A Hanuman temple in the Chandni Chowk area of Delhi was demolished on 9 February this year on the orders of the Delhi High Court. A gentrification drive in the area required the removal of the temple. At a time when temple-building has become a national programme in India, the demolition of a temple dedicated to Hanuman, the great devotee of Ram, was bound to create ripples. It was a godsend for those who are adept in the art of grabbing power in the name of temples.
A few days later, a prefabricated steel Hanuman temple appeared overnight in the site. The sudden appearance of the temple did not cause any surprise. Obviously, this was child’s play for those who had made Ram Lala appear overnight in the Babri Masjid. They have a long history of making temples and idols appear overnight.
According to reports in the media, the temple that was removed was quite old and had come to occupy the middle of a road. Next to the temple was an old peepal tree. Old buildings, trees and roads are often sacrificed to gentrify towns and cities. Mostly the local administration handles the job, but sometimes the courts have to intervene. The Chandni Chowk temple was removed and the idols were respectfully transferred to a nearby temple.
The removal kicked up a row, with the Hindu nationalist organizations and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blaming the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The Hanuman devotee AAP reciprocated in kind to the jibes of the Ram devotee BJP. The Congress, too, entered the war of words and staged a demonstration. All the political parties are, of course, pro-temple. They know pretty well that if they don’t back the temple, they will lose the backing of the people, if not of the Lord.
The Vishwa Hindu Temple demanded that a Hanuman temple be constructed in Delhi along the lines of the Ravidas Temple. Another political party announced that its workers would recite Hanuman Chalisa on the premises of the new temple. Yet another has decided to pray to the presiding deity of the new structure for world peace.
The Delhi Police and the Delhi Government are both key players in this issue. While the leaders of AAP, the Delhi state’s ruling party, have welcomed the temple, their government is investigating how it came up overnight. Leaders of the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, are holding pujas at the temple while the Delhi Police, which is under the control of their government, are enquiring into the matter. It is a fixed match, or at least a friendly one.
Meanwhile, the priest of the temple has made an astounding claim. He said he had a dream in which he was told to rush to the place where the new temple stands. When he went there first thing in the morning, he saw the temple for the first time. Apparently, Hanuman ji had himself built his abode.
It would, of course, be the heights of naivety to believe that the temple was built by a supernatural power or that it appeared out of nowhere. Still, the friendly match continues and mythological tales are being fed to the people. The Directive Principles of State Policy, which form part of our Constitution, may have mandated the State with the responsibility of developing scientific temper among the people but our leaders are out to push the gullible into the dark alley of superstitions and blind faith.
Religion and faith have always been potent instruments of totalitarian regimes. They consciously promote superstitions and blind faith. They want the people to be immersed in religion, in pujas and rituals; to become blind devotees, of the gods and of the powers that be.
No government likes questioners and rebels. They all prefer devotees. Those wielding religious, political and economic power work in tandem to ensure that questions are not asked and voices of protest don’t rise up. The political parties which should solve problems of the people are creating problems. Roads are not the places for building temples and mosques. They come in the way of smooth flow of traffic. Moreover, some of the more religious passers-by stop their vehicles, close their eyes for a moment and pray to the deity. That may and does lead to accidents. What if someone plants a bust of Jotirao Phule or Ambedkar in the middle of a road? Would it be tolerated? Wouldn’t the bust be uprooted and those behind installing it thrown behind bars?
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Why should temples and mosques be built on government land and in government offices? If religion is a personal matter, why should it be foisted on the people at large? Why should a bhoomi pujan be performed to inaugurate the construction of government projects? Are governments supposed to promote scientific temper and reasoning or peddle religion and blind faith?
Be that as it may, this Hanuman temple issue signals the beginning of politics of religion in the national capital. Ram has already been exploited to the hilt. The three-decade-long Ram Temple Movement was aimed at bolstering brahmanical domination, undermining the Shraman culture and enslaving its adherents. The thousands of crores collected for building the Ram Temple – a project patronized by the ruling dispensation – is like a counter-revolution for the Bahujans. And now comes Hanuman. For the next few decades, Hanuman would be used to befool the toilers and counter the movement for change and social justice.
This slow poison is bound to corrode the ideology of scientific socialism. It will ensure that people don’t break away from superstitions and rituals; that they continue to worship idols, believe in sorcery and magic and exorcise evil spirits. They will have no time left to ask questions, to struggle for their basic rights and entitlements. They had better blame their destiny for their poverty and for the miseries they suffer on account of their caste. They need to be turned into staunch fatalists, who make a beeline for places of worship.
The Bahujan heroes, heroines and saints have taught us to shun rituals and hypocrisy. They were opposed to the Vedic and mythological beliefs, idol worship and other brahmanical shenanigans. They insisted that scriptures were worthless. They questioned the Vedas, they rejected the concept of a supernatural being, they boycotted yagnas and havans and urged us to keep away from mosques and temples. But have we learned the lesson? Have we imbibed their teachings? Or, are we strengthening the forces which wiped out Shraman culture and replaced the maxim of “Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay” with “Brahmin Hitay”?
There is little doubt that the dominant savarnas want the Bahujans to be as loyal as Hanuman – the one who accepts everything they say with a bowed head, the one who risks his life to fetch sanjeevani buti to rejuvenate them and the one who splits open his chest to prove his dedication to them.
They want crores of Hanumans. After all, hadn’t Ramvilas Paswan’s son Chirag described himself as Modi’s Hanuman during the run-up to the Bihar Assembly polls?
Installing a Hanuman, who is fiercely loyal to them, in the hearts of every Dalit, Adivasi and OBC is the next project of the brahmanical forces. They, of course, will be the Rams. A large number of Hanuman temples have been erected in Adivasi lands. The Adivasis are to be turned into Hanuman Bhakts. By invoking the legend of Shabri, the nature-worshipper Adivasis are being encouraged to become devotees of Hanuman. Dalits were recruited as foot soldiers by the Bajrang Dal. And they were proud to be part of their vandal mobs. The OBCs have already come under the spell of communalism. Now, the flag-bearers of the poisonous politics of Hindutva are working on the agenda to turn these Bahujans into their Hanumans. What is alarming is that the Bahujans are not even aware of what is being done to them.
(Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil)
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