Bronzes and the Babri Masjid

published on November 28, 2009
By Subbu

Among the metal sculptures of India, the bronzes from the south are marked as objects of aesthetic excellence. They have stood the test of time to prove their shining superiority.

The difference between the south Indian bronzes and the sculptures from the other parts is the difference between solidity and hollowness. While casting the image, the solid method was used in the south and the hollow method was used in the north.

The solid method was more appreciated in the realm of image making.

But what is the relevance of the bronzes to the Babri Masjid?

The idea is to apply the axiom of the bronzes on the dispute about the Babri Masjid site.

So far, a substantial portion of the delineation on this subject was of the hollow type.  It did not take into account the real factors and side-stepped solid issues.

A shift in approach is imperative to reach the solution. When the parameters are re-defined and the situation is diffused, a framework can be formulated.

An attempt has been made here to throw proper light on various dimensions of the dispute. A study of the dispute is made and an approach lending to the eventual settlement is offered.

To solve the problem, one must know the problem, the nature of the problem.

To begin with it must be admitted that the problem did not begin on 6.12.1992; on that fateful day it rose to a pitch of deafening decibels.

The legal battle for the ramjanmabhoomi in free India was like this: –

In 1949, the district judge of Faizabad had the gates of the mosque locked. But puja outside the locked area was allowed.

In January 1986 the district Judge of Faizabad, K.M.Pandey gave the order for unlocking the gates.

He said, “After having heard the parties it is dear that the members of the other community are not going to be affected by any stretch of imagination if the locks of the gates are opened and the idols inside the premises are allowed to be seen and worshiped by the pilgrims and devotees. It is undisputed that for the last 35 years Hindus have had an unrestricted right to worship as a result of the court’s orders of 1950 and 1951”.

It is to be noted that Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm of affairs in 1986. He was in his own manner responding to the Hindu faith.

As long as the Hindus believe that the structure of Babri Masjid stood on the Ramjanmasthan, all the secular rhetoric will not matter much.

So what is to be addressed first is how to respond to the faith, faith of the Hindus as well as the faith of the Muslims.

What is to be examined is whether the Ramjannmabhoomi movement is a political ploy of the Sangh Parivar or a legitimate expression of the Hindus.

The Ayodhya argument should not be allowed to divide us on a permanent basis; it should not result in a scene of social fracture. Those who are with the Ramjanmabhoomi movement claim that Babri Masjid was built on Ramjanmasthan.

Setting aside political preferences and impractical theories it must be conceded that majority of the practicing Hindus would vote for Lord Rama on this score. If numbers are to be the counted, then Rama’s temple is sure to come up in that place.

But there are other factors besides the headcount. The courts will have a say, however impractical it may be. The media will have a say, however partisan it may be. The politicians will have a say however ridiculous it maybe. The Hindus outside the Sangh’s influence will also have say, however feeble it may be.

Instead of treating the Ayodhya tangle in isolation it would be wise to see the problem as a bench-mark to Hindu-Muslim relationship. Hindus and Muslims can certainly live in peace. A formula of faith is to be projected first. Only such an approach will succeed in this part of this world. Here faith is solidity and agnosticism is considered as empty. Let us move over to the solid.

The Hindus who were being ruled over by the Moguls could not save Rama’s Ayodhi, but Himayavathi and Gangavathi have through the ages saved the beauty of Sarayu, the remnant of the Ayodhi of Dwapara Yuga…

Wherever we go in north India, we find that our holy shrines are broken up and mosques built over them… In spite of all the damage done, we do not hold any malice towards them. Hindu-Muslim unity is essential cause of the nation.

It is our duty to adopt a policy of compromise within limits. Still, reflecting on the cruelties and insults that our countrymen have undergone, we cannot but feel sad.”

All these from a spokesperson of the Sangh Parivar? A leader of the BJP? A trishul carrying Bhajrangdhal activist? Definitely not!

These were the words of a Ghandhian of proven credentials, a physician by profession, a leading light of the Salt sathyagraha in Tamilnadu, a passivist to the core-Dr.T.S.S.Rajan of Trichy.

It appeared in Kalaimagal (oct.1944) the then popular Tamil monthly known for its sobriety and literary taste.

Dr. T.S.S.Rajan was not alone. He was not the only non-sangh Hindu espousing the case of lord Rama. His outpourings were only a pointer to the general feeling that existed among the Hindus then.

The mystic spell of the Mahatma Gandhi over the Hindus prevented the discontent from taking concrete shape. The spell lasted a few decades after him. But by the eighties, the Hindus wanted to assert themselves.

