The Pride of Hindu Nationalism in Ram Mandir Built on the Ruins of Secularism

The inauguration of the new temple at Ayodhya marks this moment as the final victory of the Hindus.

5 min read

Can the Hindus see that they are pitiably alone in their celebration of the inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya? No other community – neither Muslims, Christians, nor Sikhs – shares the joy that they have been displaying for the last month for having accomplished the task of installing the idol of Ram at the very spot where the Babri Mosque stood once.

Muslim acquaintances tell me that messages are circulating in family groups to remain indoors, avoid travel, and not converse with Hindus in public. One of my friends told me that his daughter was happy that Monday, 22 January was a holiday.

But it painfully reminded him of another holiday as a child when he wasn't happy. On the fated 6 December 1992 – when he was asked not to go to school. He sent me photographs of his area, illuminated to mark the inauguration of the Ayodhya Temple.

He also shared with me videos of bike rallies announcing the arrival of Ram in Ayodhya. I asked him if they were violent. "No," he said, "but they get excited when they come across any Muslim sign or presence. Their josh increases and it can be quite troubling for us!"

Behind the Hindu Ram Mandir Movement

I recalled the two-decade-long movement to demolish the Babri mosque for the temple to come up on the site. The slogans of the movement led by Lal Krishna Advani were more against the Muslims than in praise of Ram.

Slogans abusing Muslims could be seen on walls across India. This 'anti-Muslim' hatred is intrinsically linked with the movement to "liberate" the birthplace of Ram by removing the Babri Mosque from its site.

Times have changed. The slogan Mandir vahin banayenge has now changed to Mandir vahin banaya hai. What the Hindus treat as a promise is perceived as a threat. Hindus have in fact turned the invocation of their gods into intimidation for others.

I think of all the religions in the world, it is only Hindus, or the "RSS-ified Hindus," who are not happy remembering their gods but get special pleasure in forcing people from other religions to chant "Jai Shri Ram".

This is in keeping with the changing nature of Hindus, that among all the temples in India, the new Ram temple at Ayodhya now holds the most exalted place.

Is it because it has been built on the land of the Babri Mosque after demolishing it? The "spiritual" joy of worshiping Ram on this land usurped from Muslims is of a different class. That is why all other Ram temples in Ayodhya or India pale before this temple. Their antiquity does not matter; nor does the fact that they were revered by our ancestors.

A Moment of Victory for Hindutva Champions

The inauguration of the Ram Temple also means that Hinduism, as it calls itself, has now merged itself with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bhartiya Janata party. They are its highest custodians and interpreters. Hinduism now stands beneath them and their state power.

These structures can be broken or removed to make way for this new Ram temple. This temple, after all, unlike others, is a symbol of the triumph of Hindu power over Muslims.

This has been achieved after a long campaign sustained over four decades in which all the institutions of the State have participated. The media, print and visual, both played a major role in forging a Hindu victimhood from which the Hindus had to emerge victorious. It was revenge for the defeat of their ancestors at the hands of Muslims.

The inauguration of the new temple at Ayodhya marks this moment as the final victory of the Hindus, as explained to them by the RSS and drilled into their minds by the media.

There is no doubt that the inauguration of the Ram Temple being built on the land of the Babri Mosque is a hegemonic moment for Hindutva. It can be said that all sectoral divisions in Hindus, between the Vaishnavites and Shaivites or the devotees of Krishna and the devotees of Ram are obliterated to create a Hindu who celebrates this moment of consecration of the deity of Ram in the newly constructed temple as THE MOMENT for the Hindus.

One can say safely that the caste divisions have also been eliminated. This moment is owned by the Hindus of all castes and all classes.

What Made the Hindus Reign Supreme on the Matter?

But it is also true that in this moment of triumph, this Hinduness has isolated itself from the followers of other religions because it asks all others to be subservient to it because it does not want to live with them as equals.

It seeks universality and yet defines itself geographically.

The only claim for its superiority is the number of people who claim to belong to this faith. It is this logic of numbers that made the Ram Temple possible. Perhaps, the need to pacify the majority was pressing.

There was another reason. By repeated acts of violence, Hindus had made clear that they were sincerely interested in the land, and that also established their right over it. That acted in their favor.

When a religion claims superiority only because its adherents are more numerous or have more muscle power than others, one knows where it stands.

The Muslim Cost to the Ram Mandir

The temple could not have been possible without destroying the mosque. Before the destruction, it was sought to be captured by surreptitiously putting the idols of gods in it. Before the destruction, the movement that made this temple central to the Hindu imagination was unarguably 'anti-Muslim' in its character.

The movement to build the temple ravaged thousands of Muslim lives. Whenever the story of this temple is told, it would not be possible to wish away the fact of the crimes that gave birth to it. These acts of stealth and violence define the Hinduism that this temple represents.

The face of this Hinduism is contorted with hate and joy of sadism. This Hinduism which is the brainchild of this Ram Temple movement cannot now celebrate itself without causing pain to others.

We have seen in the last two decades all Hindu festivals now becoming occasions for terrorising people of other religions.

it is quite sad that people from other faiths start taking measures to protect themselves when a Hindu festival arrives. This brand of Hinduism repels, and alienates rather than inviting others.

So when Hindus are celebrating the erection of THE TEMPLE in Ayodhya, they must also think whether they are setting an example for other religions. Is this an act others should follow?

(The writer teaches at Delhi University. He tweets @Apoorvanand__. This is an opinion article and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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