IS A MUSEUM OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION AND MAKING EVERYONE STUDY A RELIGION OTHER THAN HIS/HER OWN A SOLUTION TO THE AYODHYA PROBLEM?
That was what I proposed in 2010, when a 3-member Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court pronounced a split judgement on the 60-year-old case . It suggested dividing the Ram Mandir land into three equal parts – one each for the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhada, which were parties to the case, and to Ram Lalla.
The Ayodhya title suit took six decades in Allahabad High Court even for a damp-squib verdict. It is likely the dispute would continue for decades more before the Supreme Court. The three eminent judges gave different summaries of their own on the 8000-page verdict. That even three men of great wisdom and learning could not agree and that the Muslim and Hindu judges in the majority verdict gave different interpretations of the same report of Archaeological Society of India — show that finding a solution acceptable to all is almost impossible
The reactions of Mullah Mulayam Singh and the political chameleon Kalyan Singh, the vulgar “victory celebration” by some BJP leaders on the Allahabad verdict show just one thing: No solution for the Ayodhya dispute is possible with normal judicial or political procedures.
The nation, and both communities, lack leaders who can break the mold and think out of the box. Mahatma Gandhi cannot be revived in a country that has long abandoned him.
One can disagree with the verdict, but Mulayam, just for Muslim votes, said it ‘cheated’ the Muslims and attributed motives to, and is in utter contempt of, the court. Muslim leaders themselves slapped him on the face for his cheap pretence to be more loyal than the king. Kalyan Singh’s comments on the eve of the verdict show that as his political adultery with Mulayam had ended. He was only inciting voters against the verdict in a desperate effort not to be wiped off the political slate in UP.
Justice D.V. Sharma quoted ASI to hold that the mosque was built after demolishing a a massive Hindu temple, against the tenets of Islam and so cannot have the character of a mosque. He also found it ‘established’ that the property is the site of “Janm Bhumi of Ram Chandra Ji” and that Hindus had been worshipping the site as Ram’s birth place “since time immemorial”.
And the same ASI report is quoted by Justice Khan to say there was no proof that the place was birthplace of Ram and that no temple was destroyed by Babar. The fact that Muslim invaders did plunder most temples and disfigured idols and so Babar could also have done it did not occur to him.
No Hindu leader can say that as ‘elder brothers’ the majority community should show its magnanimity of heart and let the Babri Masjid be reconstructed. And no Muslim leader can survive saying the Ram Mandir could be built there and the Masjid elsewhere, with land and assistance promised by the Hindu leaders.
The saffron fringe groups would not let the memories of Muslim invasions and forced mass conversions fade, but conveniently forget the oppression of ‘untouchables’ and ‘lower’ castes which led to their exodus to other religions. They oppose the conversion but would do nothing to remove the causes.
Magnanimity and tolerance? These alone had made other religions come to India and prosper, while Hinduism which spread far and wide in the world got assimilated and annihilated there, they argue.
If both communities sharing the site and living together in harmony is an ideal that cannot be achieved, a solution lies in both of them being kept out of it. Even this idea came up before. Some atheist cynics and ‘secular liberals’ suggested building a public toilet there and others a school, hospital or a sports stadium for use by all.
All of them being Hindus would not dare suggest such structures in place of any Idgah, Masjid or Dargah. And perhaps there are no similarly-oriented Muslims at all. AIMIM leader Asauddin Owaisi can describe Babri Masjid demolition as worse than Gandhi’s assassination, but has nothing to say about the plundering of Somnath and other temples and vandalisation of Ajanta and Edllora caves. No wonder the earlier avatar of his party, the Razakars, wanted Hyderabad state to join Pakistan.
Why not use the land to build a Museum of National Integration that would reflect the heartwarming mutual goodwill and brotherhood that still exist in India despite all the mutual hatred and distrust promoted by self-seekers and politicians?
Almost every day we see in our media such stories — Muslims protecting Hindu victims of communalism and vice versa, Hindus helping rebuild a mask, a Muslim in Andhra who excels in Harikatha, the Muslim priest at Sabarimalai, the Muslim boys’ Hanuman Chalisa in a TV reality show, the Muslim poet of Kamptee near Nagpur who translated Bhagwad Gita into Urdu.
A report yesterday said a Muslim family donated its land for a temple in Bihar
The family, in Bihar’s Gopalganj district has reportedly donated its land, which it had purchased for ₹12 lakh a few months ago for setting up a business, for the upgradation of a temple. “It is a gesture for communal harmony. We have decided to donate land for a good cause. All religions are the same,” one of the family members said. Muslims form 16.5 per cent of Bihar’s 105 million population. In the Seemanchal region, they account for nearly 67 per cent in Kishanganj, 37 per cent in Purnea, 43 per cent in Katihar and nearly 40 per cent in Araria.”
This is a clear indication that while average Muslims are magnanimous and would not mind the Ram Temple being rebuilt there, it is the ‘leaders’ who spread hatred and not allow them to.
Such stories are innumerable. While some of these stories are known, many more need to be told and preserved for all time to come.
Do you know
— that most of the West Bengal artists who prepare idols for the Durga Pooja all over the country with devotion and chastity are Muslims (or they used to be)?
— that in Makrana in Rajasthan, Muslim sculptors used to make marble idols of Hindu gods strictly adhering to the scriptures, which some of them could even quote? Do they still do it?
— that Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza wrote the dialogues for the TV serial Mahabharat — one of the biggest hits in Indian television history
— that a Kannada Sahitya Parishad in the 80s was presided over by a Muslim, who was also the State Poet of Karnataka?
— that devotees going to Vaishno Devi are carried on perilous mountain routes or otherwise served by Muslim workers?
–that Bharat Ratna Bismillah Khan used to play Shehnai in the Kashi Vishwanath temple and used to say music was Naada Bhrahma (God in sound form)?
–that Kazi Nazrul Islam, one of the greatest Bengali poets ever, gave his son a Sanskrit name — Sabyasachi? And that Annapurna Devi, first wife of Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, was daughter of the great Allauddin Khan, a worshipper of ‘Maa Saraswati’ at Rewa (M.P.)?
–that the very first Divisional Commissioner of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha Division Dr A. U. Sheikh, had a Ph. D. in Sanskrit?
The list can go on an on. Readers may chip in with hundreds more of such stories. All these can be pictorially and graphically highlighted in the museum. It can be named ‘Ram Masjid Museum of Indian Unity’ and managed by scholars from all major religions in equal numbers.
The museum can promote inter-religious understanding, research in similarities between religions and cultural practices and run courses and examiknations on all religions for those belonging to others and in inter-religious undertsnading. Those with certificates of having passed such examinations could be given preference in jobs.
It can celebrate festivals of all religions, as is done at the Prashanti Nilayam ashram of Satya Sai Baba at Prashanti Nilayam, Puttaparthi. Hinduism never opposed it and that is why so many religions thrived in India. It is time for the others too to modernise and change with the times.
When we have Dwaraka Mai mosque of Sai Baba at Shirdi and Veeranarayana Jumma Masjid in Gadag, why not a Ram Masjid Museum at Ayodhya to make communal hatred a thing of the past and save the country billions lost due to riots and for averting them?