Can Sri Rama save India today?

Will you vote for Lord Rama? This question ought not to even be posed, but yesterday Dr. Subramanian Swamy announced that besides corruption and the government's agenda, he was planning to speak about “Sri Rama as India's Asmita". It topped his list.

We often pull up theocratic societies for living in some backward age, and rightly so. However, given that they are dictatorships I find it rather pertinent that although they promote the Sharia as law, they do not market the Prophet as an election issue.

Let us first understand this ‘asmita' business, and business it has become to gain mileage and garner enough money to keep a warped idea of religion as state alive. Asmita means self-esteem. A nation has got to understand its potential and that of its citizens, not rely on beliefs.

The Swaraj and Swadeshi movements can be called asmita. They were fighting against colonial rule.

As an aside, why is Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party talking of Swaraj now? What does self-rule mean in today's context? India is a democracy, and people do vote. It is imperfect, but we have a Constitution in place. It is, in effect, already people's rule. I shall leave cynicism for another day.

Our asmita is that no foreign power has succeeded in dictating our policy decisions, at least not overtly. Our asmita is that we can use the veto power keeping our interests in mind and not whether some superpower is breathing down our neck. Our asmita is that the army cannot meddle with the elected civilian government. Our asmita is that we have not destroyed most of our heritage. Our asmita is in our professionals and our labour force.

Having said that, we are on shaky ground on a few of the above-mentioned points. We do not believe in dignity of labour and, therefore, we remain feudal. The poor workers suffer. We do not value professional talent, and that is the reason for some of it leaving. And our heritage sites become mere political crutches.

This is contemporary reality, and we have to deal with it. How would projecting Lord Rama as “India's Asmita" help? His religious significance for the majority notwithstanding, what has he contributed to the country as nation-state?

He is considered Maryada Purshottam, the ideal male. So, does India, Bharat Mata, need a perfect man-god figure to regain her self-esteem? There are several deities in the Hindu pantheon that are worshipped by different sects. Goddesses Saraswati, Durga, Lakshmi; Lords Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna - why are they not part of “India's Asmita"? No one is a fool. We are aware that this is a political move, to build that mandir in Sri Rama's name.

No one can successfully promote any god as a nation's pride. It is illogical and unreasonable. One could say that Hindus take pride in their faith, which is altogether different. Sri Rama was a king, and we aren't even a monarchy. It is bad enough that some of our leaders land up in fancy-dress competition clothes for their campaigns.

The good lord did return from banwaas to Ayodhya. It is a small part of India, currently under the Samajwadi Party. This is how India today makes its choice. It is tragic that politicians use religion when all else fails, or they have nothing more to offer. A gullible public is forced into fighting for the right of a god's birthplace. This aspect should steer clear of who comes to power and what it does for the people.

Those who vote for Sri Rama, Prophet Mohammed, or Jesus Christ, as well as the neo-theocrats who do some nifty marketing of these figures need to first get some self-esteem. Asmita is right within you.

(c) Farzana Versey


  1. The picture of Hanuman hugging Ramji is very touching! Ayodhya has enough room to set up the mandir in addition to the masjid -- sounds simple enough, it is difficult to understansd what the big deal was all along! It will be kind of nice to see the Hindu priests and the maulvi sahibs hugging just like these figures in this picture -- with unmitigated love, and no questions asked!

  2. FV,

    Pardon my language if it seems uncouth. After all, we are talking Asmita here! :)

    Seeing you define Asmita was not unlike watching Narendra Modi define secularism! Just select a suitable definition for a vague term and knock the grounds from beneath the feet of those who question you!

    Talk of mirror images!

    QUOTE: "No one can successfully promote any god as a nation's pride... Sri Rama was a king, and we aren't even a monarchy.."

    This statement would, presumably be kosher (pun unintended) for the sekulaars as nobody other than Hindus is likely to take any offence. I wonder how the following will be taken: "Prophet Mohammed was a unlettered, sword-wielding warlord. And we are not a medieval tribal society any more.."

    Would I qualify as a sekulaar? Not that I aspire to!

    QUOTE: "A gullible public is forced into fighting for the right of a god's birthplace.."

    Some other gullible public is also fighting for a mosque-in-disuse built by a marauder King who has written book(s) that disparage Hindus and their faith in vicious language. That was the most benign part of his Jihadi fundamentalism. The issues of Hindu massacres and forcible conversions to Islam (by him and his progeny) need sufficient time and patience to be discussed at length.