The generally held belief that Babur was responsible for the construction of the Masjid over Ramjanmasthan did not originate with the Sangh Parivar. S.R. Sharma, a historian of repute, ridicules the attempts made to present Babur as a secular person.

He said, “Babur was with all his virtues, a Muslim Emperor. When he had killed the Pigeons (as he called the Hindus) he piled up a pyramid of their skulls.

He considered the war against the Rajputs as jihad or ‘holy war1, and assumed the title of Ghazi. He spoke of the self-immolation of the Rajputs at Chanderi as ‘going to hell’.

Babur himself stated on his conquest of Chanderi, that he converted “the mansion of infidelity” into a mansion of faith”
(The crescent in India).

Dr.Harsh Narain’s finding shows that from 1523 A.D. to 1855, the Hindus were in possession of the Ramjanmasthan. The British handed over the site to the Muslims in 1857

Whichever way the evidence is interpreted, it is nevertheless the case that by the nineteenth century Hindus believed that the location of the Babri Masjid was on the site of the Ramjanmabhoomi.

Armed conflict between Hindus and Muslims regarding the site occurred in 1853, again in 1855 and during and after 1857. The conflict can now be resolved through conciliation.

Any gesture of accommodation from the Muslims is sure to strike a chord of sympathy with the Hindus.

Rama bhakthas by training and temperament are not prone to be aggressive. They would not simply like the others to take away their holiest shrine. Similarly, the Shiva bhakthas who visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple are horrified by the presence the mosque cutting into the temple.

 Still the mode of interaction between Hindus and Muslims in offices, commercial establishments, public transports and social gatherings establish the fact that people are not willing to see each other as enemies.

Tradition and history of this land clearly demonstrate that religion is primarily a matter of our insides.  It is a kind of an exercise for mental weight-loss.

Any move to compartmentalise the communities involved on the basis of their belief will be in vain.

Shivaji’s letter to Aurangazeb says “If it were a mosque, the call is chanted in remembrance of Him; if it were a temple, the bell is rung remembering Him alone.
To show bigotry towards any man’s creed and practices is tantamount to altering the words of the Holy Book. To draw new lines on a picture is to find fault with the painter.”

 So faith can be used to integrate the people of different religions. In fact faith in Lord Rama has been glorified by the judiciary and Lord Rama has been recognized as a constitutional entity.

The Lucknow bench of the Altahabad High Court has used the sketch of lord Rama given in the original Constitution as adopted by the Constitutional assembly, to define secularism, uphold the rights of the Hindu advocates to be heard, and allow them “darshan” of the Ram Lala idols reinstalled at the site of the demolished Babri masjid.

The judgment of H.N. Tilhari and A.N. Gupta in the case of the Vlshwa Hindu Adhivakta Sangh Vs State of UP, delivered on January 1, 1993, states that by virtue of the sketch of Lord Rama in the Constitution when it was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, the lord become a “Constitutional entity and admittedly a reality of our national culture and fabric and not a myth.” The judges point out that the sketch of the Lord Rama exists in the original Constitution among the illustrations given therein.

Hence, a solution which tries to meet the aspiration of one community without disturbing the right of the other will be an ideal one. The solution should aim at a situation in which the Hindus and Musiims would respect each other’s faith and live in harmony.

The dispute should be taken, to a plane beyond bigotry and violence, a plane higher than the political arena, higher than the legal structure. It is to be dealt in the matrix of morality. It must provide for safeguards against escalation of the conflict.

The solution proposed here is for everyone to consider with a calm mind.

    * To respect the faith of the Hindus, the Muslims may give up their claim on the site   of Babri Masjid and the areas around the Kashi (Vishwanath) and Mathura (Krishna) temples.

    * To respect the faith of Muslims, the Hindus may give up their claim on any other place of worship used by the Muslims.

    * Both the Hindus and Muslims may start a dynamic mass movement and create awareness among their fellow religionists to consider this proposal.

Once the extreme stand is avoided and the atmosphere becomes cordial, the legal and legislative mechanisms can be put in place. What is required is a change of heart and the land of Mahatma Gandhi is the ideal ground to try this concept of co-existence.

It can be said that a beginning has been already made in this regard.

Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in his musings from Kumarakom, “the wrong of the mediaeval past cannot be righted by a similar wrong in modern times”.

Let us leave the wrongs behind and move right ahead.

Subbu

(V.R.Balasubramaniyan)

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