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Time for argumentative Indians to pause debate on Ram temple consecration

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By Sidharth Mishra

Ripu Jan Jiti Sujas Sur Gawat! Sita Sahit Anuj Prabhu Avat!!

Sunat Bachan Bisre Sab Dookha! Trishavant Jimi Pai Piyusha!!

(After defeating the enemy in battle field, Ram with Sita and Laxman is returning to Ayodhya! The Surs are singings paeans and hearing this Bharat has forgotten his agony like thirsty person forgets his thirst on getting nectar!!)

Ramcharitra Manas

This article pursues to admonish the ‘Argumentative Indian’ who seek to raise a debate on the consecration of Ramjanambhoomi Temple at Ayodhya on January 22 this year. Argumentative Indian is the title of the collection of essays published by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in 2005. While there are disagreements on the narrative of the popular title, this article reproves the controversy over an event being debated whether it’s Ram’s home coming or did he come thousands of years ago.

It’s said that Ram never left Ayodhya. When he was externed by this father Dashrath for 14 years, he still lived in the heart of the people of Ayodhya and his spirit ruled the Ikshvakhu kingdom through his brother Bharat. While Ram spiritually could not be externed from Ayodhya by his father, so how could a Mughal conqueror banish him for all this while? That he always lived in the heart of followers is best symbolised by Hanuman’s espousal of Ram living in his body and tearing open his heart to show his picture there.

About a decade and half ago one had the first-hand experience of what does it mean to be Ram living spiritually within every resident of Awadh. It was a drive from Delhi to Patna in times when we neither had the Agra Expressway or the Taj Expressway or the Poorvanchal Expressway. The travel thus was through the centuries-old Grand Trunk Road rechristened in its modem avatar as National Highway (NH) – 2, NH-1 being the other half of the highway from Delhi to Amritsar.

The travel was during the autumn season, after Dusshera and before Diwali. One had started from Delhi around mid-noon and it was sunset when one crossed Etawah. Crossing the Chambal district of Ajitmal as one entered the Kanpur Dehat area, one was at the periphery of Awadh region. It was well past eight as one crossed the Kanpur city through the elevated road and was firmly entrenched into the Awadh region of Ram.

About a 50 kilometres ahead of Kanpur there was an accident, where a truck had tumbled down from the highway. The driver and other members of the crew were stuck inside the truck. The villagers from the nearby settlement had come out in full strength to bring the huge vehicle back on its wheels. With no modern cranes, one wondered how the villagers would execute the task.

They brought a tractor to pull the truck from one side and 20-odd people pushed it with their hands from the other side. It was dangerous task to execute as in case tractor failed to pull it, the truck would have fallen on those pushing it from the other site. The spectacle started with the rickety tractor pulling on the monstrous vehicle.

As it pulled, its front wheels went up. The tractor driver did not lose cool. He slowed and brought the wheels down. He then told those pushing the truck from behind that the pull by tractor and the push by the human hands had to be in sync. He then said that the cue would be the name of the Prince of Ayodhya.

Silence fell as the tractor driver put the vehicle into the neutral gear and pushed the accelerator pedal twice to check on the machine, which roared. He then put the machine in the first gear and gave the cue, the whole environment was drowned with the cries of, “Bolo Siyavar Ramchandra Ki Jai, Bolo Pawanputr Hanuman Ki Jai (Hail Sita’s spouse Ramchandra, Hail his principal aide Hanuman).”

The cries, which lasted for 30-45 seconds were so loud that it drowned the roar of the tractor as miracle followed. The huge truck was on its wheels. In few more minutes, its inmates had been pulled out safely. The leader of the group of villagers examined the truck and inmates. He was satisfied that both were fit for onward journey and waved his people to return home without looking for any rewards or accolades. They followed him chanting, “Jai Jai Siyaram”.

The Dusshera festivities had ended and so had the Ramlilas in all parts of India, but the name of Ram still remained entrenched in the environ of Awadh. We too moved on eastwards realising that Dusshera may have come and gone but Ramlilas were still alive in the hinterlands of Awadh.

As one drove through the dark, at regular intervals we could see islands of lights, wondering what was happening. A few kilometres short of Prayagraj on the bypass we stopped at a gas station for refuelling. There we asked the attendant why there was so much light in the interiors as it wasn’t even the marriage season. “Bharat Milap ho raha hain sahib (Event sysmbolising Bharat meeting Ram and inviting him to Ayodhya is being enacted.),” he said non-chalantly. 

This was another instance of the people of the region celebrating another very meaningful event from Ramayana sysmbolising sacrifice of power by the regent in the favour of the crowned king for the good of the people. According to Ramayana traditions, this event is believed to have taken place near Chitrakoot, which is south of Prayagraj.

Thus spiritually Ram was never externed from the culture of larger parts of north India in general and Awadh in particular. Consecration of the Ram temple marks the deification of the ruler of Awadh. It’s an event for which the argumentative Indians could pause their cacophonous debate.

 

(First Published News18)

 

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