By Dr Santosh Kumar Mohapatra*
In history or mythology, normally politicians, rich, powerful were rarely found teaching about religion and devotion. It is saints, religious pontiffs who used to do so. But today, rich, powerful, corporates and politicians, criminals even exploiters are preaching about religions to masses and poorer section of society who are plagued by poverty, starvation, inequality, unemployment and various problems due to exploitation of rich, powerful and corporates
Pran Pratishtha of Ram Lalla’s idol was performed by PM Narendra Modi on 22 January 2024 in the presence of saints, celebrities, politicians and corporates. Saints emphasize that the story of Ram and the Ramayan is deeply ingrained in the Indian ethos, and the construction of the temple represents a rejuvenation of a damaged national spirit.
The ancient culture of India is famous all over the world, and Hinduism is considered the oldest religion. In the Hindu religion, many deities are worshipped. Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of lord Vishnu, is the central character of the Hindu epic Ramayana written by Valmiki and is considered the most important avatar of the deity in Hinduism. The original Ramayana by Valmiki is written in the form of poetic verse (shlokas), narrating the life of the legendary prince of Ayodhya, Lord Rama. It is believed that the scripture was authored based on information provided by Rama’s wife Sita, during her banishment from Ayodhya.
According to Valmiki, the seventh avatar of Vishnu did not know his divinity while in mortal form. He says, “I am only the son of King Dasaratha.” Yet there is an occasion when he “forgets” and behaves like the God he actually is. Lord Rama is believed to have lived in the Treta Yuga, 1.2 million years ago. Rama is considered to be an enlightened man, with great regard for morals and values. He has also been given the title of Maryada Purushottama, which means the perfect man.
The Prime Minister addressed the gathering present on the occasion and hailed the construction of the temple. The foundation laying ceremony for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya has been held on 5th August 2020.
According to him, ‘this moment for us is not only of victory but also modesty. There was a time when some people used to say that if Ram Mandir is built, there will be arson. Such people could not understand the social emotion of people. The construction of Ram Mandir is a symbol of patience, peace and harmony in Indian society. The construction of the temple is not giving birth to fire, but energy. Ram is not fire, Ram is energy,’ PM Modi said.
Issue is not building Ram Temple, so many temples could be built in different part of countries. But question is separating religions from politics as envisaged by our constitutions. State should neither be involved in religious matters nor politicians should try to derive political mileage from religious sentiments of people. Creating emotion on one hand and asking media to ignore people’s issues is anathema to our fledgling democracy.
PM also thanked Supreme Court for verdict and told that ‘today our Ram has come. After waiting for centuries our Ram has arrived. After centuries of unprecedented patience, countless sacrifices, sacrifices and penance, our Lord Ram has arrived.
‘Our Ram lalla will no longer live in the tent. Our Ram lalla will now live in this divine temple. I have firm belief and immense faith that whatever has happened, the devotees of Ram in every corner of the country and the world must be feeling it. This moment is supernatural, this moment is the holiest,’ PM Modi added.
But the God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. He has created and controlled the universe and lives in souls of all living creatures. He does not need help of any human being for shelter. When we talk of providing shelter to Lord Ram, it smacks of arrogance.
The Prime Minister apologised to Lord Ram for taking so long for the construction of the temple in his birthplace and hoped that the deity will forgive them today. But God always forgives human beings.
The Prime Minister detailed on Lord Ram and said that when he is honoured, its effect is for thousands of years. “This is a temple of national consciousness in the form of Ram. Ram is the faith of India; Ram is the foundation of India. Ram is the idea of India, Ram is the law of India… Ram is the prestige of India, Ram is the glory of India… Ram is the leader and Ram is the policy. Ram is eternal…When Ram is honoured, its effect does not last for years or centuries, its effect is for thousands of years…” he said.
But Ram Rajya is a far cry now and a very few legislators emulate Ram’s ideal. The question creeps into mind: why do most politicians especially the ruling class do just the opposite of Lord Ram’s ideals while advising people to emulate him? Creating emotion on one hand and asking media to ignore people’s issues is anathema to our fledgling democracy.
Let’s take a look at the best of his qualities He has even been defined as, “the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king,” by Swami Vivekananda. He was the epitome of kindness, sympathy, truthfulness spirituality, humility, and sensitiveness. Lord Ram is revered in Indian mythology for his exemplary leadership and his commitment to the values of truth, justice, and compassion.
