God V. Government
We’ve read all about it, heard all about it and experienced how much it has influenced the nation – the Ayodhya verdict was a historic decision taken by the Supreme Court on the issue of land claim between Hindus and Muslims, a complex and politically as well as religiously motivated case that changed the lives and perspectives of thousands. The court case had only been going on for 9 years in the Supreme Court, but the actual case has been open and sensitively driven since as early as the 1850s when there was found to be disturbances and rebelling in the masjid by Hindus.
Where did the actual issue start? Ayodhya is a disputed case about an around 3 acre land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, that is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, one of the most revered Hindu deities and an important part of Hindu faith. Archaeological records have even shown that there used to be a temple on the site of the mosque before a Mughal ruler had it destroyed for the purpose of building a mosque – Babri Masjid – although records don’t completely support this either. In the 1930s, 1950s and 1990s Hindus damaged the mosque as a sign of protest of its existence where their temple should be, with just the protests in 1958 contributing to a 2,000 death toll because of the dispute. Over the years this battle of wills and facts, where each side had its own valid reason for wanting the piece of land has been narrowed down to mere political vote banks.
There are good arguments on both sides to want that piece of land, and somewhere the feeling of patriotism and all Indian land belonging to Hindus always has influenced the decision. While one side quotes history and the Geeta, the other uses hard facts and biased historical accounts. Taken from the viewpoint of the economy and basic humanity, the verdict of the Supreme Court has been inefficient and unfair – thousands of crores have been allotted in the budget for demolishing the masjid and building a temple on the site, communities around the mosque will be drastically changed due to this verdict, and a precious archaeological monument will no longer be a part of our rich culture. For the sake of political advantage and putting behind a case that from the beginning was not based on any morale ground, the court has divided up the land, which was fair on their part, asked for the demolishing of the main section of the Babri Masjid, and ordered for a large sum of money (with just the main Ram statue being built for 450 crores) to be devoted to building the mosque.
If you listen closely, it’s a tune we’ve all heard before – Hindus being so opposed to the idea of Muslims in their country and on their land that they are willing to ignore and look down upon the years of rich history under Mughal emperors that had ultimately contributed to the devolution and growth of our country. But why is it that no one questions colonization and its mark on the country but continually looks at and points out flaws in the Mughal part of our history? Are we so sensitized to the idea of Muslims being a part of our history and our communities that we ignore the humane aspect of secularity in our democracy?
The Ayodhya case, although very complicated and influenced by many political, religious, etc. aspects, is a case central to and reflective of our country. It is ideal in understanding the kind of democracy we have in India – where a legal case can be fought in the name of God, sentiments, and feelings of the entire nation have to be considered when making a decision and two religions with a deep history of conflict can be so perfectly pitted against one another. In no other democracy will you see large sums of money being allotted to building statues, temples, and monuments even as the nation struggles economically, such an extent of political influence on religious conflicts and a whole country celebrating when a verdict is announced. Although there is beauty in the unity of our nation and its interconnected societies and communities, the emphasis on singular religions often makes us forget that we are a secular country. From a patriotic perspective, the verdict can be considered fair – but this isn’t the only perspective there is or the only angel to consider. One thing is clear from the Ayodhya verdict, however – it defines our unique, united and historically and culturally rich nation.