An assault on the soul of India
By Her Holiness Sadhvi Ritambhara
The question remains: Was the affidavit a bureaucratic goof up or a surreptitiously orchestrated tirade of insult and calumny heaped on Hindu dharma? Even as it continues to be confronted by a massive wave of worldwide
Hindu umbrage, the Government’s attitude remains belligerent and there appears to be no expression of apology.
The fact that such a sacred and important subject was dealt in such a lackadaisical manner speaks very poorly of the government and reflects its blatant disregard towards the religious sentiments of majority community. It might also be mentioned here how politically bankrupt these leaders must be, who till yesterday were blaming other parties for exploiting the name of Ram and are today raising questions of His existence! Needless to say, the affidavit hurt the sentiments of all Hindus.
The wanton desecration of the sacred Ram Sethu, which was built by Sri Ram during the Treta Yuga, is not only an assault on the very soul of India, but also the squall and the pandemonium generated by the abominable and ill-conceived Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project has shaken the very core of the nation’s political establishment. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, the government’s affidavit denying the veracity of Sri Ram is both sacrilegious and offensive to the religious sentiments of over a billion worldwide followers of Sri Ram.
From time immemorial, almost every devotee of Sri Ram considers Him to be dearer than his heart and life and will vouch by His name and, in the spirit of selfless devotion and reverence, is prepared to lay down his life for Him.
Sri Ram’s importance is not confined to India alone. The Ramayan is an integral part of traditional culture in Buddhist Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and many other parts of the world. In Malaysia and Indonesia the Ramayan was popular long before the conversion of the local communities to Islam. Conversely, Sri Ram’s name and the Ramayan have continued to influence the cultural and traditional ethos of all countries of the region such as Thailand where the Ramayan is predominantly appreciated and revered and is known as Ramakien, a word derived from the Sanskrit Ramakirti.
Profound reverence for Sri Ram is clearly evidenced by the fact that scenes from the Ramayan are depicted on the walls of the Royal Palaces and temples in Thailand. To this day, the Thai Hindu kings have identified themselves as Ram, and therefore as incarnations of Lord Vishnu. All the Theravada Buddhist kings of the ruling Chakri dynasty of Thailand take the royal title “Ram”. The Chakri, which provides both name and emblem to the house of Chakri, is composed of the traditional Hindu Chakra and the Trisula, the celestial weapon of the God Narai (an avatar of Vishnu) of whom the Thai King is seen as a personification. The current reigning King Bhumibol of Thailand is known as “Ram IX” and is regarded as an avatar of Sri Ram.
Millions of Hindus living outside India believe India to be a sacrosanct land where their Gods once walked. They consider the people of India to be the custodians of their ancient pilgrimage sites and expect that these sacred heritage places will be protected from the scourges of hostile and irresponsible forces. How disgraceful then, that the very government that had solemnly sworn “in the name of God to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India” should play with the sentiments of its citizens via a shrewdly drafted affidavit filed before the Supreme Court declaring that there was no evidence to show that Sri Ram ever existed; nor was there any “scientific evidence” to prove that the Ram Sethu was the bridge built by Sri Ram so vividly portrayed in so many of our sacred scriptures such as Valmiki and Tulsidas’s Ramayan! How could such a blasphemous affidavit be filed in the court in such a nonchalant way and with total disregard for the worldwide Hindu sentiments?
The fact that such a sacred and important subject was dealt in such a lackadaisical manner speaks very poorly of the government and reflects its blatant disregard toward the religious sentiments of majority community. It might also be mentioned here how politically bankrupt these leaders must be, who till yesterday were blaming other parties for exploiting the name of Ram and are today raising questions of His existence! Needless to say, the affidavit hurt the sentiments of all Hindus and caused worldwide antipathy and uproar. An embarrassed government withdrew the affidavit the very next day and sought more time from the court to study the implications of the project. However the damage was already done. The debacle sullied the image of the government especially since there was no attempt made to absolve its responsibility in the matter. Many international and local entities also condemned the “pseudo-secular” credentials of the government and are questioning whether this government would act in a similar manner when addressing the sentiments of other faiths. The questions remains: Was the affidavit a bureaucratic goof up or a surreptitiously orchestrated tirade of insult and calumny heaped on Hindu Dharma? Even as it continues to be confronted by a massive wave of worldwide Hindu umbrage, the Government’s attitude remains belligerent and there appears to be no expression of apology or remorse from those responsible. However the damage done to the reputation of those in power is immense and irreversible, as their “Taliban” type intentions have now been exposed.
