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On Judgment Day, only Ram was the Loser


At 3.30 pm on September 30, when the Lucknow Bench of the Honourable Allahabad High Court pronounced the verdict on the Ayodhya case, there were tears of joy and sorrow across the country. While some were happy with the verdict, some rued the ‘partial’ attitude of the judiciary towards the majority community of this country. The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the self-proclaimed custodian of Hinduism, proclaimed that nobody is a winner or a loser; the Congress proudly announced that it’s a good verdict and nobody should have any qualms about accepting it. But did anybody, even for once, spare a thought for the ‘man’ who was at the centre of all this mess—Raghukul nandan and son of King Dasaratha, Prince Ram? If there was any real loser, it was none but him, for he lost his ‘God’ status with the court saying in no indirect phrase that he was indeed born at the place where the Babari Masjid once stood. Gods are not born at historical places, reason tells us.

For over a millennium, Hindus took pride in calling him their God. He was known as Lord Ram, a maryada purushottam (the best of man) whose qualities of the head and heart every parent wanted his/her son to emulate. For over a thousand years, Hindus of all castes and races have known his story by heart. And suddenly today, we have been forced to believe that he was someone like us, very mortal in character and spirit, thanks to nearly 60 years of litigation over his ‘birthplace‘ and an even longer battle outside court between two communities willing to snap one another’s neck in the name of their respective Gods.

When Mughal Emperor Babur “ordered” the desecration of Hindu temples in Ayodhya and construction of the Babari Masjid in 1527-28, little did he know that his own grandson, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, would be known to his Hindu subjects as an incarnation of Lord Ram! It was poetic justice anyway. The Hindus never realized this, and unfortunately, even the judiciary didn’t.

In its 12,000-page verdict, the HC said, “there is no evidence to suggest that the mosque was constructed by Babar, or upon his order, by someone else”. What the court refused to acknowledge was the plaque at the site written in Persian that credits the construction of the mosque to one Mir Baqi, a noble of Babur, who says he built it in the honour of his emperor. Also, numerous contemporary accounts and those by the British Government calling it ‘Babur’s mosque’ were set aside by the court. Instead, the court chose to accept legendary accounts that Ram was born in Ayodhya, although no account exists that pinpoints Ram’s birthplace to the disputed site.

I’m no legal expert, but the way two parts of the disputed land was handed to the Hindus and only one part to the Muslims, I somehow feel it would only create a feeling of mistrust among the minority community for us, Hindus. As a serious student of history, I would have preferred the entire land being declared as national property with the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) acting as its custodian. It would have proved as a great gift for history of mankind had the ASI been allowed to dig deep into the ruins and find evidence of prehistoric cultures existing there—something even older than the legend of Ram. That’s how, I believe, a pragmatic society should function.

In a 21st century democratic country like India, it was expected of the judiciary to act rationally and count on historical sources, not mythical epics; but the verdict leaves room for speculation that someday, the ancient law of Manu would supplant the Constitution of India. The mere thought of it sends chill down my spine. In such a situation, it would be the women who would be at the receiving end, for everyone knows how fair Manu was to the fairer sex.

But maybe, the HC had a point when they passed the verdict yesterday: they didn’t want Ram to be seen as a God when he had so many qualities possessed by men in Ekktaa Kapoor’s television epics. After all, he was the one who suspected his wife of adultery and banished her from the kingdom – this was certainly no God-like quality. I’m sure Ravana must be sniggering at his nemesis, for he still remains the Demon King, but Ram is now very much a human susceptible to follies. At least, Ravana will be remembered as someone who abducted another man’s wife, but didn’t outrage her modesty. Ram, unfortunately, will now be open to attacks by feminists for being, in their words, an MCP of the worst kind.

Anyhow, before this sounds like a rant, I would like to end it with the hope that India will not become the next destination of religious fundamentalism and lunacy. Nobody is alive today who remembers what happened in the 1520s; the pains inflicted by a Muslim conqueror on his Hindu subjects have been long forgotten, for none of us know who our ancestors were at that point of time. Therefore, this frenzy of altering the course of history should be discouraged in a strong voice. And in a land where Rule of Law supposedly exists, whom do we turn to for that sound piece of advice if not the judiciary?

