In the run-up to the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, today, on January 22, devotees of the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu are jubilant. There’s joy around, as the hour for the Pran Pratishtha ceremony to mark the ritualistic transference of the soul and spirit of the deity into the idol of Ram Lalla (infant form of Rama) draws near. The 51-inch idol of Ram Lalla sculpted by Karnataka’s Arun Yogiraj has been placed at the sanctum sanctorum. At 12.20pm today, its eyes will be uncovered during the Pran Pratishtha rituals.
Ram is being heralded into His temple with full state honours. The Central and UP State Government are leaving no stone unturned to make the event a grand success. At the forefront is the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The opposition, alleging that the inauguration of the temple is a ‘political event’ rather than a religious one with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s eyes on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, has declined invitations to attend the ceremony.
The four Shankaracharyas — the custodians of Hinduism — said they won’t be attending the event as the temple, considered the body of God, is incomplete and it is not right to do the Pran Pratistha of the new idol there, yet.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced she will visit the Kali temple — the local deity — and hold an inter-faith rally on January 22. And Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is, instead engaged in rituals paying obeisance to Lord Hanuman.
Unfazed by the opposition’s boycott, the BJP is bent on making the event a grand success. Invitation cards have been sent out by the Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust to more than 6,000 people to attend the ceremony. Among the list are celebrities and Bollywood megastars like Amitabh Bachchan. Rajnikant, Kangana Ranaut, Anu Malik and others were seen beaming at Ayodhya yesterday.
The opening of the Ram Mandir, is indeed, a cause for celebration for the whole of India. Lord Ram hailed as Maryada Purshottam, which means “the man who is supreme in honour,” as also the “best man who practised righteousness until he perfected it,” is loved by not only people in India, but men, women and children the world over.
Lord Ram has a universal appeal. As such, he belongs to all Indians, and people overseas who revere Him as Lord of the universe. Not only Hindus, but people of other faiths respect Lord Ram, by virtue of the fact that he was kind, compassionate, forgiving — and democratic in his rule, though the concept of democracy as we know it today, was unheard of in those times, thousands of years ago.
Ram taught the world to love and respect everyone; never to discriminate anyone on the basis of caste, creed, colour or status.
He was concerned about the welfare of the poorest of the poor, and would not hesitate to partake of food offered even by a so-called poor person.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “If one offers to Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, I delightfully partake of that item offered with love by My devotee in pure consciousness.” (BG 9:26)
Similarly, Lord Ram is pleased with any offering given with love by his devotees, however small it may be. The Ayodhya Ram Mandir is a grand tribute to the Lord. But He is equally at home and happy in small temples that abound in the rest of the country.
Lord Ram believed in oneness and unity of humankind and practised it in His kingdom.
The Ram Mandir should have united the nation in keeping with the life and teachings of Lord Ram. It is unfortunate that the obvious “politicisation” of the event has created divisions.
May Lord Ram bless the people so that they bury their differences, unite, and join hands in celebrating His return to Ayodhya.
Oswald Pereira, a senior journalist, has also written eight books, including The Newsroom Mafia, Chaddi Buddies, The Krishna-Christ Connexion, How to Create Miracles in Our Daily Life and Crime Patrol: The Most Thrilling Stories. Oswald is a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, and practises Kriya Yoga.