Born in a Hindu family, I have heard reference to Bhagwāna Rāma & Ayodhyā since I was a child and as far back as my memory goes. Ours is a family, no different from many other Hindu families, where Valmiki Rāmāyana & Bhagwat Geetā would get handed down generations, till the books were in tatters. But I have also heard of Ayodhyā in the context of Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir issue. In 1992, I was still in my tenth standard. My father being a Naval Officer, we, obviously, never indulged in Kar Sewa or any such activity, but since the question was closer to faith, everyone took keen interest in what was going on.
To us, if Bhagwāna Rama was an “uttama purusha”, Ayodhyā represented Rāma Rājya.
I am not exactly a practicing Hindu anymore. That is to say, that I do not follow vaidika tradition anymore. I began practicing Vipassanā meditation and, therefore, away from any “ism”, I follow the instructions imparted by Bhagwāna Buddha. I consider it growing up, somebody else could consider it drifting away.
I now prefer to look at people from the point of view of mind & matter, rather than their identity-based denominations and from that perspective, I understand the importance of Symbols and concept of Symbolism in stoking the faith in a person to become a better human being than what he or she is currently. Entire spiritual pursuit is aimed at becoming a better person. That is the very difference between a Criminal and a Saint.
A temple is not an end in itself. Not for me. But it is certainly a stage when a person turns around in the ‘direction’ of becoming a better person. And then at some stage the person takes other baby steps in this pursuit that include moral behavior, or learning to concentrate the mind away from the worldly desires. But temple, that physical structure, we call the “house of God”, the “devālaya”, is the starting point.
The stories of these saintly beings of the past, are not meant to be memorized and debated amongst each other for minor nitty-gritties. They are meant to ‘inspire’ us. They are meant to teach us. Give us a sense of direction of what we should become. It is meant to develop faith. Faith, not in the person, not in the story, or a book, but in the Law of Nature, the Law of Karma. It is the Karma & its Parināma that make us turn towards good karmas and refrain from bad karmas. And when we see it apply, without any prejudice, to beings like Rāma or Krishna, we begin to develop a faith that we must indulge in good karmas and good parināmas will follow us automatically. That’s the meaningful object of faith. And this is what has the power to make this a beautiful, harmonious and peaceful world.
And if this is what a Rāma Janmabhoomi Mandir can achieve, create a strong faith in the people to indulge in good karmas, instead of bad karmas, like terrorism which has plagued this world for the last 1500years, then I must tell you sirs, it is worth every bead of sweat that will go into construction of a majestic Rāma Janmabhoomi Mandir.
It is 70years since Independence and 25years since the grounds of Rāma Janmabhoomi site was cleared out in an emotionally violent protest and a Rāma Lallā Temple was hurriedly constructed at the spot. It is 7years since the Allahabad High Court Verdict, yet this month when the Supreme Court took up the matter, all we got was arguments to keep the matter unresolved and an order to postpone the matter till February 8, 2018. We hope judiciary understands the gentle sentiments of the masses with regards to the Temple, and takes a meaningful decision at the earliest. In the end, we can only wait for the judgment of the courts to begin construction of the Grand Temple.
Ayodhyā, in the meanwhile, has become a neglected city. The city that could be the centerpiece of Good Governance inspiration, from its days of the Rāma Rājya, remains forgotten, dusted, ancient, ruinous. Why not revive it?
How about a token visit to this city to express very gently the living desire amongst the masses to see a Rāma Janmabhoomi Mandir getting constructed some day? How about spending two days in Ayodhyā, taking in the essence of our collective heritage, contemplating over creation of a thriving ecosystem, that is indeed driven to work along side the Government, and otherwise, towards creation of Rāma Rājya. Is winning political battles enough, or do we need to take social and professional steps that are going to be essential in creation of Rāma Rajya?
This is what we wish to achieve through your Ayodhyā Summit.