Babri Masjid: 25 years after demolition, and Ayodhya Temple
Twenty five years back, December 6, Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh state of India) was demolished by a large and angry Hindu activists, impatient and fed up with deliberate delays in solving the controversy of the mosque vs Ram Mandir (temple.)
That has been a historic day for free India, its secular culture and its tolerance-intolerance enigma. The Babri problem is still unsolved though the matter is before the Supreme Court of India for ‘final resolution,’ whatever that means and, if at all, that’s allowed to proceed.
India had to face centuries of invasions, first Muslim and then British rule, followed by the freedom and separatist movements. All that culminated in the Partition to create a Muslim Pakistan out of the rest of secular (Hindu) India.
This was an event of historic significance with intolerant and ‘anti-co-existence’ Muslims getting their own separate Muslim country, in 1947. The hitherto tolerant Hindus were given a truncated country with ‘secular’ ideology. They were also left with bitter memories of invasions, destruction of their temples, cultural and educational institutions, large-scale conversion, and atrocities of unbelievable proportion.
Gradually, Hindus started rebuilding their temples and restructuring their educational and cultural institutions, and also re-establishing their identity after centuries of subjugation and persecution.
But all that faced enormous hurdles, both from the so-called ‘secular’ elements, the ‘secular’ government and also hardline Muslims who had no interest in India’s tradition of ‘real’ secularism, co-existence, and actual tolerance. Those elements had only superficial respect for democratic rule, and the nation’s Constitution that sought to guarantee equal and uniform civil rights for all the people in the country, still not fully achieved. It’s not due to Hindus.
Because of this brand of ‘secularism’ and the policy of constant appeasement in the name of ‘fair treatment for the minorities,’ the situation continued to deteriorate. The percentage of Hindus has come down from the dominantly large 80.5% to 78.8% in just 10 years. In 1951 Hindus were more than 84% and Muslims only 9.8%. The Muslims are now 14.2% - the second largest number in the world.
In the years after the Partition, Hindus and Muslims have seen riots and killings etc. In Muslim Pakistan Hindus are not even second class citizens, their number is declining and they are facing discrimination and forcible conversion. They have absolutely no say in the government. No major posts are held by Hindus.
The reports say that 5000 Hindu families flee every year from Pakistan –overwhelmingly to India. How many Muslims flee from India to Pakistan? You guess. I say none.
Because in secular India, there have been Muslim Presidents, military chiefs, governors, chief ministers, top judges, big business people, parliamentarians, professors, doctors, engineers and so on. They continue to flourish with all the freedoms guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
The demolition of the so-called Babri Masjid, built in Ayodhya should be discussed in this whole context. Babar had nothing to do with Ayodhya. Nobody claims that Babar was born there, or liked the place for its riches, beauty, climate or anything else, real or imaginary.
On the contrary, Babar was born outside India, invaded the country, and hated Ayodhya because of the presence of a grand temple of the Hindu icon, Shri Ram. Ayodhya is the birthplace of Ram and one of the seven most revered places for the Hindus in the country.
That’s why it was the ‘best place’ and the ‘best temple’ for invading Babar to insult and humiliate Hindus and one of their most revered gods.
While some misguided and ‘secular’ Hindus also criticize the demolition of the Babri Masjid, has anyone ever condemned the utter destruction and merciless looting of thousands of Hindu temples by Muslims during their hundreds of years of rule?
The hardline Muslims and their secular friends and Hindu-haters are mourning the demolition of ONE mosque – the one built by destroying Shri Ram temple at his birthplace! Not one of them is shedding even a tear for the destruction of thousands of rich and functioning temples all over India.
And Babri Mosque was a dilapidated, non-functioning place when it was demolished, in 1992. There were no riches in the Mosque that Hindu mobs would loot; Hindu temples have always been rich – and they were looted and destroyed.
The only functioning place of worship in and around the Babri Masjid at the time of the demolition was Ram Lalla Temple – originally built in the 8th century and since renovated many times by Hindu rulers. As late as 1928, under the British rule, it was re-opened as a place of worship for Hindus. That was the ‘Functioning Temple’ at the time.
The most important, and the largest among the age-old Puraanas, is the Skandapuraana, originally written in the 6th century. It narrates, in detail, various temples in Ayodhya, including the one at the very birthplace of Shri Ram.
So, be rational and think again when discussing Babri Masjid. The Hindus did not resort to a ghastly and atrocious ‘sin’ of destroying a place of worship. Babri mosque was itself an atrocious act of sheer revenge and insult of Hindus, their God, and was an attack on their culture and psyche. It was a monstrosity and after nearly 500 years, a group of Hindus did a small act of retaliation to regain their self-respect. It was a long overdue reaction, just a small protest.
So don’t mourn that demolition. Instead, please try and make amends by decrying the attacks on, and looting of, Hindu Temples, condemn the invader Babar, apologize for the destruction of Shri Ram temple, and ask for forgiveness for hundreds of years of constant attacks on Hindu religion, their culture, their pride and their psyche.
And let’s hope the Supreme Court, finally, settles this controversy on the basis of facts, history and culture, and paves the way for the construction of a grand Shri Ram temple. It has to be built in the holy city of Ayodhya where Hindus - and Muslims – could live in peace, harmony and tolerance, instead of perpetual conflict, unnecessary strife and ill-will. Let’s all enjoy Ramrajya in Ayodhya.
That will be a great example of tolerance and co-existence all over India.
Remember – if you don’t know or have not seen – many Muslim women’s groups have been praying at Ayodhya, in Varanasi and at Ramnavami functions, for the last several years. They have been conducting artis defying all the fatwas of hardliners. They have said categorically: Our religion, now, is Muslim, but our ancestors were Hindus. We may change our religion, but not our ancestry.
That is real secularism. That is tolerance. That is love of democracy. That is the highest form of co-existence. And that is loyalty to the country where Muslims enjoy all the benefits of a ‘secular’ society they could never imagine in a Muslim country.
They don’t flee from India. They are fleeing from Muslim countries and flooding Europe and America. They want to reap the benefits of all the freedoms, democracy, tolerance, secularism, equal rights and peace. They want to avail of the ample opportunities of growth in countries not ruled by Islamic extremists, dictators, Mullahs and the military elite.
India is a shining example of that kind of country.