Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Islam, Temples, Sufis and Spread of Islam in India.

Mahmud Ghaznavi

Contrary to the general belief that Mahmud Ghaznavi was a Hindu-killer or destroyer of Hindu religious places, he was extremely liberal towards them. His army consisted of a large number of Hindus and some of the commanders of his army were Hindus. Sonday Rai was the Commander of Mahmud's crack regiment and took part in several important campaigns with him. The coins struck during Mahmud's reign bore his on the one side and the figure of a Hindu god on the other.

Somnath Temple [Present]

Not only Mahmud Ghaznavi but his successors also were great patrons of Hindus. In fact some of the historians of the early period feel that the main cause of the fall of the Ghaznavid Empire was their excessive reliance on Hindus and the appointment of Hindus to positions of great responsibility. When in 1034 A.D. - 426 A.H., the Governor of Lahore, Ahmed Nial Tagin was suspected of rebellion, Sultan Masud Ghaznavi sent General Nath, a Hindu, to crush him. When Nath was killed in the fighting, Masud sent another of his Hindu generals, Tilak, who succeeded in killing Nial Tagin by treachery. This is the story of the Ghaznavids who are generally considered Hindu-killers.

Much of the evidence of what Hindu nationalists claim about demolishing and desecration of temples by Muslim rulers is found in Persian sources. Now this is projected as a proof of Muslim intolerance, tyranny and despotism against Hindu subjects or the vanquished people. But it does not tell all. Between 986 and 1192 AD several invaders plundered North India and took away a lot of movable wealth. These kings included Sabuktagin and Mahmood Ghaznavi (who ruled Kabul between 998 and 1130 AD). These raids were mainly targeted at material gain. They never sought permanent rule in India.

First Muslim in the Subcontinent.

Regarding Spread of Islam in the Sub Continent:

Mohammad Bin Qasim Al Tahqafi

Mohammad Bin Qasim Al Tahqafi nephew and son-in-law of Hajjaj Bin Yousuf had nothing to do with Pakistan's Foundation. This rant we only find in State Backed Pakistan Studies Text Book and it has nothing to do with authentic sources of History i.e. Ibn-e-Khaldun, Kamil Atheer and many others. By the way Hajjaj Bin Yousuf had sent his son-in-law Mohammad Bin Qasim to settle score with Raja Dahir because Raja Dahir had sheltered the murderers of Zaid Bin Aslam [the then Governor of Mekran], the murderers belonged to Shia School of Thought and Zaid Bin Aslam was of Bannu Ummaya.

The Arabs first came as Traders [NOT AS GENERALS LIKE MOHAMMAD BIN QASIM as mentioned in the article above] but not in Sindh but in South India. Facts are as under:


The first ship bearing Muslim travelers was seen on the Indian coast as early as 630 AD. H.G. Rawlinson, in his book: Ancient and Medieval History of India claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century AD.

The commercial contacts between Kerala and Arabia led to the advent of Islam into Kerala. As early as 643 AD, Malik Ibn Dinar, a disciple of the Prophet Mohammed to preach Islam and first mosque in Kerala, in fact the first in India was built around that time.

Shaykh Zainuddin Makhdum’s “Tuhfat al-Mujahidin” also is a reliable work.This fact is corroborated, by J. Sturrock in his South Kanara and Madras Districts Manuals

and also by

Haridas Bhattacharya in Cultural Heritage of India Vol. IV.

It was with the advent of Islam that the Arabs became a prominent cultural force in the world. The Arab merchants and traders became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went.

The first Indian mosque was built in 612 A.D, at the behest of Cheraman Perumal, during the life time of Muhammad (c. 571–632) in Kodungallur by Malik Bin Deenar. In Malabar the Mappilas may have been the first community to convert to Islam because they were more closely connected with the Arabs than others. Intensive missionary activities were carried out along the coast and a number of natives also embraced Islam. These new converts were now added to the Mappila community. Thus among the Mapilas, we find, both the descendants of the Arabs through local women and the converts from among the local people.


Ancient and Medieval History of India by H.G. Rawlinson

Sturrock, J.,South Canara and Madras District Manual (2 vols., Madras, 1894-1895)

Cultural Heritage of India Vol. IV


Much of the evidence of what Hindu nationalists claim about demolishing and desecration of temples by Muslim rulers is found in Persian sources. Now this is projected as a proof of Muslim intolerance, tyranny and despotism against Hindu subjects or the vanquished people. But it does not tell all.