    You cleverly omitted to mention that part. Or am I imagining things?
    QUOTE: "What does self-rule mean in today's context? India is a democracy, and people do vote. It is imperfect, but we have a Constitution in place. I shall leave cynicism for another day."

    Cool. I wish you bring up these questions too:

    * What does reservation for Muslims mean? We are a secular country with equal opportunity for all regardless of religion.
    * What does article 370 mean? After all J&K is an integral part of India.
    * Why should Islamic law apply in civil matters? After all, Indian Muslims are citizens of a secular democratic country.

    Did someone say "gullible public"? Sounded like "sekulaarism"..! Quiet please, too much cross-talk here (pun unintended)!

    QUOTE: "No one is a fool. We are aware that this is a political move, to build that Mandir in Sri Rama's name.."

    Good you told! Where would we be without you! Cmon, obviously there sure is a plan afoot to bring the temple issue to a boil. What the sekulaars conveniently ignore is that India's age-old, glorious, sekulaar tradition of pussyfooting, molycuddling and capitulation itself is responsible for matters rotting up for decades like this and poisoning the body politic. Kashmir is one example. Ayodhya is another.

    A few years down the line, I expect to find Hindu terror added to this list by Your Grace!

  3. F&F:

    Hope you find your self-esteem soon, as I stated above. 

    I am against reservations for Muslims on religious basis, but if you use economics as a yardstick, they'll still figure. Hope your asmita won't curl up. 

    All for a Uniform Civil Code. You do know the Hindus will have to give up the Hindu Undivided Family and Hindu Marriage Act and several others too. Your  asmita should be able to handle it. 

    Article 370 is not as pat. Find out why Indians can't buy property in Himachal Pradesh. 

    I have made these points despite all the provisions being very much an integral part of the Indian Constitution. We can disagree with some of  it, but we have to follow it. If you have problems, why don't you move to Nepal?!


  4. Anon:

    You are, indeed, an optimist. And even though I am not into real estate for places of worship, I do understand your viewpoint. 

    Sadhus and maulvis do hug for photo-ops, but these days they are all either politicians or backed by politicians. Without getting into the details of one court verdict that has divided the land into 3 parts, my personal view is that since there is no concrete structure there anymore, a mandir should be built. That will shut up the Sangh parties for good. 

    And Muslims of Ayodhya can continue to make the padukas (wooden footwear for the priests) as they had been doing even earlier. Only as a job and not for any happy family symbolism. 

  5. FV,

    QUOTE: "Indian Constitution. We can disagree with some of  it, but we have to follow it."

    Ah!! Don't you think Narendra Modi is following it too? He contests polls, runs a riot-free administration, believes in 'India First', has never said a critical word about the constitution... and so on.

    Bhala aap ka definition mere definition se safed kaise??

  6. I am glad that you are bringing up the point about politicians using religion to exploit people's sentiments instead of offering real solutions to our problems.
    Now a little puranic digression.
    Shri Rama was an Avatara of the Treta Yuga and he gave it up after the end of that Yuga. Dwapara Yuga was Shri Krishna's and he was a very different kind of Avatara with a very good reason, times changed. This is discussed in the Puranas. I remember that there was even an instance where Lord Krishna patiently explains to Shri Hanuman why even though he is the same as Lord Rama he behaves very differently, almost scandalously by Shri Rama's standards because of the differences in the two Yugas and people belonging to these Yugas are not identical. To drag Lord Rama into the politics of Kali Yuga just doesn't make sense. Its also interesting that these politicians don't mention the great Parasurama who killed the corrupt Kings and rulers of Yore. Anyway like all good hindus I await the entrance of Kalki, I am sure he will show how things are done in Kali Yuga.

  7. Sai:

    Political use, rather misuse, of religion should be treated as a crime. While there are communal biases, the moment they are legitimised they give people more license to see it in nationalistic terms.

    Your explanation of the different yugas is most interesting. I can see how even the epics could see the changes and make room for evolving.

    Thank you.



    I thought you did not care about Modi one way or the other. Drop it. He has started saying 'India First' now, and many of us don't need to flash it. Btw, you forgot to add that this is his definition of secular. Please give him the spelling bee sting.

    I repeat: He was head of government when the riots took place. By ensuring a riot-free state, he is not doing anyone a favour.

    This simple provision in the Constitution:

    “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law."


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