The Ram Janmabhoomi Movement, to this day, remains an enigma despite the fact that so much has been written and said about it. Despite the hours and hours of news coverage and the books that have been written about it, there is plenty about it that’s still not known. There are too many unanswered questions and unfortunately, the Sangh Parivar has not demonstrated any inclination to answer them and understandably so.
The attempts that have been made in the mainstream narrative to document the historical facts of the movement have invariably come from sources that are inimical to Hindu interests. That is not surprising given the fact that the corridors of academia have always been dominated by the Left. It’s changing slowly only now with a definitive shift in the power structure of the country but much remains to be achieved on that front.
Given the fact that the five-hundred-year-old dispute has come to a conclusion only now, there is a need to revisit the movement and reevaluate the circumstances under which the events transpired. There will be a healthy degree of speculation involved but the speculation will be grounded on a firm basis of fact.
There exists, to this day, an air of mystery surrounding the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. And the people and organizations that were an intrinsic part of it are not in a position where they can clear the air around it. Whose idea was it to create a national movement focused around the birthplace of Rama? Did the idea truly come from within the Sangh Parivar or without? Who were the principal characters involved in the Babri Masjid demolition? Was demolition of the Masjid the objective from the very beginning? It is the answer to these questions that we seek today. But before we delve into the realm of possibilities, we must lay out before ourselves what we already know about the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement.
An Alternative Paradigm
In the popular imagination, it is known quite well that Hindus have struggled for five centuries to reclaim Ram Janmabhoomi. However, when we speak of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement, we generally refer to the period between 1984-1992 when Hindus of India united as a whole and decided that time had come for the final push. However, it would be more appropriate to consider the period between 1984-92 as the penultimate phase of the movement which began centuries ago. In view of the events that have transpired since then, it would also be more appropriate to consider 2019 as the year the movement finally ended and not 1992 as it was this year that Ram Janmabhoomi was definitively reclaimed.
Ayodhya, Kashi, and Mathura are three of the most concrete examples of the continuity of the Hindu Civilization from ancient history to its modern manifestation, the Indian State. Consequently, the battles that have been fought for the reclamation of these three sites provide the historical link between India as a nation-state for Hindus and ancient India where Hinduism was the predominant religion in the Indian subcontinent.
Aurangzeb’s demolition of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple angered Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj greatly and it could very well be argued that it was in 1669 when the Mughal Emperor destroyed the Temple in Kashi that he sealed the fate of his Empire. The fall of the Mughal Empire, later on, was merely destiny playing out its hand as per its own convenience.
Similarly, Ayodhya, too, has featured prominently in the consciousness of the Hindu resistance against invaders and their ideologies. More specifically, the Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi has played a role the importance of which could never be overestimated. Thus, it would be more accurate to split the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement into three broad eras.
The first, of course, transpired under the domination of the Islamic world. The second occurred under the colonial rule of the British Empire. And the third occurred in Independent India which chose to be a secular state. The important thing to note here is that all these three phases occurred at a time when foreign ideologies dominated the land.
Secularism, as benign as it may appear, is still a foreign ideology and deeply at odds with the ethos of the Hindu Civilization as Hindus are beginning to learn only now. Thus, the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement served as a focal point, along with Kashi and Mathura and Prayag and Hampi, in the war against three foreign ideologies spanning across centuries. And it is in this light that the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement is best viewed.
Govindachandra The Great of the Gahadavala Dynasty
The Temple at the sacred site, that was demolished by the Mughals in order to build the Babri Masjid, was constructed at a far grander scale than the Temple that stood earlier at the site by King Govindachandra of the Gahadavala Dynasty sometime in the 12th Century. It is the discovery of the Vishnu-Hari inscription following the demolition of the Babri Masjid that provided another incontrovertible evidence of the existence of a grand Temple at Ram Janmabhoomi. The same was even argued in Court and the Supreme Court in its verdict did acknowledge the inscription that dates back to the same era all those centuries ago.
