So where was Ram Lalla born?
Amit Sengupta Delhi
If the mask becomes the face then even the cracked mirror cannot tell the difference between the fake and the real. And when the fake becomes the real, and truth is dissolved in the camouflaged twilight zone of infinite falsity, then all theory and praxis, being and consciousness, individual and social, becomes suspect, diabolical, prejudiced, dubious, unhappy, trapped by one lie becoming one hundred thousand lies of eternal stagnation.
This is existentialism in bad faith, jet-lagged, flying on the wings of self deception. This is because not even a Goebbelsian lie spoken one thousand times can turn this propaganda into a moment of divine revelation, or absolute truth.
You don't have to be an archaeologist or rocket scientist to prove that the biggest lie in the current or past political discourse in India is that a Ram temple existed right there in the centre of the speculative sanctum sanctorum, garbha griha, right under the dome of what used to be the Babri Masjid, that very anthropological, magical, divine spot of this on-the-spot contest where Ram Lalla was born.
Indeed, even the holy saints who went marching in during and after the demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992 - perhaps one of the blackest days in the secular history of a pluralist, constitutional democracy like India - would fail to spot-this-spot quiz, considering that there is no documentary, scientific, empirical, in text or image, evidence that Ram was born on that spot, and nowhere but on that spot. That too, millions of years ago, as per Hindu myth, in the imagined era of 'Treta yug'.
Also, this was the blackest day in the history of 'Independent India' after the bloodbath of Partition, because on this day the Indian Constitution and the normative principles of civilised pluralism, decency and peaceful coexistence was ravaged for the whole country to see, by the chest-thumping Hindu rashtra goons led by their abjectly shameless and irresponsible leaders. They unleashed a most vicious and poisonous programme of ethnic cleansing, ravaging the body and soul and collective conscience of the nation; the country was divided and polarised into an ugly quagmire of hate politics, blood and gore, while blood-letting and mass murders of innocents continued in a hyperbolic spiral.
Most crucially, the elected governments in UP and Delhi, betrayed the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of this land, and their exalted positions and oath of office, and overtly and tacitly, aligned with the murderers, vandals, looters, rabble-rousers, accomplices and criminals of the Hindutva brigade led by LK Advani and his esteemed comrades like Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambara, Murli Manohar Joshi, among others.
Ironically, these fanatics not only destroyed the mosque, they also destroyed what was traditionally called the Ram Chabutra and Sita ki Rasoi. For instance, the universally acclaimed form of greeting in the Hindi heartland - Jai Siya Ram, whereby Sita's name is taken before Ram - was replaced by the Sangh Parivar into the macho, male slogan: Jai Shri Ram.
More significantly, these fanatics (mostly outsiders) destroyed the secular and pluralist ethos of Ayodhya and Faizabad, where the refined, friendly and beautiful Ganga-Jamuni culture had bloomed over the centuries, where Hindus and Muslims have shared intimate bonds of affection, local culture and classical aesthetics, and where, even now, the flowers in many Hindu temples are nourished and provided for by Muslims. The sinister shadow of the demolition of the mosque thereby hangs as a perverse landmark in the history of modern India.
That the conspiracy to demolish the mosque was hatched in Bajrang Dal leader Katiyar's premises, is a fact documented by journalists, with equipment and training as part of the operation. Advani says December 6, 1992, is the "saddest day" in his life; this is yet another brazen lie (of among the thousands turned into an epic narrative by his hydra-headed joint family of Sangh Parivar). This is because even a police official has recently testified that Advani was in the 'full know' of the demolition even as it was being enacted in fast-motion as a public spectacle.
While certain Delhi-based Hindutva journalists/ideologues were celebrating at the site, a virtual reign of terror and censorship was unleashed. Several journalists were beaten up by Sangh Parivar mobs, their cameras and pens/notebooks destroyed, their possessions looted, and this included foreign journalists. This celebration was followed by a bloodbath.
The killings which followed the demolition across the shattered Indian landscape, continues to stalk the nation's damaged social fabric till this day. It's like a bloody knife slashed through the soul of India. The dark winter of 1992-93 saw the Bombay pogrom against the Muslims, led by the Shiv Sena, patronised by the Maharashtra police, even as a Congress regime ruled the roost at the mantralaya. Bal Thackeray said he was "proud of his boys".
Later, bomb blasts, allegedly by the underworld, followed, killing even more innocents. The Srikrishna Commission report on the Bombay carnage, documented by one of the most honest judges in India, seriously and directly implicating top Sena leaders, politicians and cops, was dumped and buried by successive regimes - led by both, the Congress and BJP-Shiv Sena.
Ten years after the demolition, the Gujarat genocide, 2002, was the icing on the cake for the barbarians of the Hindutva joint family. The shadow of the demolition and mandir movement continued to spread in the Great Indian Sunshine.
The Godhra killings followed another pseudo campaign by the VHP-Bajrang Dal kar sevaks (especially dispatched from Narendra Modi's lab and republic of Hindu rashtra) at Ayodhya: Mandir wahin banayenge. This was followed by the stage-managed state-sponsored carnage unleashed by the Narendra Modi regime, tacitly patronised by the BJP-led NDA regime in Delhi.
There are at least 50 documents, documentary films, mobile records, TV footage, a senior cop's personal diary, and media reports, books and essays, documenting the genocide, and the profiles of the killers and rapists, mostly from the Sangh Parivar. Many of them, including ministers in Modi's government, have been identified or jailed. The recent, heart-rending testimony of Ehsan Jaffrey's wife, on the Gulburg society massacre, is a pointer on how this carnage was unleashed, while the top brass of the police and government played accomplice. It was as if a sinister mastermind, with a map and deadly equipment, was planning and implementing the microscopic details of mass murders, rape and destruction.
