As Supreme Court restored criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders L.K. Advani and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case, it is necessary to against cast a look towards this path-breaking event, that signalled the waking-up of Hindus and that for the first time in centuries, they would not take anymore things lying down
How many of those judges who have lambasted the “Hindu fundamentalists” and lamented the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque as the “death of secularism in India”, have been to Ayodhya? (notFaizabad, mind you, which is Ayodhya’s twin Muslim city). When one arrived in Ayodhya before the destruction of the mosque, one was struck by the fact that it was a Hindu town “par excellence”. More than Benares even, it is dotted everywhere with innumerable temples; it has all these old Hindus houses and this lovely river with its ghats which runs through the lower town. And then, forlorn on the top, there was this lone mosque with its two ugly domes, which looked so out of place and unused, that any one with a right sense -and that includes the Muslims- should see that it was not worth making an issue of.
The destruction of the Babri Masjid has evoked – and is still evoking today – such fiery reactions, that the importance of Ayodhya has been totally overlooked: Ayodhya is a symbol, through which two India’s are facing each other. And the outcome of their confrontation will shape the future of this country for generations to come.
The first India wants to be secular and unite together through an egalitarian, democratic spirit all the minorities, ethnic groups, religions and people of the country.
But the question is: what would be the binding element of this kind of India? Secularism, says the first side. But secularism has a different meaning for each one, as we saw in the preceding chapters. For the British, it was a convenient way to divide and rule, by treating each Indian community on par, although some were in minority and others in majority, thereby planting the seeds of separatisms. For the Congress Party, it has always meant giving in to the Muslims’ demands, because its leaders never could really make out if the allegiance of Indian Muslims first want to India and then to Islam – or vice-versa. And for India’s intelligentsia, its writers, journalists, top bureaucrats, the majority of whom are Hindus, it means, apart from spitting on its own religion and brothers, an India which would be a faithful copy of the West: liberal, modern, atheist, industrialised, intellectual and western-oriented.
Furthermore, what makes India unique? Certainly not its small elite which apes the West. Nor its modern youth, whom you meet in Delhi’s swank parties. Not even its political, bureaucratic and judicial system; it’s a copy of the British set up, which is not fully adapted to India’s unique character and conditions. What then?
The second India which is confronting the other at Ayodhya is of a course the India of the Hindus. When Imam Bhukari and others state that “we (the Mughals) gave everything to this country, its culture, its manners, its arts (and he adds: “the Hindus by destroying the Babri Masjid show how little gratitude they have”), apart from making a pompous declaration, he proclaims exactly the opposite of the reality. Because the truth is that not only Hinduism is what makes India unique, so different from all the other nations of the world, but it is the single most important influence in Indian history. In the words of Sri Aurobindo: “The inner principle of Hinduism, the most tolerant and receptive of all religious systems, is not sharply exclusive like the religious spirit of Christianity or Islam…it is the fulfilment of the highest tendencies of human civilisation and it will include in its sweep the most vital impulses of modern life..”
And indeed, if you look at India today, you find that Hinduism has permeated, influenced, shaped, every part of this country, every religion, every culture. Be it the Christians who are like no other Catholics of the world, or Indian Muslims, who whatever they may say, are utterly different from their brothers in Saudi Arabia. But Hinduism is too narrow a word, it’s a corruption of the original word “Indu”, for true Hinduism is Dharma, India’s infinite and eternal spiritual knowledge, which took shape into so many varied expressions throughout the ages, be it the Vedantas, Buddhism, or the Arya Samaj and which is today still very much alive in India, particularly in its rural masses, which after all constitute 80% of its population.
What one has to grasp is that Ayodhya only makes sense when the immense harm the Muslims did to India is not negated, as indeed it has been and still is today, whether in Kashmir, where the last Hindus were made to flee in terror, or in Bangladesh, where the crowds still regularly go on rampage against Hindus and their temples (as told by a Bangladeshi Muslim herself, Talisma Nasreen). It is in this light, that it becomes extraordinary for an impartial observer to see today that when for once, the Hindus wanted to displace, not even to destroy, ONE mosque and rebuild the “temple”, which they believe was built in this particular place, for one of their most cherished Gods, the one which is loved universally by all, men, women, children, THEY are treated as rabid fundamentalists. The great Mughals must be laughing all the way down their graves! What a reversal of situation! What a turnabout of history! And when the mosque was destroyed, it evoked such fiery reactions, such pompous, overblown, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, atrocious, ridiculous, sly and totally undeserved outrage, both within India and in the Western world (who should be the last one to give lessons to India), that the importance of Ayodhya as a symbol has been totally overlooked.
The obvious trap is to think that the demolition of the mosque in Ayodhya is something to gloat about and that it is the duty of all good Hindus to see that other important mosques at Mathura, Vanarasi, or elsewhere, be also razed to the ground; or that all cities with a Muslim name be renamed with a Hindu one. This is not true Hinduism, which has always shown its tolerance and accepted in its fold other creeds and faiths. Indeed a true “Indu” India will be secular in the correct sense of the term: it will give freedom to each religion, each culture, so that it develops itself in the bosom of a Greater India, of which dharma, true spirituality, will be the cementing factor.
Nevertheless, the destruction of the Babri Masjid, however unfortunate, has made its point: the occult Mughal hold over Hindu India has been broken and centuries of Hindu submission erased. Hindus have proved that they too can fight.