On 9/11, 1918, 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address delivered in the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago on 9/11, 1893 was celebrated in India and abroad. Acceptance and tolerance of all faiths and complete rejection of fanaticism born out of religion and religious dogma constituted the central theme of that historic speech which cast a spell on the Americans and they thronged in large numbers to listen to his numerous other lectures on spirituality and Vedanta. In the concluding portion of his Chicago speech he said with poignancy “sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”
Ninety nine years after Swami Vivekananda’s remarks indicting “sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendent fanaticism”, Babri Mosque was destroyed by forces representing Hindutva on 6th December 1992. It instituted barbaric display of hatred for faiths of others and willful disregard and mocking the rule of law and Constitution. Swami Vivekananda’s vision of acceptance and tolerance stood demolished in the acts of Hindutva leaders and their followers who razed the Babri Mosque to the ground. Even the Supreme Court in its judgement of 10th November 2019 unequivocally observed “The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law”. Swami Vivekananda said Hindus built Mosques for Muslims and Churches for Christians
Yet the Supreme Court allowed construction of Ram Temple where once the Mosque stood. In fact a peep into the writings of Swami Vivekananda reveals that such construction of temple by demolishing a mosque constitutes a negation of his vision.
On Swami Vivekananda’s return to India after his historic trip to the World Parliament of Religions he was accorded rousing welcome and he responded by delivering series of speeches put together in the volume “Lectures from Colombo to Almora”. In one of those speeches delivered in Madras, now Chennai, he famously said, “It is here in India that Hindus have built and are still building churches for Christians and mosques for Mohammedans.” He did so to underline the values of universal toleration and acceptance. In fact in the same speech Swamiji underlined the point that Hindus would continue to build mosques for Muslims and Churches for Christians even if they faced scorn and contempt from some people belonging to those communities. He said, “In spite of their hatred, in spite of their brutality, in spite of their cruelty, in spite of their tyranny, and in spite of the vile language.....we will and must go on building churches for the Christians and mosques for the Mohammedans until we conquer through love, until we have demonstrated to the world that love alone is the fittest thing to survive and not hatred, that it is gentleness that has the strength to live on and to fructify, and not mere brutality and physical force.” In eschewing hatred and brutality Swami Vivekananda upheld love as a unifying force for promoting reconciliation, unity and understanding among different faiths.
In fact the preceding lines of the sentence of Swamiji that ““It is here in India that Hindus have built and are still building churches for Christians and mosques for Mohammedans”, celebrate the ideals of tolerance and acceptance. It is worthwhile to quote those lines in full. He said, “...the world is waiting for this grand idea of universal toleration. It will be a great acquisition to civilisation. Nay, no civilisation can long exist unless this idea enters into it. No civilisation can grow unless fanaticism, bloodshed and brutality stop. No civilisation can begin to lift up its head until we look charitably upon one another; and the first step towards that much-needed charity is to look charitably and kindly upon the religious conviction of others. Nay more, to understand that not only should we be charitable, but also positively helpful to each other, however different our religious ideas and convictions may be. And that is exactly what we do in India as I have just related to you. It is here in India that Hindus have built and are still building churches for Christians and mosques for Mohammedans. That is the thing to do”.
Demolition of Babri Masjid based on hatred and bigotry with a view to constructing a Ram Temple in its place was contrary to the vision of Swami Vivekananda. Demolition of Babri Mosque was a demolition of ideals of Hinduism
In fact demolition of Babri Masji was in a way demolition of the ideals of Hinduism and constituted a serious assault on Sarva Dharma Sambhav, coexistence of all faiths, which remains central to secularism. During the partition of India when many refugees came from Pakistan and some mosques in Delhi were occupied by several Hindus with a view to demolishing them for the purpose of creating space for settlement of Hindus there, it was Mahatma Gandhi who raised voice against it and said that if mosques would be occupied and demolished in the name of Hinduism that would be the end of Hinduism. And Gandhi was an exemplary Hindu. K R Narayanan Drew Parallel between Destruction of Babri Mosque and Assassination of Gandhi
After the destruction of Babri Masjid when there was din and commotion in the Rajya Sabha Shri K.R.Narayanan while presiding over it as its Chairman said with pain and anguish that demolition of Babri Masjid was the worst tragedy India faced after assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
The demolition of Babri Masjid with a view to constructing a Ram temple was certainly contrary to the ideals of Hinduism and tenets of law and jurisprudence. It was against our very Constitution which is the fundamental law of our country. As Swami Vivekananda said, “No civilisation can begin to lift up its head until we look charitably upon one another; and the first step towards that much-needed charity is to look charitably and kindly upon the religious conviction of others. Nay more, to understand that not only should we be charitable, but also positively helpful to each other, however different our religious ideas and convictions may be.”
In destroying Babri Masjid to construct a temple there the onward march of our civilization has been impeded. It is, therefore, right that no good Hindu and no citizen imbued with commitment to the Constitution and constitutional morality would find compatible the destruction of Babri Mosque, described by the Supreme Court as “...egregious violation of rule of law”, with the laying the foundation stone of the Ram on 5th August 2020.
#The author served as Officer as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K.R.Narayanan.