Wednesday, December 06, 2006

14 Years later..

Today, 14 years since the Babri Masjid was demolished, news reports say that both the houses of the Parliament are expected to be disrupted. The Left parties plan to boycott the house "condemning the government for its failure to convict the people responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid structure."

The Babri Masjid was said to be constructed by order of the first Mughal Emperor of India, Babar, in Ayodhya in the 16th century. Before the 1940s, the mosque was called Masjid-i Janmasthan .The mosque stood on the Ramkot hill (also called Janamsthan ("birthplace"). It was destroyed by Hindu activists in a riot on December 6, 1992.

It was alleged that Babar's commander-in-chief Mir Baki destroyed an existing temple at the site, which Hindus believe was the temple built to commemorate the birthplace of Ram. Interestingly the mosque shared a wall with a Ram temple. Although there were several older mosques in the city of Ayodhya, an area with a substantial Muslim population, the Babri Masjid became the largest, due to the importance of the disputed site.

Although we have a detailed account of the life of Babar in the form of his diary, the pages of the relevant period are missing in the diary. But it is possible that the mosque already existed before Babur, who may only have renovated the building. However, the construction of the mosque must have been between 1194 and 1528.

Hindu partisan historians say that in the year 1527 the Muslim invader Babar came down from Ferghana in Central Asia and attacked the Hindu King of Chittodgad, Rana Sangrama Singh at Sikri and with the help of cannons and artillery (used in India for the first time) overcame Rana Sangrama Singh and his allies.

According to the Hindus, after this victory, Babar decided to spread terror among the subjugated Hindu population. Apparently, Mir Baqi built a mosque at the site of the destroyed temple. This was called the Babri Masjid named after King Babar.

The only remaining question about the site was its status in the period 1192-1528. In 1192 and the subsequent years, practically all the Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries in North India were demolished by Mohammed Ghori and his Turkish invaders. It is impossible that the medieval temple at the site could have survived until 1528.

Muslims and Muslim partisan sources claim that neither history nor fact can come to prove the Hindu case as claimed above.

They claim that it is clear that the allegations, on which, the demands of RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad & Hindu Munnani are based, for laying claim to Babri Masjid are biased against Islam.

The attack on Babri Masjid on December 6th 1992, was not the only attack. It has been repeatedly attacked by Hindu fanatics in 1934, and again in 1949. Finally on December 6th, 1992 they finally managed to demolish the entire mosque.

It all seems to me like little children fighting over the truth in a fairy tale, or over pieces of Lego. Except a lot of people have gotten hurt, gotten killed, and terrorised in the unfolding of this trivial immature game of "It's mine!"

Why? Why was there such a huge fight over it? First of all, it's a matter of interpretation whether it was the birthplace of Ram or not. Besides, there's an Ayodhya in Indonesia as well, as well as in other parts of South East Asia who follow the Ramayana. Who is to say that Ram wasn't born there? And what about the Kamban Ramayana from South India...that has its own differences. It's a STORY. We're fighting over a myth.

I suppose people could argue that it's easy for me to say that's it's a story because I don't believe in God. I'm not religious and for me, the whole Ramayana is just a beautiful story with colourful and magical characters, that I sometimes depict on stage while doing Bharatanatyam. But I have something to say for people claiming this as well. I've read enough about Ram, played his character enough times on stage, to know what kind of a character he was. Even if Ayodhya, and in particular the
exact spot of his birth, lay where the Babri Masjid once stood - he would be so ashamed that a beautiful historical structure built years ago was destroyed in his name. He would feel used, and ashamed of his own people.

And for God's sake...the temple that existed there was destroyed centuries ago. Nothing that anyone does can bring it back. And no one is justifying the destruction of that temple. It's just that it was done by invaders in the 16th century! And for years after that, hindus and muslims co-existed. But suddenly in the 20th century, people started getting fanatical. We now live in the 21st century...has modernity, better education, more resources done nothing for the mentality of people over 4 centuries? So the invaders were petty and stupid, insulting and violent in destroying the temples of India (wasn't
everyone in that era who were invading places like that?). But is retaliating by stooping to that level, a sign of maturity or of stupidity?

Can you believe that a building can cause people to become so violent and brutal? People are still only just recovering from the Mumbai riots that followed in 1993. People are still seeking justice, they are still waiting for lost loved ones to return.

