via Dr.A.M.C.Menon published on March 2, 2007


“Ohm Namassivaya , Ohm Namassivaya…….”.  Ravi , of Vivekananda Travels, our guide,care taker, and a great friend with ideal qualities and compassion ; started chanting.  We obliged by joining him in worship in the early hours of the morning ,seated in the comfortable bus on our way to Ayodhya. A cool breeze coming from the vast cultivated lands on both sides soothed us and the incessant devotional songs created an atmosphere of spiritual elation befitting the pilgrimage ; thanks to Ravi , he urges to start early and keeps us energetic all the time.
        Last evening we had been to see Anand Bhavan, the house of  Nehru family , donated to the government , and it is  typical of its elegance of structure ; the memories of the events it witnessed and the decisions taken by the leaders of modern India before and after independence make it  a great monument of the country  that goes with the history. Indira Bhavan is just nearby , and both are  well-founded and maintained ; in contrast to the  ill kept , crowded city of Allahabad ; and amidst  the high court of the state domed, known for its certain verdicts. 

By noon we reached Ayodhya ; the land blessed with the nativity of King Rama ; reverently known as the ‘land of holiness ‘.  Ages ago our great Muni shreshtas  defined Bharatham in three planes ; the southern part as ‘karma bhumi’, Uthar pradesh as ‘punya bhumi’ because of the sacred births of Rama and Krishna, and the vast mountainous region north from  Haridwar as ‘devabhumi’, the abode of  Vishnu and Shiva . We felt blessed the moment we touched the land but one and half hour’s effort in the long barricaded queue in the hot sun to see Ram Mandir, closely watched by gun wielding soldiers ready to shoot at the slightest provocation , left us depleted and the desolate look of the place surrounded by army ,trenched and excavated , against the picture we had  in our minds was enough to throw us into a dark pit of depression. A replica of the deity was kept there where the original shrine should have been and we prayed for the resurrection of the good old age of his reign. Monkeys were everywhere ,on the look out for snatching away the bags of the visitors so as to get something edible . Some three or four trees in the vicinity gave shelter from the hot sun to the tourists and under them the vendors dwelled, with a stick at hand to beat away the poor animals.                                                                                               A dip in Sarayu  river though not listed in our seven sanctified rivers of India ; was a must to get rid of the despair. The river was full and flowing and as was known for her undercurrent , the steps were fenced with iron chains for safety . Even holding on to the cordon we could feel the force of the flow under and were swept off the feet. Sree Rama was last seen walking into the river to end his AVATHARA, and for us to wash away our miseries here and be filled with virtuous thoughts and flowery views.
Valmiki Bhavan is mainly a hall for meditation and emblazoned on the walls were the whole verses of Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit. Outside was the Hanuman Temple ; he stood there hoisting his mace , a loyal and serene look on his face. At the door step , kept in a barrel of water was a floating rock ; the type of stone used for building a bridge to Sri Lanka at the time of Rama-Ravana yudha.
The sight of the model of  proposed Sree Rama temple kept in a glass cage was inspiring . Carved heavy pillars were kept ready for the building and the bricks  required came from all over India selected and sanctified by poojas and labelled  ‘Sree Ram’ in all the different languages of India.  The monkeys have already occupied their King’s property!

Leaving the stormed and devastated place behind,  we felt gloomy and miserable . Ayodhya is supposed to be a place with no war and people lived in peace and harmony. But many battles were fought here and the place is still in shambles and discord. As per historians , for eleven hundred and forty five years, India suffered in the hands of foreigners but never in the history of ten thousand years India has attacked any of her  neighbouring countries!  More than five thousand temples were demolished and thousands of Hindus were slaughtered in the name of religion.  And hundreds of churches and mosques came up just because of our extreme hospitality and secularism – Athithi Devo Bhava. Even now ,after fifty years of independence, we are not far from destroying our eons old culture and spiritual enrichment; we are sacrificing ourselves in the name of diplomatic democracy. The history and the recent excavations establish the fact that Sree Rama temple existed in the place of dispute but the leaders are tight-lipped to make the announcement of the truth .Why don’t they just take a look at the monkeys living there in obsession, in such a barren place with no proper food unlike in the forests and often beaten away by the people around, unless of course they believe in the return of their Maharaja ?


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