Seldom has there been a case of religious conflict where a sacred place of worship been so bitterly contested. Nothing compares to the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya. Even rarer has been the case, where Hindu organizations have had to fight so many opponents, some openly hostile and some deceptively sly. All the legal technicalities aside, the fight for this sacred space is between Hindus fighting to rebuild their sacred Mandir dedicated to Prabhu Shri Ram and Muslims trying to hold on to a place of worship built by a mughal plunderer Babur.
The Babri Mosque which stood at the disputed site, was built over a demolished Mandir, as has been proved by archaeological excavations by the Archeological Survey of India and noted by the AllahabadHigh Court in its order . This disputed mosque was demolished by Hindu Kar Sewaks on 6th December 1992. Things after that have stood still from then on. For every Indian, there is a tacit acceptance that, this case is one of the flash points for the social dynamics and religious tolerance in India.
Prabhu Shri Ram resonates with the deepest sensibilities of an ordinary Hindus since millennia. Hindus view Shri Ram as a paragon of virtue, sacrifice and the embodiment of dharmic values. The construction of a Mandir at the place of his birth in Ayodhya would be the crowning glory of the faith of millions of such ordinary Hindus. A temple dedicated to Prabhu Shri Ram is the single greatest ode to the ancestors who have died fighting for the temple. Historically there have been anywhere from 73 to 76 battles for this site where thousands of Hindus have died .
The enlightened “Secular” elite of India, though, doesn’t find the idea of a Mandir very convenient to their “Idea of India”. Ever so compassionate about minority rights, never miss a chance to preach that building a Mandir at the birthplace may mean hurting the sentiments of ordinary Muslims. What re-building a Mosque at the disputed site might do to the sensitivities of already super patient Hindus clearly is trivial for them.
The way these perpetual bleeding heart elites see it, building a Ram Mandir is an assertive majority having its say by razing a mosque and constructing a Mandir. Perhaps what they fail to realize is that, the fate of that Mosque was sealed, the very day it was constructed. Babur, Mir Baqi or whoever built the Mosque, built it as a symbol of subjugation of Hindus. They did this by demolishing a Mandir at that site. If anyone was under an impression that such a building, a standing evidence of humiliation, at one of the most sacred places for Hindus, would go unchallenged, they were clearly mistaken. It may have taken centuries, but Hindus have razed the mosque and it may take centuries but Hindus will build a Mandir at that site.
The seculars are petrified colorless about the law and order problems of such a Mandir construction may ensue, so flippant suggestions are thrown around at the drop of the hat. Though none of those suggestions are worth considering, it would require a separate article as to what a compromise on this issue would mean to an ordinary Hindu
First off, the suggestions is that there should be a Mandir and a Masjid be built together to showcase the plurality and secularism of the Indian people. Asking Hindus to compromise on one of their most sacredplaces, to demonstrate their secularist, religiously tolerant credentials comes as an absolutely humorless joke. People from many religions have arrived on India’s shores, some persecuted, and some marauding but never has anyone been able to claim or even complain that Hindus were unfair to them in any way. With the passage of time, many ordinary Hindus are perhaps fed up with the burden of evidence placed solely on their shoulders to prove their religious tolerance.
Even after their ancestral homeland had been cruelly partitioned, to satisfy demands of a political two-nation theory, Hindus have shared whatever remained of India with Muslims and embraced them with open arms. Hindus have chosen to be a democracy, run by a constitution, rather than become a theocratic state, which may have been easy given the overwhelming majority of Hindus at the time of partition.
Notwithstanding the intermittent fits of “majoritarian threat” thrown by ignorant elites and closet Islamists, India is still a democracy with a functioning judiciary. So when someone asks Hindus to demonstrate their pluralistic, secular credentials, it can’t be ruled out that such suggestions are borne out of malicious intentions.
Another one of the equally atrocious suggestions, is to build a hospital, Public Park or some sort of recreational facility at the disputed site. This, as the narrative goes will help foster religious harmony and would help the poor people who might find patient care or shelter at such place. Generally speaking, no one can deny the nobility behind such a thought or the construction of a monument for public welfare. In this case though, as mentioned before, such seemingly noble suggestions are deeply suspicious.
Nobody is sure whether this suggestion would be furthered if the shoe was on the other foot. The implication of this suggestion being that the most sacred place of Hindus can somehow be superseded by places of public interest. The construction of Mandir is open to compromise, if claims of any other party gets involved, because of secularism.
