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Ram Mandir: Glory, Sacrifice and Ultimate Victory

DNA logo DNA 05-08-2020 dnawebdesk@gmail.com (DNA Web Desk)
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Societal collapse, also known as the civilizational collapse is the fall of a complex human society. Possible causes of a societal collapse include natural catastrophe, war, pestilence, and depopulation. A collapsed society may revert to a more primitive state, be absorbed into a stronger society, or completely disappear. Disintegration may be relatively abrupt, like the Maya civilization, or gradual, as in the case of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Examples of such societal collapses are-- the Anatolian Hittite Empire, the Mycenaean civilization, the Manchus of Manchuria, the Mesoamerican Mayas, the Angkors in Cambodia, the Han and Tang dynasties in China, the Mughal empire, infamously called the "gunpowder empire, the Mali empire and of course, the Phoenician empire which centuries back ruled the Mediterranean, from Cyprus to the Iberian peninsula, before disintegrating into oblivion.

In one of his speeches, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev said, “In the past we were divided into at least 200 different states; we had 200 political entities; yet we were recognised as one nation. We eat differently; we dress differently; we speak different languages, yet we remain one. What holds us as one nation is the spiritual thread.” Well, truer words could not have been said. Clearly, it was the spiritual strength that kept India intact as a nation, and Hindus as a living civilisation. 

The ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilisations are long dead. You find them on the pages of history books. Not so with the Indian, the Hindu civilisation, which has not only survived but is thriving. What can the Hindu civilisation contribute to the world we are living in and, more importantly, to the world-thought? Sadhguru explained, “Non-imposition of any belief system, and to encourage ‘seeking.’ It does not matter what the scriptures say. It does not matter what the leaders say. Each person, every individual must seek.”

Yes, Hindu Thought, Hindu Mind, Hindu Philosophy does not depend upon any dogma or doctrine. Religious rituals are acknowledged and appreciated, but the "Hindu Mind" also recognises that spirituality is not built upon the platform of such rituals. There is not a single ritual that is enforced upon all Hindus. None. There is no uniformity. This freedom of thought, freedom to express one’s thoughts and beliefs, and to act according to one’s belief, is the survival-secret of the Hindu civilisation, as also its contribution to the world, according to noted spiritual activist, Anand Krishna.

The significance of the Ramayan and Shri Ram, in sustaining and strengthening the Hindu faith, in the face of innumerable onslaughts is, therefore, something that can never be undermined, as it is the binding glue that has shrugged off every form of religious expansionism by supposedly liberal, western forces. The spiritual fervour with which Hindus worship Shri Ram and imbibe his ethos is evident in many respects, especially so with regard to Prabhu Ram's adherence to dharma, said the renowned Kidambi Narayanan, in a discourse. Lord Ram, the prince who later became the king of Ayodhya, after a 14-year long exile in the Dandaka forest, promised his father Dasarath, that he would go to the forest and not stake his claim to the throne. Despite his sibling Bharat's insistence, Shri Ram explained to Bharat that the dharma sastras said that only a father had the right to decide what to do with his property. 

That being the case, how could Ram interfere in Dasarath's right to decide who should be the next king of Ayodhya? Moreover, Dasarath was the king, and how could a king's order be disobeyed? Dasarath had also instructed and taught his children and in this sense, he had been an Acharya to them. And one could not disobey one's Acharya. The reason for Dasarath's decisions may have been motivated by his wife, Kaikeyi, but Ram would still do as instructed by his king and his father, said Shri Ram to Bharat. 

Obeying one's parent was far superior to performing yagyas, explained Prabhu Ram, to Bharat. Shri Ram's words on dharma, the need for obedience to one's parents, the need for following the law of the land and the importance of adherence to the Acharya's orders, are all reflected beautifully by Bhagwan Ram in his advice to Bharat, on what constitutes dharma, when Bharat tries to dissuade Ram from leaving Ayodhya, to serve his 14-year-long "Vanwaas".

But here was Dasarath, who not only snatched away Ram's right to govern the land but also banished him to the forest. And yet Shri Ram never violated dharmic principles. He not only preached dharma but also adhered to it. The values that Prabhu Ram espoused—gentleness, righteousness, selflessness, dutifulness, commitment to a larger cause, courage, valour, nobility and above all, the desire and ability to follow the path of dharma in the face of tremendous personal hardships, are symbolic of everything that Sanatan dharma stands for. Every year, the Ramlila culminates into Deepavali, a day that marks the return of Shri Ram to Ayodhya after his exile-- his just rule was unparalleled and is still remembered as an epitome of what exemplary public service is all about.

