Here's why Lord Ram resonates with Hindus

Yahoo India

The Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi verdict is due to be announced soon and the Hindu society awaits this long-pending verdict with anticipation.

For too long, this issue has come to be viewed from the political lens; however, for the Hindu society the import of Ayodhya is rooted in a belief that goes back thousands of years.

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Not enough is said about this association, and to acknowledge it is to understand why millions of Hindus have through the generations lit a diya for Ram in their homes and why Ram janmabhoomi and Ram resonate to this day.

Lord Ram, believed to be the seventh reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, was born in the Treta Yug in the ancient city of Ayodhya. Not only do the revered epics — Ramayana and Mahabharat — refer to Ayodhya, but travel writers too do so.

For example, the Persian writer Abu-Aal-Fadl’s Ain-i-Akbari, states, ‘Awadh (Ayodhya) is one of the largest cities of India. It is situated in longitude 118, 6’, and latitude 27, 22’. In ancient times its populous site covered an extent of 148 kos in length and 36 in breadth, and it is esteemed one of the holiest places of antiquity. It was the residence of Ramachandra who in the Treta age combined in his own person both the spiritual supremacy and kingly office.’ (English Translation, Vol III, p. 82)

The acknowledgement of the spiritual loftiness and importance of Ayodhya is not restricted to Hindus alone. Guru Nanak-ji is quoted in Bhai Mani Singh’s Pothi Janam Sakhi, composed in 1787, as having said to his Muslim disciple Mardana, ‘Mardana! This Ayodhya city belongs to Shri Ramchandra-ji. Therefore, let us have its darshan’.

Ayodhya, as Ram Nagari, has been well recalled since antiquity. Whilst all of Bharat may be considered Ram janmabhoomi, the space that is the Ram janmasthan is where the structure constructed on Babar’s orders as a symbol of dominance, is of special significance: this is where Ram was born.

It is futile to engage in a debate on the veracity of the claim of this being Ram’s exact birth spot, as is the case with most faith-based beliefs, like Bethlehem considered to be Jesus’s birthplace or the sanctity of Mecca and Medina. For millennia, Hindus have believed this to be the truth and continue to do so to this day.

But how must we view Ram – is it appropriate to consider him from only a religious and, now post-Independence, a political lens? It is a great disservice to his legacy to take such a limited view of his role in shaping the consciousness of modern-day Bharat.

The person who understood the profound spiritual and cultural influence and significance of Ram was none other than Mahatma Gandhi, who closely associated Independence with the establishment of Ram Rajya.

“Friends have repeatedly challenged me to define independence. At the risk of repetition, I must say that independence of my dream means Ram Rajya, i.e., the Kingdom of God on earth. I do not know what it will be like in Heaven. I have no desire to know the distant scene. If the present is attractive enough, the future cannot be very unlike.” (H, 5-5-1946, p. 116).

However, his construct of Ram Rajya was one that held all men equal and not the dominance of one religion over another. Indeed Ram, as a common ancestor of all those who live in the subcontinent, cannot be divided among regions or religions and when there is no division, there can be no preference.

He remains an unvanquished symbol of Bharat and dharma despite the tumultuous political history and foreign conquests this land has seen. If he is referred to as a ‘Rashtra Purush’, it is for this reason.

The structure constructed in Ayodhya was done so after demolishing a temple, as discovered by the ASI during an excavation conducted under the scrutiny of the high court. It was meant to announce Babar’s arrival as the conqueror of Bharat.

It was an act of political dominance by a foreign invader, not religious fervour. In an era, these actions by invaders who took over lands and people by the force of the sword were meant to establish their decree over foreign lands. There was no transfer of power but a brutal takeover, and what better way than to attack the soul of Bharat to vanquish its spirit, by demolishing the temple on the Ram janmasthan.

From a nationalistic perspective, the mindset that views these symbols of dominance as worthy of celebration must be challenged. For more than the physical presence, it is the mental space that they occupy which undermine the concept of one India.

The construction of a Ram Mandir in the space considered to be the Ram janmasthan, if it happens, will be received with gratitude not only by devout Hindus but by those who view symbols of foreign imposition as remnants of an oppressed past, be it Lord Hardinge’s statue or the renaming of local landmarks like Minto Bridge.

This is not a win or lose debate, but a reconciliation and the healing of a wounded civilization where such wounds have been permitted to fester for too long.

For Ram is not only a religious deity but a symbol of the unbroken continuity of Bharatvarsha -- of India that is Bharat.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and do not reflect the views of Yahoo.

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