Reclaiming the Sri Rama Mandir: Lessons and Insights for the Hindu Community

Reflections on the Prana Pratishtapana of Sri Ramachandra that was completed yesterday, on Jan 22, 2024
Reclaiming the Sri Rama Mandir: Lessons and Insights for the Hindu Community
Sukanya Saha

SRI RAMACHANDRA HAS FINALLY RETURNED TO HIS HOME. In stellar style. Not an eye was dry yesterday. It is undoubtedly a civilisational triumph and also a warning. The ideology that impelled the likes of Babur is still active, and after India obtained “Independence,” it has only grown in strength and impunity.      

Barely five years after Mahmud of Ghazni’s maiden devastation of the sacred Jyotirlinga at Somanath, the Hindus not only rebuilt the temple but did it on a grander scale than before. It was a spontaneous, unanimous and unapologetic act of spiritual and civilisational reassertion. Fast forward, the Somanatha Temple was destroyed again and again and then again by Aurangzeb. Its reclamation took nearly three hundred years. And it took about five hundred years to reclaim the Sri Rama Mandir on a similar scale of magnificence. These events hold crucial lessons for today’s Hindu community. The struggle to reclaim these highly venerated Hindu Kshetras and sacred structures became harder and harder over the centuries. But the Hindus persisted with or without political patronage and won. The victory has been a mixed bag though. And each time these sacred spaces have been reclaimed, the original glory was sought to be revived and re-lived. In a remarkable essay written in the aftermath of the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya in 1992, Dr. J.K. Bajaj explains this phenomenon with matchless clarity: 

The Ayodhya events have shown that in spite of all the tomtomming of the virtues of European modernity and unmitigated vices of the Indian past, the people of India have not really changed. They continue to keep their own counsel about what is worth preserving in the Indian past and what needs to be forgotten. And, what must seem worse to the ruling elite, they have not even learnt the virtues of being docilely obedient to the powers that be. Centuries of slavery under the alien rulers have not extinguished their spirit, and even now they can rise up and express their likes and dislikes in as forceful a manner as they did in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992... Srirama of Ayodhya is once again helping us recollect ourselves and reflect on the state of India.

That reflection is what ultimately enabled and led to Sri Ramachandra’s Prana-Pratishtapana yesterday. We need to similarly reflect on the sort of unprecedented transformation that has occurred over the last decade. The rebuilding of the Sri Rama Mandir in Ayodhya is the most phenomenal of them all. In several realms, this has been a twofold transformation. One, it seems to be rapid. Two, it is irreversible. And it has occurred before our own eyes. 

WHEN AN HONEST HISTORY OF OUR PERIOD is written say, fifty years later, this transformation will be regarded not merely as a major event but an epoch. The aforementioned rapid pace of transformation is really the fruition of countless — told and untold — sacrifices and centuries of tapas done by the collective spiritual and cultural consciousness of the Sanatana community. The Rama Mandir at Ayodhya has become a reality today because Hindus have preserved the memory of its destruction. 

The historical context makes the Ram Mandir reclamation even more pronounced. This effort is actually a continuous battle that was waged without a break for five hundred years… half a millennium. There is no parallel to this struggle in all of human history. It is the latest testimony to an old truth at the core of Hindu history: the intrinsic capacity of our society to heal itself and renew its lost strength in spite of suffering the worst sort of atrocities.    

On a subtler plane, the rebuilding of the Sri Rama Mandir also symbolises the recovery of the battered cultural self-confidence of the Hindus. Since their inception, ancient and medieval Hindu temples were the magnificent productions of a powerful and self-confident civilisation, which had attracted the attention and avarice of the whole world to it. Foreign travellers to India were unfailingly mesmerised and awed not only by their structural grandeur but understood their power in building and sustaining thousands of miniature civilisations both near and far. The spectacular Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur directly sustained the livelihoods of a cross section of our society — Vedic Pandits, artisans, singers, washermen, etc — in faraway Madhya Pradesh. Hindu temples were akin to the Sanatana civilisation and society which birthed them — they were perennial givers. Thus, our temples and countless sacred structures were destroyed for the same reason — to shatter and break the confidence of this powerful Hindu society. More specifically, the temples at Kashi, Ayodhya, and Mathura (and Somanatha, much earlier) were heartlessly demolished because they symbolised the very core of Hindu piety deified in the forms of Shiva, Rama and Krishna. 

FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF RECENT HISTORY, the rebuilding of the Sri Rama Mandir is also the outcome of at least seven decades of patient work and immense, generational sacrifice. It is the undoing of the damage inflicted by an utterly deracinated and slavish political class that had usurped the reins of political power after 1947. During the same period, this depraved class actively worked towards subverting and dismantling the civilisational roots and the cultural genius that had forged the Sanatana civilisation. The dogged and perverse intrigues to prevent the rebuilding of the Sri Rama Temple was part of this long-term project of destroying Hindu civilisation itself from within, in the land of its birth. And it is the equally determined resistance and fightback from the Hindu society which prevented Bharatavarsha from meeting the same fate as that of the (former Soviet) Russia and China, whose people have no memory of their pre-Communist society. 

Thus, as much as I feel elated and deeply moved at the Prana Pratishtapana in Ayodhya, I constantly emphasise on keeping the memory of this half-a-millennium struggle fresh in our collective consciousness. The poisonous fruit of complacency is a repeat of history.  

NO SINGLE INCARNATION OF VISHNU has left behind such a pan-Indian physical imprint as Sri Ramachandra has. Whether things like incarnation exist is a futile point in this discussion. The fact that a simple and unswerving belief in it is what kept alive the fight to recover the Sri Rama Janmabhoomi and to ultimately triumph in it. Sri Rama remains the unsurpassed unifier of Bharatavarsha and beyond. In his Svatantra Bharata Stava (Hymn to Independent India), DVG correctly identifies the three great unifiers of India: Sri Rama, Asoka and Adi Sankara. He correctly puts Sri Rama in the first place. Sri Rama achieved the cultural unity of Bharatavarsha of which political and social unity are subsets. He did it by living a life dedicated to high ideals and paying enormous costs for it. It is for this reason that for countless centuries, Hindus in the remotest corners of Bharatavarsha vied with each other in proclaiming that Sri Rama did in fact, visit their towns and villages. This is also why Srimad Ramayana finds expression in infinite forms even as I write this. In fact, there will be no India without Sri Rama. 

More than anybody else, the vile cabal comprising the Congress, the Left and its cohorts unerringly understood this unifying power of Rama. This cabal became the greatest obstacle to the rebuilding of the Sri Rama Mandir. Their record shows that in their words, deeds and skulduggery, they proved worse than Timur, Babar and Aurangzeb put together. For nearly half a century, this gang had transformed the ancient Tirthakshetra and Punyabhumi, Ayodhya into an international crime scene. I vividly recall what a resident of Ayodhya had told me in 2019:

All these people…(the then) government, bureaucrats, historians, experts, secularists, film people…all of them ganged up together and painted all Hindus as criminals only because they worship Prabhu Ram ji. In those days, if we said we were from Ayodhya, in some circles, we were looked upon as if we were murderers.

And a majority of them had Hindu names: Romila, Satish, Dwijendra Narayan, Bipan, Suraj, Dhaneshwar, Supriya, Sita Ram… This is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the whole issue.

TO RETURN TO THE PARALLELS between Somanatha and Ayodhya, here is what the scholar, writer and statesman K.M. Munshi wrote. His words are embossed in gold: 

I cannot value freedom if it deprives us of the Bhagavad Gita or uproots our millions from the faith with which they look upon our temples and thereby destroys the texture of our lives… the Somanath shrine once restored to a place of importance in our life will give to our people a purer conception of religion and a more vivid consciousness of our strength.

As a culturally-rooted Hindu, Munshi had correctly grasped the intrinsic meaning of freedom: Adhyatma from which flows Dharma. Spiritual freedom is the only true freedom.  