The verses 20-22 of the inscription state, “Not only did he, who was powerful, put an end to the arrogant warriors who were dancing in unrestrained frenzy in the battles constantly fought by him, but he also gave (to his people) an excellent army which was replete with (soldiers comparable to) the wish-fulfilling trees. By him, who was meditating in his mind on the easiest means of quickly jumping across the ocean of worldly attachments, was erected this beautiful temple of (The god) Visnu-Hari, [on a scale] never before done by the preceding kings, compactly formed [i.e. built] with rows of large and lofty stones which had been sculpted out. The position of Alhana, whose tireless shoulders were like safety latches for the stability of the king Govindacandra’s empire, was subsequently occupied by his younger (son?) Ayusyacandra.”
Govindachandra, during his reign, registered great victories against the Ghaznavids, who represented the first wave of Islamic invaders that descended upon India. And it is believed that it was the very Temple that was destroyed by the Mughals. The construction of the Temple itself was an act of Hindu assertion. Govindachandra repelled the ‘Turushka’ (the Turkic Ghaznavids) and thrashed them and restored the glory of the Gahadavala dynasty to its former glory. Not only the Temple at Ram Janmabhoomi but he also rebuilt the temple at Krishna Janmabhoomi at a scale grander than ever before. And there are hints that he also protected the Kashi Vishwanath Temple at Varanasi. Thus, the Grand Temples that were built were a concrete statement of the fact that the scourge of the Ghaznavids had passed.
Thus, from the construction of the grandest Temple at Ram Janmabhoomi to the reclamation of the sacred site in 2019, it truly encapsulates the continuity of the Hindu Civilization. And just as Govindachandra’s Bhavya Mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi marked the end of the Ghaznavid scourge, the construction of the Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ayodhya now would signify that a new era of Hindu Assertion is upon us. One may call it destiny or mere coincidence but it was an inscription from Govindachandra’s times that made a crucial contribution towards the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi in the secular state of India.
The First Phase: The Islamic Era
In an earlier article, we have elaborated in detail the manner in which the reclamation of the sacred sites of the Hindus featured prominently in the plans of the Maratha Empire. Therefore, to avoid repetition, we shall only provide a brief summary of their efforts. The complete article can be read here.
From the evidence available, we can conclude that between 1751-59, the reclamation of Hindu Holy Sites including Ayodhya was a top priority for the Marathas. However, due to various reasons, they could not completely succeed in their endeavor. On one occasion, they had decided to demolish the Gyanvapi Mosque, however, they were prevented from doing so by the Hindu residents of Kashi who believed that they would have to suffer the wrath of the Muslim barbarians once the Maratha forces left the area.
From the letters from the Peshwa as well, it is evident that Ayodhya, along with Kashi, Mathura and Prayag, featured prominently in Maratha plans. The objective of the Marathas suffered greatly due to the defeat at the Third Battle of Panipat and although they recovered extremely quickly, within a span of ten years, they could never reach a position where they could reclaim the holy sites.
The reason for this appears to be the fact that the Marathas projected their power from the Deccan. They never gained control of the Gangetic plain and hence, they could not conclusively reclaim the sacred sites of the Hindus. The Marathas did take control of Kashi and Mathura later on, however, Ayodhya remained elusive. And so did Ram Janmabhoomi.
The Second Phase: British Colonial Rule
During British Colonial Rule as well, efforts were made to reclaim Ram Janmabhoomi. Violence erupted sporadically during this period and the ‘Battle of Hanumangarhi’ in 1855 perfectly demonstrates why Ayodhya could not be reclaimed during this era. We have published a detailed article on this too and therefore, we will only provide a brief summary here. The entire article can be read here.
As the Colonial power that it was, it was crucial for the British Empire to pose itself as equidistant from the Hindu-Muslim battle that was already raging within the Indian subcontinent. Their interests were primarily colonial and exploitative in nature. Therefore, they sought to preserve the status quo that already existed at these sites. Therefore, the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi was not possible during this time.
Even as late as 1934, in the aftermath of the Khilafat Movement, Hindu-Muslim riots sparked at Ayodhya over cow slaughter in the nearby Shahjahanpur village. As per historical accounts, the walls of the Masjid and one of the domes of the Babri was damaged during the riots. And consistent with its nature, the British government intervened and imposed a fine of Rs. 84,000 on the Hindus of the area. The entire sum was paid by an elderly woman on behalf of the Hindus that led to the settlement of the dispute. The penalty paid by Hindus provided for the required expenses for the repair of the Babri.
