“O Pilgrim, rest your eager hands.
There’s little to applaud here;
If temples rise on bloodied lands,
There was never a god here.”
With the bhoomi poojan now complete and the whole debacle of the Prime Minister of the country chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ on national television behind us, there still remains an angle unexplored in the historic judgement of the Ram Temple’s approved construction. While there are no official reports of the government – national or state – as of right now, making any kind of contributions or donations to the Mandir to be constructed, we cannot deny the fact that the Ram Temple is going to prove to be a very expensive venture.
Most reports and sources on the internet tell us how the project is funded by the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra, a trust which has been collecting funds since 1989 and people’s donations. “The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has also planned to collect funds nationwide for the temple construction. The trust has currently over 15 crores in its account. Our fund collection drive was hit by the Covid – 19 pandemic. There will be no dearth of funds for building Ram Mandir. Everybody will contribute to the cause”, said Swami Govind Dev Giri, the trust’s treasurer.
Yes, the trusts are not forcing anyone for money and all donations must have been and will be voluntary. But, honestly, it is heartbreaking and baffling to see the people and the trust preparing to spend such a large sum of money on a monument of worship, a temple, even when the country is going through such a major humanitarian crisis, add to that the recent floods in Assam, the continuing and growing problem of water scarcity in India and the excuse of a healthcare system that the government so proudly endorses to its citizens, while the money could have been easily spent on things of current national importance.
When did a place for worship start holding more value than people’s lives?
Religion has always been a sensitive topic to speak about in India and people are often not driven by logic and reason when they defend their opinions to people who think differently or hold an opposing viewpoint. It was not surprising to see the same five arguments greeting my eye every time I spoke to a friend or an acquaintance on the Ayodhya issue. You know they say that “The entire human civilisation has progressed on the basis of faith and questioning someone’s faith is like questioning their entire ideology, their belief system and their existence.” It’s true.
According to Google, “Political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or a large group that explains how society should work.”
Is that what influences it? Is that what should influence it? For centuries, religion in India has been used as a scapegoat to defend unlawful actions and practices. For years it has been misunderstood, misused and wrongfully interpreted to spread influence that provokes violence and hatred. When people put such a tremendous amount of faith in religion and religious ideals, they are bound to gradually inculcate it in politics too and start seeing it through the eyes of their faith. No, that does not really does not sing well for a democratic country.
I read someone, somewhere, that “Ram Mandir is not just a structure, it is an emotion, it is our pride. That we Hindus did not surrender to the people who exploited us. It’s a win for all us Hindu brothers and sisters”.
It’s not wrongful to pride one’s religion or gods, but it becomes a problem when an individual starts thinking that his is the only one worth priding on, and the feeling that he might be superior because of a certain family he’s been born in, following a certain path of worship, and having certain privileges since birth.
I thought the fight was for faith, for preserving a certain culture, and a place which holds a certain sentimental and historical value but it turns out it’s actually about establishing superiority over the minority.
“There are then liberals and seculars don’t know anything about the history and their only aim is to misguide the youth and monger hate to promote their political agendas against the current ruling party. They are funded by other political parties to influence the mind of the youth”. The lack of religious sentiment in this is statement is evident for it comes out of a place of unnecessary outrage, the feeling of revenge and intolerance for the minority. “You don’t know anything about the history of India. Mughals raped Hindu women, tortured people, cut workers’ hands-off and this is our revenge. We will not be suppressed.”
The Mughals have been called the invaders and several historical sources mention how they were ruthless barbarians who looted, raped and destroyed everywhere they went. I do not wish to stand by either side. The thing here is, even if something has been done in the past, you can’t really do much about it. The only thing you can do is acknowledge it, accept it, and not make any similar mistakes in the coming future or the present. You cannot go around justifying violence and Islamophobia by saying, “They did it before, so we do it now”.
You cannot lynch and harass and perpetuate hatred towards them by generalising the whole religion as ‘bad’. That doesn’t make you any different and all you’re doing is repeating the mistakes of those who wronged your forefathers and other ancestors. Thus, this is a very wrong approach. And the arguments that say, “It will provide employment to lots of people” are rather shallow and ghastly convenient. This incident has really brought out the hypocrisy that people harbour.
When it comes to speaking out against your own religion, or something that might flame your own privilege or not benefit your self-interest, people have a very hard time speaking around or against it.
This is a classic case of glorifying something without discussing and realising its ramifications on the people, as well as its influence on society. It signifies ignorance and nothing else. And if there are people who are still unconvinced by the futility of this move, the Government of UP has recently approved and allocated a 450 crore budget for the statue of Ram to be made and commissioned in Ayodhya even when it’s a well-known fact that there are so many other things in Uttar Pradesh that could use the money for the same state to grow and develop.
So the question is, where will this religious fanaticism take us? Will we sit still even when we see it gradually hollow people out of sympathy? And how long before it’s too late?