Like the Sri Rama Mandir, the Somanath temple too, is a primordial fount of our strength. In hindsight, it appears as though its reconstruction was a breeze. And it  largely was because Sardar Patel’s indomitable will was the force that accomplished the sacred endeavour. His own leader, Prime Minister Nehru, was the fiercest opponent of Somanath but he had to bend before the Sardar’s conviction. In a moving dedication in his masterly Somanatha: The Shrine Eternal, the same K.M. Munshi has written perhaps the greatest tribute to Sardar Patel:

To Sardar Patel,

But for whom

Mine Eyes would not have seen

The shrine of Somnath

Rise Again

So, what changed between the reclaiming of Somanatha and Ayodhya? Why did Ayodhya become so tough to reclaim? After all, the ideology that had destroyed both temples was the same and its adherents had prolifically and proudly documented these demolitions. 

One of the answers to this question is this: from 1947 up to the early 1970s, the Muslim community had been on the defensive for causing the partition of India. However, the residual forces responsible for creating the Islamic nation of Pakistan were still alive in the truncated India. Alive but dormant. By the mid 1970s, these forces had acquired renewed power thanks to the Congress party’s addiction to Muslim votes. The addiction was recast as secularism. In his superb exposition of this phenomenon, the late Sita Ram Goel in the book, Freedom of Expression has a chapter candidly titled Islam Imposes an Emergency in India. But for this perverse secularism, the Sri Rama Mandir would have been peacefully rebuilt decades ago. And in recent years, because this secularism has lost political power, the reclamations at Mathura and Kashi are slowly but surely occurring. 

The long-drawn struggle for recovering sacred Hindu spaces has proven incredibly difficult after India adopted democracy. Sloth and slowness are the hallmarks of democracy. But there is a positive element of reasoned deliberation in slowness. However, in the Indian practice of democracy so far, reason is conspicuous by its absence. But more fundamentally, the kind of democracy India has adopted, does not recognise the fact that India is primarily a nation that is supposed to safeguard the Hindu civilisation which birthed its democracy. 

On the other hand, Pakistan also adopted a token democracy, but it had no ambiguity in declaring in its Constitution that it was an Islamic Republic (a contradiction in terms) governed by the laws of the Quran. It is not farfetched to make a conjecture that in pre-democratic Bharatavarsha, restoration of sacred sites and temples was relatively easy because the ruler was himself a devout Hindu who put his own neck on the line in all such sacred battles. Such profound convictions are the outcomes of civilisational and cultural seasoning done over eons.

By eliminating the Christian God and the Bible from politics and government, Western models of democracy also eliminated sanctity thereby killing the innate human yearning for the sacred. Unfortunately, India uncritically adopted this form of democracy, which has no syllabus or school to provide Hindu civilisational training. Indeed, the omission of the word “Dharma” from our Constitution is the greatest proof of this.   

THE STRUGGLE TO RECOVER the Sri Rama Mandir also has contemporary global ramifications. The three-centuries-long hegemony of the so-called Western civilisation is quickly sputtering into irrelevance. Today, America, which is the last bastion symbolising this hegemony, resembles a shambolic mess of its own creation. Both Europe and America have no antidote to Jihad and Woke, the two parasites that are consuming them from within. 

However, the Hindu civilisation and society has Sri Ramachandra (and countless such inspirations) who has always lifted it up even in the darkest of times. This is our real strength and while we have lapsed into amnesia about it from time to time, we never permanently lost it. Sabari waited her entire life for a glimpse of Sri Ramachandra. The Hindu community has such exemplary role models aplenty, who taught the value of patience and perseverance, which transcends generations, in the pursuit of a lofty ideal.  Which is why the Sri Rama Mandir has today become a physical reality.  

Where are the Sabaris and Sri Ramas in the West? 

Sri Ramachandra was recoronated yesterday, on January 22, 2024 in Kali Yuga in his birthplace, heralding the beginning of an epoch. That auspicious date marked the rebirth of the Hindu civilisational self-confidence because each time India has risen and flourished, it is actually Sanatana Dharma that has bounced back. 

|| Sri Rama Jayam ||

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