Two years prior to the ‘Battle of Hanumangarhi’, the Nirmohi Akhada in 1853 forcefully entered the Babri Masjid and claimed the structure in the name of Rama. Communal riots erupted as a consequence and it lasted for a long time afterwards. Three decades after the ‘Battle of Hanumangarhi’, a title suit was filed by the Priest of the Ram Chabutara Mahant Raghubar Das in 1885 seeking permission to build a Ram Temple on the Chabutra on the outer courtyard of the Babri Masjid. It is believed that the Chabutra was constructed following the settlement of the Hanumangarhi dispute.
Thus, we see that despite numerous efforts to reclaim Ram Janmabhoomi, it wasn’t possible because the state machinery was under the control of the British and it wasn’t in the interests of the colonial powers to allow Hindus to reclaim their sacred site. Thus, when India won independence in 1947 and became a sovereign power, it became clear that Ayodhya posed one of the most significant questions that the Indian State will have to answer in order to determine its course for the future.
The Third Phase: The Secular State of India
It’s the third and final phase of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement that we have the most knowledge about due to obvious reasons. The ‘Ram Janmabhoomi Movement’, as it’s known conventionally, also occurred during this phase. However, even if we consider Independent India alone, the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is best viewed as one that occurred in three waves.
The first wave began in the Winter of 1949 and then witnessed a lull between 1955-84, which was then reignited by the Sangh Parivar in 1984 that ended with the eventual demolition of the Babri in 1992. These represent the first two waves of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement in Independent India. The third wave, however, between 1992-2019 is traditionally not regarded as part of the movement. But considering the manner in which the demolition of the Babri Masjid definitively altered the future course of the nation, I propose that it should be regarded as such.
The second wave of the movement that began in 1984 ended with the demolition of the Babri. But it did not represent the end of the struggle for Ram Janmabhoomi. Ayodhya was not reclaimed with the demolition and thus began a new wave in the war for Rama. The third wave of the movement was truly unique as it was during this period that Ram Janmabhoomi served as the focal point for the rise to dominance of an alternate vision of a state that ruled over a billion people.
The third wave unfolded in ways that demonstrated perfectly that it was no longer a battle only for Ram Janmabhoomi, it was verily for the soul of India and the future of the Indian State. The principal organizations which drove the struggle in the second phase made Ram Janmabhoomi the foundation of their political vision. Between 1992-2019, the country underwent tectonic shifts but the greatest feat remains that the political powers which steered the second wave of the movement occupied the corridors of the power definitively as a consequence of their contribution towards Rama.
Hindutva, which had been a fringe ideology until 1992, has since then become the dominant political force in the country. It remains the greatest legacy of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. Hindutva was a reactionary ideology that was formulated after careful contemplation of the dark ages for the Hindu Civilization. The early thinkers of Hindutva, including Savarkar, came to the conclusion that Hindus had suffered catastrophic losses in the past as a consequence of the lack of ‘Asabbiyah’ among Hindus.
Asabbiyah refers to a concept of social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness, a shared sense of identity and a sense of shared purpose with respect to the future. In the age of nation-states and democracy, Hindutva was meant to achieve the political consolidation of Hindus under one banner, which would mean the unity of Hindus under one nation-state. In Independent India, it meant the political consolidation of Hindus under one banner.
Indeed, there was a very real chance of a multitude of nation-states emerging in 1947 along the lines of ethnicity or region or Kingdoms. Sardar Patel solved that problem by uniting a plethora of kingdoms under India. Thus, half of the problem was solved for the proponents of Hindutva by the Iron Man of India. And that is why he is respected and revered immensely by all the prominent Hindutvavadis despite the fact that Sardar Patel belonged to the Congress party.
In Independent India, of course, there was a need for the political consolidation of Hindus as Hindus continued to vote on the basis of their caste, class, and region rather than their Hindu identity. For a strong India, it was imperative that the political consolidation of Hindus was achieved. Thus, in the Secular State of India, Hindutva was the Gun, Ram Janmabhoomi was the Bullet and political consolidation of Hindus was the target.
Henceforth, it is the second and third wave of the movement that we will focus on primarily. But before moving ahead, there’s the need to address another fundamental lesson that the conclusion of the War for Rama provides.
