Remembering the Events of December 6: 29 years later
On this day 29 years ago, the Babri Masjid was destroyed by a Hindu mob with the support of Hindu nationalist organizations across India. This act of violence triggered Hindu-Muslim riots across India and resulted in “retaliatory” attacks on Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Since then, Hindu nationalist organizations have demanded the construction of a temple to Rama on top of the illegally-demolished mosque. A Supreme Court decision in 2019 both declared the demolition of the mosque unlawful, and granted permission for the construction of a Ram Temple on the same site.
In this post, we share some reflections by members of Hindus for Human Rights about this event and its consequences today.
Today is the 29th anniversary of the demolition by Hindutva mobs, of the 500 year old mosque, the Babri Masjid, in Ayodhya. I have lived much of my adult life with the harrowing truth that there are people in my Hindu community that have so much hatred within them that they will take the form of a rabid and bloodthirsty mob and render a majestic medieval house of God to rubble with their bare hands.
Today, this same kind of bloodthirsty Hindu is setting the foundation stones of a new India, one where non-Hindus have no place.
This same kind of Hindu celebrates Gandhi’s assassin; has been raping and lynching young Muslims throughout the past 7 years since Narendra Modi took office; and sees no spiritual and moral catastrophe in the erection of a temple to Lord Rama on the site of the razed Babri Masjid.
Lord Hanuman ripped open his heart to show that Lord Rama and Devi Sita reside there.
His beloved Lord Rama and Devi Sita need no temple; they need all of us to be modern-day Hanumans, spreading love not hate.
On this shameful anniversary for Hindus, I invite Hindus in the world who believe in that Lord Rama and Devi Sita who have love for all peoples and all creatures in the world, and whose Lord Hanuman is full of love and devotion rather than red-faced and warring, to join us before it is too late.
Hindus of conscience must say in one voice: Not in the name of our Lord Rama. Not in Our Name. Jai Siya Ram. Jai Hanuman.
These verses come from a longer nazm by Kaifi Azmi titled “Dusra Banbas” (Second Exile). This poem describes lord Rama’s reaction to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in his capital city. Returning to his home of Ayodhya after his 14 years of exile, Rama witnesses this frenzied mob demolishing the masjid. Disgusted and saddened by the violence committed by those who claim to be his devotees, Ram chooses to leave Ayodhya, saying that he has been forced into a “second exile.”
Kaifi Azmi (1919-2002) was one of the most celebrated Urdu poets of the 20th century. He was a Marxist, and was closely involved with the Progressive Writers’ Movement of India early in his career. He was also a lyricist for some Bollywood films. He is remembered for his progressive, bold poetry.
When Ram returned home from exile,
entering the city, he was reminded instead
of the jungles he had left behind.
Witnessing that dance of insanity that December 6,
Shri Ram must have thought:
“From where have all these madmen come to my home?”
“You threw all those stones towards Babur,
but it is my head that bleeds.”
Ram hadn’t even washed his feet
in the waters of the Sarayu
when there, he saw deep bloodstains.
Getting up, without even washing his feet,
Ram turned away from his own doorstep, lamenting:
“The state of my own capital city no longer suits me.
This December 6, I have been condemned
to a second exile.”
