Why should India move beyond Ayodhya ?

via Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on September 20, 2010

“It may be superstition to you but it is something my mother placed around my neck”  said Mahatma Gandhi to a Christian friend in South Africa who tried to remove the tulasi  beads which his mother had placed around his neck before he left for England in 1887 (Autobiography).He pushed his friend away. Should he have yielded to the Christian evangelist ?

On  the CNNIBN debate ‘Should India go beyond Ayodhya ?”  historian Ramachandra Guha argued that Gandhiji had never set foot inside a temple and yet he was the greatest Hindu of the twenthieth century (he should have added, the best known and most famous one since there were other  great Hindus such as Ramana Maharshi ). And in the early part of the twentieth century such savants and sages as Sri Aurobindo. Still earlier, in the 19th century there was Swami Vivekananda. And earlier still Ramakrishna, and earlier still, and earlier still, the  thousands of great Hindus that lived in Bharat in all parts of the subcontinent since time immemorial.

Hence, privileging the Mahatma above everyone else is an historical error.

Guha’s point  was that God could be worshipped anywhere, not only in a temple. Senior Journalist Swapan Das Gupta corrected him on that by pointing out that while Gandhiji himself did not enter a temple he worked to have other Hindus enter the temple. Hence he did attach some importance to temple entry. People like going to temples, even if some others don’t. And the specific case had to do with allowing entry to the Untouchables (as they were then called ).

Ram Guha’s major contribution to the debate was that as someone on a report earlier had said : build  a hospital at the Ayodhya  site. This would be an ethical and acceptable solution.

Since there were great Hindus such as Aurobindo and Vivekananda who upheld the Bhagavad Gita’s injunction to Arjuna : Arise O Arjuna (so that he would go forward in battle against the enemies ) the question arises as to who is a great Hindu ? Is it only Gandhiji or the others who advocated a militant Hinduism ? It would seem that in the context of the Bhagavad Gita, the militant Hindu must defend his Dharmic heritage.

He or she is not allowed to initiate violence but must defend to his or her best ability the Dharmic heritage when it is under attack. That at times could include war like violence. Gandhiji advocated  non violence  at all times and every time.  He did make some exceptions as for instance when a woman was to be raped or attacked, the man must defend her at all cost and so on . . . . Hence he was not always consistent in his advocacy of non violence. He had not thought it through.

On the Ayodhya issue, he would counsel both parties to settle amicably. He was intelligent enough to realize that Babur was the invader and the conqueror and if as the ASI had declared that a temple had existed at the site ,then the Hindu claim that it was the site where Rama was born and where a temple had existed since time immemorial, was valid .

Many intelligent Muslims also realize that while Ayodhya is sacred to the Hindus it is not so for Muslims. Their sacred places are in Mecca and Medina. Surprisingly, many of them would consider the mosque built at Ayodhya as not significant. Further, no namaz had been said there for nearly a 125 years.

Beyond that, why should Bharat move beyond Ayodhya ?   Bharat is the last of the extant great civilizations left in the contemporary world and this civilization is overwhelmingly Hindu. And it is not merely a numbers game. It  has to do with the country’s civilisational ethos.

Since Ayodhya stands for the righteous and dharmic rule of Rama, there is a clear cut ideal for the country to work for. And nothing in the Indian Constitution goes against that ideal. Righteousness exists in all countries but in Bharat that tradition goes back some 5,000 years plus.

There is no reason for Hindus to be stampeded into hasty and excessive modernity. Sarve
Bhavantu Sukhinah (May all beings be happy) is the Vedic injunction. The Vedic call is :

Om shanti, Prithvi shanti (Peace to the earth), Vanaspatai shanti (Peace to the environment), Sarvam shanti (Peace to All ).

There is no need for Bharat to go beyond Ayodhya. It is the Vedic ideal. And yes, a temple built for Rama on that historic site  would also be poetic justice. It is high time that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya. It is high time that righteous and dharmic governance prevail over the country. The Viswa Devas (universal spirits) will rejoice that the evil of bad governance will cease. The Vedic ideal must be reinstated. And the right type of modernity will visit the land.

Bharat is both ancient and modern. So is Lord Rama.

Jai Shri Ram !

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).

Welcome to Haindava Keralam! Register for Free or Login as a privileged HK member to enjoy auto-approval of your comments and to receive periodic updates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

1 × five =


Latest Articles from Bharath Focus

Did You Know?