By Pro. Shamsul Islam
According to the Supreme Court of India (Ayodhya Judgment dated November 9, 2019),
“The exclusion of the Muslims from worship and possession took place on the intervening night between 22/23 December 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols.” [Supreme Court Ayodhya Judgment, pp. 921-22] The idol of Ram Lalla (Ram as child) which was placed under the central dome of in the Babri Mosque (claimed to be the exact place where RAM took birth) was made of metal and was of nine inches tall. It was the idol which was worshipped that time onward and continued to be worshipped after demolition of the Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992 in the make-shift temple by Hindus.
However, on January 22, 2024 a 51-inch stone idol of Ram Lalla will be consecrated through a Brahmanical ritual called as ‘pran-pratishtha’ (putting soul into an idol) ceremony ) in the newly built Ram Temple at Ayodhya. “On January 22, 2024, PM Narendra Modi will perform the Pran Pratishtha ceremony under the guidance of Pandit [‘Ayodhya Ram Mandir: Know Pran Pratishtha Ceremony details here’, The Times of India, Delhi, January 05, 2024. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/106562761.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst]
Since, PM of a democratic-secular polity of India is conducting this ritual, not only worshippers of Ram but common Indians too have every right to ask what will happen to the deity which was worshipped as Ram. Digvijaya Singh, former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, a practising Hindus has raised the same issue by asking: “Where is the idol of Ram Lalla over which the conflict happened? Why has the old idol not been consecrated?” [‘Where is old idol of Ram Lala, asks Digvijaya, The Times of India, Delhi, December 04, 2024.
PM Modi must take the nation in confidence about the status of already consecrated idol of Ram. Will there be two consecrated idols in the Ram Temple or old idol will be deprived of ‘pran’ or soul? Is there going to be a ‘pran aparatishtha’ (depriving the idol of soul) ritual for the discarded idol?
Swami Dayanand Saraswati on idol Consecration
RSS and PM Modi glorify founder of Arya Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati as barrage of the Hindu nation. It will be pertinent to know what Swami said about idol worship and consecration of idols. All those interested must read chapter 11 of his masterpiece, Satyarth Prakash (Light of Truth). In this book dealing with this issue he raised following issues which RSS and Modi must respond: “If as you say that the God comes into the image when invoked, why does not the idol show signs of consciousness and why does not the image also leave when the God is asked to depart? Whence does it come and here does it go? The fact of the matter is that the
All-pervading Spirit can neither come into and idol, nor, leave it. If you mantras are efficacious that you can summon God, why can you not infuse life into your dead son by the force of the very same mantras? Again why can you not bide the soul depart from the body of your enemy?”
“The soul is possessed of consciousness, while idol is dead and inert. Do you mean to say that the soul should also lose its consciousness and become lifeless like the idol? Idol worship is a fraud.”
“Being All-pervading He cannot be imagined to exist in any particular object only. To hold to the contrary would be tantamount to believing that the sovereign Lord of the earth rules over a small cottage to the exclusion of His whole Empire and would be an insult to Him. In like manner, it is a blasphemy against God to imagine Him as existing in one particular object only… If as you say that the God comes into the image when invoked, why does not the idol show signs of consciousness and why does not the image also leave when the God is asked to depart? Whence does it come and here does it go? The fact of the matter is that the All-pervading Spirit can neither come into and idol, nor, leave it. If you mantras are efficacious that you can summon God, why can you not infuse life into your dead son by the force of the very same mantras? Again why can you not bide the soul depart from the body of your enemy?”
“There is not a single verse in the Vedas to sanction invocation of the Deity and vitalization of the idol, likewise there is nothing to indicate that it is right to invoke idols, to bathe them, to install them in temples and apply sandal paste to them.”
“The formless Supreme Spirit that pervades the universe can have no material representation, likeness or image.” YAJUR VEDA 32: 3.”
