Skip to main content

Undoing 'past wrong' at Ayodhya: Will Modi govt hand over Puri temple to Buddhists?

By Shamsul Islam*
While laying the foundation of Ram Janmabhoomi Temple at Ayodhya on August 5, 2020, with the get-up of a prosperous Hindu sage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that wait of Hindus of the world for centuries was over, as Lord Ram’s birthplace has been finally liberated from numerous attempts to destroy it.
Modi claimed, by laying the foundation of the temple, a “glorious chapter” of Indian history has been written. He declared, "Today, the Ram Janmabhoomi [birth-place] has become free from the centuries-old chain of destruction and resurrection".
As it generally happens with our Prime Minister, he resorted to his usual falsehood regarding the destruction of Ram Temple to construct Babri mosque. According to his narrative, perhaps borrowed from an RSS shakha, Ayodhya possibly represented continuous war between Hindus and Muslims over the Ram Temple for almost last five centuries.
While boasting victory over the adversary (Muslims), he did not bother to look at the epic work of poetry in Avadhi penned by Goswami Tulsidas, “Ramcharitmanas”. This work has mesmerized India with the story of Lord Ram. It has made Lord Ram a household deity for every Hindu. Tulsidas penned “Ramcharitmanas” in 1575-76. 

Tuslidas and Ram Janmabhoomi

According to the Hindutva version, the Ram birth place temple was destroyed in 1538-39. “Ramcharitmanas” was written almost 37 years after the so-called destruction of the Ram birth place temple. Surely, it should have mentioned this destruction. But it did not.
Would Hindutva zealots say that the greatest story-teller and worshipper of Lord Ram, Tulsidas, did not speak truth in his historic work? Wouldn't it be an attempt to question Tuslidas' credibility? Would Hindutva zealots dare say that Tulsidas kept mum on the issue of the destruction of a temple at Ram's birthplace due to some ulterior motive?
In fact, the Prime Minister by claiming that the Ram Janmabhoomi "has become free from the centuries-old chain of destruction and resurrection" was openly contradicting the Supreme Court judgment on Ayodhya delivered on November 9, 2019 -- that the Babri Mosque was not built after demolishing any temple, that the appearance of idol of Ram Lalla on the intervening night of 22/23 December 1949 was illegal and that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 was an “egregious violation of the rule of law”.
Would Hindutva zealots say the greatest story-teller and worshipper of Lord Ram, Tulsidas, didn't speak truth in Ramcharitmanas?
The same judgment underlined that “Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago”. In fact, the Prime Minister could be tried for contempt of court for his Ayodhya speech.
We saw above how Babri Mosque has been demolished and a grand Ram Temple is coming up on its place relying on a fake narrative. The Modi government claims to be committed to undo the wrong doings of the past.
However, the Indian past looked through the Hindu-Muslim binary has its serious limitations. One major problem is that, despite India being a 5,000-year-old civilization, only for approximately 700-800 years Muslim names ruled/attacked India, and only they are under scrutiny.

Golwalkar on Somnath

Let us get acquainted what the most important ideologue of the RSS, its second chief, MS Golwalkar, wrote about destruction of Somnath Temple in 1025-26 by Mahmud Ghazni. According to him:
“One thousand years back our people invited foreigners to invade us. A similar danger threatens us even today. How the glorious temple of Somnath was desecrated and devastated is a page of history. Mahmud Ghazi had heard of the wealth and splendour of Somnath. He crossed the Khyber Pass and set foot in Bharat to plunder the wealth of Somnath. He had to cross the great desert of Rajasthan.
“There was a time when he had no food, and no water for his army, and even for himself left to his fate, he would have perished, and the burning sands of Rajasthan would have consumed his bones. But no, Mahmud Ghazi made the local chieftains to believe that Saurashtra had expansionist designs against them. In their folly and pettiness they believed him. And they joined him.
“When Mahmud Ghazi launched his assault on the great temple, it was the Hindu, blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, soul of our soul, who stood in the vanguard of his army. Somnath was desecrated with the active help of the Hindus. These are facts of history.”
(MS Golwalkar’s speech in Madurai cited in ‘Organiser’ dated January 4, 1950, pp. 12, 15.)

Vivekananda on Jagannath Temple

If the RSS-BJP government is really serious about executing its core issue of undoing religious injustice to India's past, it should start by handing over Jagannath Temple at Puri to Buddhists immediately. 
Swami Vivekananda, regarded as an icon by Hindutva politicians, was also a great narrator of ancient India. He unambiguously declared that Jagannath Temple was originally a Buddhist Temple. According to his admission:
“To any man who knows anything about Indian history…the temple of Jaganath [sic] is an old Buddhistic temple. We took this and others over and re-Hinduised them. We shall have to do many things like that yet. " (Swami Vivekananda, ‘The Sages of India’ in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 3, Advaita Ashram, Calcutta, p. 264.)
It has been corroborated by another darling of the Hindutva camp -- Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. According to him Rath Yatra, an integral part of Jagganath Temple was a Buddhist ritual too.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote:
"I am aware that another, and a very reasonable, account of the origin of the festival of Rath (at Jagganath Temple) has been given by General Cunningham in his work on the Bhilsa Topes. He there traces it to a similar festival of the Buddhists, in which the three symbols of the Buddhist faith, Buddha, Dharmma, and Sangha, were drawn in a car in the same fashion, and I believe about the same season as the Rath.
“It is a fact greatly in support of the theory, that the images of Jagannath, Balaram, and Subhadra, which now figure in the Rath, are near copies of the representations of Buddha, Dharmma, and Sangha, and appear to have been modelled upon them."
(Chatterjee, Bankim Chandra, 'On the origin of Hindu festivals' in Essays & Letters, Rupa, Delhi, 2010, pp. 8-9.)
In fact, the Puri Temple was not the only one to be “Hinduised”. Founder of Arya Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, while describing the heroics of Shankaracharya in “Satyarth Prakash”, wrote:
"For ten years he toured all over the country, refuted Jainism and advocated the Vedic religion. All the broken images that are now-a-days dug out of the earth were broken in the time of Shankar, whilst those that are found whole here and there under the ground had been buried by the Jainis for fear of their being broken (by those who had renounced Jainism)." (Satyarth Praksh by Swami Dayanand Sarswati, chapter xi, p. 347.)
The Hindutva rulers who declare their love for indigenous religions like Buddhism and Jainism should begin to handover their usurped temples and vihars at the earliest to them.
---
*Formerly at Delhi University, click here for some of Prof Islam's writings and video interviews/debates. Twitter: @shamsforjustice. Blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com/

Comments

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".