duo decided to put a Ram idol in the mosque surreptitiously.

The “miraculous” apparition of “Ram Lalla” in the mosque sent tremors through the heart of the Sarayu in Nov 1949.  The sadhus and some Ram devotees lit sacred fires outside the mosque and recited verses from the Ramayana.  Since India is liberated, the birthplace of Lord Ram must also be liberated, Abhiram Das declared.

The government officials in Ayodhya and Faizabad cooperated wholeheartedly with the sadhus in spite of Nehru’s orders to remove the idol from the mosque.  The Muslims who tried to enter the mosque were stopped by the police.  Moreover, the Hindu leaders got some Muslims to sign an affidavit stating that they did not wish to pray in a place which was originally a temple.  [The authenticity of this affidavit has been in question for quite some time now.] A legal battle started soon led by a lawyer named Gopal Singh Visharad to take complete possession of the mosque/temple. Akshaya Brahmachari, a young sadhu who argued that the whole of Ayodhya was Rama’s own place and that the attempt to seize the mosque was a slur on the god was beaten up by the other sadhus and banished from Ayodhya.
Ayodhya on Sarayu

Three decades later, in the 1980s, the sorrow of the Sarayu stretched far and wide and became a national sorrow. In 1984, about 500 sadhus from across India gathered in Delhi in order to formulate strategies for defending Hinduism from onslaught by other religions.  “We cannot even light a holy lamp” at Lord Ram’s birthplace, Karan Singh cried unto the sadhus.  Karan Singh, son of the last king of Kashmir, was terribly upset with the conversion of 400 Dalit families in Meenakshipuram, Tamil Nadu, into Islam in 1981.  The meeting decided that the Hindu “culture was under siege” [Ashok Singhal’s words – he had convened the meeting as VHP’s joint general secretary].  The meeting decided to retrieve three holy sites, Ayodhya being the most important.

A rath yatra was organised immediately starting from Sitamarhi in Bihar.  It reached Ayodhya 12 days later.  The devotees went to the banks of the Sarayu and took an oath holding the river’s water in their cupped hands that they would give up anything in order to construct the Ram mandir.

Two years later, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi succumbed to Muslim pressure and his party annulled a Supreme Court order in the infamous Shah Bano case which sought some sort of gender equality in Indian Islam.  This appeasement of Muslims enraged the Hindus.  Rajiv Gandhi appeased the Hindus in return by allowing them to open the Ayodhya mosque/temple which had been under lock and key for quite some time.  The politics of religious appeasement got stuck like a cancerous vermin.

The Sarayu wept again. 

* Ayodhya: The Battle for India’s Soul by Krishna Pokharel and Paul Beckett, serialised by The Wall Street Journal from Dec 3 to Dec 8, 2012.



PS. This is going to be much longer than what I expected.  I wish I could make it shorter.  But history is a harsh taskmaster.  It insists on teaching us too many lessons than we can handle.  So let me carry on after a break.  You too, my dear reader, take a break.  Let the Sarayu too have a break. 

4 comments:

  1. Religion is a greater pressure point in people's mind. If gandhi was to see any of the religious riots in Indian history he would have cursed himself and died. people dont learn to see religion and politics to be different and value humanity over them. It's India's curse that she has such ignorant and careless citizens

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    1. India's greatest curse is religion. Nehru. our first PM, said that. And we are back to that curse now.

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  2. Opening up Indian history, unfortunately, is like examining an atom bomb on your kitchen table. Ramayana, to me, is not more than one of the finest literary creations in the world. It contains history; it contains the best narrations about human life and transformations. How Raman, it's protagonist, who took a personal decision to spend long fourteen years in the forest ends up asking Sitha to declare her purity. This purification is strictly religious, and after returning to his kingdom, he becomes a slave in the hands of the Brahmin men who by then had taken total control of India. He couldn't take any personal decision not to sent his wife to the fearsome forest. And with abandoning Sita, he knew, he was abandoning his future-his children. Who's winning in Ramayana? The rotten Brahmanic religion and their imposterous utterances in the name of God and spirituality. The majority dumb-ass Indians see their primary objective in life is to show absolute commitment to these impostures. These men are an extremely dangerous creed. They can see dreams as they shit, and there are these dumb-asses to execute those wishes. And the impact of colonialism has brought untold miseries to India. Who is responsible for the uncountable death of the Muslims and Hindus in the name of Indian partition. How was no boundary between India and Pakistan not promulgated until two days after India's freedom day? How could Nehru not see the danger? It's sad. Now the bloody brahmins are still ruling India. So, the history of India offers so much more to sense than what appears on paper.

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    1. I consider both Ramayana and Mahabharata great epics worthy of eminent place in world literature. Both reveal human nature vividly. As the preface to Mahabharata says, whatever is there in the world will be found in it: love, hatred, war, peace, lust, greed, jealousy... everything. Rama's angst is our own. His helplessness is our own. Unfortunately people spiritualised the whole thing and stripped Rama and other characters of their humanness, Eventually we started fighting in their names forgetting what they taught. But that's true in the case of every religion.

      Religion is merely a tool for achieving worldly things such as power. Ayodhya is also fundamentally a political issue more than religious. It is about 'garv' rather than god.

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