All this for what? The birthplace of a God that may or may not exist? A god that would be ashamed of what was happening anyway?

It makes no sense to me.


Blogger vichchoobhai said...

U write with feeling. U write wonderfully well. Hats off to u!

Today Decmber 6 has passed off peacefully, and the focus is on Ambedkar's 50th death anniversary with 1500,000 dalits converaging to Shivaji park dwhere he embraced Budhdhism in October 1956 and died shortly thereafter and cremated here.Following dalit rage four days ago the police here were apprehensive if some more trouble is in the offing. None was. And in the parliament, it was about MPs convicted of murder,Shibu Soren and Siddhu. Each party blaming the other of harbouring murderers, though both of them are naked in the hamaam as they say. We have a vibrant democracy indeed!

Talk about the massacre of a dalit family in vilage Kherlanji near Nagpur. Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, a dalit, his wife Surekha, daughter Priyanka, sons Roshan and Sudhir were stripped and killed by so called upper caste hoodlums following a fight over a piece of land belonging to the dalit. 18 year old Priyanka ( A NCC cadet who wanted to join the army to serve her country) was gangaraped to death and even after it. A statue of Ambedkar in Kanpur was beheaded and there was rampage by dalits mostly in Maharashtra, with BEST buses and Deccan Queen bogies set on fire, but no deaths excpet three due to police firing. The dalits were seething ovsr what happened in Kherlanji. Pent up fury was unleashed. But none of the major political parties who organise rallies against cartoons in Danish papers, or death sentencae to Saddam, or death sentence to Afzal Guru in the attack on pasrliament case, cared to organise any rally or raise calling attention notice in parliament. This after 59 years of Indepndence . While the elite Delhi intelligentsia lit candles for Priyhadarshini Mattoo and Jessica Lal ( rightly so) there was none to speak on behalf of Priyanka. It is said that at the time of postmortem an MLA was present to ensure that post mortem didnot cover rape.

I have strayed from the subject of your blog. Yes, I agree with u fully that Babri Masjid was a non-issue blown out of proportion to reap political bonanza and riding on that wave BJP captured power.

Religion and the resurgence of fundamentalism is today the bane of humanity. Whether Christian- Muslim, Jewish-Muslim or Hindu-Muslim confrontations, terrorism, attacks on sovereign nations on flimsy pretexts, etc.

Why talk about Babri masjid? What about the Pantheon in Rome? Was it not a Pagan temple converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary by the Pope? Same in Florence or most of the churches and cathedrals in Europe whose history shows they were originally places of worship of non-christians. But paganism is dead and there was no one to agitate after Emperor Constantine himself embraced christianity in the fourth century AD seeing the rising might of that religion, purely for political reasons and not out of conviction.

As long as blind faith scores over rational thinking, Babri Masjids will continue to be destroyed. Caste system will continue to be perpetrated. There is no panacea for humanity if the rate at which religious fanaticism is gaining ground is not tackled and halted.

December 6, 2006 at 7:45:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Sylvan Goddess said...

I like your thought process, you know...oh, and I read about Ambedkar and the dalits etc on this morning...

One thing came to mind - you said paganism is dead. Hinduism is meant to be a pagan religion, isnt it? You're so right. It IS dead. Hinduism in the way that it's creators hoped it to be, is gone forever...replaced by some warped fanaticism,blind faith,superstition and irrationality. To begin with, it was a beautiful religion. How sad it all is.

December 6, 2006 at 10:14:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Sine Qua Non said...

It's still a beautiful religion. The way people interpret it to legitimize acts of violence, is not religious, but infact superstitious.
you do not appease, defend or manipulate Gods in religion. As a wise man said, "If your god needs you to defend him...son, your god is dead."
I beg to differ, religion is not the bane of humanity. Superstition, political games, criminals in the parliament... that however, does need extreme measures.

December 7, 2006 at 2:03:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger vichchoobhai said...

Sine qua non - I stand corrected. I meant religion as it is practised, is the bane of humanity. Religion has an amorphous definition, it is what u do with your solitude, what u think when u r alone. Organised religion is regimentation. Blind belief. I dont like that.Nor would u.

Sylvan Goddess - I am sorry, I meant paganism is dead in Europe except for small esoteric cults. Hinduism is pagan in a way. We are polytheistic,worship nature in the form of sungod, seagod, etc In fact we used to say we have 33 crore gods when India did not even have 33 crore population. But the origin of Hinduism cannot be traced back to a particular point, focussed as in Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Hinduism evolved. It is different things to differnt people. Like the elephant to the six blind men of Hindostan.

Once I visited the Kamakhya temple in Guwhati, supposed to be the holiest of the holy, and as I was standing in the queue, saw a priest coming with a beheaded bleeding lamb in his arms It sent shivers down my spine. The GOddess it seems likes these balis. The King of nepal sacriaficed dozens of animals here but finally lost out to the Maoists. Contrast this with Haridwar where i stayed for a few months, where even eggs cannot be sold in the shops. In Srinagar,the Kashmiri pandits have to have meat on Shivaratri day while we in the south observe fast. That is the vast spectrum of Hinduism. Different things to different people. Yet defying inroads from Budhdhism, Islam and Christianity over millenia. Nehru wrote that it is the inherent flexibility of Hinduism coupled with its tendency to absorb and assimilate from other religions which has made it survive all the bumps of history.
See how easily we made Buddha an avatar and rendered Jainism, Sikhism as appendages of Hinduism.

Sorry for dragging on and on. Now I must say bye

December 7, 2006 at 9:04:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Hari Potter said...

I've always maintained that Hinduism is a philosophy and a spiritual path. Over the centuries the human race has conveniently converted it into a religion. Even as a religion isn't the bone of contention. No religion is. It's the extremists, parading their ignorance of themselves and their religion that make it violent and unteenable. The human race shouldn't look to blame a multitude of things from God to religion to whatever else for the follies of its own inherant nature.
The world is a travesty.
And a gift.
And a miracle.

December 8, 2006 at 8:40:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Anonymous Ganesh said...

Religion = bollocks.

December 8, 2006 at 10:46:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Sylvan Goddess said...

You all are talking about religion in theory. A lot of things are beautiful in theory...but what's the point if they're not like that in practice? Actions speak louder than words, I've always said that. And unfortunately, all that remains of Hinduism the religion is what action comes out of it. Hinduism as a spiritual learning experience has also been reduced to drug induced revelations.

Besides, all that we see of religion today is the violence, brutality, superstition, caste system, terrorism, communal violence...

No one sees that religion is a man-made thing. Someone wrote the Quran, someone wrote the Vedas and the Brahmanas and the Shashtras.Someone wrote the Bible. Someone human.

And it's us humans that are misinterpreting it, abusing it etc.

Religion isn't divine. It's as human as the people who practice it. And at the moment, it's all fucked up.

December 8, 2006 at 11:55:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Blogger vichchoobhai said...

U couldn't have put it in a better way Sylvan Goddess.

Look at it from another angle, the dissensions within each religion. Christianity has so many denominations, Catholics, protestants, presbytarians, church of England, Seventh day adventists, Jehova's witnesses, the greek and russian orthodox church, etc etc. In Islam the sunnis and shias are at daggers drawn, look at the civil war in Iraq. Ahmediya sect has been declared as non-muslims in Pakistan (though they constitute 18% of the population) The Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam was an Ahmedia. Hinduism though apppearing monolithic has dissensions galore. Rival sadhu groups clash everytime there is a kumbh mela, claiming pride of place for their particular panth for the first holy dip at Har ki Pairi. Shaivites donot intermarry with Viashnavites.
Even among Vaishnavites, a silly dispute like whether the temple elephant in Tirupati should have a caste mark U with rounded base or sharp corners, went up to the privy council in pre-independence days. I hold no brief for the Kazhagams, but the arrival of Periyar on the tamil scene changed the social history of tamilnadu. Made the brahmins aware that they should excel in other fields than religion to stand up and be counted.

U began the blog with Babri masjid episode. I think the least we can do for our muslim brethren is to build a mosque alongside the temple without being too fussy about the exact location of the idol or the mosque. Judicial verdict of course is still awaited.

December 8, 2006 at 7:47:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Sylvan Goddess said...

"I think the least we can do for our muslim brethren is to build a mosque alongside the temple without being too fussy about the exact location of the idol or the mosque."

I agree. It's such a simple solution..But given the history, the circumstances and the mental capacity of the people in charge, we're probably being too optimistic.

December 8, 2006 at 9:46:00 PM GMT+5:30  

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