The BJP’s veteran leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati and 28 others, including Sangh Parivar worthies, have been asked to be present in Lucknow on Wednesday, as Special CBI Judge S K Yadav delivers the judgment on the criminal conspiracies in the demolition of the “disputed structure” of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, on December 6, 1992. Will the verdict be guilty or innocent? It is difficult to fathom what some of these notable accused are thinking today about the destruction of the mosque, since few have spoken publicly. Uma Bharati is one of the few who has claimed that it does not matter to her what the judgment will be: “If I am sent to the gallows, I will be blessed.”
Some of the prominent accused have denied all charges of conspiracy. Yet today, 24 hours before the verdict, do some of the accused wish silently that the mosque had not been flattened, or are they steadfast in their belief that the bruised Hindu faith was avenged only when the domes of the 500-year old Babri Masjid crumbled at their feet 28 years ago?
The Supreme Court has already recognised that the “polestar of faith and belief” among the Hindus is that the disputed mosque was built on the very temple which was made sacred by Lord Ram’s birth. Of course, since Ram was yuvraj, son of King Dashrath, he was doubtless born in the king’s palace, not in a temple (which would have been built later to consecrate the sacred place).
M R Shamshad writes: Ayodhya — History will be the judge
Based on astronomical information on the constellation of stars and eclipses corresponding to events in the Ramayan, scholars have conjectured that the events described in the Ramayan took place 7,000 years ago, and that this sweeping epic was first composed and recited in Sanskrit by sage Valmiki, and written manuscripts of his compositions have been traced to BCE 200 — that is, to 2,200 years ago.
Tomorrow’s judgment on the criminal conspiracy to demolish the 500-year old masjid in Ayodhya, refers to a relatively recent event in the 7,000-year old belief in Ram’s birthplace being at the exact spot where the mosque was located. Thousands of years prior to this demolition, the chronicler of Ram’s life, sage Valmiki had pointed to two astonishing and complex truths manifested by Ram and Sita after their return to Ayodhya.
After their victorious reception in Ayodhya, Sita, who was pregnant, was again faced with a clamour for proof of her marital fidelity and innocence. Rather than submit to this ominous demand, Sita took shelter in Valmiki’s ashram where Ram’s twin sons, Luv and Kush were born. Later, after Ram acknowledged the twins as his progeny, Sita asked the goddess Earth “to open wide for me” (Sarga 88, verse 11) whereupon “from the surface of the earth there arose an unsurpassed heavenly throne (verse 12) and Dharini, who was on the throne, took Maithili (Sita) in her arms…” and they descended below the earth’s surface as Sita re-entombed herself. Ram ruled Ayodhya benignly for 10,000 years (the cosmic equivalent of the blinking of an eye) during which Luv and Kush learnt statecraft. But the Valmiki Ramayan notes in the Uttar Kand (Sarga 99-100), that one day Ram set forth from the palace on foot to the river Sarayu, with his brothers Bharat and Shatrughan (Lakshman had died), and when they reached the river, Ram “bodily entered the sacred water of the Sarayu” and immersed himself fully, as did his brothers, amid “a blazing energy proper to Vishnu”. Victorious Ram immersed himself in the river.
Victory did not tether Ram and Sita to the indulgence of perpetual triumph, and in their disappearance from the apron of life, they affirmed, one, that there are no victors in life and, two, that there are no survivors. And this is the sparkling tissue with which the great Hindu faith is woven. But does the other Hindu epic, the more recent 5,000-year old Mahabharata affirm this interpretation of victory and extinction, or does it valorise eternal triumph? Guru Ved Vyas’ epic describes an 18-day war between two sets of cousins, the Pandavas (five in number) and the Kauravas (numbering 100). The Pandavas swept up a conclusive victory under the sharp guidance of Lord Krishna through his dialogue with Arjun, the third Pandava. This dialogue nestles as the invaluable Gita in the heart of the Mahabharata.
Various narratives suggest that after vanquishing and killing the Kauravas, the Pandavas ruled for 36 years over Hastinapur and Indraprastha. But this land had been laid waste, with most young men killed in the war. The victorious Pandavas were exhausted, and despite winning all they desired, they were unhappy with conflicts in the concept of life and living.
Eventually, bestowing the kingdom upon Parikshit (Arjun’s grandson), the Pandava brothers and wife Draupadi walked away from the land they had conquered and set off for the Himalayas. But each of the Pandavas, and Draupadi, died on the way. Only Yudhishtir reached heaven’s portal with Yama, the god of Death, in the form of a dog, and yet even he could not enter until he had performed a long penance for his sins. In essence, the Mahabharata confirms the boundless truths of the Valmiki Ramayan — about triumph and survival.
Anand Patwardhan writes: A lesser-known narrative of Ayodhya from 1857 — and the dispute
So, before the CBI court’s verdict tomorrow, are the 32 accused of the conspiracy of the demolition of Babri Masjid asking themselves if they are victors because the domes were pulverised, or is the “Muslim side” asking itself if a guilty verdict will be their victory?
For answers, look back in awe at the great Hindu epic-savants who held that in life there are no victors and no survivors.
This article first appeared in the print edition on September 29, 2020 under the title ‘No victors, no survivors’. The writer is a senior journalist
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