The media is in a frenzy over the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ramjanmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya, planned for 5 August. The grand celebration reflects the historic nature of the event, righting one of the many wrongs of the past. At the same time, though, it is a solemn and sacred event that requires gravitas more than triumphalism, grace rather than vulgar display. It is alright for Ayodhya and UP to pitch the event in a big way for, eventually, they will benefit from the eventual rush of pilgrims and tourists, but for the ordinary Indian, it should be an occasion for inner contemplation on Ram and the teachings his life communicates.
Ram Rajya, for some, implies the return of dignity to Hindus, who spent centuries in subjugation. However, in its original context, when the warring sects of the present day did not exist, it was the concept of good governance that required enormous sacrifice from those in power. It requires a system that ensures the good of every citizen. So, if the symbolism of the Ramjanmabhoomi Temple is to be fulfilled in practice, there is a lot that needs to be done – particularly in COVID times.
The politics of the present day, as is being witnessed in the ongoing shenanigans in Rajasthan, entirely opposes the standard established by Ram. He was the fount of power and did not need its accoutrements to exercise it. Today, it is a lust for power that motivates ‘leaders’, who would do anything to retain it. He could gather an army from among the creatures of the forest; they cannot find adherents even from among India’s teeming millions without offering various inducements that compromise principle. His nobility of character was exhibited in decisive action and a fight against all odds; today, action is ‘virtual’ to be seen mostly on Twitter and Facebook.
As such, all those celebrating the coming of the temple should be sobered by the thought of the responsibility it represents. If he is to be enthroned in the hearts of his followers, they too must be veritable Bajrangbalis in their valour and achievements, instead of an opiated lot sucking at the teats of an emaciated state. So, instead of jumping around as in a baraat of the nouveau riche, those participating in this religious and cultural revival should be strong and resolved, preparing for the battle ahead that requires putting India in the forefront of the world’s nations.