The mandir is a symbol of tolerance
The apex court of India has ruled that a mosque is not an integral part of Islam and namaz need not be offered exclusively in a masjid, it can be offered anywhere, even in an open field.
This begs the question: When Mughal conqueror Babar sought to build a mosque in 1528, why did he feel the need to destroy a temple in order to build it when it could easily have been built elsewhere? Even Islamic scholars hold that namaz should not be offered in a place that has been forcefully acquired and occupied. Thus the act of vandalising Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya was neither religious nor Islamic, but part of Babur’s strategy to outrage and intimidate the indigenous Hindu population.
There was another Hindu temple that had been desecrated by Islamic invaders that saw resistance to its resurrection by sections of society: the Somnath Mandir. However, despite Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s disapproval, the first President of independent India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, approved of its restoration and performed the ‘Pran Pratistha’ (consecration of the deity) on 11 May, 1951.
His speech on that occasion remains greatly relevant today. In essence, he spoke about re-establishing the cultural glory of Bharat and the national approach towards these monuments of cultural and religious significance that had been violated. He was clear and precise on the vandalisation of the birthplace of Raja Ramchandra from whom even Mahatma Gandhi drew his metaphor for an ideal state: Ram Rajya.
He said, “Brothers and sisters, our religious books have mentioned Somnath mandir as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (the radiant representation of Lord Shiv). Hence, this temple happened to be the centre of religion, culture and wealth in ancient India and was known all around the world. However, although a centre of faith and worship can be demolished, its source can never wither away. And this is the reason why the flame of worship remained illuminated in the hearts of the Indian people despite the temple being vandalised. The dream of those people is now being met as the Pran Pratistha is being carried out in the presence of people who have come from different parts of the country.
The Somnath temple stands today with its head held high proclaiming that one who is loved by the people, and for whom people carry faith and belief in their hearts, can never be destroyed by anyone in this world. Come what may, this temple will stand erect till the time people carry faith for this temple in their heart.
Today on this sacred and historic day, it is essential for us to understand this significant element of Hindu Dharma to understand further that there are many paths which can take one to the almighty. Unfortunately, this aspect of faith was not correctly recognised in other religions, cultures and communities, which led to massive destructions and wars in the name of religion. History has taught us that religious intolerance only spreads hatred and disharmony. It is imperative for every person of this country to understand that we, as a nation, should always be tolerant of any caste, culture, community or ideology and every religion should be properly respected.
Keeping these objectives in mind, we have shaped our nation into a secular nation and have guaranteed equality to every religion of the country. On this holy day, we should learn from the Pran Pratistha of this Somnath Mandir, and all of us should vouch for the re-establishment of the dominance of India in terms of prosperity in the world. Our country was the industrial pioneer in ancient times, the products which were made here were exported all over the world. Our export was higher than the import, and thus India became a land of wealth. The gold and silver which are stored in the treasury of the developed nations were once stored in the temples of India. An example of which is the temple of Somnath. I think that this Pran Pratistha will only be completed on the day we reclaim that dominance and do justice to the Somnath Mandir. Moreover, we should also strive to achieve the level of cultural brilliance which we had in the ancient times so that when people judge us by today’s culture, they should know that we are still far better than them.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel started this work of re-establishment. He played a vital role in uniting the fragmented states of India and wished in his heart that with that re-establishment, we should also re-establish this ancient heritage of India. God has fulfilled his dream today, but his vision will only be completed when India achieves the cultural glory which it had in the primitive era. Long live India.”
What was so objectionable in this speech that Nehru did not allow it to be recorded in government documents? This dictatorial and intolerant act of Nehru’s was the beginning of the tussle between an Indian or Bharatiya idea of Bharat and a non-Indian idea of Bharat. Ever since independence, Indian Communists have been trying to introduce a non-Indian idea of Bharat into Indian culture in the name of Nehru. This is the reason that Bharat is not in a position to completely spread its Indic approach and efforts. The orchestrated manner in which the resistance is being organised against the desire (of Muslims and Hindus) to build the Ram Mandir by a small section of people, displays how this non-Indian ideology is continuing with its attempts to impose itself on the tolerant and accepting ways of the Bharatiya way of thought.
It is important to bear in mind that Dr Prasad believed that the resurrection of Somnath will only be complete when India reclaims its lost cultural and economic glory. Similarly, in order to realise Gandhi’s dream of Ram Rajya, it is vital that the Ram Mandir, a symbol of our ancient culture, be reinstated in a manner that reflects Bharat’s pride and resolve.
Manmohan Vaidya is sah sarkaryavah (joint general secretary), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
The views expressed are personal