Sunday, September 16, 2007

RAM SETU CONTROVERSY: RESPECTING FAITH


The Ram Setu controversy has started a national debate, all on predictable lines based either on religious beliefs or the usual science-history-myth conundrum for which there really is no clear answer.

The real question is not of science versus faith but of handling faith with due respect and sensitivity. What is history? An evolving story based on current available knowledge, sometimes dubious and often subjective. The Dravidian versus Aryan twist to Ramayan being raked up by Karunanidhi is nothing but a colonial canard with absolutely no historical evidence except the respectability given to it by Nehru and others. Is there any proof that Allah exists save for the word of the Prophet? Does that make Allah mythical? Can there be any historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus or his birth to a virgin, a medical impossibility? Don’t both beliefs completely belie science? There are studies even questioning the very existence of Jesus. Does all this prove that Jesus or stories of him should be considered mythical? Did not Guru Nanak perform many miracles which can only be called mythical by rationalists?

Where were the media and all others when Christian pressure groups stopped the Discovery Channel from telecasting the film 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus’, as per which a tomb containing the remains of Jesus has been located, thus challenging the resurrection theory. Where was everyone when screening of Dan Brown's ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was banned in a number of Indian states simply because of the theory propounded by the author, and a few others too, that Jesus was in love with Mary Magdalene and even had a child from her?

Miracles and myths are part of every single religion, and cannot stand the scrutiny of the science of today. Therefore, to bring Ram into the issue by questioning his ‘historicity’ to strengthen the case for dredging the ocean at Ram Setu is simply a case of being totally insensitive to the faith of almost a billion people for whom Ram is as living and alive today as Allah is to Muslims and Christ is to Christians.

Just because these people are usually tolerant and do not feel insecure and threatened every time someone says something disparaging about, even insulting to, their Gods, does not mean that there is a license to do so, much less by the government. Had there been the fear of a fatwa, such a reference would never have figured in the government’s affidavit on the subject to the Supreme Court.

The Ram Setu project appears to make good economic sense and does not involve hurting any religious sentiments by itself. The BJP itself would have surely gone ahead with it, had it been in power. The government has, unfortunately, given that party an issue which can fetch it a one-time political dividend. The defense of the government by prominent journalists, particularly in the English media is lamentable. Those who manifestly do not believe in any religion themselves are at their eloquent best expressing cleverly concealed sarcasm of faith, there being no fear whatsoever of reprisal, either from followers of Ram or from those with power. Unknowingly, they are harming the government more by defending its foolishness, to say the least.
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Readers may also like to read:

1. Ram Setu and timeless India
2. Aryan Ram Dravidian Ravan No Indian