Despite the adversities, Lord Ram’s remarkable equanimity in facing these trials makes him an enduring figure in contemporary times. Ram is the embodiment of chivalry and virtue. For millions of Bharatiyas, Lord Ram’s life is seen as a life of holy compliance, purity, simplicity, self-sacrifice, and renunciation. Lord Ram was famous for visionary leadership, ethical decisions, empathy and compassion, effective communication, adaptability, and resilience. But the present ruling class who cites the name of Lord Ram lacks all the above qualities.
However, Lord Ram is being criticised on three aspects: the way he banished Sita and asked her to testify chastity that led to her immolation; the deceptive way he killed Bali; killed Shambuka, a shudra ascetic, for attempting to perform tapas in violation of dharma, resulting in the bad karma. Another speculation behind the killing of Shambuka is that he wanted to get killed by Lord Ram so that he could attain salvation. Dr B R Ambedkar was a great critic of Lord Ram.
However, Lord Ram was loyal to Sita and never thought of a woman other than Sita in his entire life when polygamy was the order of the day. Even after Sita vanishes, he never married again. Ram was a one-woman man with great love for his wife Sita. He resisted any temptation that could come in the way of his love for his wife. But now people worship Lord Ram, but extramarital or illicit sexual relation is rampant. People are changing life partners frequently even like clothes.
He was satisfied with whatever he had, even a little less couldn’t have bothered him. For one, his lack of greed, when he promptly accepts being exiled. But today, human beings have become greedy especially powerful, and rich, and politicians have become avaricious for any wealth and power. They want to accumulate power and wealth at any cost or by hook or crook transcending all moral values. Human beings have become so greedy, and rapacious that it is overexploiting nature leading to natural catastrophe.
Most of the time, the Ram temples are overcrowded with devotees but you will find many of such devotees neglecting their parents just contrasting to Ram’s ideology who voluntarily embraced the punishment of a self-imposed exile and ascetic life of fourteen years to uphold the honour of his father’s vow. Even though Dashrath refused him to go, Ram obeyed his step-mother Kaikei’s order because he cannot see his father’s image getting low in front of the public.
Today, nobody is prepared to share others’ problems. But Ram’s decision was braced by his younger stepbrother Laxman, and Ram’s wife Sita, who willingly accompanied him to the forest. They led ascetic lives while today rich/powerful/politicians want to lead a cosy life at any cost.
Further, Lord Ram had a kind and forgiving nature while people especially the present ruling class is found to be vindictive. Despite the great wrong she has done to him, Lord Ram behaved Kaikeyi politely, and humbly and told Sita and Laxman to do the same.
Lord Ram was encouraging dissent so as to address people’s problems. He was trying to know about people’s feelings about his governance so as to remedy the same. Now politicians are totally insensitive to people’s suffering and impoverishment of the masses.
He never talked about his goodness or greatness or achievements but rather tried to know where his weakness was in his governance. But, now ruling dispensation at the Centre is always resorting to advertisement blitzkrieg to magnify their achievements and camouflage failures. Every day, there is a new slogan, shifting the goalpost. Neither attempt is made to know the weakness in governance nor effort taken to address the problems of the masses.
Now dissent is treated as treason, hatred is created against those who expose failures of government or make a critical analysis of government policy. Deliberately scurrilous, abusive language is used against dissenters or critics. Media is not allowed to express independent views and is battered, and pounded to present a rosy picture about governance and obfuscate failures of government
Lord Ram was against corruption and criminal activities. But now corruption and criminal activities are rampant. According to a report by an NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), people having criminal activities are more likely to win the election. The chances of winning for a candidate with declared criminal cases in the Lok Sabha 2019 was 15.5 per cent whereas for a candidate with a clean background, it was 4.7 per cent.
According to a report by ADR, as per the details mentioned in the self-sworn affidavits, out of the 539 winners analysed in Lok Sabha 2019, nearly 43 per cent or 233 MPs had declared criminal cases against themselves.
This is an increase of 44 per cent in the number of MPs with declared criminal cases since 2009. Out of the 542 MPs analysed during Lok Sabha elections in 2014, 185 (34 per cent) winners had declared criminal cases against themselves while out of 543 winners analysed during Lok Sabha elections in 2009, 162 (30 per cent) had declared criminal cases against themselves.
There is an increase of 109 per cent in the number of MPs with declared serious criminal cases since 2009. There is an increase of 109 per cent in the number of MPs with declared serious criminal cases since 2009.