Destruction of Ram Temple by Muslims: A fact not known even to Goswami Tulsidas who lived during those times
It is no ordinary religious inauguration of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya to be slated for January 22, 2024. It has clear political and polarizing agenda attached to it. Underling this character of the inauguration PM Modi declared that “Ram Bhakts have waited for 550 years” to see it happen.
‘Celebrate Diwali across country on January 22, on the day of Ram temple ceremony: [PM Modi at Ayodhya’, The Indian Express, Delhi, December 31, 2023, https://indianexpress.com/article/political-pulse/celebrate-diwali-january-22-ram-temple-ceremony-pm-modi-ayodhya-9088953/#:~:text=With%20folded%20hands%2C%20I%20am,the%20evening%20of%20January%2022.%E2%80%9D]
It is not only in India but almost 60 foreign countries where Hindutva organizations are active amongst Hindus; the January 22 is to be celebrated because “After 500 years of struggle by Hindus, Bhagwan Shri Ram Mandir is being inaugurated.”
The thrust of the celebration programmes is that Ram Temple at Ayodhya is finally built after being destroyed by Muslims 500 hundred years back. It has been 500 year long struggle to see it happen.
[‘Hindu Americans organise car rally in Washington suburb to celebrate Ram Mandir inauguration’. https://www.telegraphindia.com/world/members-of-hindu-american-community-organise-car-rally-in-washington-suburb-to-celebrate-ram-mandir-inauguration/cid/1987478]
Such claims by Indian PM and his Hindutva co-fellows in the world are only spreading hatred against Muslims thus contributing to the Islamophobic narrative in India and abroad. Sadly, such statements are not only are in contempt of the Supreme Court Judgment on Ayodhya but also contradict ‘Hindu’ narrative of history.
It may be interesting to note that RSS archives have no document to prove that during the British rule since its inception in 1925 ever demanded building of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Supreme Court inn its 1039 pages long judgment did not admit that Babri Mosque was built on the ruins of any Ram Temple. It is sad that while religious poison is being spread openly the Supreme Court remain a mute spectator while its findings are being mis-reported.
So far as the ‘Hindu’ narrative is concerned there is no mention of it in the writings of the most prominent worshipper of Ram to date, Goswami Tulsidas who lived between 1511-1623. He was the person who penned the Epic, RAMCHARITMANAS (Lake of the Deeds of Ram) in Avadhi language which angered the local Brahmins as the story of Ram was not written in Sanskrit. This was the work which mesmerized Hindus of India with the story of Lord Ram and the latter became house-hold deity of every Hindu home, specially in northern India. He penned his above mentioned work during 1575-76. According to the Hindutva version Ram birth-place temple was destroyed during 1538-1539. Thus RAMCHARITMANAS written almost 37 years after the so called destruction of Ram birth-place temple should have mentioned this destruction. But it did not mention it.
Are Hindutva zealots trying to say that the greatest story-teller and worshipper of Ram and his Court (Darbar), Tulsidas did not speak truth in his historic work? Is not it an attempt to question the credibility of Goswami Tulsidas? Are the Hindutva zealots trying to say that Goswami Tulsidas kept mum on the issue of the destruction of a temple at Ram’s birth-place due to some ulterior motives?
Ramzade Versus Babarzade
The inauguration of Ram Temple is blatantly being used to denigrate Indian Muslims. The building of the Temple is the defeat of ‘Babarzade’ (children of Babar) by ‘Ramzade’ (children of Ram). It is pertinent to know about the nature of ‘Muslim’ rule in India. The Hindutva zealots demanding Muslim-free India must know that all ‘Muslim’ rulers survived due to the Hindu high Castes joining the ‘Muslim’ rulers in running their empires. How solid this unity was can be gauged by the fact that after Akbar no Mughal emperor was born of a Muslim mother.
Moreover, Hindu high Castes provided brain and muscles to the ‘Muslim’ rulers faithfully. Likewise, Mughal rule established by Babar who was invited by a section of Hindu kings to seize India was the rule of Hindu high Castes also.
