The negativity that has surrounded the Ramjanmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya will have surprised many. It is rooted in the fact that there actually exists an electoral constituency supportive of the sentiment. And it is not the community that lost the case in the Supreme Court for possession of the land where the Temple is located – if anything it has been quite mature in its response. Most parties in the INDI Alliance are eager to project various models of secularism ranging from the claim to being ‘true’ Hindus, to that which is usually described as ‘appeasement politics’.
It emerges from the self-effacing belief of the past that being demonstrably Hindu would be communal and a threat to secularism. This comes essentially from looking at Hinduism as a religion similar to the proselytising ones. If it was, their fears would have been well-founded. This, however, is not true. It is also why the secularism that has been practiced since Independence has been a weak-spirited one, thus easily threatened.
Many have become ‘Google and WhatsApp assisted’ experts on Hinduism these days and are arguing the case against the manner in which the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ is going to take place. The worry is that the BJP will take political advantage of the event, so its grandeur should be reduced as much as possible. They also feel that the ‘success’ in building the temple will further the goal of establishing a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, without considering exactly what that concept actually means. Essentially, it cannot be communal because what inspires it is civilisational, not sectarian. Considering the fact that the existing Constitution distinguishes between the ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ communities, provides government control over only Hindu temples, has separate civil codes for sections of society, and so on, already makes India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
Hopefully, the antipathy generated by the politically inspired opposition to the Temple Ceremony will not lead to disruptive acts by extremists and the new breed of social media ‘attention-seekers’. Already, three persons have been arrested for planning such activity. The ‘obstacle-creators’ may even be sought to be justified by the politicians, by associating one or the other community, or social cause, with the incidents.
Hopefully, the event will prove to be the grand moment in Indian history that will bring about closure at one level, and open up a new approach to the future at another. Truth and Reconciliation need not always be in accordance with a west-inspired template.