The verdict on Ayodhya to divide up the land among Hindus, Muslims and a certain type of God was completely predictable. For the judiciary, mass media and general population soaked in superstitions and religious fanaticism, anything else was absolutely not expected to be rendered. However, amidst the celebrations, it needs to be noted that the judgment is intrinsically unconstitutional, and inconsistent with the spirit of humanist progressivism.
Whether Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Rama is akin to asking if the world was creation of the God. Lord Rama is as fictitious a character in Hindu mythology as any other brand of God is. If any of these divine characters were ever born, then they were not Gods, to begin with. And if they were Gods, then they certainly did not need a land to seek shelter. Certainly not in our times of profound homelessness being witnessed by people all around the world.
After independence from British misrule, the Indian Constitution through its Directive Principles of State Policies had barred the destruction or demolition of any ancient monument, heritage and structures. Even as India would subsequently declare itself as a “Secular” republic, the religious seats of worships were still preserved and not destroyed only on the ground that no one should be permitted to vandalize ancient relics.
That said, a truly secular society does not need places of worship. A huge structure – temple or mosque or church or synagogue – is not required to worship God anyway. In a secular society, God resides in personal houses of the believers, if any. In a secular society, the existence of God is as valid as the nonexistence. The State does not endorse, nor specifically encourage religious ceremonies. Rights of believers are as respected as the rights of the atheists. Therefor, public places are not to be used for either Godly or unGodly acts.
And yet, Indian State committed a major act of fraud by tolerating the right-wing Hindu fanatics who stormed into Babri Masjid at Ayodhya and demolished the shrine. It was an act of fraud not because Islamic preachings were any better, but because the Masjid was a monument of historical significance. It was meant to be preserved just as Sun Temple at Konark is supposed to be protected – even if solely for the purpose of witnessing the history of collective human innocence/idiocy.
Demolition of Babri Masjid was an act of terrorism, sponsored by the State. Indian government has never come forward to arrest the terrorists on charges of treason. In fact, quite the contrary. The Hindu terrorists roam with dignity, enjoy power privileges and plan further attacks on minority worshippers. They conduct hate speeches all over the country without an iota of regulations. To top it all, some of those terrorists are right now governing at the highest levels of political power.
Ayodhya verdict, then is quite predictable. Not only the Hindu terrorists who demolished a national heritage site are not going to be persecuted, they are now being gifted a substantial piece of their loot. Not only has Indian State failed to acknowledge the necessity to respect constitutional clauses regarding protection of monuments, it has indeed paved the way for Hindu supremacists – the majority in the country – to play havoc with the lives of religious minorities.
Neither Ram nor Babar were fighting on behalf of the Indian people against British colonialists. Neither of them were present when the Constituent Assembly went to draft national ethics. More importantly, neither of them or their legally appointed heirs are today claiming that land to be theirs.
However, what is known is the fact that in 1950 when India became a republic, Babri Masjid was physically present and was counted among India’s heritage monuments. Indian state had every obligation to protect that shrine. And if it failed to protect the shrine, it should have imprisoned the hooligans who caused its demolition. Indian State failed on both grounds, and lost its ‘secular‘ credential once and for all.
Not just the Indian State, the morality of the judiciary bench that rendered verdict is also highly suspect. All of them are religious people with irrational belief in existence of a supreme being – be it a Hindu God or a Muslim God. Their judgements are bound to be biased. For instance, in general legal practice we do not appoint former rapists as members of a jury that is to decide on the case of someone accused of domestic violence. There is no reason why deeply religious people are to be given the responsibility to decide on the case of a land being disputed and fought over by other religious fanatics.
The people on both sides – practicing Hindus and Muslims – are clearly a deluded lot if they insist on a dwelling place for either of their Gods. However, it is unfair to treat Muslims as second-class religious worshippers in the present context. After all, if the Hindus can worship frozen dick looking structures at Amarnath, as well as snakes, elephants and cows all over the country, then their Muslim counterparts can worship anyone they damn well please. If Hindus can have their thousands of temples, Sikhs theirs, Christians their churches – all untouched by uncouth members of rival religions, how is it that the Muslims have to sacrifice their place of worship only because some obviously confused Hindu fanatics claim their god was a human being by the name of Ram who was to be worshipped because he did not trust his wife’s sexual overtures.
