Why most Hindus, even the secular and the so-called liberal ones, are so offended by Center’s contention that there is no evidence to suggest existence of Rama?
The obsession with Rama is a recent phenomenon. I have written earlier in an article that different Hindu gods were popular in different times – more like popularity ratings. Ram has been becoming popular in the recent times, starting with Gandhi who kept repeating his name many times and culminating in Rath Yatra taken up by LK Advani.
Hindus were quite OK for a long time in accepting their mythologies as pure myth, because their gods were quite real to them and no matter what Science said, it didn’t bother them. They continued to pray to them as if they were real. Only in the last century, unfortunately, Hindus have been introduced to Science which questions things. Before that, Hindus were quite happy just learning things by rote for thousands of years. Any profound questioning thoroughly discomforts most Hindus and that’s also the reason why we don’t see revolutionary scientific thinkers from this land. It goes without saying that even a renowned ‘scientist’ from
Another introduction to Hindus is the rule of law, which is a recent phenomenon. Hindus are also very averse to rules coming from the state. They would like to cross the road when they want to, just like their venerated cows. All these street lights are a major encumbrance to them. It is an 'artificial Western construct' imposed onto them which they detest completely. Rule of law demands a certain degree of exactness which Hindus are completely averse to. Hindus have wallowed and took rejoice in ambiguity. Hence a rule of law of demanding exactness is an anathema. Reproducing exact evidence is completely irrelevant since justice can be bought at a certain price- all Hindus have grown up knowing this as part of our culture- hence there is no need for actual evidence to make a case.
The other introduction that happened in the last hundred years is the familiarity with other major religions on a massive scale. Earlier, Hindus lived as Hindus without ever knowing what Christianity or Islam was. Only in the last hundred years, they were exposed to these other religions on a more-than-desired levels - through 'unnecessary' campaigns of Gandhi, through media, and through the recent 'conversion' episodes. What they found is that these religions had a founder and also a religious book. Hindus, instead of just accepting they don’t have a founder and no religious book, tried their best to posit one such hero and one such book as its holy book. Enter Rama and enter Bhagvad Gita. Though there is no unanimity in this, in recent times Indians have been positing these two icons as symbols of Hindus. If Mohammed existed and lived, so did Rama. If Christians had Bible to quote, so Hindus had Gita.
So, when suddenly some high authority of 'secular' India suggests that there is no evidence to prove existence of Rama, these Hindus, which includes almost everyone, including those secular one and those liberal ones, stand up and protest. Because this contention directly competes with the recently formed opinions (in competition with other religions they have been exposed to).
Hindus have been taking Rama quite seriously only recently, and more so since LK Advani’s Rath Yatra and the Ayodhya episode. Rama became an icon they are going to die for, just the way Muslims are ready to die (and kill) for the sake of Prophet Mohammed. While there is lot of evidence to suggest that Mohammed existed and walked on this planet in flesh and blood, and while there is scant evidence that Jesus may have existed, there is no evidence to suggest Rama ever walked on this planet. This is nothing to do with our inadequate resea
Rama may have existed, or may be he did not exist. That does not diminish richness of Hinduism. It should not invalidate their belief systems or their religion. But for some reason, Hindus want to compete with other modern religions and in that effort would like to validate his authenticity to suit their belief systems by asserting that their icons are indeed real just like founders of other religions.
Hinduism is an ancient religion which predates most other modern religions. Hindus should take pride, if they want to, in the fact that our religion has evolved over thousands of years instead of being static, interpreted narrowly by one single icon or one single book. But then, most Hindus do not understand the essence of their own religion beyond the mere rituals and mere competition with other religions. Self-confidence is lacking and hence this flurry of activity to posit their religion equivalent to other modern religions.
Would Hindus raise their voices if someone said there is no evidence to suggest existence of Lord Indra? Not really. Because Lord Indra is not as popular as Lord Rama these days. The same is true for Vamana avatar, Narsimha avatar, Kurma avatar, et al, of Vishnu. Rama is important but not other avatars. It is nothing to do which avatar is important. It is to do with the present generations which grew up with knowing Rama as the most popular god, thanks to LK Advani and his BJP, and sister groups such as VHP and Bajrang Dal, and also a little thanks to exposure to competing religions.
In the last hundred years, there has been a slow and concerted effort to construct Rama as the most popular god to consolidate Hindus under one banner so that they can be manipulated with one stroke. How else would you move the Hindu sentiments as monolithic religion? Hinduism was always a collection of myths, stories, gods, books, rituals and practices. There was no unique icon to unite them all. That also poses a problems to those who would like to ensure they get the sympathies from Hindus on a religious basis. Hence, borrowing from what Gandhi had already set in motion, the modern day Hindu organizations and affiliated political parties have started to position Rama as the strong contender. Lord Krishna always had some flaws which seem to dominate more than his strengths and he would not have stood the mass appeal from a dias as much as Lord Rama whose impeccable record (other than one or two guffaws) made him the ideal contender from the available Hindu pantheon.
Therefore, in the last hundred years, Hindu organizations, groups, sympathizers, devout, radical, fanatic, et al, have been positioning Rama to be the icon for Hindus. Popularization of places related to Rama, stories of Rama, embracing Rama Rajya for Hindu Rashtra, etc, were carried out on a massive scale. To help this further, the present generation of Indians grew up knowing Ramayana from the TV serial. They all have images to relate to thus accentuating the belief he really existed. It is not just the political parties with vested interest that campaigned for this. It includes all Hindus who had a selfish interest to promote their religion. It includes all devout who wanted to get a ratification of his belief system. It includes even secular and liberal Hindus who wanted to glorify their culture. It also includes leftist and Marxist groups who wanted to posit
Rama is not only real but ‘hyper-real’. His existence cannot even be challenged because he is so real that he lives in the ‘collective conscience’ of billions.
Our inadequate education that does not impart rational and logical thinking completes the story. Not equipped with the right tools, most Indians get carried away by rhetoric, blind belief and superstition. They do not differentiate between what is evidence and what is ‘collective conscience’. They do not differentiate between myth and reality. According to them, Rama is real and you just have to accept it. No proof required.
When the present government, led by a Christian Italian Indian woman, a Sikh, a puppet President, and a Muslim Vice-President, backs A