[Pre 1992 Babri Mosque - Courtesy Wikipedia]

We had this Babri Masjid/Ramjanambhoomi movement built around this point which caused great upheavals in Indian politics and led to bloodshed. Conceptual framework for the same was provided by History books such as Sita Ram Goel’s two-volume Hindu Temples: What Happened to them? and Prafull Goradia’s Hindu Masjids.

Between 986 and 1192 AD several invaders plundered North India and took away a lot of movable wealth. These kings included Sabuktagin and Mahmood Ghaznavi (who ruled Kabul between 998 and 1130 AD). These raids were mainly targeted at material gain. They never sought permanent rule in India.

But as Muslims established their rule they took upon two tasks:

i - State patronage of India based sufi order. Chishtia order was thus patronised by all sultanates and Muslim kings.

ii - A policy of selective temple desecration in order not to loot and finance their military machine but to delink the Hindu state patronage to temples and divinity of the kings.

We will go into the second aspect in detail. The saffron historians hide this aspect. Those temples that housed the ruling dynasty’s state deity or rashtra-devata were normally desecrated, defiled or destroyed. This was to strip the rajah of the divine legitimacy. Temples that were not so identified were left untouched.

Hindu Kings also demolished Temples

But this was not alone with Muslim conquerors. This was a custom even before Muslim armies arrived. From 6th century onwards, all deities, sanctum sanctorum, images associated with dynastic authority were considered politically vulnerable. All Hindu kings, armies, kingdoms treated their Hindu rivals the same way. Even Historian R. M. Eaton has described this as a rule of the war. He writes, ‘Hindu rulers to effectively legitimise their rule over the conquered territory resorted to temple destruction of the vanquished raja. The temples were normally looted, the presiding deity of the dynasty as every Hindu rulers had his own presiding deity’.

(Ref. R. M. Eaton, Essays in Indian History, page 104)

Here are a few facts:

1089-1101 AD: King Harsha of Kashmir of the first Lohara dynasty indulged in ruthlessly looting the treasures of the temples of Bhimasai and also systematically confiscated and defiled the metallic statues of Gods by outcasts throughout the Kashmir valley in order to obtain the valuable material. He even imposed tax on the night soil.

(Ref. Kalhana, Rajataran-gini, Vol. 1, sec. 5, Motilal Banarsidas, page 113)

Between 986 and 1192 AD several invaders plundered North India and took away a lot of movable wealth. These kings included Sabuktagin and Mahmood Ghaznavi (who ruled Kabul between 998 and 1130 AD).

• 642 AD: Pallava king Narasimhavarman I looted the image of Ganesha from the Chalukyan capital of Vatapi (present day Badami in Belgaum dist.)

• 692 AD: Chalukyas invaded North India and brought back to the Deccan what would appear to be images of Ganga and Yamuna looted from defeated powers.

• 8th century AD: Bengali troops sought revenge on King Lalithaditya’s kingdom in Kashmir by destroying what they thought was an image of Vaikunta the state deity of Kashmir kingdom.

• 9th century AD: Rashtrakuta king Govinda III invaded and occupied Kanchipuram which so intimidated the King of Sri Lanka that he sent Govinda (probably Buddhist) images representing the Sinhala state.

• Rashtrakuta king Indira III not only destroyed the temple of Kalapriya at Kalpa near the Jamuna river, patronized by their deadly enemies, the Pratiharas, but they took special delight in recording the fact.

• 9th century AD: Pandyan King Srimara Srivallabha also invaded Sri Lanka and took back to his capital golden Buddha image.

• Early 10th century, Pratihara King, Hermabapala, seized solid gold image of Vishnu Vaikunta when he defeated the Sahi kings of Kangra (Himachal Pradesh)

• Early 11th century: Chola King, Rajendra I furnished his capital with images he seized from several prominent neighbouring kings: Durga and Ganesha images from the Chalukyas, Bhairava, Bhairavi and Kali images from the Kalingas or Orissa as Nandi image from the Eastern Chalukyans.

(Ref: David Gilmartin and Bruce B. Lawrence (ed.), Beyond Hindu and Turk, University Press of Florida, 2000.

In short, the temples were the sites where royal authority was challenged before the arrival of Muslim Turks in India. This generally happened with early Muslim rulers. But this practice declined after Muslims began to wrest territories and rule from the territories held by their preceding Muslim rulers.

Some more facts can be noted

• In many cases the temple desecration was never recorded.

• Between 1192 AD and 1729 AD, 89 instances of temple desecration are found recorded in the Indian history. Their historicity appears reasonably certain.

• Most such acts were undertaken by military officers.

• They happened mostly along the moving frontiers of conquests.

• These acts were never directed at people but at the enemy king and the image that incarnated and displayed his state deity.

But this attitude changed once these conquered land were integrated into the Muslim kingdoms. Then the religious properties were left unmolested. Some instances of patronage of temples:

1. Mohammad Ibne Kasim is quoted to have said: Temples shall be unto us like the churches of Christian, Synagogues of Jews and fire temples of Magians.

(Ref. William Jackson A.V., (ed) History of India, Vol. 5, The Grolier Society, London, Baroda edition 1907, page 12).

2. Muhammad bin Tughlaq appointed Muslim officials to repair Siva temple in Kalyana in Bidar district in 1326 thereby facilitating resumption of normal worship.

3. Sultan Shahabuddin Tughlaq (1355-73) rebuked his Brahaman minister for having suggested melting down Hindu and Buddhist images in his kingdom as a means of obtaining quick cash.

4. Sikandar Lodhi (1489-1517), was advised in these words by Muslim jurists : It is not lawful to lay waste ancient idol temples and it does not rest with you to prohibit ablution in a reservoir which has been customary from ancient times.

Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar [Source - Wikipedia]

5. In Mughal rule, Akbar allowed high ranking Rajput officers in his service to build their own monumental temples in the provinces to which they were posted.

6. Between 1590 and 1735, Mughal officials repeatedly oversaw and on occasion even initiated the renewal of Orissa’s cult, that of Jagannath in Puri. By sitting under a canopied chariot which accompanying the cult’s annual car festival, Shah Jehan’s officials ritually demonstrated that it was the Mughal emperor operating through the appointed officers (mansabdar), who was the temple’s and hence God’s representative.

Abul Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb [Source - Wikipedia]

7. Aurangzeb (1656-1707) ordered the local officials in Benares to protect the temples and Brahman temple functionaries. (Ref. Firman ordering mansabdar Abulhasan in Benares dt. Feb. 28, 1659, quoted by the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Page 689-90, 1911)

8. Sikandar Lodhi (1489-1517) received information that a lot of Hindus had gathered at Kurukshetra and were raising a lot of ruckus there. He wanted to demolish the temple and kill all the Hindus there. He sought advice from the ulema. Malikul Ulama Abdullah issued an edict: It is anti-sharia to demolish a traditional place of worship of Hindus (dhimmis) and discontinue the convention of bathing at the ghat or a pond. Sikandar flew into rage and warned him of dire consequences. Abdullah said: He did not fear anyone and the life and death are in the hands of the Almighty Allah. At this Sikandar gave up the idea.

(Ref. Sheikh Mohammad Ikram quotes Syed Ameer Ali from Islamic culture)

Muhammad bin Tughlaq appointed Muslim officials to repair Siva temple in Kalyana in Bidar district in 1326 thereby facilitating resumption of normal worship.

Mahmood Ghaznavi and Bamiyan Buddhas

Mahmood Ghaznavi ruled Afghanistan from Ghazni. He led 11 army expeditions between 1001 and 1055 AH on Hindustan and is accused of desecrating and demolishing temples. If indeed Mahmood’s objective was iconoclasm, he could have turned his ire against Bamiyan Buddhas which stood for nearly 2000 years in Bamiyan. He did not touch them. It could be asked as to why a confirmed ‘iconoclast’ merely passed by the Buddhas.

Mosques were also not spared

It was not merely temples but even mosques were not spared if the Muslim emperors suspected their edifices being used for purposes other than worship. Aurangzeb ordered the demolition of Jama Masjid of Golconda after sacking the Qutb Shahi kingdom in 1687 to get access to treasure that lay beneath the mosque floor.

It will be less than fair to attribute desecration or defiling of religious places to bigotry and hatred. It owed much to the customs of the age whereby vanquished kings had to be divested of the religious halo and authority. Rulers, Hindu or Muslims, followed the practice regardless of their own religious beliefs.

History in the Service of Imperialism by Dr. B. N. Pande

[Excerpted from Prof B. N. Pande's speech in the Indian Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, made on 29 July 1977. At the time of the publication of this article in Impact International (1987), Dr Pande was Governor of the Indian state of Orrisa. Dr. Pande died in New Delhi on June 1, 1998.]

