By Kawaja Kaleem
For about twenty-five years now, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been jet-setting from India to US, UK and Europe, holding fashionable seminars, entitled “The Art of Living” for the well -to- do White people, to sell them the ancient Indian ‘Live and Let Live’ philosophy. With cleverly packaged and choreographed glib talk, he made many converts in the West and in the upper-classes in India to consider him an enlightened Indian guru.
A couple of years ago he held his ‘Art of Living’ show on the sandy banks of Yamuna river in Delhi, that was a song and dance extravaganza. India’s Environmental Protection Agency declined to give him a permit fearing much damage to the fragile eco-systm of the ancient Yamuna river. But being a buddy of Prime Minister Modi and other top BJP politicians, he overruled the environmental protection agency and held his event over three days. As predicted it caused a lot of environmental damage to the banks of river Yamuna, and the government agency ordered him to repair the damage estimated to cost Rs 6 crore ($2 million) . He has yet to comply with that government agency order.
A couple of months ago he initiated another publicity stunt ruse. Settle the contentious Babri Mosque dispute which is presently under adjudication at the Supreme Court of India, out of court between the Hindu and Muslim communities. While most Muslim community leaders have said often that they will abide by the decision of the supreme court even if it awards the ownership of the site of the erstwhile Babri Mosque land, to the Hindu community, some rabble-rouser RSS politicians are putting pressure on the Muslim community to preempt the supreme court and agree to hand over the mosque site to the Hindu community. Their favourite tool is bribing a few Muslim clerics with offers of money, seats in parliament and such other positions of power.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who never showed any interest in this dispute for 30 years, has suddenly assumed the leadership of the RSS contingent that is pushing this option. With his silken tongue and glib deceptive talk, he convinced a couple of Muslim religious leaders to join him in this extra-judicial effort. However the Muslim community in general rose up in arms and declined to have anything to do with this ruse. The Muslims again insisted that they will accept whatever is the judgement of the supreme court.
Finding himself isolated as his Muslim partners fizzled out, now Sri Sri Ravishankar has issued an ultimatum to the Supreme Court of India, that regardless of the legal merits of the case, if the court awards any part of the site of the erstwhile Babri mosque to the Muslim community, a large number of Hindus may resort to massacre of Muslims in anger and revenge. Without bothering with the legal due process and the judicial system of India, he is threatening the basic governance structure of the country. Also with this threat he appears to be exhorting Hindus in advance of the judicial process to refuse to abide by the decision of the highest court in India, to take law in their own hands and go on a rampage against Muslims who have not broken any law or insulted the feelings of Hindus in any manner.
The welfare of India requires that ordinary Hindus and Muslims put their trust in the Indian constitution, the governance systems of the nation that includes a judiciary and a parliamentary system, and the following of this due process in the last 70 years, to resolve all major and minor disputes among them. Not bypassing those systems by some glib and deceptive politicians and fake-gurus. India is as much a home to 180 million Muslims as it is to 700 million Hindus. Together the two communities have to ;preserve and protect India as a nation of laws, good governance and moving forward as one nation, regardless of the harmful tricks of the rabble-rousers and politicians from both sides.
The writer is the Executive Director of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC.