A file photo of Babri Mosque. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
It is time that Indian liberals get over the violence of partition and stop portraying practicing Hindus as next door communal hooligans.
Though the Ayodhya dispute has always been treated as a land suit both between the two parties, the Supreme Court of India in its wisdom ensured that faith and belief of millions of Indians is respected and not disregarded as superstition. The court must be lauded for it.
The order of the Supreme Court did not delegitimise the issue of faith and belief by measuring it on the scale of historicity and scientific evidence. Indian belief system and traditional knowledge went through a process of de-hierarchization under the colonial rule. The scientific and industrial revolution which changed the global landscape also pushed traditional practice and wisdom as myths and poor forms of knowledge.
The best example is that of yoga which had to reinvent itself in the language of modern science. People who practiced it called it scientific in nature to sell it to the modern world. The same was the case with Ayurveda.
In the case of Ayodhya, the absence of strong historicity of the material was used as an evidence against the idea of Ram’s birthplace. The debate was put forth in the light of liberal vs conservative or progressive vs communal elements of the society.
Those who professed faith in it believed in the birthplace of Lord Ram but were seen a the enemy of the Indian Constitution.
This binary was broken by the Supreme Court where it acknowledged the importance of faith in its decisionmaking process. Hinduism is an ancient religion and it cannot be compelled to prove historicity in the context of Islam, Sikhism, Judaism or even Christianity. It was the absence of this material historicity and violence of 1947 that complicated the case for a temple in Ayodhya.
It is time that Indian liberals get over the violence of partition and stop portraying practicing Hindus as next door communal hooligans. They should stop imitating the French experience of secularism. Indian plurality cannot be forced to mimic western expectations. Very few people remember that Indira Gandhi during the emergency without any debate added words like secularism and socialism to the Indian constitution. Was India less secular or plural in 1952? That is a different debate altogether but the fact is that virtue was made of secularism by Congress for political ends.
Religious morality forms the bedrock of Indian cultural experience. Ramayana and Mahabharata form the arch of the ethical ecosystem of the Indian civilization. It is not to say that other religions have to adhere to this ethical overview but it cannot also be disregarded for the sake of new world secularism.
It cannot be set aside at the altar of secularism. The destruction of Hindu temples in medieval India remains a fact. It should be acknowledged and life should move on. The obfuscation of history and denial makes the matter more complicated. Even the UPA had to bow down to the public sentiment when it had to withdraw its affidavit on Ram Sethu in the Supreme Court. The first affidavit mentioned Lord Ram as a mythological figure. The public outrage led to the withdrawal of the affidavit.
Since then dredging of Ram Sethu or Adam’s bridge has not taken place. It is for this reason, the Ayodhya verdict is the step in the right direction. It acknowledges the importance of faith and belief of millions of Indians. The verdict also mentions the destruction of the mosque. The top court called it an act of vandalism but in the end, acknowledged the essence of the contention and that being faith of millions of Indians cannot be disregarded.
It is time to accept the verdict and move forward.