– Kaifi Azmi
rām ban-bās se jab lauṭ ke ghar meiñ āye
yād jaṅgal bahut āyā jo nagar meiñ āye
raqs-e-dīvāngī āngan meiñ jo dekhā hogā
che disambar ko śrī rām ne socā hogā
itne dīvāne kahāñ se mire ghar meiñ āye
tum ne bābar kī taraf pheṅke the sāre patthar
hai mire sar kī k͟hatā, zak͟hm jo sar meiñ āye
pāñv sarjū meiñ abhī rām ne dhoye bhī na the
ki nazar āye vahāñ k͟hūn ke gehre dhabbe
pāñv dhoye binā sarjū ke kināre se uṭhe
rām ye kehte hue apne dvāre se uṭhe
rājdhānī kī fazā āyī nahīñ rās mujhe
che disambar ko milā dūsrā ban-bās mujhe
– Kaifī Āzmī
राम बन-बास से जब लौट के घर में आए
याद जंगल बहुत आया जो नगर में आए
रक़्स-ए-दीवानगी आँगन में जो देखा होगा
छे दिसम्बर को श्री राम ने सोचा होगा
इतने दीवाने कहाँ से मिरे घर में आए
तुम ने बाबर की तरफ़ फेंके थे सारे पत्थर
है मिरे सर की ख़ता, ज़ख़्म जो सर में आए
पाँव सरजू में अभी राम ने धोए भी न थे
कि नज़र आए वहाँ ख़ून के गहरे धब्बे
पाँव धोए बिना सरजू के किनारे से उठे
राम ये कहते हुए अपने द्वारे से उठे
राजधानी की फ़ज़ा आई नहीं रास मुझे
छे दिसम्बर को मिला दूसरा बन-बास मुझे
– कैफ़ी आज़मी
رام بن باس سے جب لوٹ کے گھر میں آئے
یاد جنگل بہت آیا جو نگر میں آئے
رقص دیوانگی آنگن میں جو دیکھا ہوگا
چھ دسمبر کو شری رام نے سوچا ہوگا
اتنے دیوانے کہاں سے مرے گھر میں آئے
تم نے بابر کی طرف پھینکے تھے سارے پتھر
ہے مرے سر کی خطا، زخم جو سر میں آئے
پاؤں سرجو میں ابھی رام نے دھوئے بھی نہ تھے
کہ نظر آئے وہاں خون کے گہرے دھبے
پاؤں دھوئے بنا سرجو کے کنارے سے اٹھے
رام یہ کہتے ہوئے اپنے دوارے سے اٹھے
راجدھانی کی فضا آئی نہیں راس مجھے
چھ دسمبر کو ملا دوسرا بن باس مجھے
– کیفی اعظمی
These are a few stanzas from a poem called Babri Masjid, by the Urdu poet Jagan Nath Azad. Journalist Saquib Salim writes that on the day the Babri Masjid was destroyed, “Azad was flying from Jammu to Delhi.”
“He writes that a co-passenger informed him that a dome of Babri mosque had been demolished. This news pained him deeply and he wrote a three-stanza poem while onboard.”
“Upon reaching the home of his son he was informed that the mosque had been completely razed. Engulfed in anguish he wrote further stanzas to the poem, one which helps us understand the shock and sadness that all Indians – Hindus and Muslims alike – felt.”
“For Azad, this destruction harmed not just Islam but also Hinduism. Being a Hindu himself, he feels that this act shamed the whole religion. At an international stage, India lost its reputation of being secular.”
Source: Adapted from a translation by Saquib Salim https://thewire.in/books/babri-masjid-demolition-urdu-poetry-jagan-nath-azad
Urdu text: https://www.facebook.com/aalmiafsanviadab/posts/2766272823393957/
Your deed has not harmed Islam a bit
But you have stabbed a knife into
the heart of the Hindu religion
You have mutilated the face of India
You have planted thorns in its path to progress
Mosque and temple, both are the abode of God:
My Hindu religion has taught me only this much
This is not religion, but the politics of hate
You have been taught a satanic lesson
This mosque is still intact in the hearts of loving people
Do you know this, destroyer of the mosque?