The Ram Janmabhoomi, is, therefore, symbolic of the civilisational struggle faced by scores of Hindus, for almost 500 years. The tireless efforts and sacrifice of millions of Kar Sevaks including those who lost their lives at the stampede at Sarayu bridge, the tragic death of the brave Kothari brothers, the 16 Kar Sevaks who were gunned down on the orders of Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav, a fearless Kalyan Singh who supported the Kar Sevaks and refused to be intimidated by political pressure, the iconic "Rath Yatra" of L.K.Advani and "Ekta Yatra" of Murli Manohar Joshi, the selfless toil and grit of  Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP's) Ashok Singhal who is no more, the feisty Uma Bharti, the admirable resoluteness of  nonagenarian lawyer, K.Parasaran and Digvijay Nath of Goraknath Mutt, the indefatigable commitment and undying passion of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the vision of Balasaheb Deoras, the rock solid determination of RSS Sarsangchalak, Mohan Madhukar Bhagwat, the dedication of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, the devotion of Nrityagopaldas Maharaj and Champat Rai of the Ram Janma Bhoomi Tirtha Kshetra Trust and ofcourse, the boundless energy, pride and unflinching faith of millions of Hindus and BJP karyakartas, became part of a socio-cultural renaissance on August 5, 2020.

And yes, no one should ever forget that it is Karmayogi, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, under whose astute leadership, the BJP finally kept its tryst with Shri Ram Lalla, by restoring Hindu pride. Modi is unapologetic, assertive without going overboard, proud of his Hindu roots and yet endearingly and effortlessly secular. It comes naturally to him because Hinduism is the only secular religion in the world.

Unfortunately, the word secularism became a much-abused one over the last many years, thanks to the rabid brand of pseudo-secularism practised by Congress leaders in the last few decades, with an intent to divide vote banks on religious grounds. Right from Nehru, to Indira Gandhi to Sonia and now, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress has always dismissed Hinduism, as a subaltern. Indira Gandhi buried the excavation reports of archaeologist, B.B.Lal, who found proof of temple remains under the Babri Masjid and stopped the excavation work mid-way. Later, K.K.Muhammed, former Regional Director, North, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), too found remains of a temple, under the masjid structure.

Sanatana-dharma is the oldest religion in the world. Many historians claim it is pre-historic and absolute in nature. While the term Hindu or Hindu dharma is a term given by Persians only a few centuries ago, to mean the people living beside the river Sindhu, Hinduism is in effect, nothing but another name for Sanatan dharma. Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no one founder but is instead a fusion of various beliefs. Around 1500 B.C., the Indo-Aryan people migrated to the Indus Valley, and their language and culture blended with that of the indigenous people living in the region.

After the influence of European, especially British, due to the colonization of Indus Valley civilization, Hindu religion came to be called Hinduism. But the actual name of the religion is Sanatana Dharma, where Sanatana means eternal and Dharma means duty. Sanatana Dharma means eternal duty.

The Babri mosque, built after ravaging and destroying a temple that existed there, marking Bhagwan Ram’s birthplace, therefore became a rallying point for Hindus and rightfully so. Those who allege that celebration of the construction of the "Ram Mandir" at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya by Hindus, is only a means of giving voice to Hindu fanaticism, have got it completely wrong. There is no such thing as Hindu fanatics or Hindu radicals. Radicalised Islam, according to many, is a reality, as its very core is reported, based on the flawed concept of superiority of Allah over all other gods. Radical Islam in many ways says historians, thinkers theologists and philosophers, is both territorial and expansionist in nature. It believes in dogmatic singularity, whereas Hinduism is based on pluralism and oneness, with the magical ability to absorb diversity in myriad forms, without losing its uniqueness.

Going back in history, Babur, was the founder of the Mughal Empire and first Emperor of the Mughal dynasty in the Indian subcontinent. He was a descendant of bloodthirsty warlords and plunderers like Timur and Genghis Khan, through his father and mother respectively. The date of construction of the Babri Masjid is uncertain. The inscriptions on the Babri Masjid premises found in the 20th-century state that the mosque was built in 935 AH (1528–29) by Mir Baqi, in accordance with the wishes of Babur. Posterity and millions of Hindus worldwide will never ever forget, how an almost 500-year-old wrong was finally rectified on August 5, 2020, by the Modi government, by giving back to Shri Ram, what always belonged to him--his birthplace.