Hinduism and the Global Order
There’s an important lesson that the three phases of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement spanning centuries holds for the people of this country. We see that despite great efforts, the Marathas were not able to reclaim the holy sites of the Hindus. We again see that despite numerous attempts, Hindus could not reclaim Ram Janmabhoomi during British Colonial Rule. And it was only at a time of global chaos that Ram Janmabhoomi was reclaimed by Hindus and another core concern for Hindus, the abrogation of Article 370, was achieved.
It shows that the fate of Hindutva issues cannot be viewed in isolation. They have to be placed in the context of what’s happening around us. During the first two phases of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement, the world was not as integrated as it is today. Therefore, the reclamation of Hindu holy sites ought to be viewed in the context of the political scenario of the Indian subcontinent.
During the British colonial rule, the Empire could not risk the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi by Hindus as it was not in their interests to upset the status quo. The same political dynamics played out in the creation of Pakistan as the Islamic State was carved out of India so that the Western powers were in prime position to influence the affairs of the Indian subcontinent. It is the same political dynamics due to which Article 370 could not be abrogated earlier as the abrogation of it would have upset the status quo, which again, wouldn’t have been in the interests of the existing World Order.
It is also interesting to note that the Babri Masjid collapsed almost exactly a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And the second wave of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement occurred during the Cold War. Also, Article 370 was abrogated at a time when the world is in a flux and the Global World Order is on the verge of collapse due to the advent of China. One could even argue that it has already collapsed. Thus, we see that Hindus have achieved the greatest victories since the 20th century at times when the global world order is in a state of chaos.
The fate of Hindutva in a highly integrated world in the 21st Century is intricately linked with the global world order and Hindutva will succeed in achieving all of its ideological objectives only when we have become strong enough to influence the world at an international scale. It is similar to how the reclamation of Hindu Holy Sites in the past was subject to the political scenario of the Indian subcontinent.
The Liberhan Commission Report
It does say a lot about the second wave of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement that the most comprehensive documentation of it can be found in the report of the Liberhan Commission constituted by the Government of India to investigate the circumstances that led to the crime. Today marks the 27th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition and yet, there does not exist a more comprehensive account on the matter than the Liberhan Commission Report.
The report was rejected by the BJP and embraced by the liberal camp for it painted a very sinister picture of the RSS and its associated organizations. The report used the term ‘Sangh Parivar’ to refer to the RSS and the organizations linked to it such as the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, even the BJP. Although the report could not provide any conclusive evidence of criminal intentions on the part of any member of the Sangh Parivar, it did manage to capture the extensive networks the Sangh Parivar had managed to build during the course of its existence.
The Liberhan Commission Report is indeed a treasure-trove of information. However, the information contained therein is contaminated with obvious political motivations that is indeed inevitable in the work of any liberal-minded individual. Thus, it failed to definitively establish criminal intent on anyone’s part and raised a very intriguing set of questions.
For instance, did anyone in the top hierarchy of the Sangh have any idea that the Masjid was going to be destroyed? Why was there a lull in the War for Rama between 1955 and 1984? Who decided to reignite the war in 1984? Was there a conscious decision on anyone’s part that the Masjid had to be destroyed? Who was the first to recognize that the War for Rama could alter the course of this country? Such questions persist to this day. We will attempt to provide an answer to some of these questions today.
A Brief Timeline of Events
In Independent India, the struggle for Rama began in the Winter of 1949. We have published a detailed account of the episode, therefore, we will keep it brief in this essay. The detailed account can be read here.
In December 1949, K.K. Nayar, Mahant Digvijay Nath, Baba Abhayram Das, and others conspired to place Murthis of Shri Rama and Sita Mata inside the Masjid. It led to a great consternation between Nayar, who was the District Magistrate at the time, and the government which wanted the Murthis removed. Ultimately, the will of the Bhaktas prevailed and the Murthis remained where they were. Through a verdict of the Allahabad High Court in 1955, it was mandated that the Murthis remain inside the Masjid and that priests be permitted to worship Ram Lalla at the sacred site. However, it remained closed to devotees.
In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhada filed a suit demanding the right to worship and the management of Ram Janmabhoomi. Two years later, the Sunni Waqf Board filed a petition demanding that the Murthis be removed. However, in 1964, they withdrew the plea. In 1981, the Sunni Waqf Board filed a suit for possession of the site. Two decades later, in 1984, the VHP organized its first Dharma Sabha for the reclamation of the Ram Janmabhoomi. In 1986, during Rajiv Gandhi’s Prime Ministerial tenure, the locks to the gates of the Babri were finally opened for the Hindus.
