Well, isn’t it nice to be marginalized in my own country in the name of my own religion. Remember how Hindutva-vadis have been telling us for years that Hindutva is all but synonymous with India? That their idea of Hinduism is more a “civilizational” term than a religious one? So we could have “Muslim Hindus” and “Christian Hindus” and whatever else we wanted it to be because really, what is the problem?
Well, now comes Balbir K. Punj, who tells us it’s really all about those Hindus – Hindu, Muslim, Christian or whatever your denomination – who believe in Ram.
Why do governments in Pakistan and Bangladesh change only through bloody coups and in India by elections? Is it because of our democratic constitution? But then both our neighbours too had constitutions providing for a democratic set-up, which did not last. Why?
What explains such an ocean of difference between the three countries which had a common landmass and a common master till 1947? It’s Ram. His values, symbolised through his sterling character and personality, inspire countless Indians (both Hindus and non-Hindus) in their daily life. His renouncing the throne of Ayodhya and going for a 14-year vanvaas to uphold dharma is deeply imprinted in public mind. His righteous conduct in all situations makes him a role model. His life story is recalled every year—through Ramlilas and recitation of the Ramayana in numerous homes.
You’d never have known it by reading this blog but there’s a fair amount of flap going on in India right now in the name of Lord Rama. Turns out there’s this very pretty bit of real estate called Adam’s Bridge linking Sri Lanka and India that many Hindus consider to be the remnants of the fabled Bridge of Rama (not the book by Ashok Banker, but the real deal).
Anyhoo, so a lot of things happened and much political fuss was made, all of which absolutely bored the hell out of me. I mean, I grew up during the Ayodhya movement – this whole Ram Setu fuss feels like such a poser of a controversy in comparison. But if you’re really interested, please head on over to Desicritcs or Desipundit (links on the left) and search for “Ram”. Quite a few people blogged about it during the past couple of weeks and did it rather well, covering all the angles I could think of.
Hence the silence on my part. What could I possibly add to all that? “Yawn”? However, I will link here to this piece that Time ran on the issue. Why? Because I make so much fun of American creationists with their Biblical museums and whatnot that I think it’s only fair that I give the Americans a chance to snigger at the Indian equivalent (although they’re admirably neutral, I think. Didn’t want copies burnt outside the BJP office, eh Time? Cluck, cluck, and lay an egg.):
When the government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court last week saying “mythological texts” could not “incontrovertibly prove” the existence of Lord Rama or the simian construction of the Ram Sethu, all hell broke loose. Opposition Hindu hard-liners held spirited demonstrations accusing the government of “hurting Hindu sentiments” by suggesting the gods were mythological figures. The government was forced into damage-control mode — two senior officials were immediately suspended, an inquiry was ordered, and the affidavit was withdrawn. The controversy reached such heights that NASA was obliged to declare it had nothing to do with the use of its photos by some Hindu groups to imply that Adam’s Bridge was 1,750,000 years old and hence synchronous with “Ramrajya” — the golden period of Lord Rama’s rule.
I was all ready to laugh it off and move on with my life (correction: I had already laughed it off and moved on) when I opened up the Outlook website today and found just what I wasn’t looking for – yet another ideological outpouring from Mr. Punj (FOS i.e. Friend of the Sangh).
Sometimes, when I have seriously nothing better to do, I wonder to myself: how far and wide did Outlook have to search in order to find someone this clueless to represent the Sangh Parivar’s “ideology” to their readers? I’ve read quite a few articles written by people of their frame of mind and political opinion and Mr. Punj is… um, how do I put it? He’s not their best example, shall we say? Or is it that those gentlemen are in a minority and the likes of Mr. Punj are far more common on the ground?
It’s particularly hilarious to read him going off on a rant on the DMK (a former ally) considering that the DMK are basically the BJP’s mirror image. North-South; Ram-antiRam; once ideologues, now mob pleasers… they have so much in common, really. Shame about the whole Dravidian thing, otherwise they’d be more of a FOS than even the Shiv Sena.
What a world, where even the crazies can’t find common cause. Just think of all the possibilities they’re passing up: between them they could feel all the more offended for more insults to this or that community; stand up for more people across the country by throwing stones, shutting down cities, burning buses; attack Sri Lanka maybe… the possibilities are endless.
Just one catch: they’d have to jettison community politics. Oh well.