This verdict, I’m afraid, would only encourage a generation of people to try to alter the course of history. And given a chance, I too would like to change a lot of things: that Mamta Kulkarni ever existed in Bollywood, Mohinder Amarnath’s annoying style of bowling, Kirti Azad’s forgettable innings in the ’83 World Cup…the list is long.

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0 04 October, 2010 India Matters October 4, 2010

33 comments

  1. Ruchira Shukla

    The land being declared a national treasure and handed over to ASI would have been a ideal scenario. I wonder why religious sentiments always end up overruling our logic and intellect.

    Reply
  2. Anney

    I am amused and your article is thought provoking…I agree with you…the HC should have had it given to the ASI, after all, India is a land of many religions, why must we not enjoy together the beauty and sadness?

    Reply
  3. Lord Mani

    Thank you, Ruchira and Anney, for sharing your thoughts on it. It’s really sad that the higher court chose religious sentiment over historical facts. I wonder what the apex court would do once the case reaches their door.

    Reply
  4. Rikimi

    I like your thought to hand it over to ASI. I was thinking of a space like a hospital or a morgue or anything of its kind. Another friend had also spoke his mind to have a BAR there. Whatever, I am actually quite depressed at the so called ‘secular’ people taking sides, But it seems you have once again proved your intelligence with your unmatched wit. KEEP WRITING.

    Reply
  5. AK

    You got it wrong Mr.Sharma when you said Gods are not born in the historical place. when God takes an Avatar, he does takes a proper birth and dies at the end just like human. You must be aware how Krishna die out of a hunter’s arrow that his toe. Krishna too was born IN a place and died and so IS Ram. It might be a small piece of land but then for millions it has a holy aspect by acknowledging the sentiments, the judges going out of way of verdict by evidence have proven to be three wise men to bring an equilibrium of peace in a bigger picture.

    Reply
  6. Pranjal

    who cares- land is divided, given to any one party or handed over to ASI, that seriously is the last thing in my priority list. I fail to comprehend why people are this serious about this… theek hai yaar, even if Ram was born here, he doesn’t have time to care for his mandir. he has an entire world to look after- he is a busy God.

    Reply
  7. Udayan Tandan

    I like your idea of ASI being appointed the guardian of the land,but i think its too idealistic,the honorable high court in my opinion has a done the right thing by dividing land,though i would have been more happy if land distribution would have been equal.I am not staunch follower of any religion but as i get it religion is a belief system, which has myths,facts and legends interwoven in it.so i guess if the judgement was in clear majority of either parties it would have hurt the beliefs of millions,which could have led to mindless sectarian violence, so if we look towards the bigger picture i guess we should be all praise for Indian judiciary.

    Reply
  8. Udayan Tandan

    na Rahim se, na Ram se..mohobbat hai hamein chalakte jaam se!!tumrakho apna mandir, rakho tum masjid apni,hum to maikhaane ke bhakt banenge, fir aaj shaam se

    Reply
  9. Lord Mani

    @ AK

    The question is not if I’m wrong or someone else is right; the question is if there was any other way of handling this matter. I’m aware of Krishna’s death at the hands of a ‘vyadh’. Ram had taken ‘jalsamadhi’ at the Sarayu. Now, we cannot pinpoint the site where he took his watery grave, can we? Similarly, we read about Rama’s birthplace being Ayodhya, but only that. How could the Hindus suddenly find out that his birthplace was just beneath the central dome? Obviously, something had changed drastically.

    When we start seeing stories as truth, then trouble starts. Myths also tell us that Balaram tried to rape Yamuna; but when she resisted, he tied her to his plough and dragged her all over the place – the present course of the river. Imagine what would happen if the court would also buy this tale and settle some case in the future. Or imagine if someone would file a case against Balram and want him to be tried for molestation. This is very much possible, given the fact that Ram ‘Lalla’ was a litigant in the Ayodhya case. :-)

    Reply
  10. Lord Mani

    I would just like to add that the three ‘wise’ men you mentioned are no Magi, at least one of them was not. Justice Sharma wanted the entire site to go to the Hindus. It was he who was convinced that Ram was “indeed born at this site”.

