Ram and Ramayana are as integral to a practicing Hindu as a mind is to a body. They were so significant that for centuries, wherever Bharatiyas went, they took their Ram with them, be it Southeast Asia, South America or South Africa. Ramayana also inspired Mahatma Gandhi, who lived among the Bharatiya diaspora in South Africa for over 20 years. His version of Ramarajya was framed as a “Constructive Programme” or Poorna Swaraj or ‘complete Independence by truthful and non-violent means.’
The November 13, 1945 version of the Constructive Programme included items of communal harmony, removal of untouchability, prohibition, Khadi, other village industries, village sanitation, new or basic education, adult education, women, education in health and hygiene, provincial languages, national language, economic equality, Kisans, labour, Adivasis, lepers and students. Later, on January 16, 1946, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that Goseva (service to the cow) is one more item.
Mahatma Gandhi viewed the Congress Government’s primary function as parliamentary – flowing from the top to the bottom. At the same time, he believed that ordinary Congress workers should work voluntarily from the ground by adopting the Constructive Programme with pure hearts and without the expectation of being paid for by the Government. Unfortunately, after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, the “Constructive Programme,” a blueprint of his Ramarajya, remained marginalised.
Mahatma Gandhi emphasised Hindu-Muslim unity, removal of untouchability and Charkha-Khadi the most. While the Government and other social reformers addressed untouchability and protected local industries aggressively, Hindu-Muslim unity remained elusive and led to the creation of Pakistan. Mahatma Gandhi expected Hindus to forget the deep civilisational wounds of a millennium. However, Hindus needed self-care and self-compassion. They needed support and spiritual awareness before they could forgive and forget. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) started this process of self-healing. However, some leaders of that time in the Congress, and many now, view the coming together of Hindus for self-care, self-compassion and nation building as divisive and a political challenge.
While RSS emphasised nation-building through its Shakhas within Bharat, some of its volunteers slowly spread across the globe in pursuit of professional opportunities. They took the ethics of self-help, selfless volunteerism and skills of organisational capability wherever they went. They further helped the Bharatiya diaspora organise themselves.
Reclaiming Cultural Identity
As the Ram Janmabhoomi movement revived into a nationwide movement, it captured the imagination of millions of Hindus dispersed globally. This movement allowed the Bharatiya diaspora to reclaim and assert cultural identity. Several past and present leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and various other non-profit, religious and spiritual organisations started visiting countries with significant Bharatiya diaspora. Further, they helped strengthen their bonds to Bharat and its soul. These multifaceted interactions, encompassing cultural, economic, political, and diplomatic objectives fostered more robust ties between Bharat and its diaspora.
While RSS emphasised nation-building through its Shakhas within Bharat, some of its volunteers took the ethics of self-help, selfless volunteerism and skills of organisational capability wherever they went
One of the primary ways the Bharatiya diaspora has contributed to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is through vocal advocacy. Numerous community organisations, cultural associations, and religious groups formed by the diaspora have been at the forefront of disseminating information, organising events, and using media to create awareness about Ayodhya’s historical and cultural significance. The diaspora’s ability to articulate the nuances of the movement has played an important role in garnering support and understanding among global audiences.Moreover, the Bharatiya diaspora has galvanised political support for the Ram Janmabhoomi cause. Through lobbying efforts and diplomatic engagements, diaspora members have sought to convey the importance of the movement not just within Bharat but on the international stage. Influential members of the Bharatiya diaspora, who hold positions of power and influence in their adopted countries, have utilised their platforms to garner support from political leaders, thereby amplifying the movement’s significance.
Ram Mandir Strengthens Bonds
The quest to construct the Ram Mandir has evoked a shared cultural consciousness, transcending geographical boundaries. This collective identity has not only strengthened the bonds within the diaspora but has also contributed to a renewed sense of responsibility towards Indic civilisation and its values. With significant fundraising capability, the Bharatiya diaspora engages in all the items (and more). Mahatma Gandhi laid out his vision for realising Ramarajya. These are all bottom-up volunteer-based initiatives executed in their own countries and Bharat. Consciously or not, the Bharatiya diaspora is attempting to fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s goal to achieve true independence for Bharat. These projects are too numerous to list here but are a fitting tribute to a civilisation that views the world as one family. They need continued interactions and visits from Bharat’s current and future torch-bearers to keep the momentum going.
The Bharatiya diaspora is at a unique vantage point where they are removed from Bharat’s local emotive/ competitive political discourses and can not only focus on building bridges with the non-Hindu international community on behalf of the Indic civilisation but also focus on critical items that will help realise Poorna Swaraj. It may take a few decades, but the formation of Poorna Swaraj begins with Ram Lalla coming to Ayodhya on January 22, 2024.