Is It Shaurya Diwas Or A Day Of Shame

Lessons of communal harmony are not new in history.

Is It Shaurya Diwas Or A Day Of Shame

The Supreme Court has deferred the final verdict on Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid case to 8th February 2018 due to the political ramifications. And today, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has given a call for grand celebrations to commemorate silver jubilee of Babri Masjid demolition. It has been termed as Shaurya Diwas or victory day.

But one wonders what is the nature of this victory? Is it a superficial celebration that has forgotten the deep roots of communal harmony in India?

Have we forgotten that we are the land of Dara Shikoh and of Ashoka? Dara Shikoh was the heir apparent under Shah Jahan before he was treacherously ousted by Aurangzeb. He was a truer king of India, than many who reigned his seat. He used to hold courts and invite scholars from different religions in search of a syncretic cultural interaction. He patronised Mian Mir, who laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Today, Amritsar is the site where people from all faiths visit without any qualms and its langar feeds thousands every day.

India is the land of Ashoka, who repented the violence of the Kalinga War, and converted to Buddhism. He invited scholars of different faiths to his court, asked them questions of mythical nature to get to the root that all religions are but different paths to one God. Ashoka is so epitomised in the Indian consciousness that his dhamma chakra adorns the national flag. The faith of a majority in South-East Asia today is the result of his ambassadors who took Buddhism far and wide.

India is the land of Akbar, who hosted Hindu geniuses like Birbal and Todar Mal in his durbar. He did away with the Hindu pilgrim tax, and took a Hindu wife Jodha to foster Hindu- Muslim unity. Today, lessons of love and inter-religious respect from his life are forgotten as fundamentalist groups fight over release a film ‘Padmavati’. But the shrine Akbar built at Fatehpur Sikri is venerated by all, irrespective of their faith.

Even today, those who visit the Mahalakshmi temple in Mumbai, pay homage to Haji Ali. The Nizammudindurgah in Old Delhi provide refuge and care to every waylaid traveller or homeless alm-seeker, without questioning his belief. Many barren women, of all creeds, tie red strings outside the durgah to be blessed with a child.

When William Dalrymple was researching for his book ‘The City of Djinns’ he met many Sufi dervishes who followed a unique faith, embracing a possibility of both, Hindu and Muslim djinns. In fact, Sufism is the best remnant intact of a perfect synthesis between the multiple faiths that made India their home. While there is a Owaisi spewing hatred, there is a Tasleema Nasreen and a Tarek Fateh, who vouch for the ancient routes of Hindu Muslim unity.

These lessons from history and literature are a call to the fundamentalists that India has been a land of communal harmony and a flag bearer of brotherhood. So, while the Supreme Court mulls over the Ayodhya case, and some fundamentalist play the vote-bank politics, it is the larger national consciousness of harmony and peace that will safeguard the country.