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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 5 February 3, 2024

Consequential Takeaways of Ram Mandir Inauguration by the Prime Minister | Vijay Kumar

Saturday 3 February 2024, by Vijay Kumar


The abnormally high level of hype and hoopla with which the Prime Minister Narendra Modi consecrated Lord Ram in Ayodhya on 22nd January, 2024 has upended many foundational concepts of constitutional and republican democracy, nay fundamental tenets of Hinduism. Enumerated hereinafter are the takeaways of the temple consecration ceremony :-

  • The prayer is not silent communion between the Seeker and his God; the logical corollary is that prayer and silence are contradiction in terms. The act of prayer must always be noisy, raucous and cacophonous.
  • ex hypothesi, the worship and darshan in temple must be a performative act and should be accompanied by extravagant spectacle;
  • There are antinomy between religion and simplicity. The worship should not be simple affair. Prayer must be made in theatrical and grandstanding manner;
  • The traditional notion of religion being mean of liberation must be impregnated with – indeed subsumed by – the political ambition and worldly and mundane consideration;
  • Heart-filled devotion is no devotion at all The worship must be actuated by manipulated external trigger and planted agenda;
  • The Image and Statue of the God should not be small and simple; it must be grand, imposing and awe–infusing;
  • Mumbo-Jumbo – as an integral part of religion – is superior to spiritual quest for highest level of attainment and consciousness;
  • The religion must be dictated by the political power of the day, that is, transient political majority of the day. The tradition of the religion enjoying autonomous evolution has been reversed by subordinating it to the political calculation and ambition of the ruler of the day;
  • The constitutional command of ‘State neutrality’ is an arrant nonsense. The government of the day must dabble in religion and religious affairs with all the extravaganza at its command;
  • Finally, the 22nd January event marked the fusion between ecclesiastical and temporal power. In the process, the millennium old distinction between spiritual and mundane has been erased. Even in ancient times, there was clear cut demarcation between Priest/religious leader and King. Narendra Modi has donned the mantle of both Priest and King and has completely obliterated the distinction between them observed since time immemorial.

These instances, which are merely illustrative and not exhaustive, have profound implications not only for constitutional democracy but also for our culture and tradition.

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