An Indian-American Perspective on Ram Mandir

Growing up as Indian Americans here in a household that follows Santan Dharm, we hear the Ramayan almost everyday. Either our dads tell us, or we go to religious institutions, or we learn through Indian classical dance. You can say that the Ramayan is deeply engrained in our childhood, and we have heard the name Ayodhya numerous times.

The history we learn here about India is Gandhi, Ashoka, and oh yeah thats pretty much it. (This is why we are starting a Heritage class at Meri Sanskriti!!!) So unless we take the initiative to learn about our own motherland’s history, we are pretty ignorant.

Now the question is, is India becoming “too Hindu” and ignoring it’s minorities?

Let’s first dissect “too Hindu” then we can talk about minorities, because the majority in India (Hindu) is minority in USA, AND WE KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO BE MINORITY!

Although from one outlook this is a violent act revengeful act on the basis of religion, on the other hand this is more about the community of people for generations ,who felt oppressed in their own country, and now want to express themselves.

I think India appears to be going overboard with Hindu right now, because it didn’t for so long. From my perspective, India basically sat there and let things happen, let things slide using the peace approach. She let invaders come in, change things around, and leave. Now, it appears to be that India is like ” bro we can’t forget about our community who follows Sanatan Dharm they are pretty disunited” I mean it’s true though, Saivaites vs Vaishnaviates (like what?), the caste system is a whole topic by itself, and there are so many more divisions within Sanatan Dharm that have become their own religion essentially. The free flowing Sanatan Dharm, has now gone into trying to define a structure for itself, mimicking Abrahamic Religions, and clearly it’s not going as planned.

So is India going Hindu overboard? Or is it bringing back what was oppressed for many years? I’m not saying in the last 70 years, but before that.

Imagine you’re in your house and someone walks in knocking over your alter and saying this is what we like more. How would you feel? And imagine, if you just watched it happen. You did NOTHING about it. How would you feel? Because you were powerless, you didn’t even know what to do.

Now we bring it back to today’s day. Is revenge on the minorities of today healthy? NO.

But is the Ram Mandir a direct attack on minorities? The argument of ” how can Ram, a Hindu deity” represent the entire India, which is a secular country.

The Ram Mandir is bringing back what was once the people’s that was taken away and now it’s back, maybe it has political agenda, maybe the big peeps of India are all behind this because they want revenge-who knows.

But the fact is, that for once the community of people that follow Sanatan Dharm have some representation after standing still, being quiet, and letting things slides for so many years. The reason the Babri Masjid was built was also political agenda, takeover, but the difference is they came in demolished someone else’s and planted it, and now those same people are just saying hey we want this back. This space has spiritual significance, this exact coordinate means something to us.

I’m not denying the obvious outlook of minority oppression in India, but at the same time, relating this to America which is a direct parallel, if the Native Americans came and said, “we want to re-establish our cultural and spiritual centers that European Christian invaders demolished when capturing America”-is that something we should say no to? If they start re-establishing themselves would we fear that the country is becoming too Native? What if Hindu’s walked into Mecca and tore down a Masjid to build a Temple, would the people of Mecca not retaliate and say, we are not okay with this and we want our spiritual place back?

I understand what if feels like to be a minority in a country, being Indian American in a Christian dominated America meant that we celebrate Christmas because our schools don’t know of Janmashtami. It means seeing beef and pork everywhere when that’s not something your faith encourages for consumption. Yes this is a time when Indian-Americans want to genuinely educate the masses on Indian Culture, and how we can all co-exist in America. If we do it politely, people will listen. I believe all minorities should definitely stand up in a country where the majority of the people aren’t of their faith or community, but I also believe that mutual respect is needed and it’s possible to co-exist and educate people.

Now the questions of, should this be done now? Is this necessary in the middle of COVID-19? Those are all valid arguments which I honestly don’t have a perspective on, we had BLM protests in America also in the middle of COVID-19, and they seemed to have made difference. But also, is there ever a right time for anything?

The argument of ” how can Ram, a Hindu deity” represent the entire India, which is a secular country.

Yes in 2020 India is a secular country, but India is known as the land of Hindu’s. The land of the Indus River, the Indus River Valley Civilization is us. Yes I agree you do not have to accept Ram to be Hindu or to live in this area. You can be an atheist and still be Hindu, and the rigid religion that has been made out of Sanatan Dharm probably doesn’t trace back too far.

But, we have to accept the fact that the Indus River Valley civilization, is the land of the Hindus’, and we cannot deny that the Ramayan Story is a HUGE part of the history of this country. So even if you are of a different religion, but you live in India and identify as Indian, Ram is a part of your heritage.

The fear, is that if Indian becomes “Hindu fanatic” minorities will be oppressed, so what does one do about that? Do your part in making sure you get equal rights along with everyone else. We as Indian-Americans have done it in American to make our mark in the public school celebrating Diwali as a Holiday.

The argument that, we should have more hospitals, more shelters, more places for the underprivileged.

YES I totally agree. But why do we have to think this OR that. Why does it have to be Ram Mandir OR a Hospital? The purpose Ram Mandir serves and the purpose a hospital serves are two different things. It’s a different point altogether if you prefer a hospital over the Ram Mandir, that is to each his own on what they deem as more valuable. But they can both co-exist an each have their own value and both serve a purpose in advancing society.

To conclude this, I see why many view the Ram Mandir as a fear of “Hindutva” agenda, as revenge, but what if it’s also people wanting representation? Hindu’s wanting to be heard? The long oppressed community wanting their freedom to be themselves? I know many you have “if, and, or but’s” to this question, but I ask, just think for a minute of this possibility as well!

Sincerely,

“The Indian Girl”

Connect with me on Instagram would love to hear from you and your experience!

@Meri_Sanskriti

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