The current assault on our Hindu dharma is nothing new but an extension of centuries of unprovoked assaults. Hindu history is replete with accounts of the most atrocious attacks perpetrated on the peace loving Hindus in India. Murderous barbarians began to plunder India, which was known as the glorious Bharatvarsha almost 1400 years ago. By using treacherous and inhuman methods, these marauders succeeded in the destruction and plunder of the greatest civilisation that humanity has ever known—the Saraswati Civilisation which was completely decimated. Whereas in other parts of Asia and Europe, the conquered populations quickly opted for conversion to Islam rather than face death, in India because of the unfaltering potency of the Sanatan Dharma, the Hindus remained steadfast in their belief and the Sanatan Dharma has continued to be the faith of over a billion people worldwide.
Today, nowhere on earth can you find such a rich and multi-layered tradition of heritage and wisdom known as Sanatan Dharma, which has remained unbroken and largely unchanged for at least five thousand years. Sanatan Dharma is gifted to us by the great rishis of the Vedic age. Sri Ram and Ramayan are the heart and soul of Sanatan Dharma. In spite of an onslaught of armies, and hostilities, the glorious name of Sri Ram has survived every invasion, every natural calamity, every deadly disease and outbreaks to remain as that ideal model of Divinity for a billion plus torch bearers who by their sheer numbers have demonstrated a greater cultural stamina than any other people on earth. Without a doubt, the essential basis of this insurmountable culture is the Sanatan Dharma and an intuitive conviction that the presence of Sri Ram is eminent in every moment of a person’s life.
Ram Sethu of Ramayan is a God-given gift to over a billion Hindus who continue to receive inspiration from its story in the Ramayan, which conveys a timeless message of human compassion, loyalty, bravery and indelible devotion to Dharma. Apart from its spiritual significance, Ram Sethu’s other attributes are more scientific and have a significant security value for the nation as it contains rich reserve of thorium, which is used as a nuclear fuel. Over the centuries, Ram Sethu has served as a natural barrier against tsunamis. When the waves of the last tsunami were swallowing up the residents of the islands and India’s coastal areas, it was this Ram Sethu, which stopped the dangerous waves from reaching Tamil Nadu and beyond.
By far the greatest feature of Ram Sethu has to be its strategic location, which has provided a natural security cordon against enemy ships as it prevents anti-Indian terrorists from entering Indian ports undetected. The proposed new port may be vulnerable to terrorist activities and could be used as a conduit to transport clandestine supplies to other countries in the region.
I believe that Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project is an ill-conceived venture, which has been inaugurated without any detailed review of the impact of natural disasters such as a tsunami on the chosen alignment and it has ignored the views expressed by environmentalists, seismologists, oceanographers and concerns of people living along the coastline. This raises concerns of the absence of due diligence in preparing a project of such national and international significance and utter disregard for the concerns expressed about the environment or Ram Sethu’s religious significance.
In my opinion, the campaign to save Ram Sethu should be of vital importance to any cultured person, without any connection to political identity or ideological stand. The campaign should become a campaign of national importance for, in the absence of the Ram Sethu, the enemies as well as natural disasters will expose vast areas of India to direct hits. In the event of a war, the canal would be vulnerable to a barrage of enemy ships, which would fire indiscriminately upon all targets in sight. This would be a sin not just against Mother Earth but also against our own children, our dharma and, indeed, the whole of mankind.
I therefore appeal to all people of India to unite and be part of this campaign. Responsible people need not stand idly by and allow this sacred monument and our fragile environment to be defiled. Your support is important to help us put a stop to destruction of a precious treasure that stands as a guard of our nation and also our national pride.
I also plead to the saints of India to remain silent no more and raise a peaceful movement for saving this precious inheritance of Treta Yuga and work for it unceasingly till the project of Sethusamudram canal gets cancelled. To take this movement on the height of success for all those who have deep faith in culture of Sri Ram is the foremost duty of every Indian citizen.
(The author is founder of Vatsalya Gram, Vrindavan.)