Thus under a definite policy the Indian history text-books were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule. There were no common factors in social, political or economic life.


I have the honour to move the following resolution for the consideration of this House:

'This House is of the opinion that the main factor retarding cultural and emotional integration of the Indian people is the communal interpretation of the medieval Indian history and its distortion by the British historians, while India was under British rule, portraying the Hindus and the Muslims as being divided into two warring camps with little in common between them, and that this distortion paved the way for the emergence of the two-nation theory, and therefore recommends that the government should take immediate steps for the re-orientation of the study of Medieval Indian History ...'

The task is not easy, because unfortunately the histories of India which have been taught in our schools and colleges for generations past were originally compiled by European writers. And Indians have not yet succeeded in shaking off the biases inclucated by their European teachers. These so called histories have presented Muslims as destroyers of Hindu culture and traditions; despoilers of Hindu temples and palaces; and brutal idol-breakers who have offered to their Hindu victims the terrible alternative of conversion or the sword.

It is hardly surprising that educated men in India drugged with such poisonous stuff from the most impressionable period of their lives grow up to suspect and distrust each other. The Hindu has been brought up to believe that the Muslim period of Indian history which extends over eight hundred years and more is a nightmare.

How British historians have used these sentiments would be clear from the following quotation from the well-known compilation, Sir H. M. Elliot's 'History of India as told by its own historians'. The passage occurs in the general preface to Volume 1. I quote -

'We behold kings ... sunk in sloth or debauchery and emulating the vices of a Caligula or a Commodus.

'Under such rulers we cannot wonder that fountains of justice are corrupted: that the state revenues are never collected without violence and outrage; that villages are burnt and their inhabitants mutilated or sold into slavery; that the officials far from affording protection, are themselves the chief robbers and usurpers, that parasites and eunuchs revel in the spoils of plundered provinces, and that the poor find no redress against the oppressor's wrong and proud man's contumely. The few glimpses we have even among the short extracts of this single volume of Hindus slain for disputing with Muhammadans, of a general prohibition against processions, worship or ablutions and other intolerant measures, of idols mutilated, or temples razed, of forcible conversions and marriages, of proscriptions and confiscations, of murders and massacres and of the sensuality and drunkness of the tyrants who enjoined them, show us that this picture is not over-charged'.

A glimpse into official British records will show how this policy of Divide-et-Impera was taking shape. The Secretary of State Wood in a letter to Lord Elgin [Governor General Canada (1847-54) and India (1862-63)] said: 'We have maintained our power in India by playing off one part against the other and we must continue to do so. Do all you can, therefore to prevent all having a common feeling.’

George Francis Hamilton, Secretary of State of India wrote to Curzon, ‘I think the real danger to our rule in India not now, but say 50 years hence is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation organisation and if we could break educated Indians into two sections holding widely different views, we should, by such a division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack which the spread of education must make upon our system of government. We should so plan educational text-books that the differences between community and community are further strengthened (Hamilton to Curzon, 26th March 1886).

Cross informed the Governor-General, Dufferin, that 'This division of religious feeling is greatly to our advantage and I look for some good as a result of your Committee of Inquiry on Indian Education and on teaching material' (Cross to Dufferin, 14 January, 1887).

Thus under a definite policy the Indian history text-books were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subject and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule. There were no common factors in social, political or economic life.

While I was doing some research on Tippu Sultan in 1928 at Allahabad, some office bearers of a college Students Union approached me with a request to inaugurate their History Association. They had directly come from the college with their text-books. I opened the chapter on Tippu Sultan. One of the sentences that struck me deeply was: 'Three thousand Brahmins committed suicide as Tippu wanted to convert them forcibly into the fold of Islam'. The author of the text-book was, Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, Head of the Department of Sanskrit, Calcutta University. I immediately wrote to Dr. Shastri for the source of his information. After many reminders came the reply that he had taken that from the Mysore Gazetteer....

Tipu Sultan

... Prof Srikantia informed me that the episode of the suicide of 3,000 Brahmins is nowhere in the Mysore Gazetteer and he, as student of history of Mysore, was quite certain that no such incident had taken place. He further informed me that the Prime Minister of Tippu Sultan was a Brahmin named Punaiya and his commander-in-chief was also a Brahmin, named Krishna Rao. He supplied me with the list of 156 temples to which Tippu Sultan used to pay annual grants. He sent me 30 photostat copies of Tippu Sultan's letters addressed to the Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Srinageri Math with whom Tippu Sultan had very cordial relations....

