August 5—Ram Mandir bhoomi-poojan or Yaum-e-Istehsal?


 

· The BJP is ruthlessly exploiting religion for political ends. The ominous date of August 5, 2019, Narendra Modi and his fascist regime illegally annexed Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Ladakh and converted it into Indian Union Territories, is being celebrated as Ram Mandir bhoomi-poojan where a Ram Temple is set to be constructed in Ayodhya. Readers may recall that in 1992, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) parcharaks (activists) including LK Advani, Narendra Modi, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, along with RSS Karsevaks (workers) members of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, had demolished the historic Babri Masjid.

Here a word or two are required to briefly explain what is Ram Janmabhoomi? Literally translated, it means “Rama’s birthplace” and is the name given to the site that many Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Rama, the seventh avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.

Lord Rama is a religious figure from the epic Ramayana, which states that the location of Rama’s birthplace is on the banks of the Sarayu River in the city of Ayodhya. A section of Hindus claim that the exact site of Rama’s birthplace is where the Babri Masjid once stood in the present-day Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

The mosque is believed to have been constructed during 1528-29 by a certain ‘Mir Baqi’ (possibly Baqi Tashqandi), who was a commander of the Mughal Emperor Babur. However, the historical evidence for these beliefs is scant. According to this theory, the Mughals demolished a Hindu shrine that marked the spot and constructed a mosque in its place. People opposed to this theory state that such claims arose only in the 18th century, and that there is no evidence for the spot being the birthplace of Rama.

In 1611, an English traveler, William Finch, visited Ayodhya and recorded the “ruins of the Ranichand [Ramachand] castle and houses”. He made no mention of a mosque. In 1634, Thomas Herbert described a “pretty old castle of Ranichand [Ramachand]” which he described as an antique monument that was “especially memorable”. However, by 1672, the appearance of a mosque at the site can be inferred because Lal Das’s Awadh-Vilasa describes the location of the birthplace without mentioning a temple.

In 1717, the Mughal Rajput noble Jai Singh II purchased land surrounding the site and his documents show a mosque. The Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, who visited the site during 1766-1771, wrote that either Aurangzeb or Babur had demolished the Ramkot fortress, including the house that was considered the birthplace of Rama by Hindus. He further stated that a mosque was constructed in its place, but the Hindus continued to offer prayers at a mud platform that marked the birthplace of Rama. In 1810, Francis Buchanan visited the site, and stated that the structure destroyed was a temple dedicated to Rama, not a house. Many subsequent sources claim that the mosque was constructed after demolishing a temple.

The Kailash Parvat lies in the Tibet region of China and is the source of Asia’s four important rivers, Indus. Sutlej, Brahmaputra and Karnali. Instead of demanding the residence of its living deity Shiva from China, Modi was celebrating Janmabhoomi Poojan for a lesser deity, Ram, long dead. Pakistan on the other hand was observing August 5 as Yaum-e-Istehsal, the day Kashmiris’ suffering deepened.

The political, historical and socio-religious debate over the history and location of the Babri Mosque, and whether a previous temple was demolished or modified to create it, is known as the Ayodhya Dispute. In 1992, the demolition of the Babri Masjid by Hindu extremists triggered widespread Hindu-Muslim violence. Several other sites, including places in other parts of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal, have been proposed as birthplaces of Rama.

Ironically, two Hindu researchers, Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K. Jha, in their 2012 exposé, Ayodhya The Dark Night, based on intrepid research and first-hand interviews of eyewitnesses, reveal in a chilling disclosure that after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, on 22 December 1949, an idol of Ram was planted in the Babri Masjid. A little-known sadhu, Abhiram Das, and his followers surreptitiously entered the Babri Masjid and planted an idol of Rama inside it. While it is known that the Hindu Mahasabha had a role in placing the idol in the mosque, the larger plot and the chain of events that led to that act have never been subject to rigorous scrutiny but are now being brought to light.

It was on 6 December 6, 1992 India witnessed communal frenzy through the country. The RSS chief was a quiet man, Rajendra Singh, popularly known as Raju Bhayya. During this period, the position of the BJP and the RSS was consolidated. They became an alternative to the Congress in national politics and formed the coalition government at the centre headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

However, the plight of the poor and the oppressed became worse than ever before. Two hundred and forty million youth were unemployed, millions were illiterate, and millions were suffering from malnutrition. A deep-rooted economic crisis was staring in the face of Indians. The only way the Sangh Parivar could think of was to create religious enemies, by intensifying the Hindutva onslaught. The unemployed youth could be very dangerous to the ruling establishment if they were to focus on demanding their rights.

The Sangh Parivar think- tank decided to use religious manipulation as a strategy to keep the youth busy and divert their attention from the real issues confronting them and the nation. More and more organizations were formed under the guidance of the mother organization, the RSS, to engage them. Thousands of shakhas (Hindu theological schools) were opened all over India to instill in them religious overtones. The NDA government under Vajpayee was a boost to the Sangh to consolidate its position with political patronage. It experimented its hidden agenda at various levels in some selected states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Orissa in the North and Karnataka in the South.

In the contemporary era, India is facing its worst economic crisis. All the tall talk of India becoming an economic giant proved to be false. The poor are becoming poorer and their miseries are mounting high. Hindutva also changed its strategy to become even more fanatical. Word is that water is being sourced from rivers of religious significance for performing the abhishek and there are also plans to bury a time capsule at the site with history and ‘facts’ related to the Ram Janmabhoomi purportedly to prevent future disputes. Karsevaks carrying bricks to donate for the construction of the temple have already started walking towards Ayodhya. The mood is festive, not much unlike what it was in the run-up to the Babri Masjid demolition.

However, it is the timing of the ceremony that has minorities, civil society and human rights groups on the edge. The August 5 date has been seared into the collective memory of all Indians as the date on which Article 370, that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was abrogated. It was on this day in 2019 that India’s only Muslim-majority state was split into two union territories. To pick this date for laying the foundation stone for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya doesn’t appear to be a mere coincidence.

Modi is bent upon trampling over the sentiments of Muslims and promoting his Hindutva philosophy but he remains oblivious to a current development. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism, resides in a state of perpetual meditation along with his wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, atop Mount Kailash. Geographically, the Kailash Parvat lies in the Tibet region of China and is the source of Asia’s four important rivers, Indus. Sutlej, Brahmaputra and Karnali.

The Government of Pakistan has issued a new political map showing Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) as a disputed territory whose fate should be resolved only through implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, guaranteeing the Kashmiris their right to self-determination.

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