The social discourse of India has been so conditioned, that Hindu sensibilities are secondary in priority to absolutely anything. And since the deities of Hindu faith are secondary in priority, they don’t merit be treated with the same respect of Abrahamic religions. The claims of Hindu devotion to Prabhu Shri Ram are rubbished to such an extent that, appallingly stupid suggestions of substituting a Ram Mandir with a public place are furthered. But unfortunately, this time around Hindus seem resolute and aren’t playing the secular game anymore, even if it means being labelled communal, bigoted, fascist etc.
It would be of great use for everyone involved to note that for Hindus Shri Ram Janmabhoomi is a singularly supremely sacred place. It is not open to claims by any other religion or faith. It is time to drill home the fact, that Hindus have an identity, deities and their forms of worship which are non-negotiable. Asking Hindus to forego their sacred space for public good is not promoting religious tolerance, but deliberately demoting Hindu sentiments in the name of social good.
Thus, if Hindus refuse to share their most sacred place of worship with any other faith, such refusal is not borne out of arrogance, but the realization that Hindus too deserve respect and don’t need to share space to prove religious tolerance. While doing so, if some people with doubtful claims, also stake their claim on the space and aren’t let in, one really can’t fault Hindus for this.
Also, maybe it is time for some to accept that for people who expect Hindus to be meekly accepting, not resisting imposition and be submissive to any kind of compromise imposed upon them won’t fly. If anyone has the gumption to ask Hindus to share even their most sacred places, Hindus definitely retain the right to feel offended in the least, be revolted in the most. And if such revulsion out of pure offense elicits an unfavorable response, the provocateur is equally to blame for pushing the limits of Hindu tolerance.
If such bleeding hearts are so deeply concerned and want to actually do any good, there are a lot of gardens, tombs and other antiquated relics which can be razed to the ground and places of public interest built over them. All such relics are located on prime piece of real estate in many cities. The access to such replaced and rebuilt public parks wouldn’t be an issue since the transportation facilities to such sites already exists saving the exchequer some money. This money can surely be used for social good.
Perhaps the most classic arguments against building the Ram Mandir, is made by people who claim that they too are “Hindu”. These blue blood Hindus are appalled by the antics of “Hindutva-vadis” who bring a bad name to Hinduism. They claim that such Hindutva-vadis don’t represent true Hinduism. And the righteous rant goes on. Per this line of argument, a joint ownership of Hinduism is claimed and thus any act unfavorable to these “also Hindus”, is deemed abhorrent.
If nothing else, such is the case of self-loathing among Hindus themselves. Nobody can deny them their claim on Hinduism, neither is anyone fit to do so. In Hinduism, no adherence to dogma is required, everyone is welcome and nobody will deny you the space to realize your path to the ultimate truth. Such is the beauty of Sanatan Dharm, that if you can be moral, righteous and virtuous you are following Dharm. Also, you are following the footsteps of Prabhu Shri Ram.
So if these hyper-righteousness driven Hindus aren’t interested in the construction of a Ram Mandir, why not leave the ones who dream of such a thing alone to fight for what they think is their right. A Hindutva-vadi is no more a Hindu than a Non Hindutva-vadi. But in this case, the “Hindutva-vadi” will not surrender the Ram Janmabhoomi to an entitled minority. The question is not how Hindu one is to construct a Ram Mandir, but how does one react to such a brazen encroachment of the Ram Janmabhoomi. The argument of hyper-righteous Hindus to be considerate towards minority sensitivities is countered by simply stating that, in the life of this culture, there will be plenty of such chances to show magnificence by Hindus at a later time, if they haven’t already done so.
Some of these secular-than-thou liberals, in their severe urge to shield their image of religious pluralism, make jocular suggestions that they would perhaps agree to plain land before any structure ever existed on that land. In such case, they should be reminded, that ship sailed a long time ago. No one knows what the exact topography of the site was and so maybe impossible to restore it. So let us just make do with a Ram Mandir at that place.
From all the above stated suggestions one can deduce that such people do not view Ram Janmabhoomi with the same sacred sanctity that hundreds of millions of devout Hindus do. For them, this is just a piece of real estate or land of which there is a dispute about the title to ownership. However, one can’t be entirely sure about the tone of their suggestions if the shoe was on the other foot, let’s say if land on which Jaama Masjid stood was in dispute. So convinced are they in their cognitive dissonance about the majoritarian threat that ceding any ground to Hindus would be akin to conceding defeat.
The trope has gone on for far too long now. Hindus have been to court for a matter which ideally they need not have to. Despite being 80% of the population, with saintly patience, they have waited for a court’s verdict. Such an example, where despite being in the overwhelming majority, one community literally begs a court for justice to worship at a place sacred to its belief is unprecedented. Secularism, pluralism and Sri Ram are the mainstays of Hindus and Hindu culture, without a Ram Mandir there won’t be a Hindu and unfortunately an incomplete Bharatvarsh.