Seldom does an event occur in the history of civilization that is the culmination of centuries of struggle and sacrifice by hundreds of thousands of people and perseverance in the belief in a system of law and order. Such an event occurred Aug. 5 with the installation of the foundation stone for a project to rebuild Lord Rama’s birthplace temple in Ayodhya, India.
Lord Rama is believed by Hindus to be the 7th Avatar of the Divine (personified as Vishnu, the Sustainer in Hindu belief). Hindus believe that whenever the balance between good and evil is disturbed in favor of evil, Divinity takes a tangible form called an Avatar that appears on Earth to destroy the evil and restore the balance.
Lord Rama was born Jan. 10, 5114 BC. He is called Purushottam (foremost among humans) due to his qualities as an ideal son, husband and king. His story has inspired Hindus and non-Hindus who have read the account over thousands of years. Each of us can be inspired by Lord Rama’s obedience to his father, his quest to rescue his wife kidnapped by the evil Ravana, his destruction of Ravana and the liberation of the people and his ultimate sacrifice to abandon his beloved pregnant wife in order to maintain the moral fiber of his kingdom.
The temple at the site of his birth, which was in existence since time immemorable, was destroyed by Mir Baqi Tashkandi, a general of the invading Uzbek King Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan. This was not an isolated incident, as hundreds of thousands of temples have been destroyed by religious fanatic Mughal rulers in India prior to the British takeover. The destructive activities were recorded with relish in their memoirs.
On my last visit to New Delhi, it pained me to see easily recognizable pieces of the destroyed original Hindu temples in the so-called architectural marvels constructed by the invaders. The Lord Rama’s birth site, being one of the very sacred places for Hindus, had a total of 77 attempts made over centuries to reclaim it at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives of warriors and holy men, as well as ordinary men, women and children.
After the British left India, the former undivided country was partitioned into Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Bangladesh and Secular Republic of India which does not have a state religion. After independence in 1947, Hindu organizations petitioned the Indian judicial system for Lord Rama’s birthplace to be handed over for reconstruction of a grand temple consistent with its historical and religious significance. The movement to reclaim Lord Rama’s birthplace united all Hindus, regardless of innumerable divisions in the overall Hindu society.
The Indian judicial system took a long time in this case due to political interference. Finally, on Nov. 9, 2019, after the presentation of extensive archeological evidence, the Supreme Court of India ordered the 2.77 acres to be handed over to a trust to rebuild the temple.
It took 72 years after independence for a site of immense Hindu religious significance, which was forcefully taken nearly 500 years ago, to be regained through the due process of law.
The history of Hindus is rife with instances when internal divisions prevented a united front against the invading hordes. The result was the destruction of a culture and the forceful religious conversion of the locals into the faith of the invaders.
Today, we Americans are now the most divided in living history. We need to restore our common core values that make us all American. Our enemies are bleeding us to death with a thousand cuts, and we are not realizing the significance. Poisonous false propaganda is making fellow Americans hate each other with a ferocity previously reserved only for the vilest enemy. We need to unite soon before it is too late. As Benjamin Franklin rightly said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Dr. Pattekar is a radiologist. He is national director of service activities for Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA. He also serves on the board of volunteers of the Hindu Temple of Central Illinois.