Can Ram temple Bhumi Pujan be compared to Freedom of India?

Ram Puniyani

This 5th August nation witnessed a spectacle of Prime Minister doing the bhumi Pujan of Ram Temple on the site where Babri Mosque was demolished 28 years ago. In full religious regalia the Prime Minster performed the elaborate puja in presence of the Chief of the RSS, the organization which spearheading the transformation of potentially secular, diverse, plural India into a Hindu Rashtra.

Mr. Narendra Modi in his speech claimed that this 5th August, day of Bhumi Pujan of Lord Ram is comparable to 15th August, the day India got freedom.  Said he, “Many generations sacrificed everything in India’s independence movement! Just as August 15 is testimony to the sacrifices made by lakhs of people, the Ram Mandir bears testimony to centuries of struggle…”  He went on to say that as people from all sections of the society had rallied behind Mahatma Gandhi to free India, the socially disadvantaged, Dalits, adivasis, every section had helped lay the foundation for Ram Mandir,”. And further "Many attempts were made to remove the very existence of Lord Ram… finally Ram Janmabhoomi has become free of the cycle of destruction and resurrection. For crores of people in India, centuries of wait are ending.”

Only few the major political parties, supposed to be secular, called out the lies contained in the outpouring of the PM. Comparing the two events is like comparing chalk with cheese. India’s freedom movement was a glaring example of democratic struggle based on truth, non-violence and inclusive spirit. It was not only the biggest ever mass movement in the History of the World; it also sounded the death knell of colonialism not only in India but triggered the same process in many other colonies.

It resorted to address the grievances of the colonial India writhing under the hegemonic and plundering nature of British rule. It underlined the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The stalwarts who participated in making of the modern India, in various ways underlined these lofty principles, with justice being the core aspect of the movement which made ‘India as a Nation in the making’. The religious minorities found their space to identify with it; the dalits, women and Adivasis participated in it with a longing for equality. The yeomen efforts of the father of the nation cemented a fraternity which united different parts of the diverse country. The fraternity of the country overcame the boundary lines of caste, creed, religion, ethnicity and gender.

While 15th August saw the culmination of these democratic processes based on secularism, it also paved the path for the Constitution of India which recognized the principles of modern nation state. India undertook the path of progress with Industrialization, deepening of modern education, irrigation, foundation of institution of science and promotion of scientific temper. Secularism was the credo and it yielded rich dividends in lifting the nation on the path where the country could undertake genuine industrialization, progress in educating among others.

The Ram Temple movement is a total contrast to all that freedom movement of India stood for. Contrary to the truth and non violence, the foundations of freedom movement, the whole Ram Temple movement was based on a construct that Lord Ram was born precisely on the spot where Babri mosque stood. The criminal and illegal acts of installing Ram Lalla idols (1949) and demolition of the mosque on 6th December 1992 are the foundation on which Lord Ram Temple will come up. The Courts despite first dividing the land among three litigants (one third to Muslim parry), despite recognizing the crime of demolition of the mosque, finally allotted the whole land to ‘Hindu side’. Courts did not uphold the myth that there was a Ram temple on the ruins of which Babri Mosque came up. It did not, in all its wisdom upheld that Lord Ram was born precisely at that spot.

The whole journey of Ram temple movement, in contrast to freedom movement has been founded on myth, crime and violence. Thousands lost their lives in the violence following Rath Yatra; thousands lost their lives in the aftermath of Babri demolition. While freedom movement was inclusive this movement targeted the religious minorities to the extent that today a large section of Muslim community has been ghettoized, a process totally in contrast to the building of fraternity during freedom movement.

Ram Temple movement is part of revival of the values, which are totally hierarchical and promote faith and blind faith. It is during this period that promotion of blind faith, contrary to the task of promotion of scientific temper, has unleashed a process where faith based knowledge is bandied as the greet achievement of the past. One does not deny that Indian past has the valuable contributions in the field of medical science, mathematics and astronomy, but to attribute all the present achievements of science and technology to ancient Indian sages is travesty of truth which will put brakes on the growth of science in India.

Irrespective of the claims of the Prime Minster, the Ram temple movement is not spanning from centuries, few incidents are recorded towards the end of nineteenth century but as such it is only few decades old, when Mr. Advani took up the Ram Temple issue as the political agenda of BJP.

Despite all these facts why the comparison of 5th August is being made to 15th August. Those behind the Ram Temple movement have played no role in the freedom of the country. They are in desperately need for some legitimacy in the eyes of the people. It is due to this that their propaganda machinery on one hand underplays the achievements of India post 1947, and now is trying to equate a divisive, Ram Temple movement with the inclusive movement of freedom struggle. Secularism inherent in freedom struggle led to the building of Modern India, the communalism inherent in the Ram temple movement is pushing the country away from the values of Indian Constitution, into the dark tunnel of revivalism and blind faith.  

Cartoon courtesy : Satish Acharya

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED