Suraj apni garima chhod sakta hai. Chandrama apni sheetalta ka parityaag kar sakta hai, Saagar apni seemayon ka ulanghan kar sakta hai, par Ram Janmabhoomi par mandir nirman ko vishwa ki koi taakat nahi rok sakti (The sun can relinquish its shine. The moon may abandon its coolness. Sea can defy its boundaries, but no power in the world can stop the construction of the mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi.’ This is how Didi Maa Ritambhara evoked the sentiments of Ram Bhakts across the world in the 1990s during the Ram Mandir movement. Didi Maa Ritambhara is the founder of Durga Vahini, the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s women’s wing. Her fiery speeches, disseminated through audio cassettes, echoed through homes and streets, rallying support. To coincide with the historic day of Pran Pratistha on January 22 approaches, Organiser Special Correspondent Nishant Kumar Azad exclusively spoke to Sadhvi Ritambhara about the movement, the role of Durga Vahini in the future, the reasons behind several Western countries boycotting her, and various other aspects surrounding this monumental event. Excerpts:
You received the first invitation letter for the Ram Lalla Pran Pratishtha ceremony to be held on January 22. How did you feel when you received it?
The invitation I received from Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra for the Pran Pratishtha ceremony of Shri Ram Lalla has given new wings to life. This is the fulfilment of the 500-year-long struggle of Hindu society for its natural right over the birthplace of Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram. The opportunity to participate in this historic event is due to His infinite grace. The joy of being present at this grand and divine ceremony on January 22 is a feeling beyond words and any description.
How do you view the entire Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement?
The decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court scripted the history of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement with golden ink. We had only one desire that a grand Shri Ram Mandir be built there. When thought and resolve are firm, it leads the seeker to the door of accomplishment. We cannot do justice to the whole movement and its history by looking at it from a narrow perspective. It was a persistent struggle that went on for 500 years—everybody fought together so that the birthplace of Shri Ram should be free from the dark era. Along with this movement, the Bharatiya wisdom bolstered the fact that this struggle would have to pave the way not only for the birthplace of Shri Ram but also for opposing the twin forces of materialism and terrorism that the whole world is encountering now. Bharat is responsible for leading the world because she owns and retains the elixir of knowledge and wisdom like none other.
For years, we were victims of political slavery first, followed by mental slavery. The movement of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi woke us up from the slumber of this slavery and provided us with new consciousness and enlightenment.
Not only the lock of the temple was opened, but the locked-up consciousness and intellect of Hindu society also saw new light. Hindu society began to understand that if we want to experience a civilisational revival, we have to connect with our roots! The battle for the Shri Ram Mandir was not just a struggle for the construction of the temple, but the vision behind it was that our culture and civilisation are a large landscape that nurtures our roots. It is unbecoming of those to become a piece of others who have their own existence like a banyan tree.
The Honourable Supreme Court’s judgement on the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute restored the truth, and I think if the resolve is noble, the intentions are clear, and there is determination to keep going, then surely the journey will end at the right and desired destination. Politically, we became independent in the year 1947, but now Bharat is stepping towards cultural freedom. The commitment to living with our identity showed us this day when we got to witness the Supreme Court judgement on November 9, 2019. And now, on January 22, Shri Ram Lalla’s Pran Pratishtha is going to take place. The greatest characteristic of this movement is that it firmly united the Hindu society, which was divided into caste politics. Over a period of time, this unity turned into a strong political will, and today we are all seeing a grand and divine temple of Ram Lalla being built at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi.
On December 6, when the disputed structure was being demolished, you were sitting near Ram Chabutra. Share some memories of that day with us.
That cold morning of December 6, 1992, was going to witness an unprecedented event. “Kar Seva” was called by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi on that fateful day. Lakhs of ‘kar sevaks’ had gathered there from different states of the country. But by eleven o’clock in the morning, it was unclear how the Kar Seva would be done. Shri LK Advani, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajmata Smt. Vijaya Raje Scindia, Sadhvi Uma Bharti Ji, Acharya Dharmendra Dev Ji and Shri Vinay Katiyar were addressing that huge gathering of karsevaks in their own eloquent style from a high platform built by VHP at Shri Ram Katha Kunj near Shri Ram Janmabhoomi complex. I was also on the same dais with my revered Gurudev Yugpurush Swami Shri Parmanand Ji Maharaj.
Undoubtedly, what PM Shri Narendrab Modi has done for this country and Dharma is unimaginable. He is like a timeless signature on the history of our great nation and our even greater Dharma. Modiji and Yogiji have been inscribed in the golden pages of our history
After the effective speeches of all these individuals, the organiser of the Sabha announced from the stage that all the kar sevaks present here have to bring a handful of sand from the banks of Saryu and offer it to the karseva site. On hearing this, some young and passionate people present there got angry, and they shouted, ‘We have been called here only to pour a handful of sand’, they said. ‘No, no! Now all this will not work. We must do something today.’ This call rapidly spread all around.
At about eleven o’clock, the agitated youth were escorted out of the Karseva venue by the VHP activists, who were thus trying to defy the stage orders. At quarter to twelve o’clock, VHP General Secretary Shri Ashok Singhalji took the lead and tried to stop the crowd by entering the back gate of the disputed structure, but by then a group of youths, who had become uncontrollable, entered the premises by demolishing the door. When a PAC contingent deployed for the security of the campus tried to stop them, heavy stone-pelting started from the crowd in response. The hapless force had to retreat. A group of women led from the front and a group of kar sevaks followed them. In no time, groups of kar sevaks climbed the three domes of the disputed structure. Amid the deafening chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’! rising from all sides, the domes began to be hit by pickaxes and shovels.
Who was striking where and where the pieces of fragmented structure were flying and hurting whom, no one cared, really. The hands of those karsevaks were moving like a machine. Through the stage of Ramkatha Kunj, VHP officials were constantly making announcements to stop the crowd, but no one was ready to listen. A whirlwind of dust was rising around the crumbling structure. One group was striking the domes and the other group was striking the walls below. The hammer, pickaxe, and shovels sounded like eardrums would be torn off.
The then Director General of Police and District Superintendent of Police were trying to control that odd situation and suddenly the communication system of Ayodhya was blocked. The power supply was cut off. Giving information about the whole situation to the Home Ministry in Lucknow, it was told that this massive vandalism in Shri Ram Janmabhoomi complex can no longer be stopped without firing by the police forces. But the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Kalyan Singh, was not in favour of firing at the kar sevaks under any circumstances. That is why the police forces had to leave from the disputed structure under the pressure of the kar sevaks.
Until then, lakhs of kar sevaks had surrounded the Janmabhoomi complex. When the crumbling debris of the domes started falling down, people in the structure were told to get out immediately. In this way, four kar sevaks unfortunately lost their lives due to injuries they inflicted, and a hundred others were left injured.
A section of the people chased out the journalists who were covering the incident from the premises. Meanwhile, at 2.45 pm, the north-side dome of the structure collapsed, making a fierce noise, due to which many kar sevaks were injured and were immediately taken to the hospital by ambulance. On the instructions of Shri Ashok Singhal ji, Ram Lalla and other Shrivigraha sitting in the structure were also removed from there and protected. After this, at quarter to three in the afternoon, and then at quarter to five, the remaining two domes were also dusted down.
Thus, by sunset, that gigantic, disputed structure had completely collapsed. Lakhs of kar sevaks had blocked the roads on all the borders of Ayodhya so that the troops of the security forces could not reach the birthplace. Every brick of the debris in the structure had been lifted by the kar sevaks. By nightfall, the remaining debris was levelled to construct a makeshift temple for Shri Ram Lalla. The kar sevaks build a security wall by connecting bricks up to five feet height and Ram Lalla was eminently placed on it by placing a throne inside it. A tent was erected above and the first aarti of Ram Lalla was held in that newly built temporary temple.
You are being boycotted by many western countries, including the US. Why is it so?
I think this is a manifestation of the frustration of the demonic powers who are suffering due to the rise of Sanatan. They want to impose their religion on the world; it is their way of protesting. You have to understand that this is not against Sadhvi Ritambhara, but against Sanatan! But have patience; if not today, then tomorrow our Sanatan will emerge on the world stage, and these devilish tendencies will end in their own mutual conflicts.
You had said in an interview, “Ram rahenge tat mein, bhakt rahenge thaat se, aisa nahi hona chahiye; If the temple is not built by the Modi and Yogi governments, then when will it be built?” Now that the temple has been constructed, what would you like to say about Modiji and Yogi ji?
Undoubtedly, what our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has done for this country and Dharma is unimaginable. He is like a timeless signature on the history of our great nation and our even greater Dharma. His efforts to take the nation to its ultimate glory are unique and unparalleled. If this political will had been there in the previous governments of this country, then with the Independence of Bharat in 1947, we would have witnessed consecration of the grand temple. Destiny certainly wrote this fame in Modiji’s action. Had there not been a BJP government at the Centre as well as in Uttar Pradesh, there would have been many problems in the construction of the temple. But due to the piety of our Mahant Shri Yogi Adityanathji, today Ayodhya is looking as it should have been! So, Modiji and Yogiji have been inscribed in the golden pages of our history. Due to their supreme efforts, our Ram Lalla has been freed from a makeshift tent.
Ayodhya’s Durga Vahini President Vartika Basu ji in one of her interviews, alleged that you, Uma Bharti ji, and Durga Vahini are being ignored. What is your take on this?
See, I think that while deciding our role towards the nation and society, we must consider that ‘Desh humein deta hai sab kuch, Hum bhi to kuch dena seekhein’. In fact, when we contemplate comprehensiveness, our petty ambitions automatically disappear. The “feeling of getting something in return for offering” gives rise to such feelings in our mind that we are being ignored. Today I am satisfied with my role in the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Now how much respect someone is giving me for it really does not matter. Thus, no one really ignores anyone. We should think positively.
How do you see the role of Durga Vahini in the times to come?
Durga Vahini should continue to play its vital role in imparting cultural values to the daughters of Hindu society.
Most of your time is now spent in Vatsalya village in Vrindavan. How has the journey been of a religious preacher and social worker from an outspoken and eloquent orator? Which Ritambhara suits you better? And what is the difference between the two lives?
Look, every human being must live in his role. And more importantly, we do not choose any role in life, but Ishwar himself chooses us for it. Participation in the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement was my immediate role, which I could fulfill well by the grace of Bhagwati. Now it is my nature that organically keeps me attached to the village of Vatsalya. Service to the nation, religion and society is a deep satisfaction. Thus, to my mind, Ritambhara is the same in any situation in life because she considers herself to be Ishwar’s choice for every social work.
You always give a call to Hindu society to leave caste and creed and unite. The Bihar Government recently conducted a caste census. There is a plan to do it in Congress-ruled states even further. What would you like to say?
I want to appeal only one thing to the Hindu society that we are getting the temple of Shri Ram in Ayodhya after 500 years. This long delay and wait were not only because of foreign invaders but also due to the fragmentation of Hindu society. Our Ram Lalla also had to suffer exile for 500 years due to our caste divisions! Now we have to always be united to protect it. I wonder at the origin of terms like ‘caste census’. Ishwar only knows when He will give wisdom to our politicians to unitedly declare, “We are all Bharatiyas!”