Following the Supreme Court’s advice for an out of court settlement of the Ayodhya issue earlier this month, founder of Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has revived his solution he came up with in 2003 for the long-drawn problem that has caused bitter acrimony between the Hindus and Muslims. The Ayodhya stalemate has often led to the exploitation of the issue by different political fronts for electoral benefits.
This is how the spiritual leader views the issue:
According to him: “Compassion and forgiveness form the basis of this proposal. Mistakes have happened in the past. It is only wise to forgive and forget them. As a civilised society, we cannot afford not to practice forgiveness and trust building, for the betterment of the society and our own selves. This is to be undertaken now. Right now.
It is one’s obligation to forgive when someone asks for it. However, to be forgiven even without being asked is true wisdom. Any practical solution for solving the Ayodhya issue shall necessarily be based on these foundations of compassion and forgiveness.”
He added: “As we are all aware, the matter is in the court. However, this has its own drawbacks. One party winning through the court can only help further increase the already existing gap between the communities. Whatever the verdict be, and who-so-ever be the winner, the winning party will lose the goodwill of the losing community for a long time to come. In fact, the so-called winning party is really losing.
Supposing the court goes in favour of Muslims, it will instill humiliation and tension in the majority. The Hindus will not take any disturbance to the existing Ram Lala Prathishta easily. Such a development can push the country into a state of complete turmoil.
If it is the other way, i.e., a verdict in favors of Hindus, it will create bitterness and insecurity among the Muslim community. Not only this, the Muslims will lose a great opportunity to show their generosity and get the goodwill of the Hindu community. Further, the jubilation of the Hindus following such a verdict will not present a healthy situation.
Apart from these, the so-called secular solutions like constructing a hospital, museum etc. will not be practical and not in tune with the ground reality. The ‘intelligentsia’ that put forth these solutions form only a small part of the society whereas most of the people are emotion driven and faith-based. At the same time, continuing the status-quo and prolonging the issue will further deepen the polarisation of the society and fuel fundamentalism.
It should also be said that anyone who wants no solution at all is a friend of neither of the communities nor of the nation at large.
Considering all these factors, arriving at an immediate, win-win solution is what is proposed herein.”
The Art of Living Foundation founder has also offered three possible solutions to the Ayodhya issue:
Proposal – I
1. Hindu community in general and organisations in particular to regret any hurt caused to the Muslim community by word or deed. Asking for kshama (forgiveness) is in line with the Sanatan Dharma and is a sign of civilised behaviour.
2. Muslims to gift the place where the makeshift Ram temple stands, to the Hindu community and withdraw all cases on that piece of land which is holy and dear to millions of Hindus and allow them to carry on worship which has been happening for 50 years. This would elevate the image of Muslims as considerate and generous towards the feelings of millions of Hindus. This would help keep the communal peace and harmony in the nation. Taking such a step is very much in tune with the tenets of Islam, which advocates peace and charity.
“If this plan is executed, both communities will come together and there can be celebrations in the whole country. The Art of Living Foundation will take responsibility to organise such celebrations in bringing together Muslims and Hindus in every state and district centres. This will be a win-win situation for both the communities,” he has said.
In a scenario where certain organisations do not comply, the peace process should not be shunned. In such a case the Muslim Personal Law Board should still go ahead and take into confidence the venerable saints of the Hindu community and gift the place to the saints.
The Hindu saints, in turn, will help to build a mosque in Faizabad.
According to him: “When you give a gift, you don’t put conditions. If you put conditions and give a gift, it turns into a trade. A goodwill gesture can only be a gift, not a trade. This change in attitude to accommodate each other without demanding reciprocation would take away all the bitterness. An attitude of ‘stretching ones’ hand first’ will do enormous good to both the communities. In the absence of which a tit for tat situation will arrive which can jeopardise the harmony of the entire nation.”
Proposal – III
“It is a wonder that there is even a question whether to have a monument for Ram in His birth place. An Indian can never feel aversion towards Ram’s birth place and if at all some people do, we have to educate them. If that were to be Prophet Mohammed’s birthplace, I would have gone to convince every Hindu to honour the sentiments of Muslims. I am sure that the same will be the response of secular Muslims,” the spiritual leader has said. “The so-called secular intelligentsia which forms a very small part of the society suggest to build a neutral monument like hospital or museum… In whose name will you have the monument? Ram or Babar? If it is named after Ram, it will automatically become a temple! Let us ask ourselves this simple question: whom should we honour, Ram or Babar? Mahatma Gandhi or Aurangazeb? Mother Teressa or Hitler? Is there any choice? Great men do not belong to one community… they are the property of the entire humanity. It is unfortunate that politics harps on people’s issues to gain mileage and only people will have to resolve this and through politics.”
“However, in case none of the parties agree to resolve the issue, the Parliament is to enact a legislation gifting Ram Janma Bhumi to the Hindu community and keeping the status quo of all other places of worship,” he has clarified.
The author is a spokesperson for The Art of Living Foundation.