Dr Shastri's book was approved as a course book of history for high schools in Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, U.P., M.P. and Rajasthan. I approached Sri Ashutosh Mukherjee, the then Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, and sent him all the correspondence that I had exchanged with Dr Shastri, with Mysore University Vice-Chancellor, Sri Brijendra Nath Seal, and Prof. Srikantia, with the request to take proper action against the offending passages in the text-book. Prompt came the reply from Sri Ashutosh Mukherjee, that the history book by Dr Shastri has been put out of course.

However, I was amazed to find the same suicide story was still existing in the history text-books which had been prescribed in 1972 for Junior High Schools in U.P.

When I was the Chairman of the Allahabad Municipality I came across the dispute regarding the property of the Someshwar Nath Mahadev mandir. There were two rival claims, one of which prepared a file of Farmans issued, by Emperor Aurangzeb which confirmed the issue of a Jagir for the temple. I was shocked to find this reference regarding a man who is supposed to have been a destroyer of temples. At first I was inclined to believe that these (Farmans) were forgeries.

However, before I reached a definite conclusion, I thought it to be in order to consult Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, a renowned scholar of Persian language. Sir Sapru studied the Jagdambri Shiv Mandir documents and again found Farmans of Aurangzeb which bestowed a Jagir on this temple. A new Aurangzeb was unveiled before me and through further research and investigation, I discovered many more Farmans of like nature with regard to Mahakaleswar temple in Ujjain, Balaji Temple in Chitrakoot, Amparand Temple in Gauhati, Shatranjay Jain Temple and various Gurdwaras. These Farmans were issued between the year 1656 and 1686. [Aurangzeb's father Emperor Shah Jahan is famous for having built the Taj Mahal, considered as one of the wonders of the world]....

The story regarding demolition of Vishwanath temple is that while Aurangzeb was passing near Varanasi on his way to Bengal, the Hindu Rajas in his retinue requested that if a halt is made for a day, their Ranis may go to Varanasi, have a dip in the Ganges and pay their homage to Lord Vishwanath. Aurangzeb readily agreed.

The Ranis took their dip in the Ganges and went to the Vishwanath temple to pay their homage. All the Ranis returned except one, the Maharani of Kachh. When Aurangzeb came to know of it, he was very much enraged. He sent his senior officers to search for the Rani. Ultimately, they found that the Statue of Ganesh which was fixed in the wall was a movable one. When the statue was moved a flight of stairs led to the basement. To their horror, they found the missing Rani dishonoured and crying. The basement was just beneath Lord Vishwanath's seat. The Hindu Rajas expressed their vociferous protests. They demanded justice. Aurangzeb ordered that Lord vishawanath may be moved to some other place, the temple be razed to the ground and the Mahant be arrested and punished.

Dr Pattabhi Sitaramaiah, in his famous book 'The Feathers and the Stones' has narrated this fact based on documentary evidence. Dr. P. L. Gupta, former Curator of Patna Museum has also narrated this incident ...

Every civil building connected with Mahommedan tradition should be levelled to the ground without regard to antiquarian veneration or artistic predilection. Letter No. 9 dated 9 October 1857, from Prime Minister Palmerston (1784-1865)to Lord Canning Viceroy of India, Canning Papers.


Since 1984, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other fundamentalist Hindus have been waging a battle against the Babri Masjid. The VHP unequivocally claims that the present Masjid was once the site of a magnificent temple which the Mughal emperor Babar demolished in the 16th century. The VHP also asserts that the Babri Masjid stands on the "undisputed" spot of Rama's birthplace. Thus, in order to redress the wrongs committed by the Muslim rulers, the VHP plans to destroy the Masjid and build a "new" Rama temple. The VHP's position is obviously highly contentious. This issue of Babri Masjid / Ram-Janam-Bhoomi has indeed aroused the passions of a large section of the Hindu and Muslim population. The dispute has exacerbated communal tensions leading to countless riots throughout northern India, including such tragedies as the Bhagalpur massacre late last October. Yet, a cursory glance at the evidence would show that the VHP's Ram- Janam-Bhoomi campaign is based on nothing but false propaganda.

The VHP refers only to records compiled by the British in the l9th century. Yet, this "evidence" is only a myth created by the colonial authorities. They propounded and popularized the belief that an anti-Hindu Babar demolished the Ram temple. This myth was created to divide the Hindus and Muslims. The British have not collected any historical evidence to justify their claim. In fact, the Archaeological Survey of India has concluded that a "temple to mark his (Rams's) birthplace was not built on the site of Babri Masjid." There are over a dozen temples in Ayodhya
that are claimed to be the true birthsite of Rama.

In addition, contrary to the VHP's assertion, the Hindus have not "struggled for centuries to regain complete control of their pilgrimage place. Before 1949, in fact, not a single Hindu leader claimed that the Babri Masjid was the location of Rams's birth! Yet, on December 22-23, 1949, certain individuals illegally entered the Masjid and installed an idol of Rama. The court declared the Masjid a disputed structure; it did not remove the idols as it should have. Muslims were prohibited from worshiping in the Masjid. Meanwhile, however, Hindus were granted permission for a priest to perform daily rituals to the installed deities. The court never issued a verdict on the title of the disputed structure. Thirty-seven years later on February 3, 1986, a certain Hindu filed a petition in the court requesting the unrestricted right to perform worship to the idols. The judge ignored the sentiments of the Muslims. Instead, he granted permission to unlock the gates, providing he received a guarantee of no disturbances. The police chief gave him an explicit assurance that there would be no threat to law and order. The Government in this case, which had the right to appeal the controversial decision, remained silent. All evidence seems to point that this was a stage-managed decision; "that the actual unlocking could have been carried out without the approval of the highest political authority is difficult to believe." In fact, within twenty minutes after the judgment was passed, a television crew from Doordarshan (Indian) state-owned television network was at the site, filming the "historic" breaking of the Masjid locks as a victory for the Hindu "community."

Undoubtedly, the religious rights of the minority community have been violated. The VHP, of course, does not agree. The VHP believes that the Hindus who allegedly constitute 85% of the Indian population, have become second class citizens. Thus, the Ram-Janam-Bhoomi campaign signifies an end to this reverse-discrimination. The VHP's argument is analogous to a white racist in white-dominated America, claiming that the Black minority suffers no discrimination. Equality is exactly what the Muslims want and have yet to completely receive. In fact, the VHP's Ram-Janam-Bhoomi project is part of a larger campaign to build a Hindu state. As VHP General Secretary Ashok Singhai has proclaimed, "the beginning of the Shilanyas ceremony (laying of the foundation stone) is a powerful expression of the Hindu spirit to see Bharat (India) resurrect herself as a Hindu Rashtra (Nation). This reference to Hindu Rashtra means nothing less than a nation in which all the policies and laws reflect a single cultural norm -- Hinduism. Obviously this movement has grave implications for the secular order of the present Indian state.

Unfortunately, however the Ram-Janam-Bhoomi movement has not been terminated. The VHP says there is no room for compromise. It claims that the Ram-Janam-Bhoomi issue is a religious issue, not a legal issue; thus, in the Parishad's view, no verdict of the court will be binding. The governing Board of VHP of America has even written that "if (the Indian) Government will interfere again, if the court rule will stop constructions, we are not going to hold back....without completing the construction we will not return (from Ayodhya)."

Without a doubt, unless steps are taken to resolve this issue soon, greater conflict seems imminent. The Indian Government must intervene to reach a peaceful and just solution; it must not keep silent. In the past, the State has played a significant role in supporting communalism; yet now, the State must demonstrate its firm commitment to secularism by not bowing down to any such communal forces. In addition, all parties concerned must be willing to settle this issue by non-violent means; bloodshed will only create even further divisions. Most importantly however the VHP must be willing to accept the verdict of the courts. In refusing to abide by the court's verdict, the VHP is undermining the very foundations of India's secularism.

It is important to state that preventing the VHP from erecting the temple is not the same as prohibiting the expression of religious freedom. A Hindu does not have to deny his religious identity in India. It may not even be practical to totally separate religion and politics in India. However, what is not in the interests of the nation is this dangerous mix of Hinduism and politics that is emerging gradually. November 9, 1989 was a day that this lethal mix manifested; it was not a day of celebration as the VHP proclaims.

Courtesy, Message International, New York, December 1990.

Prem Vora is a graduate from the University of California at Berkeley and works for a law firm.

1 comment:

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