Dr Santosh Kumar Mohapatra*
The foundation laying ceremony for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya has been held on 5th August 2020. The bhoomi pujan began around noon with PM Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone of the temple at 12:40 pm with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP leader Uma Bharti and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat attending the function among other invitees. Ram Temple Trust invited PM Modi to lay foundation stone. It will also be noted that the ceremony was entirely dominated by those only who were associated with the Ramjanmabhoomi movement.
However, it has created happiness among many Hindus. As a Hindu, I also feel happy, elated and exulted for construction of Rama temple in his birth place. I will love to have more Rama temple in other states. Of course not in disputed site and government should neither be involved nor incur any expenditure. After Supreme Court’s verdict, author does not want to discuss how the Babari Masjid was demolished and many died in riots. But the timing of construction seems to be inappropriate especially when uncertainty looms large. Neither rampaging novel coronavirus nor stumbling, crumbling, plummeting economy could impeded the Bhumi Pujjan what is surely BJP’s tryst with destiny.
Now Indians are struggling, grappling with the detrimental, devastating, cataclysmic impact of Corona virus; many coronavirus patients have been succumbing to infection and those recovered are undergoing excruciating experience of mental agony, anguish, anxiety and depression due to social isolation and post-covid health hazards; many patients are unable to get proper treatment due to decrepit, dilapidated health infrastructure.
Similarly, now economy is in tizzy, tailspin and tenterhook. Cores of people have lost jobs and source of livelihoods. People are unable to move unfettered and most of religious places are closed. In such grave situation, the hasty attempt to build temple is subject to scrutiny and question. Why did Ram Temple Trust and government rush to construct the temple? After Supreme Court’s verdict, there is no hindrance or impediment to construction of temple. After coronaviurs is being tamed and normalcy is being restored; such sanctimonious thing could have been held in a time where larger number of population could have participated.
If God is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and pervades everywhere, resides in each soul and service to humanity is service to Almighty, then why so much hurriedness for temple. As India is secular country, state or Prime minister should not have been directly involved in any religious function.
Critics feel that timing of building Ram Mandir proves that temple is being built for political mileage, rather than out of devotion and spiritualism. PM’s association with temple will fetch such electoral benefit that he would not get by eliminating hunger, poverty and unemployment. It is also argued that, step has been taken to keep intact so-called ‘Hindu vote bank’ with an eye to some forthcoming assemblies’ election and it is planned that construction of temple will be finished just before next Lok Sabha election.
It is also a ploy to stymie the opposition and divert the attention of people from many problems plaguing nation which government is unable to tackle. In other words, the ruling party would like the Ram temple to become an invigorating, healing and cathartic image for the people to forget their day-to-day concerns.
Addressing the gathering after the bhoomi pujan, PM Narendra Modi termed the upcoming Ram Janmabhoomi temple as a “modern symbol of our culture, eternal faith and national spirit”, and stressed on the need of “sabka saath, sabka vishwas”.
Temple is part of Indian culture and associated with Hinduism. Indian culture is not Hindu culture. The Indian culture, is an amalgamation of several various cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced and shaped by a history that is several thousand years old. India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and other religions. The incontrovertible aspect of Indian culture is unity in diversity. India’s diverse cultures are reflected from Indian religions, philosophy, cuisine, languages, dance, music and movies.
Practising own religious faith with fanfare is good. But subjugating other religious people or creating sense of trepidation in the mind of minority in a secular country is reprehensible. Further how failed slogan like “sabka saath, sabka vishwas” is associated with Lord Rama temple. India’s richest 1 per cent hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70 per cent of the country’s population. This does not reflect a little sense of “sabka saath, sabka vishwas”.
The Prime Minister tried to elevate the Ramjanmabhoomi movement to the level of the freedom struggle and said August 5 would be as important to the country as August 15. There should be no comparison between the freedom struggle, which was a unifying struggle in which all sections of the country took part, and the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, which was intended to polarise society and has been divisive, and was used to derive political mileage, advance rightist ideology rather than creating social harmony.
Further by equating Rama temple with freedom movement, Prime Minister Modi has denigrated and undermined the sacrifice, struggles, made by freedom fighters. History should not be created or rewritten to suit the politics or nefarious political design and so any equation between the freedom struggle and the temple movement is wholly flawed, shaky and untenable. It would also be wrong to consider the temple as a symbol of nationalist feelings, because nationalism should not be based on religious functions or institution. It is a commitment to protect nation.
Home Minister Amit Shah who is currently undergoing treatment for Covid at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram tweeted that the construction of the grand Ram temple is reflection of the strong and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it has heralded the beginning of a new era. He described the construction of temple as decisive decision.
Present government has never taken any decisive decision for the interest of masses. When there was need to revive economy, the draconian step of demonitisation and flawed GST destroyed Indian economy. When people are losing lives, jobs, peace, happiness, no attempt is made to address. When there is need to tax rich, corporate honchos to generate more resources, huge concessions given to corporates. When dilapidated, decrepit health sector needed more public investment, no attempt is made to enhance government spending.