The mass movement began growing in momentum, taken to the masses by the VHP. In 1989, the Shilanyas of the Ram Mandir was performed at the sacred site. Interestingly enough, the first brick of the Mandir was laid down by a Dalit Karyakarta of the Sangh Parivar, Kameshwar Choupal. It was the same year that Ram Mandir featured in the BJP’s election manifesto for the first time. The next year, Lal Krishna Advani started his Rath Yatra for the construction of the same which led to communal riots. It was in 1990 that the Mulayam Singh government slaughtered Karsevaks in broad daylight.
The Day of Reckoning: 6th December 1992
It won’t be an exaggeration to assert that the 6th of December, 1992 marks the most important event in the history of Independent India. It was on that very day that the future of the Indian State was changed forever. The tremors that shook the world that day, they undermined the very foundations of a powerful state and lay the ground for its transformation into something greater and better.
Many accusations have been leveled, various attempts have been made to hold the ‘guilty’ to account. Numerous theories have been promulgated to explain the events of that day. But truth be told, no one really knows how the Babri Masjid Demolition came to pass. People only have opinions. If you ask the ‘Secular’ camp, they will blame the Sangh Parivar for the entire series of events. The Liberhan Commission Report, which was a product of such biases, blamed the Sangh Parivar entirely for it.
If one were to ask the ‘Radical Secular’ camp, they would blame the entire Indian State for it, not merely the Sangh Parivar. The former is blamed for not being able to protect the disputed structure and the latter for being the Tsunami that wrecked everything in its path. PV Narasimha Rao is still held responsible by members of his own party for not being able to stop the demolition
If you were to ask the Hindutva Camp, one would receive three sorts of responses. One group would say that the Babri Masjid Demolition was wrong and should be condemned but a Ram Mandir should be constructed on Ram Janmabhoomi regardless of what happened. Leaders such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee belonged in this camp. Taken to its logical conclusion, the stated position translates to the stance that the Babri Masjid ought to have been demolished by the Indian State, not a ‘mob’.
The second response is, of course, ‘We did it and we are proud of it’. A great number of prominent people would fall under this category but they need not be named. The third category of response is what I call the Kalyan Singh Declaration. This declaration denies any involvement in the demolition but states clearly, “No regret. No repentance. No sorrow. No grief.”
A devout Ram Bhakt, however, conveys a slightly different perspective. Although he does not deny the involvement of principal characters in the movement, he does say that forces much greater than which exist in our material world were at play on that fateful day. I am rather sympathetic to this point of view, being a bit of a romantic myself. It is very easy to understand why devout people would believe that on 06/12/92, it is the will of the Gods that manifested itself.
Kameshwar Choupala, who laid the first brick of the Ram Mandir, said in an interview years later, “I can tell you that no one could have stopped that tide. I don’t know what happened. There were walls that Karsevaks brought down with their bare shoulders. We would shout and say, ‘Runaway, the wall will fall on you,’ but nobody listened. They were under some sort of spell.” He went on to say, “In a battle, only Gods are invoked. We don’t say, ‘Gandhiji ki jai, Nehru ki jai’. We say, ‘Jai Bhavani, Har Har Mahadev’.”
How did the sociopolitical realities of India between 1949-92 affect the Movement?
It is a matter of fact that after the Allahabad High Court verdict in 1955, there was a significant lull in the movement for the next three decades. There are good reasons for it. The ordinary citizen does not wish to live in a country of perpetual revolutions. He seeks stability and the promise of a better future. The period between 1947-50 was the most turbulent in the Indian subcontinent in the 20th century.
Thus, the revolutionary zeal of Indians was completely exhausted and when the Constitution of India came into effect, the vast majority of Indians did want to give the new state a fresh chance. Furthermore, when the Allahabad High Court granted Hindus the right to worship the Murthis of Rama and Sita inside the Babri in 1955, a lot of Hindus were satisfied with the outcome. Due to the events of the recent past, at that moment, they did not believe that anything more was possible at that point in time.