Among the new Lok Sabha MPs, there are 10 who have declared convicted cases against themselves. There are 11 MPs with declared cases related to murder (Indian Penal Code Section-302) and 30 winners with declared cases of attempt to murder (IPC Section-307). There are 19 MPs who have declared cases related to crimes against women. Out of these, three have declared cases related to rape (IPC Section-376) and six have declared cases related to kidnappings. Around 29 winners have declared cases related to hate speech.
As on September 2023, about 40 per cent of sitting MPs have criminal cases registered against them out of which 25 per cent have declared serious criminal cases under charges of murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and crimes against women, according to poll rights body ADR. Out of the 225 Rajya Sabha sitting MPs analysed, 75 have declared criminal cases against themselves; 41 out of them have declared serious criminal cases. The analysis does not include 12 nominated members.
According to an analysis of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the average assets per MP from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is Rs 38.33 crore and the total assets for 385 BJP MPs is Rs 7,051 crore while the total assets of 763 sitting MPs are Rs 29,251 crore. The assets of 763 MPs Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is Rs 29251 crore.
The average assets of MPs with declared criminal cases is Rs 50.03 crore. As compared to this, the average assets of MPs with no criminal cases are Rs 30.50 crore. The average assets of Rajya Sabha sitting members are Rs 80.93 crore and the total assets are Rs 18,210 crore. Of the 225 sitting members analysed, 27 (12 per cent) are billionaires with declared assets more than Rs 100 crore.
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), in its report said that it has analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 763 sitting MPs out of 776 seats of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha across the nation and the data has been extracted from affidavits filed by the MPs prior to contesting their last elections and subsequent bye-elections. The assets of 71 MPs, who were re-elected to the Lok Sabha between 2009 and 2019, grew by a whopping 286 percent on an average and the highest increase was recorded by the BJP’s Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi.
Anybody believing in philosophy of Lord Ram will never allow people with criminal records in Cabinet. He/she will never allow rich to dominate or garner major share. According to ADR, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet, (2019) which comprises of 58 ministers, has a total of 51 crorepatis. While the average assets of all the ministers’ account for Rs 14.12 crore, four ministers have declared more than Rs 40 crore worth of assets.
Lord Ram is not about “Hindu identity” but about “Hindu values”. If Lord Ram wanted to spread Hinduism, he could have converted all the Rakshasas/demons into his own clan after killing Ravana. But he preferred not to do so. The fight was over principles and not over the identity of the two parties involved in the war. They are the same principles on which we need to fight today rather than fighting over identity. The principles of truthfulness, integrity, and honesty need to be rejuvenated in our society, and obsession with identity needs to be reduced.
‘Mahatma Gandhi brought ‘Ram Rajya’ into contemporary discourse. A devout Hindu, Gandhi was greatly influenced by the teachings of the Ramayan. But what did Ram Rajya mean in the 20th century in the Gandhian sense? Ram Rajya envisages a society in which virtue, morality, and justice are the core ideals around which day-to-day interactions between citizen and citizen and state and citizen occur.
Underscoring the need for Ram Rajya in ‘Bharat’, emphasizing that Lord Ram, revered as the best king, represented the epitome of a compassionate and just administration. He envisioned Ram Rajya as a state characterized by justice and fairness, aspiring to build a compassionate and just India.
According to Gandhiji, Ram Rajya means both prince and pauper have equal rights. Ram Rajya does not mean Hindu Raj. Ram Rajya means Divine Raj, the Kingdom of God. For Gandhi, Ram and Rahim are one and the same deity. I acknowledge no other God but the one God of truth and righteousness, Gandhiji said. But the ruling classes do not adhere to the philosophy of Lord Ram.
But, Instead of solving people ‘s problems, the government is wooing religious sentiments of people to camouflage its failures. The media is totally subverted while intellectuals are emasculated. Corporates, celebrities, and the rich are celebrating because they can amass wealth, loot our resources unfettered, untaxed. Who have kept black money in tax havens? Whose name were in Panama and Pandora papers. Why government is not punishing them.
If anybody has any sense of independent thinking, he/she will not be swayed by emotion. Many of those who are contributing for temple are reluctant to pay taxes for upliftment of people. Most of them are evading taxes and want to escape tax raids in future. Anybody loving human kind will like to contribute more for nation.
The author is an Odisha-based eminent columnist/economist and social thinker. He can be reached through e-mail at [email protected]
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of Sambad English.