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This really is an amazing country. I’ve spent the last 24 hours reading three things: “Mumbai Fables” by Gyan Prakash and the two judges’ statements that made up the Ayodhya verdict. Not being either conversant in legalese or very bright, it’s taken me more time to read the few pages of the verdict than it took me to get through three chapters of Mumbai Fables. The fact that Gyan Prakash is a far better writer than Justices S.U. Khan and Sudhir Agarwal may be another reason. Anyway, the point of all this is that, from what sense I could make of the English, here’s what the verdict essentially says: The mythical character of Ram has a physical birthplace, nay birth spot, even though there is no historical record of him having existed. Babri Masjid is not really a mosque because the Archaeological Society of India says that the building was not constructed according to “the tenets of Islam”, regardless of the fact that Islamic prayers have been held there for a significantly long time. This would suggest then that the kar sevaks didn’t do anything offensive on December 6, 1992. They just attacked an old building in which some Muslim people prayed and which was not built according to the tenets of Islam.

So the mosque is not really a mosque and a mythical character has a real birthplace. Lovely.

Someone I know has a patented joke that always gets him laughs. Question: What did the Bengali do when he got pssed off? Ans: He wrote a poem. In that spirit, I’ve opened a new page in this blog and in it is a story titled The Library. I’ve been told that if there was every something that needed to be written anonymously, this is it. Whether that’s because of the subject or the writing itself is unclear. The point of posting this story is to remember that much of Hinduism is about the mischief and the responsibilities of storytelling. The tradition of shruti was much more that memorising the words of a tale. It was about reinterpreting stories according to the times, inclinations and perhaps even the politics of the storyteller. Happy reading, if you do indeed go to The Library.

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3 thoughts on “Buttering Ram, Battering Ram

  1. I want to hug you for writing that. Not a good week for being Indian (hailing from the post colonial political entity called that anyway). The Rutgers thing has me really rattled. I thought along that it was some white dude who’d done it. Really, really upset.

  2. If that comment reads cryptic, I was basically indicating how socially conservative Indians (particularly Indians abroad) are or are slowly becoming. The world in general is becoming more right wing (UK, Germany,France let alone the tea party wingnuts in the US who are all consolidating power in the wake of the continuing recession). There’s a ton of thinly veiled condescension towards gays and minorities (irony!) among second/third generation Indians. A large proportion of them are libertarians because they have had a salutary immigrant experience, unlike other ethnicities (latinos and africans), and a growing cadre of second generation Indians (asians) want to dismantle social programs and leave it all to the free market.

    How comforting and gratifying to see Indians in India flying the conservative banner way high!

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