The powerful interplay of religion and politics is not new. Be it Lokmanya Tilak, who started the Ganapati festival as a rallying force against British rule, M.K. Gandhi, who used religious symbolism during the freedom struggle, Swami Karpatri Maharaj of the Ram Rajya Parishad in independent India, rehabilitation of Syrian Christians by Hindu kings in Kerala, religion and politics have fed off each other. While the State and religion are separate and rightfully so, in reality, it is difficult to alienate the two. Even at a global level, political Islam and rule of the Sharia, drive policy-making of many Islamic nations, like say Turkey, for instance.

Those who accuse the BJP and the Modi government of political Hindutva, are the very hypocrites and turncoats, who have no hesitation in endorsing the politics of the Vatican, which in the contemporary world, plays an important if an ambivalent role in international affairs. On February 25, 1971, in Moscow, Archbishop Agostino Casaroli, head of the Vatican's Bureau of Public Affairs, affixed the signatures of papal representatives to the ratification of the international treaty, limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The participation of papal representatives in this international agreement raises a number of queries in the political order, not the least of which is the fundamental problem regarding the nature of the papacy as sovereignty. No other religious institution in the modern world functions as body of the church and also as a political organization that exchanges diplomatic representatives and yet, claims total recognition as an independent member of the community of nations!

The French Revolution of 1789-90 was not merely an uprising against the monarchy of Louis XVI, driven by agrarian distress. It was primarily a mass protest that began with attacks on Church corruption and the wealth of the higher clergy, an action which even many devout Christians could identify with. Even today, the anti-clericalism and de-Christianisation of large sections of the French population during the revolution is a grim reminder of how the Gallican or Catholic  Church of that era, held a dominant role in pre-revolutionary French politics. 

Political Hindutva, in comparison, follows the BJP's template of  "justice for all and appeasement of none".The BJP's brand of Hinduism has ample restraint, is not hesitant to discard outdated practices and is progressive. It is not shy to take pride in India's Vedia rituals, the knowledge of the Upanishads or the immortal teachings of the Bhagwad Gita and the Manusmriti, with revisions in rituals &customs, in sync with changing times and the changing socio-legal framework of contemporary society. Political Hinduism of the BJP is neither coercive nor intimidating. It is not majoritarian--equally, it is not afraid to call the bluff of pseudo seculars, who, over the decades, have disparaged all things Hindu under the garb of regressive appeasement which they tried passing off, as secularism. Those who mock at Pavanputra Hanuman, as a "monkey god", or say Prabhu Ram was only a mythological figure, is that very lot which never ever questioned supernatural miracles "performed"  by Mother Teresa when she was alive.

For Christians, "Easter", marks the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. "Ascension", which is celebrated forty days after Easter, commemorating the ascension of Christ to heaven, has no historical record but is a matter of faith. However, Hindus have never disrespected the faith, superstitions or rituals of other religions. Hinduism, a polytheistic religion (unlike Islam), with over three hundred and thirty million gods and goddesses, has survived, thrived and flourished, despite repression and oppression, because of its inherently invincible features. Bhagwan Ram, the 7th avatar of Lord Vishnu is its main deity and stands for "Aastha, Ahimsa and Balidaan", as told by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his outstanding address at the Ram Janmabhoomi, while laying the foundation for the construction of a "Bhavya Ram Mandir", on August 5, 2020. The universal appeal of Maryada Purushottam, Shri Ram, is evident from manifold sources. Dasaratha Jataka is the earliest known version of what later came to be known as the Ramayan.

Some glimpses are also found in Michael Madhusudan Dutta’s Meghnad Badh Kavya – written in 1861 and based on an episode of Valmiki’s Ramayan. The famous retelling of Valmiki’s Ramayan in Bengali is called Krittivasi Ramayan (Shri Ram Panchali) by Krittibas Ojha (15th century). A 6th century manuscript of the Ramayan has also been found at the Asiatic Society Library in Kolkata. There are many versions of Ramayan in many Indian languages, including Kamba Ramayan (12th century) by the Tamils. Many Indian religious traditions – Buddhist, Sikh and Jain – have their own adaptations. There are also Cambodian, Indonesian, Thai, Lao, Burmese, Filipino and Malaysian versions of this epic.

Valmiki’s Ramayan – located between 5th BCE and 1 BCE by scholars – consisting of 24000 Sanskrit shlokas or verses, may not be the first text to introduce Rama. But it is considered as the "original" Ramayan – one of two great epics of Indian literature, and also of world literature. The other great epic – arguably the greatest, is Vyasa’s Mahabharata: longer than Homer’s Iliad, the Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid all put together, says the erudite Devdan Chaudhuri, in a painstakingly detailed essay on Lord Ram and the Ramayan.

