Mandir masjid mania

The BJP can take lessons from the Congress Party. First, apologise to the Muslims for hurting their feelings. Then, re-build the Babri Masjid. Khushwant Singh writes.
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Updated on Oct 09, 2009 01:48 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByKhushwant Singh

The recent meeting of the top brass of the BJP could think of nothing more constructive to offer the people as a vote-gathering device than build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Its president, Rajnath Singh thumped his chest and dared anyone to stop them from doing so.

So did the party’s nominee for Prime Minister who proclaimed that Shri Ram was ever in their minds. Who on earth stops them from building a new temple, provided it is on undisputed land and not on the debris of a masjid they destroyed? No one that I can think of. Because the vast majority of Indians are Ram bhakts. Their only fear is that Shri Ram wouldn’t have approved of raising a new place of worship on the ruins of an old place of worship wantonly destroyed in the name of religion.

I’m being bold to suggest that the BJP take a lesson from the Congress Party. Some of its leaders were involved in the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in November 1984. The Congress made an abject apology in Parliament for allowing it to happen, distanced itself from the men accused of the crime and did its best to rehabilitate families of victims of the holocaust. By doing so it purged itself of guilt and won back confidence of the people. That is why it is back in power — and with a Sikh as Prime Minister.

There is no reason why the BJP cannot do the same in Ayodhya. First, apologise to the Muslims for hurting their feelings; then re-build the Babri Masjid and hand it back to them. Punish the men and women responsible for the heinous crime (everyone knows who they are) and expel them from the party. Thereafter, build the largest and the most ornate temple in Ayodhya: the people of India will applaud you and the cry of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ will resound across the length and breadth of the country. And round the world.

It appears BJP’s clock has stopped ticking and needs re-winding. It has to realise that we are now in February 2009. The world has moved on. So must we. There is still hunger, poverty and discrimination that have to be overcome. We cannot waste our precious time on mandir-masjid squabbles.

The prophecy

One morning sitting in the little patch I call my garden, my eyes fell upon a small, dark-brown slab of what looked like a discarded tile lying in a flower bed. I picked it up to see what it was. It turned out to be a book — its cover caked in mud, its pages moth-eaten. It had been given to me by the author on June 23, 1976 in Bombay. His name was not decipherable. But most of the text and line drawings of temples and villages scenes were unharmed. I had evidently read it because some of the passages were underlined. I recognised them immediately, as I had put them down in my personal collection of quotations. This book was titled Ahuti, a Sanskrit word meaning offering or involving sacrifice.

I am not superstitious. But I felt this chance discovery meant that someone was conveying a message. I have just started working on yet another novel — it is not coming on as well as I hoped. Having turned 94, I am not sure if I will be able to finish it.

The passage I had marked is from the Rig Veda: “God made the rivers to flow. They feel no weariness; they cease not from flowing. They fly swiftly like birds in the air. May the stream of my life flow into the river of righteousness; leave the bonds of sin that bind me. Let not the thread of my song be cut while I sing; and let not my work end before its fulfilment.”

The second piece is by Fitzgerald. I construe it as God’s self-profile. I may be wrong. However, it reads as follows:

“All you have been, and seen, and done and thought,

Not You but I, have seen and been and wrought:

I was the Sin that from Myself rebell’d...

Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,

And be the eternal mirror that you saw:

Rays that have wander’d into Darkness wide

Return, and back into your Sun subside.”

Lie detector test

Rohan was fed up with his son Amit, who was lying all the time. So he persuaded a scientist friend of his to make a robot which would slap anyone who told lies in its presence. Rohan took the robot home and kept it in his study. One day Amit came home from school very late. So Rohan and his wife Meeta took the boy into the former’s study in order to question him.

Rohan: Why are you so late?

Amit: Our teacher was taking extra classes. [The robot immediately went up to Amit and gave him a slap.]

Amit: Actually, I went to see a movie.

Rohan: Which movie?

Amit: Jai Hanuman. [The robot gave him another slap.]

Amit: Actually, it was Red Hot Nights.

Rohan: When I was your age son, I never told lies.

Immediately, the robot moved over to Rohan and gave him a slap. Seeing this, his wife spoke up: “No wonder he tells lies. After all, he’s your son.”

The robot at once moved over to Meeta, and slapped her.

(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh, New Delhi)

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