This country is not yet empty of good people
Those who heal broken hearts still reside here
– Jagan Nath Azad
tere is fe’al se islām kā to kuchh nahīñ bigṛā
magar ghonpā hai khanjar tū ne hindū dharm ke dil meiñ
idhar hindustāñ kā tū ne chehrā maskh kar ḍālā
udhar boye haiñ kānṭe tū ne is kī rāh-e manzil meiñ
khudā kā ghar hai mandir bhī, khudā kā ghar hai masjid bhī
mujhe to mere hindū dharm ne bas yeh sikhāyā hai
nahīñ hai dharm hargiz woh, faqat andhī siyāsat hai
tujhe terā yeh dars-e shaitāniyat jis ne paṛhāyā hai
yeh masjid āj bhī zindā hai ahl-e dil ke sīnoñ meiñ
khabar kya hai tujhe masjid kā paikar toṛne wālā
abhī yeh sar zamīñ khālī nahīñ hai nek bandoñ se
abhī maujūd haiñ ṭūṭe hūe dil joṛne wālā
– Jagan Nāth Āzād
ترے اِس فعل سے اِسلام کا تو کچھ نہیں بگڑا
مگر گھونپا ہے خنجر تو نے ہندو دھرم کے دِل میں
اِدھر ہندوستاں کا تو نے چہرہ مسخ کر ڈالا
اُدھر بوئے ہیں کانٹے تو نے اِس کی راہِ منزل میں
خدا کا گھر ہے مندر بھی، خدا کا گھر ہے مسجد بھی
مجھے تو میرے ہندو دھرم نے بس یہ سکھایا ہے
نہیں ہے دھرم ہرگز وہ، فقط اندھی سیاست ہے
تجھے تیرا یہ درسِ شیطنیت جس نے پڑھایا ہے
یہ مسجد آج بھی زندہ ہے اہلِ دِل کے سینوں میں
خبر کیا ہے تجھے مسجد کا پیکر توڑنے والے
ابھی یہ سر زمیں خالی نہیں ہے نیک بندوں سے
ابھی موجود ہیں ٹوٹے ہوئے دِل جوڑنے والے
جگن ناتھ آزاد
तेरे इस फ़े’ल से इस्लाम का तो कुछ नहीं बिगड़ा
मगर घोंपा है ख़ंजर तू ने हिन्दू धर्म के दिल में
इधर हिन्दुस्तां का तू ने चेहरा मस्ख़ कर डाला
उधर बोये हैं कांटे तू ने इस की राह-ए-मंज़िल में
ख़ुदा का घर है मंदिर भी, ख़ुदा का घर है मस्जिद भी
मुझे तो मेरे हिन्दू धर्म ने बस यह सिखाया है
नहीं है धर्म हरगिज़ वह, फ़क़त अंधी सियासत है
तुझे तेरा यह दर्स-ए-शैतानियत जिस ने पढ़ाया है
यह मस्जिद आज भी ज़िंदा है अहल-ए-दिल के सीनों में
ख़बर क्या है तुझे मस्जिद का पैकर तोड़ने वाला
अभी यह सर ज़मीं ख़ाली नहीं है नेक बन्दों से
अभी मौजूद हैं टूटे दिल जोड़ने वाला
– जगन नाथ आज़ाद
This is an excerpt from a Bengali poem called “Deeno Daan” (“Destitute Donation”), written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1900. Following the Bhumi Puja of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya, this poem has gone viral on social media.
“There is no god in that temple,”
said the hermit.
Furious, the king said,
“No god? You speak like a godless man,
hermit. A golden idol on a bejewelled throne,
and you say it’s empty?”
“Not empty—it holds royal arrogance.
You have consecrated yourself, not the god of the world.”
Frowning, the king said,
“You say the temple I made
with twenty lakh gold coins, reaching to the sky,
that I dedicated to the deity after due rituals,
this impeccable edifice – it has no room for god?”
Said the tranquil hermit,
“The year when the fires
raged and rendered twenty thousand subjects
homeless, destitute; when they came to your door
with futile pleas for help, and sheltered in the woods,
in caves, in the shade of trees, in dilapidated temples,
when you constructed your gold-encrusted building
with twenty lakh gold coins for a deity, god said,
‘My eternal home is lit with countless lamps
in the blue, infinite sky; its everlasting foundations
are truth, peace, compassion, love. This feeble miser,
who could not give homes to his homeless subjects,
expects to give me one?’
At that moment god left
to join the poor in their shelter beneath the trees.
As hollow as the froth and foam in the deep wide ocean
is your temple, just as bereft beneath the universe,
a bubble of gold and pride.”
Flaring up in rage
The king said,
“You false deceiver, leave my kingdom
Serenely the hermit said to him,
“You have exiled the one who loves the devout.
Now send the devout into the same exile, king.”
