My Land Is Not Your Land
‘You know why it rains?’ Little Akash is picking his nose. 6-year-old Siddharth is keenly watching his friend’s struggle. ‘Because god is crying.’
Siddharth’s eyes open wide. ‘Really?!’
‘My mummy told me yesterday.’ Akash examines his treasure. ‘She said if I don’t finish my homework, god will get sad and cry. Then it will rain and no one will come out to play.’
Blind faith because mummy said so. The kid doesn’t know any better. Let’s laugh it off. Give him a year or two and he’ll be rattling off the scientific definition of evaporation and condensation.
But what do you do with adults who don’t think for themselves? Many a school year has gone by and all definitions are in place. What has this education brought us?
Case and point, Ayodhya. This ancient city, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, has been described in the Hindu Epics as the birthplace of the Hindu god, Lord Rama. So far so good. It was taken over by Muslim invaders in the 16th century; Mughal emperor Babur is said to have built a mosque called Babri Masjid in the city. In the late 20th century came the claim that Babur had destroyed an ancient Hindu temple built on the very site where Lord Rama was born to make way for his mosque. 1992: Hindu-Muslim riots ensued in Ayodhya, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad in which around 2000 people lost their lives – because a group of Hindus destroyed the Babri Masjid so that a temple could be built on the site again.
1: Which year was Lord Rama born in? If we had a date (which we don’t), we could have retraced our steps in history to put archaeological facts in place.
2: Whether Babur had destroyed a temple or simply renovated an existing mosque to make it the Babri Masjid has not been confirmed.
3: Where in Ayodhya Lord Rama was born has never been confirmed. Till the 19th century, Hindus and Muslims prayed side by side in the Babri Masjid complex – both groups held the site sacred.
4: In 1986, L.K. Advani, president of the then ruling national party, BJP, embarked on a mission of advocating Hindu nationalism. In 1989, he began the agitation of rebuilding the temple in Ayodhya as part of his political agenda. It worked and the BJP formed a coalition government. An acclaimed documentary, In The Name Of God, confirms that Ayodhya became a political issue only as a result of Advani’s election campaign. Fortunately for the BJP, grown men and women don’t need to think for themselves.
That’s the beauty of concocted stories. They are amorphous, shape-shifting and ephemeral, just like the rain clouds mummy warned little Akash about. But it doesn’t rain because god’s crying. It rains because he’s peeing. My mummy said so.