Just as the petty agents of a gang cannot stoop to the levels of the mafia don, the perversions of religious people cannot match that of those they tend to worship. The immorality of religious people cannot compete with the standards of immorality their holy texts have established. Thankfully, not all Muslims follow their Korans religiously. Equally relief it is to observe that most people do not take Bhagavad Geeta or Bible with much seriousness either. Each Holy Scripture representing various religions and their respective Gods declare holy wars and battles against rival gangs. They subjugate women as half of an individual, gays and lesbians as criminals and black people as monsters. The sources of racist, classist, sexist literatures comfortably reside within the Holy scriptures.
Thankfully, the majority of people in the world do not give two hoots to the holy scriptures. Huge majority of believers does not even read their holy books with half as much curiosity as they devote towards graphic erotica of Victorian era. And most people are slowly realizing the chains of socializations and the irrationality of the belief systems they were forced into from childhood days. It is in this backdrop that Ayodhya provided a great opportunity to the majority of Indians to take a stand.
Even before the largely secular people could gather their collective opinions, the corporate media kept on interviewing religious heads of all organizations about their takes. Every news channel was flooded with religious leaders declaring with confidence that they shall abide by the court judgements. Mass media in democracies play the most vital part in hoodwinking people into believing that they reflect popular opinion. They manufacture a consensus in absentia. In no time, almost the entire country of India was convinced that the judiciary bench was going to render a sound judgement. A judgment in the media was already construed before a judgement was meted out in the court.
Now that the judgement is out, most people seem to agree with it. The larger question, they have no other option in the illusive society they live in, where they equate voting with freedom. This haplessness is because of several reasons. Primarily, we as a people have lost the capacity to critically question the foundations of our racist societies. Judiciary has evolved as ‘holy cow’ precisely because of this. Any challenging of the court orders immediately create the imaginary picture of getting imprisoned. Since our politicians have failed us miserably on every conceivable ground, the Hobson’s Choice rests on our morally and financially corrupt judges. The idea that the court verdicts need not be challenged at a fundamental level is so repulsive that citizenry is systematically getting devoid of informed alertness without even realizing it.
Ayodhya provided an opportunity through the rejection of a court verdict, than through welcoming of the same. The opportunity to declare that historical monuments shall never be demolished by random hooligans. The opportunity to declare that Babri Masjid be declared a state heritage site. Just as Lingaraj Temple needs to be declared. Just as Meenakshi Temple and Golden Temple need to be. Some of the heritage sites can in fact bring in revenues for the State if they were declared museums, sites of architectural wonder, or even as symbols of labor exploitations in ancient India.
In fundamentally challenging Ayodhya verdict, Indians also had the opportunity to declare that the people want communal peace and harmony and this can be achieved if they kept their beliefs at homes and not bring them to the roads. Just as they defecate at home and not make a public ceremony out of it. Prayer, like peeing, is a private practice and it needs to remain like that if peace is to prevail.
The world does not need public places of worship, just as it does not need slave trade any longer. Why it does not need any of the above is because they are both unethical and undesirable, to begin with – even during the times they seemed somewhat acceptable to the ruling class. Just because people used to congregate in the past to lynch black people or worship white gods in Sunday churches does not mean such horrible traditions need to continue. Just because Hindus and Muslims practiced casteism as part of their religious faiths does not mean they must continue to do so. We have – almost – put an end to child marriages, widow immolation, dowry exhibitionism. We are yet to put an end to burqa clad perversions, sindoor on the foreheads, homophobe society and routine domestic violence. Just because all these inhuman tendencies used to be appreciated by the wisdom flaunting beards of our forefathers does not mean they shall continue to take place in the present age. We have stifled the voices of progressive resistance well enough to be declared the most brutish race on the face of earth. There is no reason why we need to inculcate such loathsome traditions unto the future generations. No reason why we need any longer to grow children up as religious beings, of one kind, or another.
It is true that the Muslims and Hindus worshipped together in those barbaric days of the past when slavery and oppression were the accepted norms. But this does not mean people need to continue with their irrational practices even today. Just because some fancy but carefully orchestrated series of superstitions created a God as an instrument of terror does not mean that India, United States, Isreal and Iran shall continue to practice their Godly instruments of mass destructions; and we shall all be expected to silently applaud and welcome judgements being meted out by their religious judges, taking turns over their various holy lands – be they the places of birth or death, of imaginary words like Gods.
(Saswat Pattanayak, 2010)