Seven years later, India went to war with China, which it lost. In 1965, Pakistan was up to its usual tricks again and suffered a humiliating defeat. In 1971, India thrashed Pakistan and split it into two. Thus, there were a lot of things happening in the country which occupied the nation’s focus for a great amount of time. Thus, the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement took a breather for a while. It isn’t to say that crucial developments of grave relevance to the Movement were not taking place, it’s just that these developments were not part of the national discussion.
The emergency in 1975 was another event of great importance to the history of our country. India Gandhi suspended democratic rights and imprisoned hundreds and thousands of her political opponents. As it so happened, it did have a great impact on the struggle for Ram Janmabhoomi but in a rather indirect fashion, which we shall elaborate on in the next segment. The Emergency precipitated the Janata Alliance which formed the first non-Congress government at the Center. Jan Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP, was part of it although it did eventually affect its political prospects adversely.
The Omerta that had existed within the country since 1955 was broken when Rajiv Gandhi came to power in 1984 with a resounding victory. He surrounded himself with people from the Left end of the political spectrum and ruled as a Leftist. It is to be remembered here that Indira Gandhi, for all her kowtowing with the Left, she never ruled as one herself. When it came to politics, she operated strictly within the realms of realism.
But not Rajiv Gandhi. With his decision on the Shah Bano judgment, he greatly gave credence to the notion that Islamic fundamentalism will be tolerated in this country while Hindu Aastha shall be crushed. The opening of the gates of the Babri in 1986 was a direct consequence of the Shah Bano verdict. The legitimate grievances of the Hindu community had to be addressed after the government caved in to the radicalism of the Mullahs. Then on, the Islamic fundamentalists entered the picture and it was a series of escalations from both sides that eventually led to the destruction of the Babri.
What was the Sangh Parivar up to between 1955-1984?
The Sangh Parivar suffered a series of setbacks right after independence. Following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, the RSS was removed from the corridors of power entirely. Therefore, the Sangh Parivar had to engage itself in a significant amount of rebuild and reinvent itself in order to regain a foothold in the country. And Rebuild and Reinventing is what the RSS did.
In 1964, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was established with the specific purpose of reaching out to the Sant and Sadhus of the country. Likewise, numerous other organizations were established to reach out to specific communities within the Hindu fold. The Sangh expanded significantly throughout this period but the greatest expansive work was, of course, carried out by the VHP.
For the purpose of the movement, the VHP had the most critical role. It had to reach out to that set of individuals who basically have the Adhikara to tap into the most potent resource of any society: Spirituality. Thus, in 1984, when the VHP organized its first Dharma Sansad on the matter, it had an outpouring of support from the Sants and Sadhus of the Hindu community. It cannot be denied that the unwavering support that the Sants and Sadhus offered to the movement was extremely critical to its success.
One important visionary must also be mentioned in this regard. Madhukar Dattatreya Deoras, the third Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, provided the great leadership that was required at that point in time. With pragmatism and ostensible grip over Realpolitik, he steered the RSS during a particularly turbulent period in Indian history. The organization was banned for the second time during the Emergency, and like always, it emerged much stronger than before.
After the utter decimation of the Jan Sangh following its merger with the Janata Alliance, a need was felt to float a new political party. That party was, of course, the BJP. It is unclear whether the Dharma Sansad was organized in 1984 to provide a unique plank to the fledgling new party. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if it were. But a decision was made, no doubt, that time had come to rekindle the fire that had spurned our civilization to glory. The political developments in the country since the revocation of the Emergency, undoubtedly, contributed majorly to this decision.
Another person who deserves a special mention in this regard is Ashok Singhal, who remained at the helm of the affairs of the VHP during the second wave of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement in Independent India. He became the National Joint General Secretary of the VHP. It was under his watch that the VHP organized the first Dharma Sansad. In many ways, he was the focal point of interaction between the Sangh Parivar and the Sant Samaj. A detailed account of his contribution can be read here.
The Muth Remembers
Between 1955 and 1984, while the ebb of the struggle for Ram Janmabhoomi was at a low, an institution or a set of individuals had to preserve the knowledge of the potential the movement had. In this instance, the institution that served as the repository of knowledge was the Gorakhnath Muth. It was Mahant Digvijay Nath of the Muth who first envisioned that the Ram Janmabhoomi had the potential of uniting the Hindus of this country under one banner and help them transcend the barriers of caste, class, creed, region and language.
