“One’s religion should not be a barrier in the attainment of knowledge, wisdom and self-realisation”, says Mohammad Jama.
Of late, the whole country was engaged in an inconclusive debate on religious conversion, discussing whether it be altogether banned or not and whether ‘homecoming’ is different from religious conversion or not, and there have been reports of conversion and counter-conversion from different parts of the country. There has been another debate over Yog—whether to consider it as a Hindu religious performance or not. In such an atmosphere, one Mohammad Jama undertakes to worship Lord Rama, to lay down at the feet of Swami Parmatmananda of Kashi and organise ‘Ram-Katha’, entirely at his personal expense. And he does all this very silently.
An unassuming retired school master, Moham-mad Jama belongs to Pratapgarh district, about 180 km from state headquarters. He has been so influenced by the life and qualities of Lord Rama that he decided to invite Swami Parmatmananda of Kashi and Swami Satchidananda of Haridwar, and organised five-day ‘Ram Katha’ from June 18 to 22, launching into a purely personal spiritual quest. No religious or political organisations was invited or seen anywhere around. Yet it was a total embrace of Hinduism. Jama made his own choice, and that too silently. Without making any fuss about it.
Mohammad Jama invited all the people from all the castes and religions, greeting everybody with folded hands, a smile on his face and with ‘Jai Ram Ji Ki’. Soon he was addressed by everyone as ‘Ram Ji’ instead of Mohammad Jama, and he didn’t mind it. Rather he was tickled with nodded with joy. When the key-note Speaker Swami Paramatmananda Swamiji addressed him as ‘Ram Ji’ through the loud-speaker, Mohammd Jama was overwhelmed and expressed his gratitude to Swamiji, and everyone else. Not only this, he made a fervent appeal to the people to have perfect faith in Lord Rama, who not only shows us the right way in life but also opens up a path of self-realisation because he is not confined in the physical frame of Ayodhya’s king. He was Supreme Brahman, whose attainment is the ultimate goal of human existence.
When this correspondent contacted Swami Parmatmananda for getting his response, Swamiji said that Ram-Katha is a source of moral upliftment and spiritual rejuvenation, which is needed by all, regardless of their religious affiliations and status. “Mohammad Jama is a Muslim or Hindu is immaterial to us. What matters to us is that he is a spiritual seeker, a sincere and God-fearing person. And therefore we decided to pass five days in his hospitality”, added Swamiji. Coincidently, the discourse of Swami Parmatmananda also centered around the theme of pride and arrogance arising on the basis of caste, position, wealth and physical power. Giving instances from Ramayana and other mythologies, he preached that unless one can rise above arrogance, one cannot have a taste of divinity or God Realisation. The place where Ram Katha was held was a Sanskrit School, where the temples of Goddess Durga and Lord Hanuman were situated on the campus.
Another accompanying Sanyasi Swami Satchidananda added that Mohammad Jama may be a Muslim, but that is sheer coincidence. The fact cannot be ignored that all Indians, including Indian Muslims, have the same roots, same ancestors and same traditions. Therefore, sooner or later all will have to repose in the Indian way of life, values and culture.
Mohammad Jama recalled that his source of inspiration was the late Pandit Badri Prasad Pandey, the founder Principal of ABVN College Jethwara Pratapgarh who had studied all religious scriptures deeply and who was considered an authority of comparative religion. “Panditji used to guide me in the spiritual matters”, says Mohammd Jama, remembering fondly Pandit Badri Prasad Pandey, adding that “It was through Panditji that I got to know that the spiritual concerns and the spiritual solutions are common to all mankind”.
“One’s religion should not be a barrier in the attainment of knowledge, wisdom and self-realisation. While being in the company of Panditji for several years during his life-time, I came to realise that so far as one’s personal spiritual journey is concerned, one should rise above narrow religious boundaries. While being part of a particular religious community, one can delve deeper into the spiritual experiences through any route, and seek fulfillment in life,” says Mohammad Jama.
Mohammad Jama is also associated with local ‘Rashtriya Sadbhavana Samiti’ formed by Panditji, which is a social organisation working for communal harmony, national integration and universal brotherhood. Jama has always been participating in the spiritual discourses organised by the Hindus of his area, but this is the first time that he undertook to hold Ram-Katha on his own efforts. He says that “I have always felt that in spite of all the Hindu gods and goddesses the one which inspires me most is the name and form of Lord Rama, and in order to gain the grace of Rama, one must worship Lord Hanuman,” he says. An image of Lord Hanuman was put right in front of Ram Katha stage.
Mohammad Jama’s attachment with the worship of Lord Rama has been such that he has been visiting Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple regularly ever since the locks were opened in the late eighties. During the Ayodhya Movement he used to fear that he might be suspected and arrested by the police or the devout Hindus as a terrorist.
During the Ram-Katha, the members of Muslim community were not seen anywhere around. However, they do not consider Mohammad Jama’s presence in the community as a threat because he is not seen going around and preaching his brand of religion. Moreover, he has not converted to Hinduism yet, they say.
Because of his association with the Hindu way of worship, Mohammad Jama has always desisted from non-vegetarian food habits, to the extent that during social and family functions he refuses to make any such arrangements. Once he was threatened by his community members that he would be boycotted if he doesn’t serve the non-vegetarian meals, to which his reply was that he would welcome any such move.
Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Lucknow