– Rabindranath Tagore
…“she mondire deb nāi” kohe shādhu.
rājā kohe roshe,
“deb nāi! he shonnāshī, nāstiker moto kothā koho.
rotnoshinghāshon-’pore dīpiteche rotonbigroho–
“shūnno noy, rājdombhe pūrṇo” shādhu kahe,
“āponāy sthāpiyācho, jogoter debotāre nohe.”
bhrū kuñciẏā kohe rājā, “biṃsho lokhho shorṇomudrā diyā
rociyāchi onindito je mondir ombor bhediyā,
pūjāmontre nibediyā debotāre koriyāchi dān,
tumi koho she mondire debotār nāhi kono sthān!”
shānto mukhe kohe shādhu, “je botshor bohnidāhe dīn
biṃshoti shohosro projā gṛhohīn onnobostrohīn
dār̤āilo dāre tobo, kede gelo byartho prārthonāy
oroṇṇe, guhār gorbhe, pothoprānte torur chāyāy,
oshotthobidīrṇo jīrṇo mondirprāṅgoṇe, she botshor
biṃsho lokkho mudrā diyā roci tobo shorṇodīpto ghor
debotāre shomorpile. she din kohilā bhogobān–
‘āmār onādi ghore ogoṇṇo ālok dīppomān
onontonīlimā-mājhe; mor ghore bhitti cironton
shotto, shānti, doyā, prem. dīnshakti je kkhudro kṛpoṇ
nāhi pāre gṛho dite gṛhohīn nijo projāgoṇe
she āmāre gṛho kore dān!’ coli gelā shei khoṇe
pothoprānte torutole dīn-shāthe dīner āshroy.
ogādh shomudro-mājhe sphīto pheno jothā shūnnomoy
temoni porom shūnno tomār mondir bishhotole,
shorṇo ār dorper budbud!”
rājā joli roshānole,
kohilen, “re bhonḍo pāmor, mor rājjo tāg kore
e muhūrte coli jāo.”
shonnāshī kohilā shānto share,
“bhokto-botsholere tumi jethāy pāṭhāle nirbāshone
sheikhāne, mohārāj, nirbāshito koro bhoktojone.”
– Robīndronāth Ṭhākur
…“সে মন্দিরে দেব নাই” কহে সাধু।
রাজা কহে রোষে,
“দেব নাই! হে সন্ন্যাসী, নাস্তিকের মতো কথা কহ।
রত্নসিংহাসন-’পরে দীপিতেছে রতনবিগ্রহ–
“শূন্য নয়, রাজদম্ভে পূর্ণ’ সাধু কহে,
“আপনায় স্থাপিয়াছ, জগতের দেবতারে নহে।”
ভ্রূ কুঞ্চিয়া কহে রাজা, “বিংশ লক্ষ স্বর্ণমুদ্রা দিয়া
রচিয়াছি অনিন্দিত যে মন্দির অম্বর ভেদিয়া,
পূজামন্ত্রে নিবেদিয়া দেবতারে করিয়াছি দান,
তুমি কহ সে মন্দিরে দেবতার নাহি কোনো স্থান!”
শান্ত মুখে কহে সাধু, “যে বৎসর বহ্নিদাহে দীন
বিংশতি সহস্র প্রজা গৃহহীন অন্নবস্ত্রহীন
দাঁড়াইল দ্বারে তব, কেঁদে গেল ব্যর্থ প্রার্থনায়
অরণ্যে, গুহার গর্ভে, পথপ্রান্তে তরুর ছায়ায়,
অশ্বত্থবিদীর্ণ জীর্ণ মন্দিরপ্রাঙ্গণে, সে বৎসর
বিংশ লক্ষ মুদ্রা দিয়া রচি তব স্বর্ণদীপ্ত ঘর
দেবতারে সমর্পিলে। সে দিন কহিলা ভগবান–
‘আমার অনাদি ঘরে অগণ্য আলোক দীপ্যমান
অনন্তনীলিমা-মাঝে; মোর ঘরে ভিত্তি চিরন্তন
সত্য, শান্তি, দয়া, প্রেম। দীনশক্তি যে ক্ষুদ্র কৃপণ
নাহি পারে গৃহ দিতে গৃহহীন নিজ প্রজাগণে
সে আমারে গৃহ করে দান!’ চলি গেলা সেই ক্ষণে
পথপ্রান্তে তরুতলে দীন-সাথে দীনের আশ্রয়।
অগাধ সমুদ্র-মাঝে স্ফীত ফেন যথা শূন্যময়
তেমনি পরম শূন্য তোমার মন্দির বিশ্বতলে,
স্বর্ণ আর দর্পের বুদ্বুদ্!”