It was, again, Mahant Digvijay Nath who played a critical role in the installation of the Murthis inside the Babri in 1949. Years later, it would be his successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, who would make critical contribution to the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement in its second wave. Thus, it’s not too difficult to imagine that Mahant Digvijay Nath passed on his wisdom regarding the potential of the struggle for Ram Janmabhoomi to his successor.
Again, it is not too farfetched to assume that Mahant Avaidyanath was one of the first Mahants the VHP reached out to given the history of the Muth. It is also pertinent to remember that the Mahant of the Gorakhnath Muth has traditionally been the Rajguru of the Nepalese Monarchy which was ultimately abolished in the first decade of this century. Thus, in the landscape of North India, the Gorakhnath Muth has always enjoyed an exalted position.
Therefore, when the Sangh Parivar floated a new party in 1980, the BJP, we can speculate that Mahant Avaidyanath would have conveyed his Gurudev’s wisdom to the leadership of the Sangh Parivar. Of course, he could have conveyed it earlier as well which may have influenced the Sangh Parivar’s decision to float a new political party. However, we cannot say that for sure and given the evidence at hand, it does appear that the decision to establish a new party was made purely on the basis of the utter decimation of the Jan Sangh.
During the penultimate phase of the Movement, Mahant Avaidyanath played a huge role along with numerous other prominent members of the Sant Samaj. Acharya Ramchandra Das Paramhans, who was again a close acquaintance of Mahant Avaidyanath, played a crucial role in the movement. Interestingly enough, the indefatigable Acharya also is reported to have played a prominent role in the 1934 attacks on the Babri that led to its damage. Acharya Ramchandra Das Paramhans also played a great role in the installation of the Murthis in 1949, along with Mahant Digvijay Nath.
Thus, the Gorakhnath Muth has played a monumental role in the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. In the first wave of the Movement, there was Mahant Digvijay Nath. In the second wave, there was Mahant Avaidyanath. And in the third phase, we have Mahant Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The All-Important Question: Who decided that Babri Masjid had to go?
It is a question the answer to which we will never be able to know for sure. If one asks the Secular Camp, every single person in the top leadership of the Sangh Parivar and the BJP planned the demolition. If one asks the Hindutva Camp, they will either say they had no prior knowledge of the events that unfolded or that they were proud participants in it. We cannot expect an honest answer to the question and for obvious reasons.
The conduct of leaders post-facto do not provide many clues as well. For instance, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was visibly upset in public about the manner in which Babri Masjid was demolished and so was Lal Krishna Advani. But they could be accused of engaging in posturing in public but in secret, they were perfectly aware of what they were up to. Such accusations, of course, cannot be dismissed entirely and justifiably so.
Then, of course, there was Kalyan Singh who famously declared, “No regret. No repentance. No sorrow. No grief.” He also declared that the 6th of December, 1992 was a Shaurya Divas and not a day of national shame. His contribution to the entire movement can be read in detail here. Given what we know about him and his conduct during the entire period, it will be hard to argue that he wasn’t aware of what was going to happen to the Babri Masjid.
Even so, it will be extremely difficult to prove in a Court of Law that Kalyan Singh is guilty of demolishing the Babri or engaging in a conspiracy. The defendant argues that he only gave the order that no shots be fired at the Karsevaks, he only proclaims that the 6th of December is a Shaurya Divas and not a sign of guilt. In a Court of Law, the notion is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the prosecution will have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable amount of doubt.
Therefore, under such circumstances, it’s extremely difficult to say with any degree of authority who made the decision in question. It is one answer we will never know unless someone decides to divulge that crucial bit of information. What we do know, however, is that Mahant Digvijay Nath realized the potential of the struggle for Rama to unite Hindus under one banner and we do know that Acharya Ramchandra Paramhans, who played a huge role in the second wave of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement, also reportedly played a prominent role in an attack on the Babri in 1934 where it suffered some damages. While it gives us sufficient material to engage in speculation, at the end of the day, it is all what it is, mere speculation.
What does it say about the nature of the Sangh Parivar?
The manner in which the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement became so popular shows that the RSS has a very decentralized structure. An idea from the fringes of society can acquire great prominence within the Parivar if it is voiced through proper channels. The manner in which Mahant Digvijay Nath’s vision took center-stage does point towards this fact. Although it has to be stated here that the Mahant was not a fringe figure by any means, he had been associated with the Hindu Mahasabha for a long time.