The greatest respect, tribute to a person or God is to practise his good deeds or ideals. It is highly imperative to analyse how our people, politicians especially belonging to present ruling dispensation are practicing the ideals of Lord Rama. Just deriving political mileage in the name of temple is reprehensible.
Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of lord Vishnu, is the central character of Hindu epic Ramayana written by saint Valmiki and is considered as 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 legendary prince of Ayodhya, Lord Rama.
He is believed to have lived in the Tretaya Yuga, 1.2 million years ago. Rama is considered to be an enlightened man, with great regard for morals and values. However, in his book “Riddles in Hinduism”, Ambedkar lamented, the manner in which Ram killed Bali and banished Sita. Some other also blamed Rama for killing Shambuka, who had transgressed his class and wanted to be a Brahmin opposed to Chaturvarnya.
Despite few flaws, undoubtedly Lord Rama was Maryada Purushottama, which means the perfect man. 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.
Let’s take a look at the best of his qualities. He was satisfied with whatever he had, even a little less couldn’t have bothered him. But today, human being have become greedy especially powerful, rich, politicians have become avaricious for more wealth and power. They want accumulate power and wealth at any cost or by hooks or by crooks transcending all moral values. In present society, most of politicians are engrossed with self-aggrandizement rather than serving poor-downtrodden. History reveals that, it is ego, obduracy of many head of state, which has triggered war leading to decimation of thousands of people.
Another important quality of Rama was his allegiance, loyalty to wife Sita. Though , he is criticised for banishing Sita, asking Sita to testify her chastity through Agni Parikhys (ordeal of fire) that coerced her to take shelter in mother earth, (which should not be emulated), but he was loyal to Sita and never thought of another woman other than Sita in his entire life. Even after Sita taking shelter in mother earth, he never married again. But now extramarital or illicit sexual relation is rampant. People are changing partner frequently.
He was epitome of kindness, sympathy, truthfulness spirituality, humility, sensitiveness. He never talked about his goodness or greatness or achievements rather tried to know where is weakness in his governance. He was encouraging dissent so as to address people’s problems. Now politicians are leading a cosy life and totally insensitive to people’s suffering and impoverishment of masses. But now ruling classes are always resorting to advertisement blitzkrieg to magnify their achievements and camouflage failures. Every day, there is new slogan, shifting of goal post. Now no attempt is made to know neither weakness nor effort taken to address the problems of masses.
Now dissent is treated as treason, hatred is created against who exposes failures of government or make critical analysis of government policy. Deliberately, scurrilous, abusive languages are used against dissenters or critics. Dissenters are dubbed as urban naxals, pro-Muslim, anti-national etc. Media is not allowed to express independent views and battered, pounded to present a rosy picture about governance and obfuscate failures of government. Such things are totally opposed to philosophy of Lord Rama.
‘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. Anybody believing in philosophy of God Rama will never allow people with criminal records in cabinet. He/she will never allow rich to dominate or garner major share.
But present Union cabinet does not adhere to philosophy of Lord Rama. According to a report by an NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet, 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.
According to the details mentioned in the self-sworn affidavits of all these ministers, excluding Ramvilas Paswan and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, total 22 ministers have declared criminal cases against them with 16 having serious criminal cases. An attempt to murder case has been pending against a minister of states. The details of Ramvilas Paswan and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar were not analyzed as they are not currently members of either House.
Around six minister have declared cases related to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (IPC Section-153A) and deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs (IPC Section-295A). Besides, some ministers, have declared cases related to illegal payments in connection with an election, bribery and undue influence at an election.
Out of the 539 winners analysed in Lok Sabha 2019, nearly 43 per cent or 233 MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves. This is an increase of 44 per cent in the number of MPs with declared criminal cases since 2009. The chances of winning for a candidate with declared criminal cases in the Lok Sabha 2019 are 15.5 per cent whereas for a candidate with a clean background, it is 4.7 per cent.
Similarly, the Lok Sabha elections 2019 witnessed the victory of 88 per cent or 475 crorepatis (of total 542 elected MPs) as Lok Sabha MPs. This marks a 6 per cent rise from the previous 2014 elections (82 per cent crorepatis were MPs) and 30 per cent rise from 2009 elections (58 per cent). This trend suggests the prevailing brighter chances for richer candidates in their victory. Of the 233 newly MPs in 17th Lok Sabha, BJP has 116 MPs or 39 per cent of it. With criminal cases, followed by 29 MPs ( (57 per cent) from Congress, 13 (81 per cent) from the JDU, 10 (43 per cent ) from DMK and nine (41per cent ) from JDU, 10 (43 per cent) from DMK and nine (41 per cent) from TMC.
Democracy is damaged, undermined and its institutions are rendered ineffective when criminals control them. The organized excuse of politicians that they cannot be considered criminals unless they are convicted by courts is acceptable only in a strictly technical sense. We see the travesty of justice when cases go on for years and decades and most often politicians are able to extricate themselves by trampling law and order.
Hence, building temple is not only important, but adhering and practicing the ideals of Lord Rama is very vital. It is imperative to rescue religion from zealots and revive the spirit of humanism.
*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.