The recent unanimous Supreme Court ruling on the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is not just an important court case or a religious victory for the Hindus; it is a civilisational triumph for Bharat as a whole, a millennial event with long term national and international ramifications. It indicates the endurance of the ancient Bharatiya civilisation over outside influences and invaders and its ability to withstand all the vicissitudes of time. It reflects a civilisational awakening in India, throwing off the yokes of centuries of foreign rule and cultural denigration, a cultural and intellectual, not merely a political independence.
The rule of dharma or Ram Rajya has constituted the India’s view of ideal governance throughout history. The idea of Ram Rajya inspired India’s Independence Movement and its leaders up to Mahatma Gandhi. Images from the Ramayana were placed in the original edition of India’s constitution.
Yet after Independence the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru replaced this Ram Rajya ideal with that of a secular-socialist state modelled not after classical India but following the dictates of British Fabian Socialism along with sympathies for the Soviet Union. Nehru opposed the Ram Temple movement and effectively halted it, being against its sentiments and wary of its political consequences for him. This means that the Supreme Court ruling on Ayodhya also heralds the end of Nehruvian India of the Congress Dynasty based upon his views, as well as the long term triumph of Hindu devotion over Nehruvian politics. It is a great blow to the Marxists who used Nehru to strengthen their influence in India.
The Ayodhya decision similarly affirms PM Narendra Modi’s New India that can embrace the latest technology but also honour Lord Shiva, Kashi and Kedarnath and the many sacred shrines of India. Ayodhya is part of Modi’s vision for India’s rebirth. One must respect the time and patience the PM took to make sure the Ram temple had the sanction of the courts and legal authorities before going ahead with its construction. It is likely that history will record Modi’s success on restoring Ram Janmabhoomi as his greatest triumph and most memorable event.
Sri Ram is the dominant image of India’s dharmic civilisation, and the Ramayan has long been its most popular story and its Adi Kavya, first and foremost poetic work, with Valmiki as its Adi Kavi. The images of the Ramayan are etched not only on the civilisation of India but in that of Asia extending to Indonesia – the entire range of Indic civilisational influences. Sri Ram is honoured by Buddhists as well as by Hindus, and followed by people of all backgrounds.
Ayodhya is regarded as the foremost of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus, said to be founded by Manu himself. It was the capital of the solar dynasty of the Ikshvakus who ruled large areas of Bharat. Meaning unconquered or invincible, Ayodhya is mentioned as early as the Atharva Veda. The Sarayu as a great river occurs several times in the oldest Rigveda as does the name of Vasishta, the great purohit of Ayodhya.
Notably the Supreme Court admitted the extensive evidence of the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) that a temple existed on the site prior to the construction of the mosque or Babri Masjid. This also affirms India’s history. Were there more excavations throughout India, the archaeological record of the country would probably be extended widely both in terms of history and geography. Yet as it stands ancient India has the largest urban civilisation of the world in the third millennium BCE in its numerous Harappan sites that include Rakhigarhi in Kurukshetra as the largest site.
Indian or Bharatiya civilisation has endured since the dawn of human history in a way that no other country or civilisation has been able to do so. There is now adequate archaeological data to show a continuity of civilisation in India since the beginnings of agriculture in the Bhirrana area of Haryana around ten thousand years ago. Recent genetic evidence from Rakhigarhi also in Haryana shows a continuity of the same genetic and population types as in India today. The continuity of culture and populations in India has thus been decisively proved, which implies a civilisational continuity as well.
We can propose that the Vedic literature of ancient India, by far the largest in the ancient world, cannot be separated from this cultural and population continuity of India. Such a great and enduring civilisation needs a literature to go with it, which the Veda provides and both are part of the same geographical region of India. The archaeology and geology of the ancient Sarasvati River region also shows a continual culture in India down to the ocean, in both Harappan and pre-Harappan eras, known to Vedic texts.
Shri Ram and the Ramayana are part of this historical record and continuity of Bharatiya civilisation, which now stands vindicated at a legal level as well.
One could say therefore that the court ruling on November 9 was something like the second Independence of India, that on a cultural level. It was likely the fulfillment of the wishes of many of the independence leaders of the country.
The question is where India goes now? Will it become a light to the world with its ongoing traditions of rishis, yogis and great gurus, allied with visionary kings and leaders dedicated to dharma? That is for the next generation to implement but the way forward has been cleared. A new India in the information technology era united with an eternal Bharat has become a reality.
(The writer is a US-based Vedic scholar)