Moving away from the Ramayan, what Sadguru Jaggi says, best explains the eternal and formidable nature of Hinduism. He says, "The invaders were not successful, as there has been no one single Hindu church". According to him, the end of all spiritual experiences was ‘liberation’ – moksha. Moksha, or liberation, can also mean “freedom to think, freedom to express, freedom to act, while respecting others' freedom to do the same.” Yes, moksha is not an afterlife experience alone. Moksha must be and can be, attained while living in this world, amidst the maddening crowd, and in the marketplace. Moksha is living free while at the same time respecting, honouring others’ freedom. Moksha is not freedom from life. Death is not moksha. Death does not guarantee moksha. Moksha is living freely, as free women and free men. It is this spirit, the spirit to “strive for liberation” in Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s words, that has kept India intact as a nation, “in spite of numerous attacks by the external forces, and the invaders. For more than thousands of years they tried. Elsewhere they succeeded, but not here in India.” Well, history supports the guru.

Coming back to the politics of Hinduism and Hindutva, no devout Hindu should ever forget how the Congress marginalised the Hindu movement, for decades together, with brazen impunity. On December 22, 1949, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Govind Vallabh Pant, at the behest of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, ordered to expel the Hindus from the temple of Ram Lalla. But Faizabad District Collector K.K Nair refused to implement the order, pointing out that the real stakeholders were performing Pooja there and the move would lead to riots and bloodshed. Nair was soon thereafter suspended from service. Like her father Nehru, Indira Gandhi also scuttled the rights of Hindus by inserting the word "Secular", via the 42nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1976.For many years post that amendment, Hindus in India were pushed around and discriminated against, in their own country, under the garb of secularism. Who can forget or forgive the Congress party for calling Prabhu Ram a fictional character in the affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court in the Ram Setu case in 2007?

Those like AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who accuse the BJP's Ram Janmabhoomi movement as an assertion of Hindu majoritarianism and Hindu colonisation, would do well to know that despite a brute majority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to follow the path of dharma, by choosing to leave the verdict on Ram Mandir, to India's apex court. His faith in the law of the land eventually held millions of Hindus in good stead. The political Hinduism of BJP is progressive, modern, humane and secular, with respect for the richness of diversity that India represents. Equally, the BJP has never shied away from its religious and cultural roots and rightfully so. Why should the Hindus in a country of 1.37 billion people feel apologetic about legitimately celebrating who they are? Well, the proud Hindus in Modi's India no longer do. Clearly, the Ram Mandir will be etched in the sands of time as a symbol of Hindu awakening and restoration of pride of a community, that has always believed in "Live and let live".

Timeline of Ram Mandir, at the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya--

1528: Babri Masjid built by Mir Baqi, commander of Mughal emperor Babur.

1885: Mahant Raghubir Das files plea in Faizabad district court seeking permission to build a canopy outside the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure. Court rejects plea.

1949: Idols of Ram Lalla placed under a central dome outside the disputed structure.

1950: Gopal Simla Visharad files suit in Faizabad district court for rights to worship the idols of Ram Lalla.

1950: Paramahansa Ramachandra Das files suit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols.

1959: Nirmohi Akhara files suit seeking possession of the site.

1981: UP Sunni Central Waqf Board files suit for possession of the site.

Feb 1, 1986: Local court orders the government to open the site for Hindu worshippers.

Aug 14, 1989: Allahabad HC ordered maintenance of status quo in respect of the disputed structure.

Dec 6, 1992: Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure demolished.

Apr 3, 1993: 'Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act' passed for acquisition of land by Centre in the disputed area.1993: Various writ petitions, including one by Ismail Faruqui, filed at Allahabad HC challenging various aspects of the Act. - Supreme Court exercising its jurisdiction under Article 139A transferred the writ petitions, which were pending in the High Court.

Oct 24, 1994: SC says in the historic Ismail Faruqui case that a mosque was not integral to Islam.

Apr, 2002: HC begins hearing on determining who owns the disputed site.

Mar 13, 2003: SC says, in the Aslam alias Bhure case, no religious activity of any nature be allowed at the acquired land.

Mar 14: SC says interim order passed should be operative till disposal of the civil suits in Allahabad HC to maintain communal harmony.

Sep 30, 2010: HC, in a 2:1 majority, rules three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

May 9, 2011: SC stays HC verdict on Ayodhya land dispute.

Feb 26, 2016: Subramanian Swamy files plea in SC seeking construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site.

Mar 21, 2017: CJI J.S Khehar suggests out-of-court settlement among rival parties.