Aurobindo Ghose who played prominent role in providing Hindu foundation to the Indian nationalism confessed that Mughal rule continued for over a century due to the fact that Mughal rulers gave Hindus, “positions of power and responsibility, used their brain and arm to preserve” their kingdom.
[Cited in Chand, Tara, History of the Freedom Movement in India, vol. 3, Publication Division Government of India, Delhi, 1992, p. 162.]
Renowned historian Tara Chand relying on the primary source material of the medieval period concluded that the from the end of 16th century to the middle of 19th century, “it may reasonably be concluded that in the whole of India, excepting the western Punjab, superior rights in land had come to vest in the hands of Hindus” most of whom happened to be Rajputs. [Chand, Tara, History of the Freedom Movement in India, vol. 1, Publication Division Government of India, Delhi, 1961, p. 124.]
The contemporary records prove that Aurangzeb rule was also the rule of Rajputs and Kshatriyas [members of the two of the four Hindu Castes in order of precedence after Brahmins]. Aurangzeb never faced Shivaji in the battle-field. It was his commander-in-chief, a Rajput ruler of Amer (Rajasthan), Jay Singh I (1611–1667) who was sent to subjugate Shivaji (1603-1680). Jay Singh II (1681-1743), (nephew of Jay Singh I) was other prominent Rajput commander of the Mughal forces who served Aurangzeb. He was conferred the title of ‘Sawai’ [one and a quarter times superior to his contemporaries] chief by Aurangzeb in 1699 and thus came to be known as Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. He was also given the title of Mirza Raja [a Persian title for a royal prince] by Aurangzeb. The other titles bestowed on him by other Mughal rulers were ‘Sarmad-i-Rajaha-i-Hind’ [eternal ruler of India], ‘Raj Rajeshvar’ [lord of kings] and ‘Shri Shantanu ji’ [wholesome king]. These titles are displayed by his descendants even today. This Rajput chief also gave his daughter in marriage to the son of Aurangzeb who became Mughal emperor after Aurangzeb. [https://www.indianrajputs.com/view/jaipur and https://www.indianrajputs.com/famous/Jai-Singh-II-Amber.php]
Rajput commanders fighting for Aurangzeb was no exception. Akbar’s battles against Rana Pratap were led by one of his brother-in-law, Maan Singh. Maasir al-Umara a biographical dictionary of the officers in the Mughal Empire beginning from 1556 to 1780 [Akbar to Shah Alam] is regarded as the most authentic record of the high rank officials employed by the Mughal kings. According to it Mughal rulers during this period employed around 100 (out of 365) Hindu high-ranking officials most of them being “Rajputs from Rajputana, the midlands,
Bundelkhand and Maharashtra”. Brahmins followed Rajputs in manning the Mughal administration so far as the number was concerned. [Khan, Shah Nawaz, Abdul Hai, Maasir al-Umara [translated by H Beveridge as Mathir-ul-Umra], volumes 1& 2, Janaki Prakashan, Patna, 1979.] Interestingly, Kashi Nagri Pracharini Sabha [established in 1893] “committed to the cause of Hindi as official language” published Hindi translation of this book in 1931.
Another crucial fact which is consciously kept under wrap is that despite more than 500 hundreds of effective ‘Muslim’ rule which according to Hindutva historians was nothing but a project of annihilating Hindus or forcibly converting the latter to Islam, India remained a nation with an absolute Hindu majority. The British rulers held first census in 1871-72. It was the time when even ceremonial ‘Muslim’ rule was over. According to the Census report: “The population of British India is, in round numbers, divided into 140½ million [sic] of Hindoos (including Sikhs), or 73½ per cent., 40¾ millions of Mahomedans, or 21½ per cent. [Memorandum on the Census Of British India of 1871-72: Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty London, George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office 1875, p. 16.]
