Given the exemplary patience, dignity and civility with which the Indic faiths have gone about reclaiming their sacred spaces, it is incumbent upon the mosque’s authorities to have the humility to return what wasn’t ever theirs
No template can apply to India because there is no equivalence. We are polytheists who have survived and continue to live an unprecedented long unbroken tradition despite iconoclastic marauding colonising Abrahamics. Unlike the Americas, Indians still overwhelmingly populate India; unlike Africa, neatly divided into Muslim and Christian halves, where natives have survived similar though converted, we remain still overwhelmingly polytheists. That which we held sacred we have never forsaken. Today the temple built with such valour and veneration by Ahilyabai Holkar, as close to the mosque as possible, it a heartening and heart wrenching testimony to that resilience.
Truth is powerful; it may even have the power to heal; acknowledging the truth is a step towards reconciliation for sure, but it doesn’t constitute reconciliation in itself. In civilisational battles and the struggle for the reclamation of sacred spaces, truth is simple the acceptance of truth, not quite. Honestly, I don’t quite understand “reconciliation”. Who reconciles to what exactly? Is it reconciliation between the Hindus and Muslims of today’s India? Reconciliation in the sense of finally setting the balance straight? Or are we being pressured to accept a reconciliation prejudiced by the western world view abandoning the Indic one? Or is it a reconciliation succumbing to a materialistic aspiration and abandoning the spiritual? How else does one explain inane questions like “in these days of rising inflation and fuel cost is a temple really what India needs?”, “Can we afford yet another Ayodhya?” and badgering about the rise of the Fascist Hindu and his tyrannical majoritarianism.
I will not write about how narratives need to change and remind the readers about our resilience. I prefer talking from a position of unapologetic strength. At the very least, we are a 5000-year-old civilisation defined in its very core by its spiritual values, be it the very first Vedic hymns recited at altars in Harappan cities to Sri Aurobindo concluding his speech at Uttarpara with the following:
“This is the word that has been put into my mouth to speak to you today. What I intended to speak has been put away from me, and beyond what is given to me I have nothing to say. It is only the word that is put into me that I can speak to you. That word is now finished. I spoke once before with this force in me and I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatana Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatana Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatana Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatana Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatana Dharma it would perish. The Sanatana Dharma, that is nationalism. This is the message that I have to speak to you.”
Sanatana Dharma defines Bharata Varsha, and today’s Bharata need not succumb to the ire of external breaking India forces in an unholy triple alliance or sorts of Leftists, Islam and the Church
From this position of strength, I see unapologetic legitimacy in reclaiming the sacred geography of the original site of the Vishveshwar Temple at Kashi. I do not desire or plead for magnanimity from the Muslim community. It is time that the litany of destroyed temples and desecrated murtis tabulated in detail by the chroniclers of the marauders and rulers themselves be acknowledged for what they were by the Muslims and all avenues closed summarily for spurious interpretations that the destruction wasn’t about iconoclasm but looting. No bandwidth is given to preposterous allegations that Hindus did the same to the Buddhists and Jains within the Indic fold. In this matter, there is no more room for admitting mischievous debatable points that Hindus need to clarify or justify or deny. Thousands of temples were destroyed with the pure intention of following the diktats of a faith that has no tolerance for icons. Sanatana Dharma defines Bharata Varsha, and today’s Bharata need not succumb to the ire of external breaking India forces in an unholy triple alliance or sorts of Leftists, Islam and the Church.
Our history is witness to our capacity to absorb, amalgamate, and coexist with other peoples and faiths, even if, for some, the first point of entry was through war and bloodshed. However, what we have resisted with valiance is the annihilation of our spiritual heritage. This has come at a cost. Seventy-five years ago, we achieved Independence, but it was not our spiritual map that defined our nation civilisationally. We inherited a piece of earth truncated and dismembered because the majority of our people who had converted to Islam during the first wave of Abrahamic invasions were, after two hundred years of British rule, convinced they could not coexist with Hindus anymore; the very Hindus with whom they shared a common history and heritage and even faith that predated both these religions by millennia. Given this history, I see no reason to tread on the issue with delicacy. Given the exemplary patience, dignity and civility with which the Indic faiths have gone about reclaiming their sacred spaces, it is incumbent upon the mosque’s authorities to have the humility to return what wasn’t ever theirs.