August 5 will go down as a seminal date marking the reclamation of India’s vast and glorious civilisational heritage. After a struggle of over 500 years, the rebuilding of a grand Shree Ram temple in Ayodhya; the land of his birth, will commence over which a Mughal invader Babur from Uzbekistan built a mosque.
The Mughal dynasty plundered and looted many Indian treasures, destroyed temples and other monuments of pride and heritage as is the trademark of all marauding invaders. This period in Indian history followed by British colonisation represents the darkest era of Indic civilisation whose shadow still looms large in Indian minds. Similar to the Mughals, the British education system under Macaulay taught Indians to treat with derision and shame anything native. From the British perspective, this made perfect sense- any unifying event would boost nationalism and lead to a revolt but the tragedy is even after 6 decades of independence this colonial hangover remains strongly in our mind space.
Civilisations are bigger than countries as borders are a manmade phenomenon. A timeline of 50-200 years may seem huge but in the cycle of civilisation, it is just a drop in the ocean. Indian civilisation is one of the oldest known to man with notable contributions in philosophy, mathematics, science and arts. Hence hyphenating Indic civilisational resurgence with just Hindu resurgence or Hindu nationalism would mean that we have not read or understood history. After all, if we decide to award greater brownie points to a marauding invader from Uzbekistan over a deity from a civilisation that is as old as time, isn’t the joke solely on us?
Indian civilisation is the mothership that has permitted multiple thought schools of Hindu philosophy to emerge in both orthodox and heterodox categories such as Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta in the Orthodox category and five major heterodox schools of Jainism, Buddhism, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Charvaka. When we come to the worship ideology in Hinduism, a brief study will reveal a multitude of sampradayas within the traditions of Vedic and Tantra traditions. These traditions also have diverse rituals and methods of prayer. Thus, it is evident that Indic civilisation has always accepted and tolerated differences as a method of evolution whilst believing in co-existence.
Indian civilisation has given the world gifts of Yoga, Ayurveda, Jyotish Vidya and Pranayam. The world talks about correct breathing techniques for health and longevity now but our saints have been employing these techniques from time immemorial. India’s treatise on medicine, Sushruta Samhita in 600 BC talks about carrying out plastic surgeries making him the first in the world to carry out such an act. It has given us languages like Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali. Sanskrit is being learnt today in many countries to gain a deeper understanding of the wealth of Indic civilisation.
We all know what a rich country India was with significant clout in the Indian Ocean Region. Through Hinduism and Lord Ram, we extended our soft power to almost all East and Southeast Asia. Devi Sita hailed from Nepal, Ravana hailed from Sri Lanka and a princess from Ayodhya was married in Korea. Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand too have their unique versions of Ramayana via Ramker Ramayana, Kakawin Ramayana, Fra Lak Fra Lam Ramayana, Hikayat Seri Ram and Ramaken respectively. Ramayana also finds mention in China and Iran. Thus, it is evident that Lord Ram was just not a deity of the Indic civilisation but beloved beyond our borders.
Through Indian spices and silk, Indic civilisation has significantly influenced cuisines and recipes in the IOR, all the way to Africa and East and Southeast Asia. With a uniquely accepting culture that believes in harmonious living with multiple cultures, Indic civilisation’s influence spanned far beyond its borders. Man’s greatest purpose in the universe is understanding his role and advancing his knowledge. In light of all of the above, why do we shun anything native that is part of our glorious heritage as superstition, voodoo and give it the stepmotherly treatment?
Today India is an aspiring regional superpower. It is a G5 economy and the world’s largest democracy. It has youth power as its demographic strength. It will become one of the world’s largest consumer markets. It will become one of the world’s largest consumers of data which is the new Oil. India is already a vibrant services provider to the global community apart from being an IT and pharma powerhouse. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative post Covid-19, India is aspiring to become a global manufacturing hub in the high-tech sector as well. In short, India matters very much to the global community and this means that the attitude of the average Indian towards its culture and civilisation must change too.
The rebuilding of a glorious Shree Ram temple at Ayodhya should not be seen as a religious movement but as a reclamation of Indic heritage, pride and glory.
Historically, India has never been an aggressor and always a reluctant fighter but when it decides to fight, it is impossible to halt it akin to the great Indian elephant, a gentle content giant that travels peacefully with its herd but can completely alter the forest landscape and ecosystem. It is time that all Indian citizens learn from history and start developing pride in their heritage.
India has always fallen behind due to the successful tactics of outsiders who have tried to create fault lines in the country for their interests. For this reason, it is monumentally important that citizens of India from all castes, religions and faiths cease falling prey to the nefarious strategies of those that wish India to fail and not make it an “us vs them” debate for the simple reason that the us they consider theirs was never theirs, to begin with…
The rebuilding of a glorious Shree Ram temple at Ayodhya should not be seen as a religious movement but as a reclamation of Indic heritage, pride and glory. It should mark the beginning of an era where we reclaim with full pomp and splendour all native traditions that link us to this glorious civilisation with celebratory grandeur. It should be viewed as the reclamation of our ancient knowledge that made us the country that gave the world the digit zero, perfect distances in astronomy, the science of surgery and so much more.
Let us walk proudly holding our heritage close adopting traditions of tolerance, diversity, acceptance and non-violence that make us naturally suited to work and learn with all cultures- East or West. Let us also vow to never let ourselves feel inferior in front of any foreign powers ever again. Only then will we achieve the road to success in truly embracing the power and glory of our culture and civilisation.