Finally, after a struggle of more than half a millennium, a magnificent temple dedicated to Maryada–Purushottam (man with a supreme modesty) Sri Ram is going to be reconstructed. The 5th of August, the day the stone-laying ceremony was done by our Hon’ble PM Sri Narendra Modi, will go down in history as the day India truly became a secular country. Millions all over the pandemic-ridden world were hooked onto their television screens to witness the historic event. The celebrations were not just about laying the foundation stone of the temple, it was about redressing the centuries of injustice done towards the Hindus and their sentiments. Finally, our Ram is coming back home to Ayodhya and it is truly a cause for celebration, even if it’s confined to the premises of our homes.
The previous Ram Temple was demolished by the Uzbeki-Babur in the year 1528 and began the tradition of doing every evil thing one can imagine in the name of religion. He was an iconoclast and mutilated and killed anyone who was not practising Islam, as supposedly they are all ‘Kafirs‘. Some resisted being converted, while others, in order to save their lives chose to bow down to the orders of the foreign-invader and become converts. But Indians were still amicable among themselves since Hinduism states ‘Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava‘, meaning all religions are equal and lead to God. Thus, there has never been a conflict of interest from the Hindu side as to whose religion is superior.
But this concept bruised the invaders who came from western Asia and wanted to shatter such high beliefs which made them look small. And thus began their spree of destroying Hindu architectural heritages such as temples and universities. I wonder if such places could have been preserved to this day, all the seven wonders of the world would have been found in India itself. But that’s a topic for another day. Now coming back to the point, these foreign invaders brought doom to the lives of millions of Indians, and all Indians should remember this fact in order to right the wrongs. Re-building the Ram Temple, after a struggle of nearly 500 years, is the beginning of that very process of redressal. This very act is rightfully symbolic in many ways.
Ram’s personality was larger than life itself. He emphasized on doing what is right, even in disastrous situations. Whether it is denouncing the throne to keep his father’s word, or going away on an exile in the forest, or staying married to only one woman, or to uphold the love for his motherland than lose yourself in the greed of the riches of a foreign land like ‘soney-ki-Lanka‘ (Land with an abundance of gold). He was so much into taking the right decisions that he sacrificed his love Sita, just because as a King he was obligated to do justice to the people of his kingdom. Sita at that time was carrying his babies in her womb, but unlike many other rulers, he sacrificed that too as he believed that doing justice to his subjects was more important than preserving his lineage. Ram is a symbol of righteousness. There would be no evil left in this world if everyone were to try to follow his footsteps. Re-building the Ram Temple is a step in that right direction.
Today we talk about mental heath and people succumbing to depression, bitterness, faithlessness and even suicide when thing don’t go their way. In a world which has already plunged into such an abysmal condition, remembering and celebrating Ram becomes the only cure. Because nothing in his life went according to his plan and he always found himself in situations which were nothing short of a nightmare. Kaikeyi, the mother who loved him the most, asked for him to be sent into exile in the forest. Had he ever done anything to upset his mother? No. Had he ever prepared himself mentally to denounce all worldly possessions and live as a hermit in the forest? No. Had he committed suicide when put in this situation? Again, A BIG NO.
Then again, while living in the forest, his love Sita was taken away from him. Did he break down mentally at the loss of his love? No. He was a crown prince and could have married a hundred princesses, but did he even consider polygamy? No. Did he go in search of his kidnapped wife with only his younger brother Lakshman by his side? Yes. Did he succeed in building a bridge across the sea to Sri Lanka? Yes. Against all odds, did he win the war he fought with Ravana? Yes. He had won Lanka fair and square, but did he rule Lanka? No. If you’re wondering why he never did rule Lanka, it’s because firstly, he was a righteous person and righteousness dictated that a land should only be governed by someone native to that place, and secondly, there’s no other place greater than one’s motherland, which is why he just had to return to Ayodhya. Similarly, even after his return to Ayodhya, life threw one disaster after another at him. He was forced to sacrifice his wife and his unborn children. But even then he never became a depressed or a spiteful person. Though his personal life was an absolute disaster, yet he remained as calm and as loving as always.
It is because of these reasons that Ram needs to be talked about and drawn inspiration from. His story, the Ramayana, should be sung anywhere and everywhere. He continues to be an inspiration in the present day and age. But there have been attempts to have him forgotten in the name of secularism and divisive-politics. He was a Hindu because back in those days, Hinduism was a way of life and not a religion. So he is definitely not a religious figure! That is why it was of the utmost importance that the temple dedicated to him in his birthplace had to be rebuilt. He himself is the symbol of secularism. He was impartial to the rights of the rich and poor, men and women, young and old. Though other religions did not exist in his time, if it did, he would have been impartial to that as well.
Moreover, secularism in post-independent India has always been about stamping on the sentiment of the Hindus. Back in early 1000 AD, the Somnath Temple in Gujarat was plundered and destroyed by none other than another barbaric Islamist from present-day Turkey called Mahmud Ghazni. But when the temple was rebuilt and about to be inaugurated, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, prohibited the then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, to not inaugurate it. Though Dr. Prasad did not pay him any heed, Nehru’s act was the exhibition of the biggest bigotry in the name of secularism. One has the right to practice his religion; doesn’t matter if the person is the President of India or a farmer.
Ever since independence, India’s exhibition of secularism has only been confined to the appeasement of a particular minority community. People remember the Gujarat riots but no one talks about who locked up innocent Kar-sevaks inside Sabarmati express on their way back from Ayodhya and burnt them alive. Moreover, people talk about Islamic architecture when some of it was actually stolen away from the Hindus. New findings have brought to light that the Red Fort and Qutb Minar were actually built much long back by the Hindus. Evidence is also being found that the foundation on which the Taj Mahal sits today was built by the Hindus. Moreover, the Taj Mahal is a fake glorification of Shah Jahan’s love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is a great monument and should be preserved. But projecting it as a symbol of love is completely absurd! Mumtaz was not Shah Jahan’s only wife, so that rules out his true love for her. Moreover, many atrocities were committed while its construction such as maiming the artisans who built it. Love cannot be built on the foundation of blood and gore. In my view, the Ram-Setu, the bridge built by Ram to cross over to Lanka, to rescue his wife Sita, is the rightful symbol of love.
Finally, having a mosque at Ram-Janmabhoomi was not right from any perspective. One can NOT build a temple at Mecca or a mosque at the Vatican. Thus, it was extremely heinous on the part of Babur to demolish the Ram Temple and have a mosque built at that very place. People have the right to practice their own religion but that does not mean that one would take away the rights of the other. Rebuilding the Bhavya-Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and the replacement Mosque at Sohawal tehsil in Ayodhya district marks the beginning of true secularism in India.