Tag Archive for 'Ram'

Ayodhya verdict: Commentaries

Force of faith trumps law and reason in Ayodhya case: Siddharth Varadarajan in The Hindu:

From at least the 19th century, if not earlier, we know that both Hindus and Muslims worshipped within the 2.77 acre site, the latter within the Babri Masjid building and the former at the Ram Chhabutra built within the mosque compound. This practice came to an end in 1949 when politically motivated individuals broke into the mosque and placed idols of Ram Lalla within. After 1949, both communities were denied access though Hindus have been allowed to offer darshan since 1986. In suggesting a three way partition of the site, the High Court has taken a small step towards the restoration of the religious status quo ante which prevailed before politicians got into the act. But its reasoning is flawed and even dangerous. If left unamended by the Supreme Court, the legal, social and political repercussions of the judgment are likely to be extremely damaging.

Life after Ayodhya: Ramachandra Guha in the Hindustan Times:

The Allahabad High Court itself seems to have vaguely recognised the imperative of communal harmony. Hence the compromise apparently endorsed by two judges, that the land be divided into three parts, one going to a sect long established in Ayodhya, a second to a (presumably new) trust to represent the Hindu god and the third to the Sunni Waqf Board. How this division will actually take place does not seem to have been spelt out. It does, on the face of it, seem an untenable solution and one productive of more conflict. How, for example, will the respective shrines for Muslims and Hindus be built? And how, in a place already marked by so much blood and discord, will worship ever be peaceful and uncontentious?

I write this not just as a historian, but as one who lived through north India from 1988 to 1994, and saw, at first hand, evidence of the lives lost and villages burnt as a consequence of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation. My own view has thus been that the land should have long ago been acquired in toto by the Centre, and put to a purpose other than the construction of a temple or/and the reconstruction of a mosque. By that action the government would have equally offended the Muslim bigot and the Hindu bigot, but perhaps struck a chord with the public as a whole.

The verdict should end a troubled chapter: Swapan Dasgupta in The Telegraph:

That a section of the Muslim community is unhappy with the judgment is obvious. But far more significant than that is the fury with which the judgment has been greeted by the secular modernists. Apart from contesting everything that the ‘eminent historians’ have been suggesting about Ram being born in Afghanistan or somewhere else and about the Babri structure having been built on vacant rock, the judges have attached greater weight to the Archaeological Survey of India report and to local tradition.

This approach is certain to send the secular establishment into a complete tizzy. Without exaggerating the importance of this minusculity, it can safely be said that this lobby will be desperate to have its reputation salvaged by the Supreme Court. Therefore, even if a section of the Muslim community decides that there is little point in persisting with the dispute and settles for an honourable way out, there will be a powerful secularist establishment urging the minorities to fight to the last.

The leap and the faith: Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express:

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has perhaps delivered a judgment befitting India: On God: there should be no dispute. On property: compromise. On history: move on. At first glance, based on the summaries, this has all the elements of an artfully worked out set of fine distinctions and complex historical judgments. Justice S.U. Khan, for instance, in his summary seems to recognise the special sanctity of the spot for Hindus as the birthplace of Ram. He seems to recognise the existence of temple ruins at the location. But he does not accept the contention that Babur demolished the temple; the ruin predates the temple. They all recognise that the site has been jointly used in various ways. They seem to recognise that long usage has some bearing on who has rights. And they divide the property. More controversially, the judgment is seen as sanctifying the appearance of idols on the site in 1949.

Mandir partisans can misuse rulings: Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph:

The court also seemed to endorse the argument from faith in a way that is certain to be controversial. Both decisions, as they stand, might set precedents that could have worrying consequences for pluralism and the freedom of religious belief and practice, especially for disputes between a religious minority and a religious majority.

I can already see partisans of the Ram Mandir movement rhetorically citing the judgment to argue that the razing of 1992 wasn’t, morally speaking, a demolition at all, merely a form of Hindu housekeeping, given the mosque shouldn’t have been there in the first place. For this and other reasons, it’s important that the Supreme Court should be asked to re-examine the matter of Ayodhya.

The magestrial clout of two Indian epics

Even as it modernizes, India has carved a place for its mythic past, as witnessed by recent films — Raavan and Raajneeti — that draw on the two great epics of Hinduism. Somini Sengupta in the New York Times:

Can an epic poem, composed more than 2,000 years ago and transcribed in an ancient language that only a handful of people can read, thrive in the age of Twitter?

In India, yes. And not just one epic but two.

The most talked-about movies in India this summer are based on the two great epics of Hinduism: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

It isn’t just Indian cinema that is smitten with those two works. “The Difficulty of Being Good,” a recent book that uses the Mahabharata to examine contemporary business and politics, has become an unlikely best seller here. This year India’s law minister, M. Veerappa Moily, who has written a new reinterpretation of the Ramayana, credited its chaste, long-suffering female protagonist, Sita, with having inspired a women’s rights bill. In Bangalore, India’s technology capital, a contemporary-dance company recently performed a piece based on the principal women of the epics. The myths are retold too, in children’s cartoons and comic books.

Indian modernity is beguiling. In this fast-churning, seemingly Westernizing, increasingly English-speaking nation, the mythic past is also very much present. For ages the epics have been told, retold, fiddled with. They still resonate, in new but recognizable ways.

“The Mahabharata and Ramayana, they sort of permeate our consciousness,” said Bibek Debroy, an economist who published the first of a 10-volume unabridged English translation of the Mahabharata in April. “The stories are deeply ingrained in the minds of Indians.” More:

Repackaged Ramayan looks at Sita’s perspective, green issues

Ram has returned. Two decades after the first epic enthralled a nation new to television, the Valmiki Ramayana has been repackaged and remade for NDTV Networks Plc.’s new entertainment channel, Imagine.

It’s clearly a different India now and in many ways, the show, to debut on Monday night, reflects this. Much of the epic, directed by the son of the original director, tells the story from Sita’s perspective and also includes lessons on the environment. With elaborate sets in Vadodara, it has been billed the biggest budget television serial, although officials will not disclose how much.