There is a growing demand for a final resolution of the Ayodhya issue. In the backdrop of Vishwa Hindu Parishad rally, and growing mobilisation around it, it is timely to revisit the significance of the Ayodhya movement
Since the election of Narendra Modi in 2014 and Yogi Adityanath in 2017, there has been a new honouring of Sri Ram. This has taken the form of creating a Ramayana tourist circuit, of renovating Ayodhya as a pilgrimage site and of proposing a massive statue of Sri Ram to be built in Ayodhya. Restoring the Ram temple would be a logical part of it. For that Hindu groups are overall united. The stage is set in Ayodhya on the ground for the Ram temple. All the building components of a new Ram temple are ready, having been carefully gathered over the years. Even political parties like Congress that have long opposed Hindu causes in general and Ram Mandir, in particular, are now playing to the new resurgent Hindu vote.
Summarising Ayodhya Movement
· Ayodhya is perhaps the greatest pilgrimage site of the Hindus, known to all Hindus. Muslims know little about it, and it is not on their list of important sacred sites.
· The Ramayana is the most important sacred story of the Hindus, and it is embedded in the history and geography of Ayodhya.
· That Ayodhya and its temples were subordinated, suppressed and destroyed by long periods of the anti-Hindu rule is a fact of history.
· There must have been a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya and the most likely place for that the prominent area is where Babri Masjid was constructed.
· For Hindus to reclaim Ayodhya is only natural given its sanctity and historicity and the independence and religious partition of the country after 1947.
· The site is effectively a Hindu temple already with millions of pilgrims visiting to honour the murti of Sri Ram. There can be no going back on that. It also establishes a legal precedent to return the entire site to the Hindus.
· The Ram Mandir issue must be resolved. It has been delayed too long. Justice delayed is justice denied. The only lasting solution is to give the site back to the Hindus.
· It is only fitting that modern India honours Sri Ram, its greatest cultural hero and ideal exponent of Dharma. It is not just a question of one great figure or even religious concerns but honouring India’s ancient dharmic civilisation that has given the world the wonderful gifts of Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta, and Indian culture overall.
· Sri Ram must be allowed to return from his political exile for India/Bharat to awaken and move forward with confidence and strength into the new global era. Otherwise, India remains in conflict with its heritage and identity.
· The easiest solution is a government ordinance to give the site back to the Hindus. The courts by their inaction have made this both a possibility and a necessity.
This is taking the form of Rahul Gandhi claiming to be a Brahmin Shiva Bhakt and Congress Party in Madhya Pradesh proposing creating a circuit for Sri Ram’s journey through Madhya Pradesh. It is difficult to see how such parties that now also want to appeal to Hindus can oppose a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, even if they have yet to endorse it fully. Nor can they ask for a further delay for the courts to decide the issue.
Some Congress leaders in Kerala, including Shashi Tharoor, are now questioning the court’s interference with the Sabarimala temple saying it is a matter of faith and tradition that the courts cannot ignore. If they can support Sabarimala, they cannot deny Ram Janmabhoomi. One must also remember that Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 first support the Ram Mandir movement and was involved in the first brick laying ceremony but unfortunately changed his mind and turned against the restoration of the temple.
Issues Today and Possible Solution
The Supreme Court has again postponed the Ram Temple issue well into 2019, with no guarantee it will be given priority even then. The courts have relinquished their right to decide the case by their inaction over the years that shows no end in sight.
Is there a route to decide the case other than the recalcitrant courts? Yes, there is an ordinance root, also constitutionally viable, that has been used in some issues like the Shah Bano case that Rajiv Gandhi was willing to do to allay Muslim sentiments. The great delay and continued unrest over the Ayodhya case require that an ordinance resolve that issue today. The legal question has been whether to give the site back to the Muslims for a new Babri Masjid, to have the site divided up among participants as a land dispute, or give it entirely back to the Hindus. The first option is impossible, and no political group would make that decision as it would be political suicide and an irretrievable loss of any Hindu vote. The second option is not a true resolution but continues a state of conflict that rests upon equating Hindu and Muslim sentiments in Ayodhya when Ayodhya is not an important sacred site for the Muslims. The third option alone can resolve the issue. Certainly, another land away from Ram Janmabhoomi can be given to the Muslims if they feel they need another mosque in the area. There are numerous large and famous Mosques throughout the nearby region for Muslims to attend that are more historically honoured by them as the many mosques in Lucknow. The BJP Central government of PM Narendra Modi along with the help of the BJP state government under Yoga Adityanath and a BJP supported President Ram Nath Kovind has the power and the legal option to get an ordinance through, should they deem it wise or necessary. That option did not exist in previous governments or even in the Modi government before the UP and presidential election victories. The Modi government can also claim that the courts have had ample time to deal with the case if that was their intention properly. Whether Hindus will get another chance of this type is questionable, as politics in India is changeable and such control over all the necessary seats of power is difficult to achieve. That is why Hindus are so adamant that a new Ram Mandir comes up in Ayodhya now and no further waiting occurs. Conclusion
For India to rise it must reclaim its civilisational history and global sphere of influence, of which Sri Ram is perhaps the ultimate personification and the Ramayana its most widely honoured story. A nation is known by its monuments. As Sri Ram is the ultimate icon of India's dharmic civilisation a grand monument to him is required. India/Bharat is the land of Sri Ram and the Rishis, not the Nehru dynasty and the Marxists. It is time to manifest this reality again in Ayodhya. (The writer is the director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies and an expert on yogic and Vedic traditions)