The only hate mail I have ever welcomed with a broad grin is one from late VHP leader Ram Chandra Paramhans during the heydays of the Ayodhya movement. Mistaking me for a Christian, either from my writings or my surname, he derided me for propagating this faith. I had simply laughed at his gaffe.
Despite being a devout Hindu, I had no time for the exhortations of such people. It was enough for me to have Ram in my heart and home, if not in Ayodhya. But today, when a senior politician like M. Karunanidhi questions the very existence of Ram, I am compelled to object. What proof can he provide that Ram didn’t exist?
I grew up in a middle-class Hindu family. Not once did we question the existence of any of the gods or goddesses associated with the numerous festivals we celebrated through the year. So now, if there was no Ram, should we stop celebrating Dussehra and Diwali?
As far I know, Diwali is celebrated all over the country, even abroad, to welcome the return of Ram to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. If it was just a myth, then why should there be a national holiday on that day? Or, for that matter, for other religious festivals?
The first thing Karunanidhi should do is cancel all such government holidays in his state. Can he do that? He comes from a part of India known for its magnificent temples. One simply can’t disagree even with a fanatic leader like Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray when he says that if they are questioning the existence of Ram today, tomorrow it will be Ganesh, Durga, Hanuman and Krishna. Agreed, development cannot be held hostage to faith, but then religious sentiments too cannot be ridiculed.
The issue here is the construction of Ram Setu and not the existence of Ram. Why can’t politicians find better arguments to mobilise public opinion. After all, Diwali is as much about Ram as about prosperity.