    Reply
  11. Gautam Jayasurya

    A prefect blend of fiction, history and current affairs. I see this as an abstract to something greater. Maybe something which falls in the genre of Shashi Taroor’s ‘The great Indian novel’. Wish u good luck sir.

    Reply
  12. Jayanta Bora

    Mani once again you have shown your wit and your intense understanding of facts. In any case its how our judiciary works, here the line between belief and facts get dimmed. Good for us, its only a matter of convincing the Judiciary. However i was surprised to knw that even Bhagwaan Raam needed to fight a case in Indian Courts to establish his birth place. I wonder how millions of people will get their birth place established when UID is rolled out in the entire country.

    Reply
  13. Lord Mani

    @ Gautam

    Thanks for the kind words!

    @ Jayanta

    It’s really sad that Gods have to send representatives to fight their case on earth. Ever wondered why Krishna hasn’t been able to save the ‘izzat’ of any woman after Draupadi?

    Reply
  14. Akashwani

    only if our approach was HOLISTIC… be it History, Law or any other subject of study for that matter!
    On a more meaningful note – “The MotherLand beckons the likes of You, Rational, if not Great, so that Her essence remains intact.”

    Many congratulations… Keep Soaring High!

    Reply
  15. chiranjit gam

    That was a real good article showcasing your views,lord Mani.
    Technically speaking, the judgement was not just wherein the HINDUS,practically now owns 2/3 of the land while the MUSLIMS has 1/3 of it.The question here is not how many groups filed a case for the possession of the land(the cause is not important here.),its a question of how did the court strike a balance between two major communities of the nation.where is the factor of justice now?
    The prime problem is with the people of the nation where no one believes anyone!
    Now we even need a person of the Muslim community in the panel of judges to make sure that the verdict is not one-sided. Think!
    Cosmopolitan-wise,the decision was uneven and now it doesn’t matter if anyone is unhappy with it. Because if any of the parties knocks at the doors of the supreme court now,it will take another 60 yrs for a verdict to come.
    Welcome to India!
    But this will be unfair if I forget to mention this that the verdict given by d high-court, eventhough debatable,is probably a “modern-world” verdict. And we cannot ask for more.
    And folks,the day is not far at hand when Lord Rama has to actually come down to earth and establish his birthplace!

    P:S its a completely personal view andhad no intentions of hurting the sentiments of any person or community.
    Amen!

    Reply
  16. Md Muddassir Shah

    Mani,
    First of all hearty congratulations for you dared to write on a topic from which many of us shied away, me especially, because, I always thought my views would be seen as that of a muslim and not of an Indian.

    Your article is thought provoking.

    I would like to offer my two cents here.

    Many people say that this judgement is not based on law and its biased or it is to appease all and one bigshot also said that it is panchayat Raj like decision.

    I say if one had to give judgements based alone on the law book, then any layman can be a high-court or supreme court judge, one need not grey his hair gaining wisdowm before he is in a position to give judgements.

    I, for one, wholeheartedly support the overall judgement but yeah, In fine print, there are few points I dont agree with; where HC refuses to acknowledge that there was a mosque.But nevertheless, the wisemen have done the wisest thing to do – appease everyone so as to close this humiliating chapter of Indian history and help us move on, march on, to be the leaders of the world.

    There are questions being raised about the ratio of land division and all but they are all secondary matters. The fact that the judiciary has risen above the conventional law system and given a verdict in the interest of the people is simply awesome. A new chapter, a new direction and a new philosophy for all the law students.

    I as a muslim can never agree with the fine print of the judgement because Some of the points have pricked me too just as few points prick my hindu brethren.But one thing in common here for us,amidst all this affair, the MaryadaPurushottam has been humiliated and put to shame. But then, they are the mistakes of another generation and another time.

    We are different, mordern, broad minded and above all we have common goals beyond the politics of religion. Lets not bother to listen to our media who tend to divide us than unite us. It is a shame that when all chose to rise to the occasion of burying the issue, media came up with headlines like ’2 parts to Hindus and 1 part to muslims’.

