Prime Minister Narendra Modi balanced the triumphalism in his assertion of cultural nationalism in the Jai Siya Ram chant with an invocation of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ram Rajya and the governance promise of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ when he inaugurated the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday.
The convergence of State, religion and the ruling BJP’s ideological moorings was complete with the PM, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the UP Governor Anandiben Patel who participated in the yagna to commence the construction of the Ram temple with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat. Both the RSS chief and the UP CM underlined that this was not just yet another temple but a symbol of Hindu pride, which forms the basis of the PM’s latest policy statement of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
The PM laid a 40-kilogram silver brick as foundation stone for Ram temple for which the RSS and its ideological affiliates carried out a three-decade long political mobilisation, starting with LK Advani’s chariot ride from Somnath towards Ayodhya in 1990.
Described by Adityanath and Bhagwat as a “historical” moment, the PM compared the import of the inauguration of the Ram temple construction to the Independence Day on August 15.
“For years Ram lulla lived under a tent but a grand temple for Him will be built at the Ramjanmabhoomi. This is the result of a movement similar to the Freedom Movement during which generations of people made difficult sacrifices. August 15 is a symbol of our freedom from slavery. Exactly in the same way, generations of people made sacrifices for Ram temple. And today is the symbol of that resolution and pledge that common people of India had made to build a monument for Lord Ram at the Ramjanmabhoomi,” said the PM.
Having described the Ram temple as a symbol of India’s cultural nationalism and compared the political mobilisation for Ram temple to the Freedom Movement, the PM then asserted that Lord Ram is worshipped even in Muslim countries.
‘Unity in diversity’
“Ram is the symbol of India’s faith, soul and the philosophy of pluralism from the beginning of his epical tale by Mahrishi Balmiki to Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas in the medieval period, Kabir and Nanak’s formless God in the Bhakti-Sufi period and Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of Ram Rajya. He symbolises the unity in India’s diversity. Lord Ram is worshipped across the globe. In Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, there exists the worship of Ram through Swarnadeep Ramayana and Yogeshwar Ramayana. He is worshipped in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and even in Iran and China. And, of course, Nepal is connected with Lord Ram through Goddess Janaki (Sita, whose birthplace is believed to be in Nepal),” said the PM.
The event was specially curated to include symbolic representation of water and earth from places of Jain, Buddhist and Sikh religious importance as well as inviting SC/ST and OBC members for the ceremony to obliterate caste stratifications in what is being hailed as the “beginning of new India”. The PM made special references to SC/ST/OBC communities as also places of Jain, Buddhist and Sikh religious importance as being part of Hindu religio-cultural mainstream.