Ram Lalla, a resident of UP by : Antara Dev Sen

Ram Lalla, a resident of UP by : Antara Dev Sen

Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/

So it has happened. Ram has been demoted from a divine being to a mere earthly creature. He even has a birth certificate from the Allahabad high court. Soon he may be expected to acquire a voter identity card from Mayawati and a Unique Identity number from Nandan Nilekani. This court victory for litigant Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman, among others, is just the beginning of his arduous life on earth. In a curious twist of destiny, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu is now in his worldly avatar as a UP-ite.

Dragged down from his heavenly pedestal by his fanatical followers, Ram has other problems too, as a historical being. He seems to have been born several centuries ago, no one knows exactly when (but they will, they will, just wait!) and is still in his infancy.

This young VIP in Ayodhya, residing amidst ruins where the central dome of the Babri Masjid used to be, is Ram Lalla. It was in the name of this infant god that the centuries-old mosque was demolished by his followers. And thousands killed as a result. As an infant, Ram Lalla allowed what he would probably not have permitted as a grown-up Maryada Purushottama.

But while the infant Ram resides in this seat of violence he is reported to have all these heroic exploits as the prince of Ayodhya and Sita’s husband. Is dear Ram Lalla all grown up and married too? Why, there is even the Sita ki rasoi, his wife’s kitchen, right beside his nursery. Can he be both an infant and an adult at the same time? Can he be in several places at the same time? Sure he can, as a god. But as a historical being? When divine beings are reborn as earthlings, their wings are clipped. They cease to be gods. The same Allahabad high court may frown upon this claim of omnipresence from the litigant, accepting it may set a dangerous precedence.

As it is the courts set limits to the powers of gods. Recently the Bombay high court has ruled that gods are incapable of playing the share market as it turned down the petition from an association of gods demanding a account. But all these gods had PAN cards, insisted the gods’ counsel, and were shareholders already! Never mind, said the court, the gods did not have the “personal skill, judgment and supervision” required. When a god becomes a legal person, he needs to be judged accordingly.

And one of the powers that Ram has clearly lost in this court case is his divine ability to recreate himself and his world. “Ram is born in countless ways, and there are tens of millions of Ramayanas”, said Tulsidas in the 16th century. Not anymore. Ram has now been cast in stone, imprisoned forever in a unidimensional figure by this week’s historic court verdict.

Last year, when the Liberhan Commission finally released its report on the demolition of the Babri Masjid after 17 years, it made several recommendations. Regarding the authenticity of the claims of Ram Janmabhoomi/ Babri Masjid it said: “The question whether a structure was a temple or a mosque can only be answered by a scientific study by archaeologists, historians and anthropologists. No politician, jurist or journalist can provide a comprehensive answer to such questions… Therefore, set up a statutory national commission of experts to delve into these questions…

” The government curtly replied that it was not necessary to appoint another national commission, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) would be enough.

This week, the court ruled in favour of Ram Lalla based on the findings of the ASI. Senior historians like Irfan Habib doubt the authenticity of the findings, and believe that evidence may have been planted that the ASI could not detect. The courts can only act on whatever information they are given. And our government bodies are not known for efficiency.

I feel for the ASI. What on earth could they do? In 2007, when they were asked to tell us about the Ram Setu, they had their heads bitten off. They had stated that being a science and technology department, they would have to examine the Ram Setu in a scientific manner, not “solely relying on the contents of a mythological text.” So, although ancient mythological and literary texts are culturally important, they are not historical records that “incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the events depicted therein”. It neither accepted nor denied Ram’s existence, and said that the bridge was not manmade, but naturally formed.

Immediately there were charges of blasphemy, ASI officials were suspended, the culture minister almost had to resign and the ASI was forced to change its view in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile the law minister said of course Ram was a historical figure — sure, he existed.

But which Ram was the historical figure? Valmiki’s demigod? Kamban’s god? Tulsidas’s literary deity? Krittibas’s homespun hero? Vimalasuri’s Jain champion? Chandrabati’s householder? The Santhals’ tribal hero? Periyar’s flawed protagonist? North India’s imposing Lord Ram is hardly present in southern India. In the east he is more of a mythical hero than a god, and he practically disappears in the northeast.

In one court judgment we have swept aside our rich heritage of many Rams, each equally dear to the devotees of each region, swept aside thousands of years of cultural history and memory, and fixed on a “historical figure” — the UP-ite Ram Lalla, who is forever in infancy.

This is a sad day for our pluralistic tradition. Giving a third of the land to “Muslims” while “Hindus” get two-thirds may be politically expedient for the moment, but it will not stem the rot of refashioning collective memory. The verdict, well-meaning as it is, has been interpreted by Hindu fanatics as justification for their acts of desecration of the mosque.

Unless the government moves on these criminal acts, and brings at least the culprits named in the Liberhan report to book, there will never be closure. And in his new avatar as an earthly infant, poor Ram Lalla woudn’t be able to protect us either.

– Antara Dev Sen is editor of The Little Magazine. She can be contacted at: sen@littlemag.com

 

What Does Islam Say About The Day Of Judgement?

Do You Know?

The present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence.  This life is a test for each individual for the life after death.  A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and the dead will be resurrected for judgment by God.  This day will be the beginning of a life that will never end.  This day is the Day of Judgment.  On that day, all people will be rewarded by God according to their beliefs and deeds.  Those who die while believing that “There is no true god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God” and are Muslim will be rewarded on that day and will be admitted to Paradise forever, as God has said:

“And those who believe and do good deeds, they are dwellers of Paradise, they dwell therein forever”. (Quran, 2:82)

But those who die while not believing that “There is no true god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God” or are not Muslim will lose Paradise forever and will be sent to Hellfire, as God has said:

“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and he will be one of the losers in the Hereafter”. (Quran, 3:85)

And as He has said:

“Those who have disbelieved and died in disbelief, the earth full of gold would not be accepted from any of them if it were offered as a ransom.  They will have a painful punishment, and they will have no helpers”. (Quran, 3:91)

One may ask, ‘I think Islam is a good religion, but if I were to convert to Islam, my family, friends, and other people would persecute me and make fun of me.  So if I do not convert to Islam, will I enter Paradise and be saved from Hellfire?’

The answer is what God has said in the preceding verse, “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and he will be one of the losers in the Hereafter.”

After having sent the Prophet Muhammad  to call people to Islam, God does not accept adherence to any religion other than Islam.  God is our Creator and Sustainer.  He created for us whatever is in the earth.  All the blessings and good things we have are from Him.  So after all this, when someone rejects belief in God, His Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) , or His religion of Islam, it is just that he or she be punished in the Hereafter.  Actually, the main purpose of our creation is to worship God alone and to obey Him, as God has said in the Holy Quran (51:56).

This life we live today is a very short life.  The unbelievers on the Day of Judgment will think that the life they lived on earth was only a day or part of a day, as God has said:

He (God) will say, “How many years did you stay on the earth?”  They will say: “We stayed a day or part of a day….” (Quran, 23:112-113)

And He has said:

“Did you then think that We had created you in jest (without any purpose), and that you would not be returned to Us (in the Hereafter)?  So, God is exalted, the True King.  None has the right to be worshipped but Him”… (Quran, 23:115-116)

The life in the Hereafter is a very real life.  It is not only spiritual, but physical as well.  We will live there with our souls and bodies.

In comparing this world with the Hereafter, the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh)  said: {The value of this world compared to that of the Hereafter is like what your finger brings from the sea when you put it in and then take it out.}  The meaning is that, the value of this world compared to that of the Hereafter is like a few drops of water compared to the sea.