India’s Hindutva civilisation reclaimed its legacy on Wednesday this week after Prime Minister Modi performed the Ram Mandir ‘bhumi pujan’, a prayer ceremony before he laid the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Ram Temple in Lord Ram’s birthplace. With this, crores of Lord Ram devotees around the world went into jubilation, as the process of reconstruction of a grand temple at Lord Ram’s birthplace in Ayodhya has started after several centuries of the wait.
The Ram Mandir ‘bhumi pujan’ comes round about the same time as the reconversion of the ancient Cathedral-turned-Mosque-turned Museum, Hagia Sophia into a Mosque. Therefore, while Hindutva stood up to Islamist forces, the Christian world succumbed to the same. As such, the reconstruction of Ram Mandir carries certain important lessons for the Western Christian world and those who claim to represent the erstwhile Eastern Roman civilisation.
The Western and local liberal media, of course, went into a meltdown after the ‘bhumipujan’ ceremony at the birthplace of Lord Ram. Some called it ‘controversial’, some called it ‘disputed’, and many drew an analogy with Turkish President Erdoğan’s decision to convert the ancient Cathedral- Hagia Sophia into a Mosque, while others took inspiration from Erdoğan’s decision to reconvert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Needless to mention, there is no similarity between the reconstruction of Ram Mandir and the reconversion of Hagia Sophia into a Mosque. While the former represents the revival of India’s native civilisation, the latter represents the celebration of Ottoman brutality and barbarism which had run over the ancient Eastern Roman civilisation.
Today, the followers of Erdoğan’s Political Islam are drawing inspiration from the Hagia Sophia move, but the Western Christian world must draw inspiration from the Ram Mandir ‘bhumipujan,’ because both Hagia Sophia and Ayodhya were the victims of similar forces.
While the Babri Masjid, built by a Mughal invader Babur, atop an ancient temple in Ayodhya was a massive affront to the oldest civilisation of the world, the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a Mosque was no less provocative an affront to the Roman Empire- the cradle of Western civilisation.
The Western world had chosen to negotiate from a vantage point in 1935 when the secular founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk altered the building into a museum. But when Erdoğan embraced Islamism and set his eyes on Hagia Sophia, the Christian world could not do much apart from issuing some statements that manifested their anguish and pain. Turkey’s President, of course, does not care for their pain.
The Turkish President had no intention to reconvert the Hagia Sophia into a Mosque when he joined active politics three decades ago. But then he lost the local elections in Istanbul last year and so he weaponized extreme Islamism. Turkey reconverted the ancient building into a place of Muslim worship with much fanfare and celebrations. This also helped him needle Europe and the rest of the Western world with whom he has already picked fights on several fronts.
Erdoğan unilaterally burnt all the bridges between the Christian and the Muslim world; and he did not even explain it. What could have the staunch Christian countries like Greece, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy and Russia even done? After all, Turkey’s President was taking decisions on his soil.
Still, the Western world didn’t have to take the insult lying down. It could have done several things to retaliate from kicking Turkey out of NATO to the imposition of tough sanctions and a blanket ban on tourism to the Eastern Mediterranean country.
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin had punished Turkey after it shot down a Russian fighter jet. Yet the Christian world chose to remain silent after the Hagia Sophia move, even when it should have been the last straw.
On the other hand, the Hindutva forces of India fought against all odds to realise their single biggest goal- a grand temple at Lord Ram’s birthplace in Ayodhya. First, during the Mughal era, they fought a fierce onslaught on their faith for several years. Then, with the advent of the British era, they brought the Ram Mandir matter before the judiciary in 1885.
And finally, the RamjanamBhoomi Andolan (movement) started in the late 1980s and culminated into a Ram Rath Yatra (a chariot journey) in 1990. The opinions were mobilised in favour of a Ram Mandir and ultimately, the matter reached India’s Constitutional Courts. The matter was resolved by India’s highest Court after decades, unlike Turkey where Erdoğan’s wishes were put into effect by a rubber-stamp.
With the Ram Mandir ‘bhumipujan’, a loud and clear message has been sent across, that the Indic civilisation will not bow down to any external aggression. Prime Minister Modi himself has emerged as the undisputed ideological leader of an inclusive Indic world. More than battling the civilisational affront in Ayodhya, the reconstruction of Ram Mandir represents a reversal of the Medieval-era barbarity.
Thousands of Hindu temples were plundered and razed by foreign invaders and many were converted into mosques in India. But as a 73-year-old independent India finally heals its wounds after hundreds of years of foreign rule, the Western world shouldn’t bow down to forces that insult their civilization either.