Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ayodhya: Where Do I Stand?

There is no better time to talk about Ayodhya issue than now. When I could spend so much time on various not-so-critical issues in last few months, it wouldn’t be fair if I don’t spend a few hours on such a critical issue like this. I prefer to call this Ayodhya issue as the parties involved in this call it differently based on which side of the fence they are on. One group calls it Ram Janma Bhoomi issue and the other calls it Babri Masjid issue. Or, they call it Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid issue or Babri Masjid-Ram Janma Bhoomi issue respectively by changing the order of names to make it clear to the world as to what came first in their opinion. I am not very fond of getting into controversies. I would rather be comfortable leaving my surrounding more confused, as I strongly believe that it eventually would lead us collectively to a clearer territory.

I don’t have much data with me to pass any judgment. I don’t need them as I don’t have any compulsion to prove anyone wrong or right. Moreover, I am not part of any right wing group to waste my time on such things. I am called Hindu based on the family in which I was born. I am not even sure if my forefathers were practicing all the rituals that are being done by my family members now. I think all this adamancy towards rituals is getting stronger by the day as people are getting insecure about their faith. If I understood things correctly, Hinduism, like me, was never bothered about what one does to keep his religious identity intact. Or, not all who are called Hindus today were interested in doing all such things few generations back. I think, it is only a subset of us that was following everything that is being called our ritual today. What brought all of them who were not even following all these customs under one banner suddenly in the last half a century, in my opinion, is the insecurity that they went through! I hear a lot of questions around me in last few decades that sound like, “If he is proud of his religion, why not you?” To any common man like me it sounds absolutely sensible. When someone tells me, “If you want to shed your religion, check if all are doing it”, it naturally appeals to me. Don’t ask me back, “Why are you worried about others?” I am worried because I don’t want to be left out as an odd man out. So, I want to ensure I remain a common man following all the laws of averages.

My personal opinion is that an issue like Ayodhya issue should never be an issue to anyone as it doesn’t help us resolve any of our major problems as a country. Instead, it only adds to the huge list of problems. Then, why should we be so bothered about it? If both communities could be united and respect each other’s sentiments this problem would not have arisen in first place. Now that it has arisen as both are just complaining about the other party’s intolerance, we don’t know what the solution is. I am sure the right people have done the required amount of research and investigation into the issue before concluding on it. So, let us be prepared to accept whatever comes out. If we are not going to listen this time, I am not sure if we would ever listen.

I want every Hindu in this country to view it as a non-issue. I think, that is the only approach to solve this problem. Being a Hindu by birth (with all questions around that still being alive), that is what I could request the people from my own religion. I want to say “I have no religion”. But, I have to admit that I have wondered many times as to why I am not able to meet more people like me from all religions. Nobody ever spent any time with me to teach me that my religion was the only true religion. I think this kind of belief and teaching and preaching is what is making this planet more and more unsafe to live. How many of you want to disagree?

That request of mine to leave it as a non-issue leaves my men (I am just calling them ‘my men’ for the ease of usage; please do not waste your time in reading between lines and branding me as another Hindu chauvinist) infuriated with a basic question, “Why don’t you say this to Muslims?” So, being a neutral person, I should be able to tell my brothers from the other religion also the same thing, right? Can I tell this? I don’t think so. Though I strongly feel that what I am going to say is right, I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Why? I feel I have no right to tell them what they have to do. Or, I should say, I am scared of being branded as narrow-minded or communal.

I am left with two options now. First one is to get fascinated by the concept of secularism, get more hypocritical without even knowing the reason why I am becoming like that and talk against Hindus bluntly, which is what I was doing for a long time thinking that I would be called an intellectual if I do so. The second one is to stand up and say “I am neutral from my side. It would be great if my liberal Muslim brothers on the other side also could get as neutral as me and say the same thing to their people”. I thought the second is better. Why? "I realized off late that it was just because there were more people like me in the first category, the need for right wing politics got bigger and gained its momentum". Please write to me if any of you did not understand this statement. This is the most important message that I wanted to give out of this post.

In simple words, what does it translate to, when we talk about our stance on the final verdict? I have no clue as to in whose favor the ruling is going to be. However, I can unconditionally say aloud that I would be the least bothered if the court rules out building a temple in the disputed site or suggests rebuilding the mosque or demolish everything and build something else. I would love to see all my Hindu brothers being like that. At the same time, I would also love to have all my Muslim brothers in this country to remain the same if there is an order to build a temple there or if the court justifies the demolition of the mosque (though it is highly unlikely). If one of you could say an unconditional “yes” in reply to this post, I think I have done my bit as a citizen of this country.

I have been as honest as possible in my writing. However, I won’t be surprised if someone shouts at me claiming that they read between lines and found that I have a natural bias towards my own religion, because, I have myself done it to many of my friends in the past. But, let me tell you again, it is only this kind of branding that leaves people like me in no man’s land that has given plenty of ground for the growth of right wing politics in this country. If we don’t want them to grow anymore we need to get more realistic and honest (honesty is also about not blindly talking against my own group always just in order to get recognized as honest) rather than live in a hypocritical world.

My final word is this. Irrespective of whatever the verdict is going to be, I feel from the bottom of my heart that it is simply not worth losing thousands of lives on silly issues like this. You only strengthen someone’s political capital by doing all these. By getting involved in these fights, your children will surely not have better education or food or lifestyle or culture for that matter. Some of you who come to the streets may have some better food for few days. But, it is going to be at the cost of your life. Is it worth? I will leave it to you.

It is just that we are going to ensure a more unsafe place for our future generations to live. Is that what we want to do using this opportunity?

Would love your opinions…

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