Ayodhya ruling frames a question: What is the true idea of Bharat?
The verdict in the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri dispute is finally out. Much to everyone’s relief, the unanimous decision taken by the five-judge Supreme Court bench has been received well by the society at large. A section of intellectuals, though, have not been able to digest this unanimous decision.
This is the same group of self-proclaimed gatekeepers of Indian conscience who had failed to read the people’s mood before the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls and were predicting the defeat of the nationalist forces. Now, there is a concerted attempt to create a ruckus over the unanimous decision of the apex court.
The majority of our nation has always viewed the Babri structure as a symbol of invasion by an intruder. The nation felt, and rightly so, that the Babri structure was built only with an objective to show and prove that the Mughals now had control on every aspect of the lives of Bharatiyas, including their gods and their temples.
The judgment given by the Supreme Court has considered all the documentary and oral evidence put before it. It says that “the oral and documentary evidence shows that the Hindu devotees of Lord Ram hold a genuine, long-standing and profound belief in the religious merit attained by offering prayer to Lord at the site they believe to be his birth place. Evidence has been led by the plaintiffs in suit 5 to show a long practice of Hindu worship to Lord Ram at the disputed site.” It further says: “The ASI report does find the existence of pre-existing structure. The report concludes on the basis of the architectural fragments formed at the site and the nature of the structure that it was of a Hindu religious origin.”
For Hindus, a temple at the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi is not an issue of mere bricks and mortar. It is an issue of the cultural resurgence and national identity, where Shri Ram, as “maryada purushottam”, has a prime place of importance. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement is an expression of the collective consciousness of the Hindu ethos.
The real issue is how the present-day Muslims view the Babri structure. Do they consider it as their holy place? If the answer is yes, then they end up owning the barbarism of Babar and others like him. The right way for Muslims is to distance themselves from such vandalism.
Hindus have asked for a peaceful return, through the judiciary and negotiations, of only three of their holy sites (Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi) that were vandalised. Hindus are not asking for the thousands of other temples that were plundered, looted, destroyed and mosques were built thereupon. Hindus are not even asking for any sort of compensation or restitution. Any interpretation of the Babri structure, other than that of it being viewed as a monument of our slavery, will clearly indicate that Hindus are being asked to live with a feeling of humiliation.
The apex court’s decision needs to be viewed, thus, beyond the mandir-masjid or Hindu-Muslim issue. It is about the idea of Bharat. Do we want a Bharat which represents the legacy of Babar, Ghazni and Ghori or do we want a Bharat where the legacy of the nation is represented by Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Dara Shikoh, Kabir and APJ Abdul Kalam? The call has to be taken by Muslims in Bharat and the ball is in their court now.
The Supreme Court’s decision is surely a formidable test for the judiciary, legislature and executive of the nation. But more than that, it is going to test the resilience of our social fabric.
This article first appeared in the print edition on November 15, 2019 under the title ‘A verdict, a test’. The writer is member of the state executive of the Delhi RSS.