Aug 7: SC constitutes three-judge bench to hear pleas challenging the 1994 verdict of the Allahabad HC.

Aug 8: UP Shia Central Waqf Board tells SC mosque could be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the disputed site.

Sep 11: SC directs Chief Justice of the Allahabad HC to nominate two additional district judges within ten days as observers to deal with the upkeep of the disputed site.

Nov 20: UP Shia Central Waqf Board tells SC temple can be built in Ayodhya and mosque in Lucknow.

Dec 1: Thirty-two civil rights activists file plea challenging the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad HC. - Feb 8, 2018: SC starts hearing civil appeals.

Mar 14: SC rejects all interim pleas, including Swamy's, seeking to intervene as parties in the case.

Apr 6: Rajeev Dhavan files plea in SC to refer the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement to a larger bench.

Jul 6: UP government tells SC some Muslim groups were trying to delay the hearing by seeking reconsideration of an observation in the 1994 verdict.

Jul 20: SC reserves verdict.

Sep 27: SC declines to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution bench. Case to be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29.

Oct 29: SC fixes the case for the first week of January next year before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing.

Nov 12: SC declines early hearing of petitions in the case requested by Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha.

Nov 22: SC dismisses PIL seeking direction to organisations and public at large to "behave" and not air their views that can spoil the atmosphere till it decides the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.

Dec 24: SC to take up petitions on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case for hearing on January 4.

Jan 4: SC says an appropriate bench constituted by it will pass an order on January 10 for fixing the date of hearing in the title case.

Jan 8: SC sets up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the case headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud.

Jan 10: SC reschedules the hearing for January 29 before a new bench after Justice U U recused himself.

March 2019: The Supreme Court appoints a mediation panel headed by Judge (retd) FMI Kallifulla for an out-of-court settlement on March 8.

August 2019: The mediation panel fails to reach an amicable settlement. The Supreme Court begins hearing on August 6.

Oct 2019: After hearing the case on a day-to-day basis for 40 days, the court reserves its order on October 15.

October 16: After a marathon 40-day daily hearing, the SC concludes hearing in the case. It says that a verdict will be delivered by CJI Gogoi before his retirement on November 17, 2019.

November 8: The Supreme Court lists Ayodhya title suit judgment for November 9.

November 9, 2019: In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, orders that the disputed land in Ayodhya should be given to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas for construction of a temple, and the Muslim side should be compensated with five acres of land at a prominent place in Ayodhya for a mosque. The court also orders the central government to formulate a scheme within three months to implement the order

December 12: The Supreme Court dismisses review petitions challenging the November 9 verdict in the Ayodhya title dispute. "Applications for listing of review petitions in open Court are dismissed. We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers filed therewith. We do not find any ground, whatsoever, to entertain the same. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed, " says the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde.

August 3, 2020: As the countdown for the grand ceremony of 'Bhoomi Pujan' for the construction of the Ram temple began, Ayodhya District Magistrate, Anuj Kumar Jha hands over the five-acre land to the Sunni Waqf Board at Dhannipur village in Faizabad, as mandated by the Supreme Court in lieu of the Babri mosque.

August 4: The 'Ramarcha' puja begins in Ayodhya, a day ahead of the 'bhumi puja'. The entire Ram Janmabhoomi area is decorated with saffron marigolds. All invitees to the August 5 foundation stone-laying function for the new Ram temple in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh will have to carry a mandatory coronavirus-negative certificate. Every guest who is invited for the 'bhumi pujan' ceremony, will be gifted a silver coin as 'prasad'.According to sources, over 1.25 lakh laddoos, called 'Raghupati laddoos' will be distributed to guests, residents of Ayodhya and others on August 5.A total of 175 people have been invited to the Sri Ram Temple Trust for bhumi pujan, including about 135 saints who will come from different parts of the country. There is a code on every invitation card, which is designed for security.

August 5, 2020: Beginning his speech with the slogan of “Jai Siya Ram, ” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, undoubtedly, post-independent India's most powerful and popular leader ever, calls the "sthapna" or foundation-stone laying event of the Ram Mandir, a historic occasion. “I am grateful to witness history being made. Crores of Indians cannot believe that this day has come. The entire country is in the spell of Lord Ram, ” Modi says, after he lays down a 40 kg silver brick, to mark the foundation ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, heralding a new dawn in the Hindu regeneration, that has truly come of age.

Ms Sanju Verma is an Economist, Chief Spokesperson for BJP Mumbai and Bestselling Author of  "Truth&Dare--The Modi Dynamic".

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