October 20, 2019

Ayodhya-how Pious?

Tikender Singh Panwar

AYODHYA, from a Hindu politico laboratory to Politico-Religious Capital of the Hindu Right is the correct way of defining the transformation of this city. Ayodhya, which was considered to be a city of piousness for devout Hindus based on Hindu mysticism, over the years, has completely changed. Thanks to the experiment of the Sangh Parivar, of course the RSS in the lead, the Ayodhya has metamorphosised into a centre of syndicates of various kinds; spiritual, land, political and criminal. This is amply substantiated by Dhirender K Jha in his well-researched book, titled-“Ascetic Games”, published in 2019.The ascetic games in the last two decades have become killing fields for the sadhus.

Ayodhya, which came to prominence after the Ram Mandir movement led by the RSS and the BJP in 1980s, is actually a centre for ascetic games; the land is owned by various akharas of sadhus since a very long period. These akharas are of multiple faiths; Shaivites, Vaishnavites and even Sikhisim. Mahants(celibate monks) are the gurus of the disciple sadhus and control these akharas; they have an important role to play in its politics as well.

The RSS used these akharas as a political tool. They(RSS) never had ample support of the mahants and hence it was considered difficult for the BJP and the RSS to champion the Ram Mandir movement without their support. There are various reasons for the akharas not supporting the mandir movement.

The Sangh Parivar created a group of young disciple sadhus in various akharas through allurement and were made to rebel not just against their mahants, but even backstab and kill them. The disciples were made to conspire against their gurus and this has landed Ayodhya into such a state of affairs where no ‘math’ or akhara is untouched from litigation in the courts. The mahants became so insecure that some of them started staying outside their akharas and others started hiring bodyguards.

The akharas have become killing fields of the mahants, who were killed in large numbers by their disciples in abetment with the cohorts of the Sangh. This has been well documented in the same book. Questions may be asked as to why no criminal complaints were registered against such killings. The answer is simple. The mahants are neither cremated nor buried; they are immersed in Sarayu River as that is the way to reach Vaikunth(celestial abode of Lord Vishnu-part of Hindu mysticism). They strongly resist post-mortem of the body and hence hardly any case goes to the police for filing a complaint. The succession then to the akharas of new mahants is violent and is not natural.

There is a famous folk lore in Ayodhya as mentioned in the book:

Charan daba ke sant bane hain,

Gardan daba mahant;

Paramparaa sab bhool gaye hain,

Bhoolgayen hain granth;

De do inko bhi kuchh gyaan, dharaa par ek baar tum phir aao,

Hey Ram

(He became a sadhu by massaging feet, And a mahant by choking a throat; They have forgotten the traditions and the scriptures; Enlighten them Come down to earth one more time, O Ram.)


The mahant is powerful as he is the custodian of the endowed land, which is quite large in tract. The mahants can sell land and do whatever they want in the name of benefits to the deity. Mahant is just a controller of the land but powerful. This is the modus operandi through which the Sangh Parivar has made inroads in these ‘maths’ and ‘akharas’. However, this part of the Ram Mandir movement has never been explored. It has been extensively worked out in the book.

The RSS/VHP has spoiled the so-called guru-shishya relationship which is the bedrock of Hindu mysticism. The relationship is now in shambles. The Sangh Parivar is responsible for it. Greed for power, money, position, even body guards is presently driving the politics in Ayodhya and in the akharas. And, this is not the kind of ascetism that any devout Hindu would look up to. Ayodhya is now the centre of Hindutva politics which is completely alien from Hindu asceticism and is inherently political in nature.

There is another interesting development taking place in the city of Ayodhya. As we all know the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute is in the final hearing in the Supreme Court of India; there is a speculation that the decision may pour in favour of the Ram Mandir group. There is hectic activity going on by the landed estate mafia to purchase massive plots of land in and around the city of Ayodhya. It is believed that large investments will take place from the government at the centre and this will boost the landed estates in the region. Mostly these buyers are aligned and affiliated to the Sangh Parivar and the BJP. Even some Gujarati businessmen have bought some plots of land viewing large investments to flow in the future.

The third development is highly political in the region. This pertains to the grand project that the RSS is building on in Ayodhya. It wants to transform Ayodhya into a politico-religious capital of India; that is of the Hinduised India. The RSS has already started construction of a large building for its office in Ayodhya. It has four floors measuring an area of more than 40,000 square feet. What is such a space required for? Even before the judgement is passed by the Supreme Court, the RSS structure will be ready and shall function as the headquarter of a new religious capital. The ambition of the RSS is amply clear with the strategic interventions they have made in the past and is continuing with its project of Hindutva.

In the background, it must be noted that there are two layers of Ram Mandir movement. The first layer is of devout Hindus who genuinely feel in the mysticism of Ayodhya; Ayodhya being the birth place of Ram. Well this also shows the failure of the democratic movements in the country to counter such a narrative with progressive and democratic outlook.

The second layer is the layer of politicians especially the Sangh Parivar who have used it for their Hindutva politics. The political layer has vitiated the atmosphere and are determined to build a Ram Temple at the site of Babri Masjid in order to (a) show defeat of Muslims and (b) victory of Ancient Barbarism. This is the layer that has transformed Ayodhya from a pious mystic town to a place of mafias and killers. This layer has hit at the basic bedrock of the Hindu mysticism i.e., the guru -shishya relationship. How can such a repository of the movement be a true representative of the Hindus?