রাজা জ্বলি রোষানলে,
কহিলেন, “রে ভন্ড পামর, মোর রাজ্য ত্যাগ করে
এ মুহূর্তে চলি যাও।”
সন্ন্যাসী কহিলা শান্ত স্বরে,
“ভক্তবৎসলেরে তুমি যেথায় পাঠালে নির্বাসনে
সেইখানে, মহারাজ, নির্বাসিত কর ভক্তজনে।”
– রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর
The Ayodhya conflict has never really been about the ownership of a piece of land nor about building a Ram mandir in place of the destroyed ancient Babri Masjid. It was a political metaphor, a symbol if you will, about the larger claim that all of India belongs to Hindus, with other communities tolerated only as second-class Indians.
By voting to hand over the entire property to Hindus, the Supreme Court of India wasn’t adjudicating on land ownership claims, as the judgment may imply, but was legitimizing that larger claim of Hindu nationalists.
By its actions, the court did not achieve lasting communal peace, as some learned judges may have intended, but it may have voted itself out as the primary guardian of the Indian constitution.
To me, that is the saddest significance of Remembrance Day, December 6th.
Would I ever visit the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya? Highly unlikely.
If at all I get a chance to visit a Rama temple, it would be the Ramar kovil of my childhood (with an adjoining Hanumaar kovil) frequented by my family. Those kovils hold fond memories for me – especially the delicious crunchy vadas which were made into a garland for Hanumaar!!
Below is a shot of that Rama Mandir.
I can not be proud of Hinduism without taking a stance against Hindu nationalism.
Hindu nationalism is an attack not just on people of different faiths. It is also an attack on the core principles of Hindu Dharma, which teaches us to live in harmony with all living creatures around us, and most importantly, to treat people the same way as we ourselves want to be treated.
The horrific attack on the Babri Masjid is something I can never understand, accept or forgive. How much hatred must someone have in order to damage the houses of worship of other faiths, to damage such an important and historic place of worship for Muslims in India?
How frightened and angry must Indian Muslims have felt after this attack? And continue to feel today?
If you want to show people all over the world what Hinduism is about, then don’t hesitate to show your support to Muslims!
Say “No” whenever people are spreading bigotry against Muslims or any community. Whether it is at school, or at work, or even at home when sitting with your family at the dining table.
Don’t wait for another attack. Speak out against hatred.
Below is an excerpt from a play I wrote while reflecting on this event. In the play, Naren comes to terms with the politics and others’ attitudes around the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
NAREN is at the temple with a crowd of dancing DEVOTEES (including DEVOTEE 1 and DEVOTEE 2).
Rama Lakshmana Janaki! Jai Bolo Hanuman Ki!
What’s up? What’s the matter?
Haven’t you heard? There’s been some amazing news! Jai Hanuman!
The Supreme Court of India has ruled….
… that the Ram Mandir can be built in Ayodhya!
The land where the Babri Masjid once stood, rightly belongs to the Hindus!
And now the Ram Mandir will be rebuilt!
The Indian Government has already committed crores to building the foundation.
I knew that we would eventually get our due!
vināśhāya ca duṣkṛtām!
sambhavāmi yuge yuge!
Have faith in God and all that is good will happen! Jai Hanuman!
Wait, but this doesn’t sound right.
The Babri Masjid was a mosque that has stood for hundreds of years, until vigilantes illegally destroyed it in 1992.
There hasn’t even been as much as an apology for this heinous crime.
Now, how could it be right to build a temple in its place?
It can’t be right. It has to be wrong.
Naren, don’t you know?
Where the Babri Masjid once stood …
Was the very place where Lord Ram was born.
There used to be a glorious temple there in the days of yore….
Until the invader Babur came along.
Oh, what a terrible deed he did!
He destroyed the temple that was there,
And built a mosque in that very place.
