THE MEANING OF
We may now look back at the sampling of history presented so far,
including the contrast offered by what Babar had to say about himself, and what
the Secularists beginning with Nehru would have us believe. The Baburnama,
giving as it does the story of his life and outlook in his own words, sheds light not only on the true personality of Babar, but also on
the magnitude of the falsification which the Secularists have indulged in —
beginning with Nehru himself. This exemplifies what Koenraad Elst has called
It is the tragedy of Indian Muslims that it is falsehoods like this —
blatant and easily exposed — that their so-called leaders are holding forth as
real issues before them. Had it not been so tragic, it would have been seen as
ridiculous. This is the quality of issues and leaders on which the Indian Muslim
community pins its hopes, and in which the cynical Secularist brigade is telling
them lies their future.
This distortion of Indian history is probably the most insidious legacy of India's imperial past. For communal harmony to prevail in India, her people must come to terms with history. A privileged group like the Secularist-Islamicist nexus cannot go on propagating a negationist version of history that serves its own interests, while heaping abuse on anyone who challenges them; this will only harden attitudes, and make an already difficult situation impossible. If this goes on much longer, it will soon reach a point of no return. It is to be fervently hoped that we are not already there.
As far as the Babri Masjid is concerned, by no stretch of the imagination can it be called a place of worship. It was not meant as one by Babur, nor seen as such by the Hindus in more than four centuries. Both sides understood that it was erected to mark the defeat and humiliation of the Hindus at the hands this invader with his hostile ideology.
To sum up: Ayodhya represents a struggle by Indians to recover their true history from the grip of imperial surrogates — the Islamicists and the Secularists. These are the residue of defunct imperial movements. They are now partners in negation trying to preserve their privileges and positions as representatives of imperialisms past. Negationism has been their main tactic. It is doomed to failure, for Ayodhya has called their bluff.
The basic problem is that the parties have avoided such fundamental issues. Instead of trying to understand what Ram Janmabhumi and Ayodhya mean to the Hindus, the Babri Masjid advocates have been trying to present it as a dispute over a piece of real estate and a structure in brick and mortar.
Every living nation has national symbols and Ayodhya is India’s. A young American — a former student of mine — once asked me why building the temple at Ram Janmabhumi was so important. I asked her if Americans would let stand a mosque built by someone like Osama bin Laden after demolishing Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) or the Statue of Liberty. Similarly, the Westminster Abbey in London is more than a Church, for it is inseparably bound with English history and tradition. This is how the people of India also look at Ram Janmabhumi: it is a sacred spot for Hindus for historical, cultural and nationalistic reasons — and not just because it is a place of worship. Many like me who never go to a temple still hold it sacred.
I pointed out at the beginning that other nations have demolished symbols of humiliation built by invaders. The French demolished many Nazi structures and the Americans demolished statues of the British king George III.
"A House Divided"
To summarize what is really at stake
for the nation at Ayodhya, and what it symbolizes, we must ask a basic question:
what gave Babar the right to destroy the temple at Ramjanmabhumi and build a
mosque in its place? The answer is simple: Babar's ideology gave him that right.
It is an ideology that sees everything outside the pale of Islam as an object of
derision to be humiliated and destroyed. The Babri Masjid was built at Ayodhya
as a memorial to the success of that ideology. This does not mean that everyone
- especially the victims - should accept it as legitimate and submit to it.
Accepting the legitimacy of the Babri
Masjid at Ram Janmabumi means acknowledging the superiority of Babar's ideology
over that of the overwhelming majority of the people of India, and his right to
impose it on others by force. This is imperialism pure and simple. The Babri
Masjid advocates - the Muslim leaders, the Secularists and the Congress party -
must acknowledge this fundamental fact. Court cases and political postures
cannot change it. They are historically irrelevant.
So here is the plain truth: where Ram Janmabhumi is a national symbol,
the Babri Masjid is a symbol of Babar's imperialism. Those who support the Babri
Masjid either identify with Babar's imperialism or are willing to live as its
slaves. India must decide whether it wants to be a nation or an imperial colony
- it cannot be both.
I began this volume with a passage by
Abraham Lincoln, and I shall end it with another. In the years before the
American Civil War, when the country was being torn by the question of slavery,
the southern states wanted slavery to continue, while the northern states wanted
it abolished. At that juncture, Abraham Lincoln said these prophetic words:
"A house divided against
itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half
slave and half free. ... I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it
will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all of the other.”
In the context of the struggle
for the Indian nation, which Ayodhya symbolizes, we may rephrase the Great
Emancipator's words as follows:
"A house divided against itself
cannot stand. ...I believe this country cannot endure permanently half a free
nation and half a colony. ... I do not expect the house to fall — but I do
expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all of the
It is for the people of India to decide which half they want their country to be.