    Come on, we have better issues to address. The entire world is looking upon us, let us lead by example, let us show the people what true India is – happy, humble, united, peaceful and progressive.

    And to end,
    No offence meant to anyone.
    I highgly appreciate your thoughts and guts.
    Good luck, keep writing such thought provoking articles.

    Reply
  17. anurag talukdar

    I really appreciate the views and counter views presented. ASI as guardian would have been an ideal scenario.

    Reply
  18. Leon Kaushik

    Great post. I agree that it could not have been better if the entire land was declared as national property with the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) acting as its custodian.

    Reply
  19. Lord Mani

    @ Chiranjit

    It’s a sad thing that the judiciary allowed religious sentiments to override historical facts in deciding the case. Also, in their individual verdicts, the three judges blatantly admitted that they have not examined historical facts, for if they do, there will be room for error and historians won’t spare them. If such was the case, how could they say that “there is no historical evidence to suggest that Babur constructed the mosque”? It was shameful!

    Reply
  20. Lord Mani

    @ Mudassir

    Thank you, brother, for your words of appreciation. I had to write this because I was agitated to see the verdict. For me, the site had more historical significance than religious. If the ASI did find ruins of any ancient temple, it should have been allowed to carry out the excavations further. I believe a treasure trove of information lies buried there, waiting to be unearthed.

    Reply
  21. Aritra

    Mani Da,

    I loved your post. Although I agree with the essence of it on principle, there are few things which I would beg to differ with.

    “Gods are not born at historical places, reason tells us.” Yes reason does. But that can’t be a reason for the judiciary to declare that Ram wasn’t born there. I would like to share with you and my fellow readers the legal principle behind it. It has been settled through judicial pronouncements in India and abroad that no matter how unreasonable or illogical the beliefs of a religious group seems, they cannot be rubbished on the grounds of lack of reason or. In Kerala , Christian students belonging to the Jehova’s witness sect were allowed to refrain from singing the national anthem because they( the Jehova’s Witness sect) believed that singing in honour of anything other than their God is not permissible according to their religion. The SC in that case held “it is irrelevant whether a certain belief, if genuinely held, of a religious community is logical or appeals to our reason or not.Their beliefs must be protected according to the constitution”. This is the settled law of the land not only in India but also in other countries, the USA for example. So even if our reason tells us that God or an avatar can’t be born in historical places, we can’t rubbish the genuinely held religious beliefs of a certain community.

    “but the way two parts of the disputed land was handed to the Hindus and only one part to the Muslims, I somehow feel it would only create a feeling of mistrust among the minority community for us”

    Frankly speaking I couldn’t care less which side got how much of the disputed land. But the judiciary of the country should not give neutral judgments just for the sake of avoiding controversies. The job of the judiciary is to uphold the law. If the Wakf Committee proves that legally they have a better title than the Hindu Mahasabha or the Nirmohi Akhara give them the whole area. I would be happy, not because it went to the Muslims, but because the decision was legally sound. Fear or possibility of unfavorable repercussions should not tie the hands of the judiciary, otherwise the system will be overburdened with a plethora of escapist judgments.. India should learn to accept fair decisions without creating a ruckus and the judiciary can start by giving fair decisions without the fear of repercussions.

    I personally think it’s a neutral decision, however the way it is being portrayed by a few media houses is really unfortunate. Times of India for example came up with the headlines ” Hindus 2, Muslims 1″ as if it’s a competition of some sort. I would like to know your take on that since you are a part of the system.

    Lastly, I would like to say that it is our duty as citizens of India to have faith in the judiciary. We should also wear the robe of a critique at times but only when we genuinely don’t accept or agree with the reason behind the decision. The 8500 page judgment I am sure has all the possible lines of reasoning and legal principles behind the decision. I have the faith in this country’s judiciary. I would also not back out from being critical, but I’ll do that after going through the judgment.I don’t think it will be the right thing to criticize the judgment without reading it. But we do have a lot of people who criticize decisions without finding out the reason or logic behind it.

    Keep the good posts coming. I learn a lot from them.