Ooh! What a terrible person!
He was a killer, looter, and rapist too.
The Mughals are what led this country to ruin.
Before then, we were all Hindus.
Following the eternal, sanatana dharma.
So, they’d better give us back this land!
Let them build a mosque elsewhere!
But not on Ram’s birthplace.
But guys, how do you even know Ram was born on that very spot?
But historians and archaeologists have differing answers to this very question.
Who cares about historians and archaeologists!
Come on, Ram is from the time of legend; do you really think we’d know exactly where he was born?
Naren, have you no faith? Ram was born here, it’s the Ram Janmabhoomi place!
Nevertheless, why base your actions on Babur’s actions in the 16th century?
Aren’t the Muslims who prayed at this mosque just good, normal people?
Come on, man!
Why would you copy the actions you say you deplore by destroying a sacred house of worship yourself?
How can two wrongs ever make a right?
Sacred? It was sacred to us before it was claimed as “sacred” to them.
We have to reclaim our rightful history and sacred spaces!
For far too long, Hindus have been marginalized and too deferential to minorities.
That’s right! Enough with appeasement!
Yes, appeasement! The downfall of modern India. And Gandhi, too.
Violence is sanctioned in the Hindu scriptures.
I don’t think so!
Of course it is. Don’t be afraid to fight!
Don’t forget, Rama fought a holy war against Ravana.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita not to be afraid to fight if your cause is just and the war is holy!
(Shakes his head.)
You need to think about whether the cause you are fighting for is right.
Another group who fights so-called “holy wars” are terrorists who claim to fight in the name of Islam and jihad…
Don’t be taken in by anti-India propaganda, Naren. This temple is ours, and we should rejoice and celebrate!
Rama Lakshmana Janaki! Jai Bolo Hanuman Ki!
Jai Bolo Hanuman Ki! Sri Sadhguru Nath Maharaj Ki!
A turning point into adharma
December 6th was a day when the Hindus of India took a collective turn into adharma. We – and I say “we” even as I disagree with everything done and said – we chose violence and cowardice, appeasement and fear, anger and hate over dharmic actions and the call to love that is intrinsic to the Hindu ways. Over the years the cowardice and violence has been amplified – and crowned by alleged corruption in the Supreme Court and the construction process. When a civilization makes such a choice it is not just the few thousand goondas or the few hundred politicians or the few officials who are responsible – it is all of us. Those of us who trusted “secularism”, who trusted the elected officials, who trusted the police. We did not do the work to hold them accountable – and we are all suffering from this weakness.
Turning this around will not be easy. It has taken years of lies and assassinations and violence – along with the moral weakness and corruption of “opponents” to get India to this stage. Our anti-national forces are in power – and have been in power for a while no matter the party affiliation. The neo-colonial Lutyens wallas are as much to blame as the fake Sadhus and Sadhvis who act like criminals and are rewarded with government roles. The good news is that India and our Sanatana Dharm are no strangers to this. Ravana, Kansa, Daksha, and the British among others have been arrogant, cruel and adharmic rulers – and we have seen the brilliance of Ram, Krishna, Mahatma Gandhi and others revitalize the Hindu dharm, the beauty and power of inclusion and love, of acting with grace ane beauty in the face of violent bigots. We know that we will see this again – and it is the truthful and joyous Hindu dharm that will change our lives and worlds again into holy and blessed worlds
It wasn’t just the Babri Masjid that was demolished on Dec 06, 1992. There was also a much more serious and grave consequence: the very idea of a secular India was also demolished permanently that day; the idea of living together in peace, of accepting each other despite differences and occasional fissures. The damage has been long-lasting, and perhaps permanent.
Twenty-nine years after the demolition, it is appropriate for us to mourn the death of a nation that was Secular.
Hazaaron saal nargis apni be noori pe roti hai
badi mushkil se hota hai chaman mein deedawar paida
– Allama Iqbal
(हज़ारों साल नरगिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदावर पैदा
29 years ago,
hatred merged with patriotism,
backed by faux history.
Mythology replaced facts.
The ghost of fake temples past
are now real walls that stink of saffron.