Skip to main content

Ram ke naam? Upper caste Hindus 'created' the demand for temple in Ayodhya

By Sahil Mital* 

Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan brought an important issue to the forefront with ‘Ram ke Naam’ (In the Name of God). At a time when religious fundamentalism and fanaticism is on the rise, this movie brings to light the reality behind the thought process of people involved, both inside and outside such issues.
The movie begins with the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya to mark his birthplace ‘Ramjanamabhumi’. The surprise here is how a loose narration of a story of Lord Ram’s birth without any logical backing, peddled on by the right-wing party BJP and leader LK Advani was bought by the Indian masses.
As per the story, on the night of December 23, 1949 Lord Ram appeared in the dream of a priest in Ayodhya, and inspired by this dream the priest placed some idols inside Babri Masjid. With this the community turned to District Magistrate KK Nayyar who gave backing to the priest and let the idols stay inside the mosque. This move openly denied the rights of Muslims who were promised a resolution, one which they never got.
The beauty of this movie lies on the director's emphasis on how the message, propagated by BJP, struck an emotional chord with the Hindus. An image of a person tearing up while watching the movie of a small child dressed as Ram unlocking the Babri Masjid beautifully captures how propaganda can capture the imagination of the masses. It also captured how people are willing to buy into propaganda, but not make the effort of finding the facts.
During the movie, the director asks the supporters of building the temple if they knew when Ram was born. Even priests could not answer this question and had to give some excuses, while being confident that he was born exactly inside Babri Masjid.
The absurdity of this situation is compounded by the fact that these very people were “willing to do anything for the construction” while they did not know much about their own God. Such questioning and prodding provided evidence on how people conform to their beliefs but are unwilling to verify or fully understand a situation.
Even the court appointed priest Pujari Lal Das revealed how this was just a political play to divide Hindus and Muslims and garner votes. As he says in the movie – people from these parties (such as VHP) have never made a single offering to the temple.
His voice is echoed by a lot of other people, as seen throughout the movie. A majority of the masses, even those living in villages near Ayodhya, prefer living in peace and maintain the unity and harmony between Hindus and Muslims. For them, this disharmony is being propagated by outsiders such as Advani. It is surprising to see how even the political system buckled under pressure, with the police backing off and allowing the rioters to enter the mosque on the final day.
Anand Patwardhan
And this perhaps leads to one of the most interesting aspects brought out by the director. The caste divide is extremely prevalent in the support for the movement. People from lower castes do not care about the construction of the temple. People from these communities were plagued by much more important issues such as lack of basic amenities, food and the low price for their crops.
Even the court appointed priest Pujari Lal Das revealed how this was just a political play to divide Hindus and Muslims and garner votes
It was the upper caste Hindus that created the demand for Ram temple, which was also partly a reaction to the acceptance of the Mandal Commission report asking for reservation for jobs. The anger generated over this move translated to a stronger, more violent support for the demand for Ram temple. This anger was purposefully misguided by the right-wing Hindu groups such as VHP and BJP to tap into the extremist personalities of upper class Hindus.
Anand Patwardhan’s movie is not just a relay of the events that led to the demolition of Babri Masjid, but holds up a mirror to the society to show how easily we are swayed by extremist thoughts put in our heads by politicians and parties for their own gain.
Even though the Babri Masjid issue has now been “resolved” by the court, we see an almost repeat of the sentiment built by the BJP and its leaders during that time. Institutions such as the Supreme Court which are meant to protect the interests of all, are being controlled by the government and majority sentiment.
The Babri Masjid ruling, which now awards the entire land for the construction of the Ram temple, displays the disregard for minority interests and the forcefulness of the majority, something that the movie also shows. Hatred and divide sell easy, and cause irreparable destruction and loss of lives.
In today’s time, ‘Ram ke Naam’ acts as a reminder as well as a lesson, telling us to recognize the patterns of history and to avoid the same mistakes. In conversation with Anand Patwardhan, he rightly said: 
“When I was shooting this movie there was still hope that secular democracy would prevail. Today, forces that believe in fascism and crony corporate control are in power, so it’s a much more uphill battle to protect democracy”.
As often happens in such religious issues, humans often become a toy and collateral damage for votes of political parties. Perhaps the most touching dialogue in the movie, which encompasses this entire issue, is question all of us should be pondering upon:
“In this village many people have their birthplaces. Yet they’re being evicted. In this very village 150 hutments face eviction. On the other hand there’s one Ram. For his birthplace everyone is so frantic. They are running after it, why should I run?”
---
*Second year MBA student, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Protesters demand release of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, seek review of SC order

By Our Representative  Protests broke out across India on June 27 following Teesta Setalvad’s arrest demanding her immediate release. Sabrang India , a site run by Setalvad, claimed she was “arrested on trumped-up charges after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition moved by Zakia Jafri demanding an investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat violence.” The protesters also demanded release of former DGP Gujarat police RB Sreekumar, also arrested simultaneously. The protests were preceded by over 2,200 people from across the globe signing a statement demanding their immediate release. Leading signatories such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) convenor Medha Patkar, former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas. “The state has used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicit

Electoral bonds scheme 'compromises' voluntary nature PM relief fund donations

By Rosamma Thomas*  The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is meant to collect voluntary donations from the general public, either individuals or organizations, to enable assistance to people in times of natural disaster, or for expensive medical treatment. That fundamental voluntary character of the fund, however, has changed in recent years.  The gazette notification of January 2018 announcing the Electoral Bond scheme states, in Clause 12 (2): “The amount of bonds not encashed within the validity period of fifteen days shall be deposited by the authorized bank to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”. The Union government has, thus, through notification, directed funds to be deposited into what was meant to be purely voluntary. Commodore Lokesh Batra, who has been campaigning for transparency in government functioning, holds that once a gazette notification has been issued directing that funds be deposited into the PMNRF, the character of the whole fund has changed,

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".

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization

Majoritarian silence helping Hindutva forces 'handover' national resources to corporates

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The majority of Indian citizens are witnessing the persecution and everyday violence against their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities. The growing assaults on reason, science, secularism, Indian democracy and constitution are going to be landmarks in Indian history of diminishing democracy and citizenship rights. It is clear that Hindutva ideology is directly promoting sectarian politics of hate which is dangerous for the unity and integrity of India, peace and prosperity of Indians. The majoritarian silence helps in empowering Hindutva and their electoral dividends. From witnessing the persecution in the sidelines to the active participation and cheering loud or silence accelerates violence against our neighbours and our fellow citizens. How and why do majority of Indians stay silent and contribute to the persecution of their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities? The question baffles me as an Indian because I have gr

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

Cops 'refuse to register' complaint after BSF shot landless worker off Bangla border

By Our Representative  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), in a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), referring to the incident of “firing and execution” of a poor Muslim youth, has alleged that the 26 year old was was shot at “without giving any warning” one and half kilometers inside the Indian territory from Bangladesh border by an on- duty Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. Stating that the person, Ruhul Mondal, belonged to an Other Backward Class (OBC), and hailed from Ramnarayan Para village under Sagarpara police station in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Roy in his representation said, the BSF person who shot at him is “attached with Singpara Border Outpost, 141 Battalion”, underlining, the BSF has now floated “self defense theory” to cover up its operation. According to the BSF officials, the incident took place in the jute fields in