A poem by Iqbal, a Babarzada eulogizing Ram
The inauguration of Ram Temple at Ayodhya is being aggressively used to declare Muslims and enemy of Ram. This kind of pervert Hindutva mind-set has little knowledge of India’s past. Mohammad Iqbal penned one of the greatest poems in praise of Ram in Urdu which was titled “Imam-e-Hind” (spiritual leader of India).
Hai Raam ke wajood pe Hindustaan ko naaz
Ahl-e-Nazar samajhte hain us ko Imam-e-Hind
(India is proud of the existence of Ram
Spiritual people consider him prelate of India)
It is quite evident that he does not believe that Ram is leader of Hindus alone, otherwise he would have used the word Ahl-e-Hind (people of India) rather than Ahl-e-Nazar (people with vision). For him, the status of Lord Ram as a spiritual leader is not limited to the Vaishnavas or Hindus only. Lord Ram lives in the ethos of India and its people.
Talwar ka dhani tha, shujaat mai fard tha
Paakeegi mai, josh-e-muhabbat mai fard tha
(He was expert in sword craft, was unique in bravery
Was matchless in piety and in the enthusiasm of love)
Iqbal saw in Ram a perfect role model for the national movement. He is brave, and can fight wars against any wrong.
Iqbal, accords Ram not only the status of philosophical fountain head of India but of the world.
Sab falsafi hain khita-e-maghrib ke Ram-e-Hind
(All philosophers of the west would have acknowledged India and are fan of Ram).
Deepavali for Ram or PM Modi
Deepavali (Festival of Lights) is the most popular Hindu festival in most parts of India. Deepavli is the celebration of Ram’s return to his kingdom with wife Sita and his brother Lakshman after defeating Ravan of Lanka. It is celebrated as victory of truth over evil.
Now Deepavli for Ram has a competitor which can be named as PM Modi’s Deepavli. Modi declared this plan during a roadshow in Ayodhya on December 31, 2023. According to him , “The whole world is waiting for the historic moment. With folded hands, I am requesting 140 crore people of the country that on January 22, when the consecration of Ramlalla’s idol takes place, light the Ram Jyoti in your house and celebrate Deepawali. The entire country should sparkle with lights on the evening of January 22.”
[‘Celebrate Diwali across country on January 22, on the day of Ram temple ceremony: PM Modi at Ayodhya’, The Indian Express, Delhi, January 01, 2024
Thus Deepavali for Ram is being substituted by Deepavali for PM Modi when he appears in the attire of a rishi or Brahmin saint to put soul into the life-less idol of Ram.
Interestingly, the Hindutva zealots have taken this call very seriously by calling Hindus to celebrate January 22 as Maha-Deepavali (Great Deepavali); Deepavali for Ram and Maha-Deepavali for PM Modi!
Whose Ram? Common people banned from participating in Consecration Ceremony
Ram is known for protecting his people; uphold righteousness, compassion and kindness. Ram is equated with common women/men. His rule is described as Ram Rajya or a rule for the benefit of common people. According to Gandhi it essentially meant, “The land of dharma and a realm of peace, harmony and happiness for young and old, high and low, all creatures and the earth itself, in recognition of a shared universal consciousness.”
However, these are common Hindus who will not be allowed to join the ceremony on January 22nd. It was made clear by none other than PM Modi who asked common worshippers of Ram not to crowd Ayodhya on January 22. He told them to come later at their convenience because “this time the navya, bhavya, divya (new, grand, divine) temple in Ayodhya is not going anywhere and ‘darshan’ will be available for centuries”.
Sadly, PM Modi did not ask the rich, film actors, industrialists, leading sports persons to come later. In fact, 22nd celebration participation was restricted to a galaxy of Very-Very-Very Important Persons. PM Modi overlooked the fact that the first invites should have gone to those poor worshippers of Ram who despite miserable life had contributed to the coffers of VHP for building Ram Temple. It may be relevant here to know that many of the invitees are not only meat-eaters but have been fond of beef.