The core message is that an idea of national significance if it is good enough, can climb through the ladder and take central focus. The trajectory of a good idea appears to be from an individual to a subset of leaders in the hierarchy of the affiliation organization. Then, it has to gain acceptance within the affiliated organization from where it is then taken up at the Sangh leadership. Ultimately, it has to be approved by the central leadership of the Sangh and ultimately, it has to be approved by the Sarsanghchalak himself. Of course, an idea has to be very very good in order to convince all these leaders but if it passes the test, it has the chance to gain importance.
Another aspect of the Sangh that is revealed by the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement is that the Sangh is extremely patient and plays a long game. It will not rush and risk causing permanent damage. Instead, it believes in slowly working its way up from the bottom. Furthermore, the multitude of organizations affiliated to the RSS reveals that Sangh Parivar acutely feels the need to unite Hindus from all sections of society under one banner. It is their central focus. The RSS serves as the mothership of the Hindutva Movement and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
The Third Wave: 1992-2019
In the third wave, the battle for the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi became a movement for the reclamation of the Indian State. Between 1992-2019, Hindutva captured the corridors of power from secular forces. The battle, of course, is far from over but it cannot be denied that Hindutva, at the moment, is the dominant ideology in the country.
As we have stated before, there are irreconcilable differences between the Hindutva conception of the Indian State and the Liberal perception of it. The differences are so fundamental and so great that they could never be resolved through dialogue. Today, Article 370 has been abrogated. The Citizenship Amendment Bill is on the verge of becoming law. The National Register of Citizens will be created.
The leadership of our country does not shy away from its Hindu heritage. Even Bollywood has been made to kneel and we see a definitive shift in the entertainment industry. It should be remembered that the path to all of this was cleared by the struggle for Ram Janmabhoomi. Without the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement, none of this would have been possible.
Of course, the romantic in me would argue that we are merely enjoying the fruits of labour our people have earned through their devotion towards Rama. It is His favour that our countrymen earned through the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement that is helping our country reach new levels of prosperity. However, it is perhaps more realistically explained by the fact that the leadership of the country has fallen into the hands of people who genuinely wish to see India fulfill its potential.
A New Dawn
If it is indeed the favour of the Gods, that our people earned through the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement, that we are enjoying today, one cannot help but imagine the favour of the Gods we will earn when a Bhavya Ram Mandir has finally been constructed at Ram Janmabhoomi and it is opened for worship. Indeed, King Govindachandra constructed a Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi in the 12th Century at a far grander scale than the one that stood earlier to mark the Dawn of a New Age. Similarly, the Bhavya Ram Mandir that will be built in the 21st Century will mark the Dawn of a New Age as well.
As we have elaborated during the course of this essay, Hindus had to overcome three different foreign ideologies in order to reclaim Ram Janmabhoomi. First, they had to battle Islamic Invaders, then they had to struggle under the British Colonial Regime. And finally, they had to defeat the Secular State of India in order to regain possession of the land. Thus, the construction of a Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ayodhya will mark the Dawn of a New Age.
What can we expect from this new era? Again, we cannot say for sure as the world is going through a great epoch in terms of Geopolitics. However, if we do manage to emerge victorious, we can expect India to be stronger than it has ever been since Islamic invaders gained a foothold in the regions of the Indian subcontinent we now call India. As for other ambitions of the Hindu Civilization, frankly, anything is possible. If ever there was a good time to dream of a better future, this is it.
Monumental changes are underway in this country. Would anyone have expected that the first military operation within Pakistani territory in years, Article 370 abrogation, reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi, the looming passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, that all of this could have occurred within the space of a single year? It would have been unimaginable five years ago. But now, all of this is a reality. And better things are to be expected in the future.
We have said numerous times before that Narendra Modi will go down in history as the Founder of New India. And given the events of 2019, he most certainly will. We had made another prediction during the 2019 General Elections. We had said that Nehruvianism shall not survive another term of Modi Sarkaar. Needless to say, we have been vindicated. The most distinguishing aspect of New India will be that during the years of Nehruvianism, communal harmony flowed from the mythical narrative of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. When the Bhavya Ram Mandir has been constructed, communal harmony will flow from the Lotus Feet of Shri Rama.