This article is like locking the stable doors after the horse has bolted. The Ayodhya dispute has ended with the Supreme Court ordering the land to be handed over to a trust to build a Hindu temple. It also ordered the government to give an alternate 5 acres of land to the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for the purpose of building a mosque. As far as I know the judgment was generally accepted peacefully by all communities.
But there may be other horses in the stable and if so, this article may be of some use. There may be other disputes of a religious nature involving temples and mosques. We do not need communal violence to erupt again as happened in this instance.
My approach does not depend on legalities. Let us look at the facts.
There is no historical or archaeological evidence proving the existence of Lord Rama (but only as far as I know and I am no expert). Then you have the monkey god, Hanuman. A talking monkey. Have you ever seen a talking monkey? Would you believe me if I told you that I had seen a talking monkey? There are many stories and characters in the Ramayana that nobody would ever believe if it wasn’t for the fact that it is the Ramayana that says that it happened.
On the other hand, Prophet Muhammad is a historical figure. Nobody doubts that he existed.
Then also I remember reading that there are many temples in Ayodhya that claim to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. The Rama Janmabhoomi location is only one of many temple sites that make this claim. According to Wikipedia:
Some Hindus claim that the exact site of Rama’s birthplace is where the Babri Masjid once stood in the present-day Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh … People opposed to this theory state that such claims arose only in the 18th century, and that there is no evidence for the spot being the birthplace of Rama. Several other sites, including places in other parts of India, Afghanistan, and Nepal, have been proposed as birthplaces of Rama.
(Sourced from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Janmabhoomi )
So where do all the above facts lead us:
Questions might be raised as to whether Lord Rama ever existed. Quite possibly he didn’t but he may have.
If he did exist then the question is whether his birthplace was the disputed site. Quite possibly it wasn’t but it may be.
But it most definitely is not the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad.
But I have just said that Lord Rama might never have existed. Do I mean that the Ramayana is a lie? I don’t. It is a religious scripture and a myth.
The late Joseph Campbell was the acknowledged authority on myths and mythology and had written a scholarly and widely acclaimed book on the subject, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. If you would like to know more about this fascinating subject, please read the book.
I have not read the book myself. I bought it many years ago and like many other books in my library it is still unread. I don’t know what Mr Campbell had to say on the importance of myths except to know that myths are very important. So why do I think that the Hindu religious sentiments should be respected.
It is because of one sentence from Edward Gibbon’s classic, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. That sentence goes:
The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.
If the Hindus stop believing in the Ramayana, then given the pathetic state of the police and judiciary in this country it might be only a single step from there to anarchy. And that would be a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. And most likely the Muslims would suffer the most.
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