Sri Sri Ravishankar has acquired followers in all corners of the globe, including Russia and China. The Art of Living Foundation conducts camps and classes that are attended by thousands of people from all over the world. Hence the attention that has been paid by his assertion that discussions are ongoing with “all stakeholders” in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, and that he was confident that a resolution of the vexed matter was at hand. Sri Sri Ravishankar added that he was at the service of all those working for a settlement, a statement welcomed both by the Narendra Modi government and by those prominent in the effort to secure a legal resolution of the issue, such as BJP MP Subramanian Swamy. Both Hindu and Muslim religious leaders have adopted an accommodative tone towards the carefully considered remarks of the Art of Living founder, which is a relief, as any resolution needs to be based on a “win win” approach that ensures that both sides share in the victory for secular India that a settlement of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi matter represents. Such a conclusion to decades of acrimony would improve communal relations in India substantially and prevent troublemakers from both communities, as well as their champions abroad, from seeking to embroil the people of India in a feud that will result in a loss for both sides. Were the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi, the Sri Krishna Janmasthan and the Varanasi place of worship resolved in a manner that ensures that these three Hindu holy sites return to becoming locations of prayer and devotion for the community, it would be yet another proof of the generous spirit that is revealed as a divine virtue, together with compassion and mercy. Certainly, the overwhelming majority of Muslims and Hindus would like to ensure an end to tensions in some parts of the country that could be doused with a settlement of these three issues, and these three only. History cannot be redone. As Kahlil Gibran writes, “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on. And not all your piety or wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.” Those who fantasise about a return to an era before the Mughal and later the European invasions, are so obsessed with the past that they are in danger of forfeiting the future. History has to be accepted, even while the immensely important gesture of returning the three sites mentioned above get carried out by India’s Muslim community, which is among the most moderate and modern in the world.
The toxic and inherently divisive language of politics should not be permitted to enter into the parameters of the efforts at a settlement. It would be an impossibility to expect that our politicians would set aside their rivalries, especially when nationally crucial Assembly elections to Gujarat and Karnataka are close at hand, followed by the Lok Sabha elections, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a second term, while his opponents will strain every fibre of their being to ensure the opposite outcome. Those who are working silently and sincerely to ensure a satisfactory ( to both sides) outcome to the Ayodhya dispute, should be encouraged in their work, rather than sought to be beholden to politics and to politicians. Earlier, the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Sri Jayendra Saraswati and leaders of the Muslim community came close to a settlement of the matter, but this failed, in large part because once the talks between the Shankaracharya and the Muslim leaders progressed to a situation where a breakthrough was possible, the A.B Vajpayee government inserted itself into the dialogue and sought to micro-manage it, a task for which it was not suited. This time around, it is certain that the Narendra Modi government will be more circumspect, which indeed has been the tone of spokespersons of the BJP and the NDA government soon after Sri Sri Ravishankar revealed that those he was in contact with were close to a breakthrough. Such an outcome would redound to the credit of all concerned, who were involved in the discussions referred to by the Art of Living founder.
The dispute at the city where Lord Ram was born has been festering for too long, and it is time that it be put to rest, especially because Lord Ram belongs to the entire world and not just to the people of India. Indeed, close by the temple, a museum showcasing the extraordinary life of Lord Ram and his beloved wife Sita should be constructed. Also, in recognition of the magnificent gesture shown by the Muslim community, a mosque should be constructed at Ayodhya that could be a magnet for visitors from all over the world. A settlement at Ayodhya would not be victory of a party or a leader, but a triumph for the 1.26 billion people of the Republic of India. The Sunday Guardian welcomes efforts at resolution of the dispute in a way acceptable to both sides, and looks forward to their success.