After the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have done the right thing in asserting that Hindus will not seek civilisational justice by targeting Mathura and Kashi next. The existing temples in these two holy sites adjoin mosques built by Aurangzeb after demolishing the temples that stood there earlier.
There are several reasons why going after Mathura and Kashi would be wrong, both for tactical and other reasons.
One, the Ayodhya verdict, which went in favour of Hindus, is seen by many Muslims as unfair. They remain in substantial denial about the fact that the Babri Masjid was built over the ruins of an earlier temple. Adjusting to the truth is always a painful process, and needs time. In the meanwhile, India cannot afford a major bout of communal tension when there are several challenges ahead of the nation. These include the economic slowdown and returning Jammu & Kashmir to normality after the abolition of Article 370.
The external situation, where Pakistan is busy upping the ante against India, with China providing vocal support, also cannot be dealt with successfully if internal communal tensions rise. It is not in anyone’s interests, including Hindus who want civilisational justice, to push the envelope on Mathura and Kashi.
Two, there is, in fact, tactical advantage in leaving the mosques in Mathura and Kashi just as they are. In the context of the fact that our history books seldom find the courage to tell the true story of Islamic iconoclasm and temple destruction, the existence of these two structures – mosques built using material from demolished temples – tells the story better than what a history book can do. The remains of the original Kashi Vishwanath mandir that was destroyed by Aurangzeb even now carry memories of the demolished structure, with the debris of the temple being used in the foundation, columns and rear of the Gyan Vapi mosque.
The new Kashi Vishwanath temple, built by Ahilyabai Holkar in the eighteenth century, is evidence that Hindus never forgot what was done to their previous temple. Retaining the mosque serves this purpose better than getting it moved or demolished in the name of civilisational justice. In any event, the law will not allow it. The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, enacted by the P V Narasimha Rao government after the demolition of the Babri structure, prohibits changes in the existing scheme of things in Kashi and Mathura.
Three, while sacred sites must be reacquired peacefully at some future date when Muslims acknowledge what was done in the past and deem it fit to make amends, currently Hindus would be benefited more by building new temples that mix modern architectural excellence with traditional approaches. We need to build temples of grand scale and size, something that is not possible in the congested areas occupied by our current sacred spaces.
We need to expand sacred spaces by building new. These temples of modern India hold the key to rejuvenating Hindu art and architecture, not to speak of bringing economic benefits with them. They are also key to rebuilding pride in being Hindu. Today, even after decades of work by Hindu organisations, many Hindus shy away from calling themselves so, thanks to efforts by the Secular-Left ecosystem to stigmatise the identity.
Fourth, more than reacquiring the sacred sites in Mathura and Kashi, Hindu society needs to focus on equally important priorities like eliminating caste discrimination, building unity among various Hindu factions, ending the apathy of ordinary Hindus to issues of discrimination (especially the denial of minority rights enshrined in articles 25-30 to the majority community), ending the use of money power to gain conversions to Abrahamic faiths, and building the intellectual horsepower needed to rewrite our histories in a more balanced way, etc. The future focus of Hindu activism should avoid whining about Islam and Christianity and instead spend that energy on building internal strengths.
The goal should be to position India as the ultimate Hindu homeland, so that it serves as ultimate refuge for any Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist who is persecuted anywhere in the world. This is not about discriminating against any minority community which is already born Indian, but about building a Hindu voice that protects all Indic faiths globally.
As the only country where Hindus can claim political and social dominance, India has to become a Hindu homeland. There are scores of Christian and Muslim majority countries, but there is only one Hindu majority country. We need to keep it that way and not be apologetic about it.
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