However, let us not forget: this experiment with ethnic cleansing too started with the Ram temple movement yet again when kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya were allegedly attacked at Godhra in Gujarat. (The case of Godhra is still an open case - whether the fire was lit from inside the railway coach or outside, as forensic reports say.) 'Socialist and secular' Nitish Kumar, JP and Lohia's follower, then the Union railway minister, kept studiously mum on the Godhra killings, did not go for an investigative enquiry, bought the Modi version lock, stock and barrel, and remained a steadfast and silent accomplice of the BJP while Muslims were being butchered in Gujarat.
Ironically, no move was ever made to construct the mandir, even when the RSS-BJP were in power in Delhi. They just wanted to keep this divisive fire inflamed, the hysteria of phobia, insecurity and fear, the bloody communal polarisation to reap the fruits of xenophobia, tragic memories of loss, killings and death, and a divided, fragmented society with a damaged and ruptured collective psyche. This is their heavenly gate to god; their final and only trump card; their civilisational journey for a Hindu rashtra as collective social pathology.
Crucially, they wanted to use kamandal to counter Mandal in the Hindi heartland's electoral mathematics. So where is faith and divinity in this cold-blooded grab for power and blood lust?
The fact is, they will never build the temple in Ayodhya; but they will use the issue incessantly as charged rhetoric for eternity, parasiting on the mythical temple - even while aware that India, especially the young, have different aspirations and ideals to chase now; that they care two hoots for their shallow slogan: Garv se kahon hum Hindu hain. That the Ram temple issue no longer strikes a chord, and people have seen through the farce. That is why their edgy, cagey, fudged up silence post Ayodhya judgement - when they should be actually pumping and thumping their chests.
Indeed, even the fanatics would know this inner truth. That is, if Ram himself arrives, or if his parents themselves arrive, and claim that this or that was the birth spot of the divine coming, the Sangh Parivar would tell them to go take a cold water swim at the Saryu river. The truth is, Ram is not even a metaphor of faith or worship for them. Ram is a merely a forced, symbolic victim of their obsessive political opportunism, their imagined morality of heightened immorality, their anti-catharsis of the Hindu rashtra which has entered the public discourse. That is their success story.
In an inverted sense, hence, the Ayodhya judgement becomes an inevitable victory sign for the Hindutva forces. When the judiciary itself vindicates their sustained propaganda, is this not Advantage Hindutva? So why aren't they pumping and thumping their chests?
The sinister crime of the criminal demolition of an existing place of worship, and the elimination of that fact in judicial discourse, has added to the legitimacy crisis of both the Indian judiciary and the Indian State and political system. The Ayodhya judgement clearly arrives as bad faith and bad justice. It explicitly fails the Indian Constitution's spirit of secular justice for all citizens irrespective of their faith, and it implicitly (not wilfully) aligns itself with those who are proud of the demolition of the mosque. More crucially, it denies the principles of objectivity and modernity, buries evidence, logic, rationality, and scientific historicity, in the face of mumbo jumbo, blind faith, and speculative belief systems.
Besides, how does a small section of xenophobic fanatics represent the vast numbers of secular, pluralist, flexible, non-dogmatic, open-ended and peaceful Indian citizens, though, fragmented by an entrenched and unequal caste and class structure?
The report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) remains a mystery, and there has been no such claims made by them. Eminent historians, many of whom were stationed in Ayodhya during the excavations, have categorically stated that there has been no archaeological evidence found to substantiate any claims of a temple under the demolished mosque. Indeed, it is quite contrary.
Besides, there has been no empirical evidence in documented or travel history to prove that a Ram temple existed at the site when the Babri Masjid was constructed in the 16th century. There is of course no legal credence to the mythical belief that Ram was born on that very particular spot.
The mythological story of Ram, as in the oral tradition of Ramayana, like Mahabharata, or Jatak Kathas, is part of our great epical oral tradition of folk narratives, with a complex plot and sub-plots with multiple layers. Ram is the protagonist of the struggle of good versus evil. This complexity involves social conduct, rules of politics, aberrations of real-politik, human nature, its cunning and noble dimensions, its follies, social contradictions, and their emotional and collective relevance across time and space. The narrative moves into realism only as infinite messages and knowledge systems and is not necessarily based on empirical events, facts or characters. The Ramayana, for instance, has several versions - in some versions Ravana is glorified as a great scholar, philosopher, warrior, who commands the respect of all gods and goddesses.
Besides, there is no absolute end to the unilinearity and rigidity of belief. Many mountains in tribal areas have an anthropological deity - so howcome they can be mass-displaced and destroyed for the profit sharks of big business and mining mafia? Also, there has to be an empirical fixity and objectivity of historical structures, characters and events.
So, if they find Brahiminical yagnasthals below the Taj Mahal, what will they do? Dig it up? Or Buddhist shrines destroyed by Shankaracharaya's followers and turned into Hindu temples, as Buddha was turned into the eighth Hindu avatar? Or Muslim structures, actually built with remnants of Hindu or Jain architecture?
Can there ever be a QED of an architectural, archaeological, anthropological or theocratic reality?
What about Kashi and Mathura, will they too go the Ayodhya way? What of thousands of synthetic, mixed shrines, and closed, shared, religious spaces of open societies across the pluralist Indian landscape? Will they all be demolished and rebuilt and re-distributed in three parts based on so-called faith and populism?