Supreme Court Ayodhya judgment: Trickery over-rides justice
The Supreme Court of India has directly helped the VHP and PM Modi in becoming the only franchisees of Ayodhya Ram Temple project. The highest court of justice in India corroborated two important facts.
1. “The exclusion of the Muslims from worship and possession took place on the intervening night between 22/23 December 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols. The ouster of the Muslims on that occasion was not through any lawful authority but through an act which was calculated to deprive them of their place of worship.” [Supreme Court Judgment pp. 921-22]
2. “On 6 December 1992, the structure of the mosque was brought down and the mosque was destroyed. The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this Court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law.” [Supreme Court Judgment pp. 913-14]
The Judgment also nowhere mentioned that Babri Mosque was built after destroying a Ram Temple in the past. [https://scroll.in/article/943337/no-the-supreme-court-did-not-uphold-the-claim-that-babri-masjid-was-built-by-demolishing-a-temple] Despite these findings which talked of “[The] egregious violation of the rule of law” and done not by a “lawful authority but through an act which was calculated to deprive them of their place of worship”, Supreme Court took a U turn handing over the site for Ram Temple building to the same group of Hindutva organization who had conspired in both the cases. Supreme Court to ensure that no Hindu competitor of RSS-VHP is allowed any participation in latter’s Ram Temple project disallowed claim of Nirmohi Akhada, the original claimant of Ram Temple at the site of Babri Mosque. [Supreme Court Judgment p. 925].
It was apolitical judgment was made clear by the current Chief Justice of India, D Y Chandrachud (who was one of the Justices in the Bench which gave unanimous judgment for building Ram Temple) when he stated: “”The case has a long history of conflict, of diverse viewpoints based on the history of the nation and all those who were part of the bench decided that this will be a judgment of the court.” [‘A judgment of court’: CJI Chandrachud on why Ayodhya verdict was kept anonymous’ The Week, Delhi, January 1, 2024. https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2024/01/01/a-judgement-of-court-cji-chandrachud-on-why-ayodhya-verdict-was-kept-anonymous.html] His above statement was, in fact, re-phrasing of propaganda material by Hindutva organizations. This Judgment legitimized the criminal acts of the Hindutva zealots; what Hindutva goons could not achieve on December 22-23, 1949 and December 6, 1992 was got delivered to RSS through this Judgment!
Today Ayodhya is being presented as a case of perpetual war of Hindus against Muslims. There cannot be a shoddier lie than this. During India’s War of Independence 1857 Ayodhya it was the same Ayodhya where Maulvis and Mahants and common Hindu-Muslims stood united in rebelling against the British rule and kissed the hangman’s noose together. Maulana Ameer Ali was a famous Maulvi of Ayodhya and when Ayodhya’s well-known Hanuman Garhi’s (Hanuman Temple) priest Baba Ramcharan Das took lead in organizing the armed resistance to the British rule, Maulana also joined the revolutionary army. In one battle with the British and their stooges, both of them were captured and hanged together on a tamarind tree at the Kuber Teela (razed for the new temple) in Ayodhya.
This region also produced two more great friends, belonging to different religions that made life hell for the British sponsored armies. Acchhan Khan and Shambhu Prasad Shukla were two such friends who lead the army of Raja Devibaksh Singh in the district of Faizabad. Both of them were able to defeat the Firangee army in many battles, inflicting heavy losses on them. It was due to the treachery again that they were captured. In order to desist anyone from such companionships between Hindus and Muslims both these friends were publicly inflicted prolonged torture and their heads were cruelly filed off.
The Hindutva rulers of India led by PM Modi must understand that existence of Indian democratic-secular polity must not be sacrificed for securing victory for ruling India for 5 more years.
Link for some of S. Islam’s writings in English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and video interviews/debates: