Saturday, July 16, 2022

Naipaul on the Ram Temple in Ayodhya

The Planned Structure of the Ram Temple

V. S. Naipaul is among the few prominent intellectuals who have unequivocally supported the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. On July 18, 1993, Dileep Padgaonkar interviewed Naipaul. Among the questions that Padgaonkar asked, two were related to the Ram temple. Here’s one exchange: 

Padgaonkar: “How did you react to the Ayodhya incident?"

Naipaul: “Not as badly as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country. In Turkey, they turned the Church of Santa Sophia into a mosque. In Nicosia churches were converted into mosques too. The Spaniards spent many centuries re-conquering their land from Muslim invaders. So these things have happened before and elsewhere. In Ayodhya the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old.”

In another interview (to The Hindu newspaper, July 5, 1998), Naipaul talked about the wounds that the destruction of temples had inflicted on the Hindu psyche. He said: 

“Islam is here in a big way. There is a reason for that and we cannot hide from what the reasons were. The great invasions spread very far South, spreading to, you know, even Mysore. I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th century or earlier disfigured, defaced, you know that they were not just defaced for fun: that something terrible happened. I feel that the civilisation of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions. And I would like people, as it were, to be more reverential towards the past, to try to understand it; to preserve it; instead of living in its ruins. The old world is destroyed. That has to be understood. Ancient Hindu India was destroyed.”

Hinduism began to assert itself in Indian politics in the 1990s through the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The leftist and pseudo-secular political groups started losing their power in the country and the BJP, which was spearheading the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, became the largest party in less than a decade. In 1998, the BJP formed a government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The 1990s was also the period of some of the most critical economic reforms. The resurgence of Hinduism and economic reforms have marched hand in hand since the 1990s.


Ajit R. Jadhav said...

> "The 1990s was also the period of some of the most critical economic reforms. The resurgence of Hinduism and economic reforms have marched hand in hand since the 1990s."

The reforms of the early 1990s under P. V. Narasimha Rao had an entirely different, better, character, and you are living through the prosperity brought about by them.

Anoop Verma said...

@Ajit: I agree with you. PVNR was the primary architect of India's economic reforms. My point is that his reforms happened in the background of the Ram Temple agitation. While PVNR was passing new economic reform policies, BJP was out in the streets agitating for the Ram Temple. So both movements--one of economic reform, second of Ram Temple--went hand in hand.