Social Matter 4 – Religious biases: The war against secularism

We all remember the demolition of Babri Masjid, don’t we? It took place on the 6th of December, 1992. This day played a very crucial role in unraveling the secular fabric of our country. Yesterday marked the anniversary of this attack.

I woke up to a particularly disturbing message from two of my cousins. One of them shared these images on the group.

The first image declares 6th of December as the Shaurya Divas. Shaurya means valor, heroism, or gallantry – primarily associated with a heroic religious act. Along with these images, there was a message, which read, “I was one of the privileged ones who had the chance to witness this and participate in it”. To which the second cousin replied saying, “We are proud of you dear.”

I was appalled by how these people saw nothing wrong with the communal violence that followed after the demolition. Honestly, they hardly know the truth, don’t want to know the facts, and don’t care about the history related to this “created” dispute. All they know is that one of their gurus firmly believes that Babri masjid was the exact spot of Lord Ram’s birth and it was important that the lord be given his space back, a.k.a demolish the masjid, build a temple.

You’re going to want to know how this Guru knew that this was the exact spot of Lord Rama’s birth.

Who Popularized the Idea of Demolition of Babri Masjid?

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The Ayodhya controversy is as old as the mosque itself. There have been several attempts to establish a temple here, both under the Mughal and the British rule. To maintain harmony, the mosque was divided into an inner courtyard and an outer courtyard. The masjid’s outer courtyard had an idol of Lord Ram, where many Hindus prayed, while the Muslims prayed in the inner courtyard.

Post this arrangement, there had been occasional arguments, but eventually people got over it and let go of the 356 year-old fuck up Babur did. He destroyed a Hindu complex and built a masjid to spread his religion in the country that he conquered (kind of similar to what we’re doing with the “Ghar Wapsi” campaign). All was well till the Hindutva sentiments began to boil again post independence. According to a story that was run in 2012 by The Wall Street Journal, in the year 1949 a priest named Abhiram Das, who was known for his temper and for his strong opinions, made it his life’s mission to restore Ram to the exact place of his birth. And he wasn’t happy with just the outer courtyard, he wanted Ram to be inside the building. After all, he believed that it was Ram’s right and as a devout his right too to establish a temple there.

Note – The claims made by Abhiram Das and several others are not based on any solid factual evidence. The idea of “Babri Masjid being the EXACT place of Lord ram’s birth” is pure speculation and in this case a fed belief. Archaeological surveys and excavations discovered several Hindu as well as Muslim artifacts, making it feasible for both Hindu and muslim habitants in the place, just like today. Forget Hindu and Muslims, the pillars excavated also had resemblance to those of the Buddhist Viharas in Sarnath, making it a fairly secular site. The only argument that is widely accepted after excavations is that there was a Vishnu temple in the complex at some point, but there is no proof of the masjid complex being the site of Ram’s birth.

But all facts and proofs go down the drain, when a powerful sadhu claims that he’s had several dreams where Lord Ram stood in the outer courtyard of the mosque and urged him to restore what belonged to him. Who can argue with that, right?

The Planned Miracle

To make this dream into a reality, Abhiram Das and his influential political followers sneaked an idol of Lord Ram in the inner courtyard by influencing the Hindu watchman, who was on duty in the morning and by threatening the muslim watchman, who was on night duty. The watchmen were forced into recounting this mystical appearance of the idol as a miracle. This account of “Lord Ram has Appeared” was corroborated by the statements of several sadhus in the area, who claimed to have seen a golden reflection in the wake of the night.

What next? the muslims were denied entry into their mosques to pray, because Lord ram had claimed his place. After several days of denied entry, sometimes to Muslims, sometimes to Hindus, a decades-long battle started between the Hindus of Babri Masjid and the Muslims of Babri Masjid commenced in the form of the Babri Masjid case. The Babri Mosque was destroyed during a political rally  by hardline Hindu extremists, which turned into a riot on 6 December 1992. In September 2010, the court passed its verdict – 2/3rd of the land was given to the Hindus on behalf of the evidence that a large Hindu structure once stood in the place of the Babri Masjid. Many Hindu extremists rejoiced because the law failed the rest of us. The baseless claims, disrespectful placement of an idol in the masjid, death of several people due to the communal riots, and political agendas were ignored.

Tell me how many cities will we destroy in our country? How many monuments will we tear down? A lot was built on something that once existed. Your house too. As humans, we have evolved, so did our lands. Something to think about.

You can read the entire account of the night and that of Ayodhya’s history, both before and after Babri Masjid here.

On many accounts related to the Babri masjid, I hear many Hindus say that it was wrong to build Babri Masjid in the 1600s in the first place- that it is wrong to destroy another’s house of worship. Doesn’t that apply to the many Hindus who marched with their orange ribbons to destroy the Babri masjid – a place of worship for people of a different faith? The kings did what they did in an attempt to conquer the country. But we don’t live in that era anymore, we live in a secular country – a country that has seen many Gods, many religions, many invasions, and many leaders. If we start tearing down things in an attempt to feed our religious beliefs, we’re going to be left with just ruins.

Ultimately, the Babri Masjid episode and several others that have followed since, pose for every Indian an important question: Are we a nation of many religions, and equal at that, or are we a Hindu nation?

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If we are a Hindu nation, then why stress on driving just the muslims out? Are we taking turns – hating one religion at a time?

If you think we are a Hindu nation, then you don’t truly understand what India, as a whole, is made of today. Take out all the Muslims from your life or Hindus, Christians, Zohrashtrians, Buddhists, and Jains from their lives and let me know what you think we’ll have left. Think hard.

Being a secular country is something to be proud of, but look how we’ve been unraveling the secular fabric of our country time and again. I am ashamed of the people who mark December 6th as a heroic day, even if some of these people belong to my family. It was a day that let loose the kind of religious fanatics and nationalists that we don’t need – in our close circles or outside.

Don’t be afraid to stand up to your family or friends who represent biased views on India’s secularity. Religious fanaticism has oppressed us for a long time, it’s time to change that, don’t you think?

Cheers.

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