Bhāratavarṣa, the geographical expression of the Hindu civilisation, has been undergoing an unprecedented transformation since the last decade. In several realms, the transformation appears to be rapid and it has occurred before our own eyes.
The rebuilding of the grand Sri Rama Mandir in Ayodhya is undoubtedly the most spectacular of them all. When an honest history of this period is written say, fifty years later, this transformation will be regarded not merely as a significant event but an epoch. The aforementioned rapid pace of transformation is really the fruition of countless — told and untold — sacrifices and centuries of penance done by the collective spiritual and cultural consciousness of the Hindu community. The Rama Mandir at Ayodhya has become a reality today because Hindus have preserved the memory of its destruction.
The historical context makes its significance even more pronounced. The effort to reclaim the Sri Rama Mandir is a struggle that went on continuously 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, core truth of Hindu history: the intrinsic capacity of the Hindu society to heal itself and renew its lost strength in spite of undergoing the worst sort of brutalities.
To this list may be added the ongoing, earnest efforts at reclaiming the Kashi Viswanath and the Mathura Sri Krishna Janmasthana temples.
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 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 Sanātana civilisation and society which birthed them — they were perennial givers. Thus, our temples and countless similar structures were destroyed for the same reason — to shatter and break the confidence of this 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.
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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 seized the reins of political power after 1947. During the same period, this class actively worked towards subverting and dismantling the civilisational roots and the cultural genius that had forged the Sanātana civilisation. The dogged and perverse intrigues to prevent the rebuilding of the temple was part of this long-term project of destroying Hindu civilisation itself from within, in the land of its birth. It is the equally determined resistance and fightback from the Hindu society which prevented Bhāratavarṣa 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 moved at the ensuing dharma-punaḥsthāpana (re-establishment of dharma) in Ayodhya (after all, Sri Rama is described as Rāmo vigrahavān dharmaḥ, Rama is the embodiment of dharma), 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.
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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 Janmabhumi and to ultimately triumph in it. Sri Rama remains the unsurpassed unifier of Bhāratavarṣa and beyond. In his Svatantra-bhārata-abhinandana-stava (Hymn to Independent India), DVG correctly identifies the three great unifiers of India: Sri Rama, Aśoka and Ādiśaṅkara. He puts Sri Rama in the first place. Sri Rama achieved this unity through 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 Bhāratavarṣa vied with each other in proclaiming that Sri Rama did in fact, visit their towns and villages. This is also why the 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 depraved 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 coterie had transformed the ancient tīrthakṣetra and puṇyabhūmi, 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, Bipin, Suraj, Dhaneshwar, Supriya, Sita Ram… This is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the whole issue.
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The recovery of the sri rama mandir has several parallels with the rebuilding of the Somanatha shrine on May 11, 1951. On the eve of that momentous event, the scholar, writer and statesman K M Munshi wrote these words 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. (Emphasis added)
As a culturally-rooted Hindu, Munshi had correctly grasped the intrinsic meaning of freedom: adhyātma and dharma. We find an echo of Dr. S Srikanta Sastri’s maxim that spiritual freedom is the only true freedom. Like the Sri Rama temple, the Somanath temple too, is a source-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
So, what changed between the reclaiming of Somanatha and Ayodhya? Why did Ayodhya become so difficult to reclaim? After all, the ideology that had destroyed both temples was the same and its adherents had richly, proudly documented these demolitions. One of the answers: 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 active in the truncated India. Active 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 brilliant 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. 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 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 to declare 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 Bhāratavarṣa, 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 from politics and government, democracy also eliminated sanctity thereby killing the innate human yearning for the sacred. And India unthinkingly 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.
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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 to 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 become a physical reality.
Where are the Sabaris and Sri Ramas in the West?
Sri Ramachandra will be re-coronated on January 22, 2024 in Kali Yuga in his birthplace, heralding the beginning of an epoch. On that auspicious date, the global Hindu community should declare the rebirth of Hindu civilisational self-confidence because each time India has risen and flourished, it is actually Sanātana-dharma that has bounced back.