Ayodhya And The Future India

The Hindu, Sunday, March 6, 1994
Rama on trial
By P. Radhakrishna

[Comment on Ayodhya and the Future India, edited by Jitendra Bajaj, Centre for Policy Studies, Madras, 1993, pp.274, Rs.120.]

If the Ayodhya events teach us anything it is that like all mundane disputes those concerning the divines are best settled through dialogue and not diatribe or doom. In this sense this book is a trendsetter for putting Rama on trial and giving the readers a glimpse of his Rajya, for exploding the myths, and for exposing the hypocrisy and double-speak of Rama’s self-appointed saviours.

The trial of Rama is by Jitendra Bajaj, editor of the book, who, through sheer naïveté of making a song and dance of his unabashed Hindutva unwittingly projects Rama as a “dynamic demolisher” and leads the readers to the portals of the Ramarajya. In the process he first glorifies the demolition and then justifies it by the “inglorious”:

The columns that were supposed to stand still, merely parading their hands and feet to the complex commands of judiciary and politics, had decided to ignore the tune and move into the battle. And, let it be admitted, our first reaction to this display of unbounded initiative on the part of the Indian people was that of immense relief.

The “inglorious” includes “cluttering up” of public spaces with church spires, memorials, monuments, mosques, victory towers and what have you. To Bajaj all these are “loathsome colonial structures”, and symbols of “unnatural humiliation”, and the demolition is the undoing of this humiliation.

Underlying this abhorrent streak of destruction in Bajaj and his ignorance of the complexity and diversity of historical and socio-cultural process, is what he unwittingly terms “the civilisational sweep”. That is, his inexcusable ignorance of the fact that history of India does not belong to one particular race but to a process of creation to which various races of the world contributed – the Dravadians and the Aryans, the ancient Greeks and the Persians, the Muslims of the West and those of central Asia, and so on, and their contributions over the centuries to Indian society and civilisation have been vastly greater than cohering an occasional “we” of Hindutva chauvinists.

If Bajaj’s procrustean aberration is stretched to its irrational dead-end, it would involve consigning to flames Brahminic Hinduism, with all its Aryan deities, and Aryan accretions, Ramas, Krishnas, Vedas and whatnot, and restoring India to its earliest inhabitants, Sudras and Tribals. The victims of such madness would be none other than the Bajajs, Dharampals, Shouries, Gurumurthies, Govindacharyas, Advanis, Malkanis, and such other harpies of Hindutva.

The essence of Brahminic Hinduism, that is, legitimising the illegitimate through ‘holy lies’ is writ large in Bajaj’s rigmaroles on the demolition as well: The compact which Rama made with the Indian people, “guaranteeing them the freedom to run their affairs in their Indian ways and undertaking to provide them with protection from a threatening world order”, was not honoured by the Indian Constitution: so, Rama is back in action restoring the compact, starting, of course, with demolitions.

As Rama’s compact with the Indian people was through the Indian State rooted in Indian tradition, for helping him restore this State for restoring his compact, Bajaj conjures up caricatures of the polity in the West and East: The Western polity is entirely man made, with no dharma, no natural groupings of society, and no place for the reasons of society or those of nature. In contrast, the Indian polity rooted in Indian tradition is god made and infallible, not an instrument of reform in society, and even Rama had no right to transcend the society. Since India’s modern polity is modelled on the Western one, that too by an “untouchable”, a person outside Bajaj’s Chaturvarnya, he has more reasons for condemning it and insisting on re-establishing the Indian polity rooted in Indian tradition.

The implications of this insistence are, however, alarming and even apocalyptic. That is, India should revert to its archaic and unjust social order of aristocracy and social rank, of privileged high castes and despises low castes, of Brahminic priesthood and intellectual hegemony, and so on; and wallow again in its cultural quagmire of caste and religion.

Explaining further Bajaj’s half-truths, untruths, and contradictory assertions, are the contributions by Arun Shourie, Dharampal, K. N. Govindacharya and S. Gurumurthy. They do this by, among other things, defending, rationalising and glorifying the demolition, calling for more demolitions (of the “accumulated debris” as Dharampal sees them), elevating the Ayodhya events to a “Hindu Renaissance” heralding the Ramrajya, and obfuscating the Hindutva monstrosity as a pluralist, integrative, geo-cultural and civilisational concept.

Offering the readers a waft of fresh air are, however, the contributions of Abdus Samad and Casimir Gnanadhickam, stressing the need to respect and uphold India’s religious pluralism, for ensuring its abiding harmony and equanimity. Relevant to note in this connection is Samad’s following observation:

A minority of 15 crores in a population of 85 crores cannot be ignored. It is erroneous to think that the sentiments of such a large minority can be slighted, their aspirations can be ignored, their religion can be desecrated, and yet a peaceful and stable Indian nation can be built.

Equally relevant is Gnanadhickam’s observation that if BJP wants to go back to the past, imagining a theocratic society, that will be like an ostrich burying its head in a desert of illusions: for, no one can stop the march of society, the march of time, and, therefore, there is no question of just going back to the past.

For exploding the myth of Rama and his Ayodhya through a highly perceptive analysis of the sequence of the Ayodhya events, which even the most zealous saviours and fervent followers of Rama would find impossible to refute, S. Guhan deserves the accolade.

Probing with great dexterity the “factual argument” about Janmasthan (Rama’s birth-place), Guhan rightly poses five interrelated implications as intrinsic to the argument. There are, a) Rama was a historical person, because only historical persons can actually be born in this world; b) he was born at a place which be identified as the present day Ayodhya in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh; c) in this Ayodhya he was born (and hence his Janmasthan is) at the precise spot where the idols are placed; d) at this precise spot there was a temple; e) that temple was demolished and the Babri Masjid was built on it around 1528.

Arguing that the factual argument will follow, if and only if all of these five postulates were proved to be true, he proves beyond doubt that none of these is true, and hence discounts and dismisses the factual argument as anything but factual. His rejection of the postulates and of the factual argument is on six counts.

First, there is absolutely no evidence that Rama was a historical person, and the ‘internal evidence’ of the Ramayana itself is against the possibility of its hero being an historical character; for the various exploits of Rama described in it – the various miracles he performed and the way he fought with an army of monkeys and squirrels and so on – are not facts that might pertain to a real historical being.

Second, there has always been considerable doubt about the exact location of Ayodhya, and the historical fact is that what was renamed as Ayodhya after Vikramaditya Skandagupta’s search for its location was the Saketa of old days, on the banks of Sarayu, a fact which explains the wisdom of our grandmas saying “where there is Srirama, there is Ayodhya.”

Third, as Rama is dated to the Tretayuga (around 3000 BC), whereas prior to 5th century BC there was no habitation at the site of the present day town of Ayodhya, the Ayodhya of Rama could not have been the Ayodhya of Faizabad district.

Fourth, the claim that Rama’s Janmasthan is the exact spot where the Masjid stood is spurious, as Rama was born in the Tretayuga, whereas the first document mentioning his Janmasthan that the VHP has produced is of 14th to 16th century, and the precise compass readings deduced from that text do not place the Janmasthan anywhere near the Masjid.

Fifth, there is absolutely no evidence that the would stand the test of any kind of history or archaeology, to establish the existence of a temple at the site before the Masjid was build there: none in the 1528 inscription of Mir Baqui who, as Guhan rightly points out looking back into then religious and political situation, “would have been the first person to claim that he demolished a temple and built a mosque, because by doing so he would be praising Babar for his Islmic piety”; and “as a mujahid, as a person engaged in waging war against Hinduism for the greater glory of Islam and Allah, he would have been first to say, “I destroyed this temple.”

Sixth, there is absolutely no evidence on the temple or its demolition in the 16th Babarnama, in the 17th century Ain-e-Akbari, and in the Ramacharitamanas of Goswami Tulasidas, written less than 50 years after the Babri Masjid was built.

While thus exploding the myth of Rama and his Ayodhya, Guhan is also at his best in exposing the misdeeds of Rama’s self-appointed saviours. In doing so, he looks at the three arguments of the Sangh Parivar in defence of the temple and its demolition, namely, a) this precise spot was the Janmasthan of Rama, on this spot was a temple, that temple was demolished, and on that the Masjid was built; b) “just as Christians have believed for 2000 years that Bethlehem – that stable in Bethlehem – was the birthplace of Christ, just as Muslims believe that Karbala in Mecca is the birthplace of prophet Mohammed, so the Hindus believe that the precise spot in Ayodhya is the birthplace of Srirama”, and “since people hold this faith, since millions of people for hundreds of years have held this faith”’ facts do not matter; and c) “Hindus in this country have been provoked so much by appeasement of the minorities by pseudo-secularists, that they have reacted sharply by demolishing the mosque.”

He then dismisses all these arguments as inane and shows that none of them stands to reason: The first, broadcast and propagated to the gullible who would not go into history or archaeology and be taken in by the Parivar’s bluff and ballyhoo, is hollow. The second, addressed to persons like Guhan, the discerning persons, is spurious; for, though faith does not always rest on facts, if it has been strong, continuous and held by a very large number of people, faith itself would be a matter of fact; whereas this has not been so in the case of Janmasthan: “Not only is there no evidence to prove the existence of a temple at the site, there is also no evidence to show that there has been any widespread belief in the existence of a temple there.”

The third, a post-facto explanation, is false and misleading. For one thing, the demolition was not a chance reaction: “There is evidence that it was carefully planned, that people were trained, that they were equipped with implements to demolish the mosque”. For another, “Muslims, according to all available statistical evidence, are far behind the majority in their economic standing, their representation in the bureaucracy and the armed forces, their levels of education, and so on.”

If neither the birth of Rama nor his birthplace is established, and if there is no widespread belief in Rama and in his birthplace, one might ask why all this fuss about Rama and his birthplace. Guhan’s obvious answer is that it is merely “incremental politics” of the Sangh Parivar, a strategy of building up “incremental pressure to gain political power”, to work which they have to mobilise crowds around a physical issue, or a target that is extremely vivid to the people.

Responding to Govindacharya’s “concern” about the future of Indian polity, Guhan could not have done better than tell him that what is going on is not a fight between Hindus and Muslims, but between the Hindus themselves, and cautions him thus:

Do not talk about one more silanyas, about one more Ayodhya. Because if you do this you would be beaten up, somewhere or the other. I am not going to beat you up. But there are enough Hindus who will do the beating… Please do not pretend that you have aggregated the Hindus behind Srirama. Not even ten percent of them are worried about this. So do not make a balloon out of yourself and get pricked.

Ayodhya and the Future India
Edited by Jitendra Bajaj
Centre for Policy Studies, Madras, 1993
pp.274, Rs.120/-

Review by P. Radhakrishna
The Hindu, Sunday, March 6, 1994
The Hindu, March 17, 1994

A response to the Comment on Ayodhya and the Future India
by P. Radhakrishnan

Sir, – Mr. P. Radhakrishnan has chosen to slander Hindutva in his comment on the the book “Ayodhya and the Future India” edited by Dr. Jitendra Bajaj (The Hindu, March 6). At the outset it is to be pointed out that the Ayodhya demolition is one extreme example of the Hindu backlash after centuries of harassment and persecution borne with patience. Mr. Radhakrishnan has concluded his diatribes by quoting Mr. Guhan’s exhortation. Mr. Guhan says, “I am not going to beat you – (Govindacharya). There are enough Hindus who will do the beating” etc.

Our history shows that the Hindu society has been continuously receiving such beatings from “enough Hindus” who have been enjoying the holy company of those like Aurangzebs, Jinnahs, and others at various points of time. In spite of such beatings Hindutva is alive.

For the “progressives and secularists” the killing of innocent people in thousands under “direct action” on August 16, 1946 and the partition of the country resulting in displacement of innocent people in crores are all right. Also it is right for them if the Kashmir Hindus and Muslims who do not subscribe to the two nation theory are killed and driven out. Such matters are not serious for them and should be ignored.

But if Hindus demand restoration of their holy shrines, it is dangerous to their perception. So they manufacture theories to suppress strong historical evidences and also start campaigns vilifying Hindus.

Yet these progressives do understand that no other religious community can tolerate such kind of slander. In the case of Hindutva people, microscopic examination is made to detect anything and magnify it. If such scrutiny is done against Islam there “progressives” will face fatwas for physical extermination. If such a move is undertaken against Marxists, rationalists, etc. at least physical violence or property destruction can be anticipated.

K. Ramani