WHO GAVE BABAR THE
In trying to understand the meaning of Ayodhya, we need
to ask a basic question: by what right did this invader Babar, who despised
India, its people and its culture, demolish a temple at a site held sacred by
the people of this country and build a mosque in its place?
Let me reframe the question. Ram Janmabhumi is sacred
to the Hindus because they hold it to be the birthplace of Rama, who embodies
for them the ideals of truth, heroism, chivalry and every other virtue. What is
the justification for the mosque by Babar beyond the fact that it was erected as
a mark of conquest and of humiliation of the Hindus? No one to my knowledge has
satisfactorily explained the legitimacy of the Babri Masjid. One can understand
that many Muslims hold the tomb of Moinuddeen Chisti in Ajmer to be sacred
because he is venerated as a Sufi saint. No such justification exists for the
Babri Masjid, for it was not intended as a place of worship. To understand
temple destructions by Babar and his descendants, we must recognize that it was
part of their ideology. Here is how one of his descendants, a granddaughter of
Aurangazeb, described why mosques should be built at the site of demolished
“... keeping the triumph of Islam in
view, devout Muslim rulers should keep all idolators in subjection to Islam,
brook no laxity in realization of Jizyah, grant
no exceptions to Hindu Rajahs from dancing in attendance on 'Id days and waiting
on foot outside mosques till end of prayer ... and 'keep in constant use for
Friday and congregational prayer the mosques built up after
demolishing the temples of the idolatrous Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras
and Avadh ...”
This allows us to answer the question raised earlier about Babar’s right to destroy the temple and build his mosque: Babar’s ideology — described by his own descendant as the ‘triumph of Islam’ — gave him that right, at least in his eyes. It is an ideology that sees everything outside the pale of Islam as an object of derision to be humiliated and destroyed. This does not mean that everyone — especially the victims — should accept it as legitimate. 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.
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 — recently 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.
To highlight this point: can the terrorist warlord Osama bin Laden claim the ideological right to demolish the Venkateshwara Temple in Tirupati or the Golden Temple in Amritsar and build something else in their place to mark the triumph of his ‘faith’? These, like Ram Janmabhumi, the Westminster Abbey, and the Statue of Liberty, are not pieces of real estate that can be bartered — or forcibly occupied and demolished.
When put in this light, the Secularists will scream that Babar cannot be compared to a terrorist warlord like Osama bin Laden. Hasn’t Nehru told us that Babar was both charming and tolerant — a true ‘Secularist’? Like most things that Nehru wrote it is nowhere near the truth. Babar was as much a religious fanatic as bin Laden. He saw himself as a Ghazi — an Islamic warrior — on a jihad to uproot infidelity. Jihad was Babar’s ideology, the same as bin Laden’s. I will have more to say about it later, but the point to note is that the mosque was built on the site of the destroyed temple as a mark of slavery.
Self-respecting nations don’t let stand symbols of national humiliation
and slavery. The French have not preserved Nazi monuments at Versailles. Even in
America, where Tharoor’s authority Tina Rosenberg fulminated against the
Hindus, Americans destroyed a statue of King George III when they declared
independence in 1776. Some forty years later, in the War of 1812, the British
sacked Washington and burned down the White House. Americans promptly rebuilt it
instead of preserving the burnt down White House as our secularists want at Rama
Janmabhoomi. But this is beyond the secularist tribe with their slavish minds.