    Reply
    1. Yazir

      You cannot decide to whom the most disputed land of the world belongs because there is no SCIENTIFIC evidence about where Ram was born or if ever Mir Baqi destroyed a Mandir.Nobody can prove it.The piece of report of ASI is a absolute piece of trash and even the judges’ who passed on the verdict knows it well.

      But still fail to understand,if Muslims would have won the whole land or 2/3rds of the land then will it be so calm and communal harmony that we see now?The Hindu fundamentalist would have gone berserk.This is evident that the Hindu’s won so majority wins calm will be always there.

      Reply
      1. Aritra

        @Yazir
        Let us not speculate now. India is not in the 90′s anymore. Let’s look at the bigger picture. The honourable court gave it’s decision. Communal harmony was not disturbed. The govt was prepared for contingencies, but thankfully the the security forces were not required. Let us be happy.

        Reply
    2. chiranjit gam

      @ aritra
      that was really well said—- ” I couldn’t care less which side got how much of the disputed land. But the judiciary of the country should not give neutral judgments just for the sake of avoiding controversies. ”

      i really agree with this.now a days what courts root for is compromise rather then judgements.And as the great intellectuals say “compromise is a decision where both the parties get something but both the parties are unsatisfied”!
      Probably,in the whole saga of the “Ayodhya” case,the facts and figures somehow got lost in the 8500 pages!

      Reply
  22. Lord Mani

    Aritra

    Thanks for sharing with us the lawyer’s point of view. I agree with whatever you have said; however, I do think that the verdict should be challenged in the Supreme Court, for all the three judges on the bench gave contradictory opinions. While Justice Sharma said, “Yes, this is the site where Lord Ram was born”, Justice Agarwal said “Hindus believe it is the birthplace of Ram”; Justice Khan said, “After 1949, Hindus suddenly started believing that Ram was born at this site.”

    Also, Justice Sharma said the Babari Masjid was not a mosque because it was against the tenets of Islam, which provide for minarets as an essential requirement for a mosque to be pronounced as such. But while saying this, the court didn’t consult any expert on Islamic law or theology. There are many mosques in the world and in India where there are no minarets. In fact, minarets came much, much later in mosque construction and is considered to be a borrowed element from churches in Syria. Look at the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It looks like a cathedral, not mosque. The Babri Masjid was constructed in the style followed by the Jaunpur school of architecture. The same architecture was used in the early Mughal and the Suri dynasty buildings and mosques. The Qala-i-Kuhna Masjid constructed by Sher Shah Suri, too, did not have any minaret.

    A mosque should always have a mihrab (an alcove on the wall pointing towards Mecca) and a mimbar (pulpit from where the Imam leads the prayer). And the Babari Masjid had both. I wonder why Justice Sharma never bothered to find this out.

    Anyhow, I hope the SC would come up with a better verdict. Let’s see!

    Reply
    1. Aritra

      True.As per Justice Sharma’s decision, the whole land belongs to the Hindus. But that was the minority opinion. The other judges did not agree with him on this point maybe because they did not subscribe to his reasoning.

      Reply
  23. Makepeace

    I had bookmarked this article for the longest time, unnecessarily without needing to do so. Nevertheless….

    Without really having read too many or any opinion pieces, I immediately felt, so is it always going to be about appeasing the majority? And related to this is the vested interest of vote banks with all the political parties and their public statements of acceptance or condemnation.

    I totally agree with the suggestion you made of how the historical site could have been charged over to the ASI and how that would have been the objectively right decision in the interests of not only everyone but also in maintaining heritage prosperity. Only that when it really comes down to it, no significant body cares two hoots for historical or cultural heritage sites or monuments (i don’t even need to provide instances for this!).

    My point is that in our country, somehow the most logical decisions tend to be passed off as idealistic (of course also with the suggestion of being delusional)! I know, there are no easy, objective type answers for situations like these and the decision was being made amidst such a tense atmosphere that could have easily turned volatile.

    However, we should really clarify our terms as a democratic state that is all about ‘majority wins’ regardless of what the majority represents and that in our dictionary is supposed to be fair to all!

    Well balanced article and i love the way you ended off..!

    Reply

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