Dr Rajinder Singh, a transplant surgeon from the Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, is a prominent member of the diaspora. In this guest column for iGlobal, he shares how he brought the diaspora community together to celebrate the recent inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
A friend from the United Arab Emirates informed me of a stringent regulation in their country that prohibits the infringement upon the religious sentiments of minority groups. There's this strict rule in their country that says you can't hurt the religious feelings of other minorities, and if you do so, it’s a punishable offence with a minimum imprisonment of three years. I was genuinely touched when I heard that. It exemplifies a remarkable method of preserving and safeguarding the faith of others, and truly a wonderful principle embedded within the majority religion followed by the people of Middle Eastern countries.
Middle Eastern nations have sanctioned people of minority faiths to construct Mandirs, Gurudwaras and Churches. Permission has been granted to open the temple of Lord Jagannath in UAE, for which, preparations are ongoing in full swing. These actions truly reflect the magnanimity, generosity, and genuine essence of their faith. A recent development in Saudi Arabia serves as a further testament to this commitment. The government has authorized the inclusion of Hindu scriptures, such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, in their educational curriculum.
Contrasting this with the actions of historical looters and plunderers like Babur, reveals a stark difference who destroyed the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and erected a mosque in its place around the year 1528. Individuals like Babur, devoid of any true religious affiliation or, at best, misrepresenting their faith, operated outside the bounds of religious sanction. It is undeniable that Babur's actions were not endorsed by his own religion or any religion for that matter. By forcibly dismantling the faith systems of others and perpetrating systematic massacres against believers of different faiths, he violated the fundamental principles of religious tolerance and coexistence which was the true hallmark of his religion.
When Babur invaded India, carrying out widespread looting and massacres, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion, was profoundly moved by the suffering of the people of Hindustan. He appealed to God, as mentioned in Gurbani, asking God that when people were being tormented in Hindustan by Babur, did God not feel the pain? “Khurasan khasmana kiya, Hindustan daraaya. Aaiti maar payee kurlaane, tain ki dard na aaya?"
The significance of Ayodhya lies in its historical importance, as the temple that once stood there was not an ordinary place of worship. It was revered by the Hindu community as the sacred birthplace of Shri Ram Chander ji. The faith in Prabhu Ram runs through the veins, beats in the hearts, and resonates in the thoughts of the Hindu community. The religious significance associated with the demolished Ram temple holds a comparable weight of importance for the Hindu community, akin to the revered Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple, Amritsar), Mecca, Jerusalem, or the Vatican for their respective faithful followers. Therefore, their happiness on the joyous occasion of the restoration of their cherished symbol is indescribable and boundless.
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In 1738, the Golden Temple in Amritsar was occupied and desecrated by Massa Rangar. However, two Sikh individuals named Sukha Singh and Mahtab Singh promptly intervened and neutralised him to restore the sanctity of the revered Harmandir Sahib to the Sikh community. Similarly, in November 1858, Nihang Baba Fakir Singh Khalsa and several Nihang Sikhs attempted to protest this injustice and reclaim the temple of Prabhu Ram in Ayodhya. The details of this incident, along with reports from the archaeological survey, served as crucial evidence before the Supreme Court of India when it rendered a verdict in favour of reconstructing the temple. This decision was peacefully accepted by the Indian citizens.
All religions propagate the message of peace. Divinity is visible to our finite and mortal human eyes as different colours of the same rainbow. Ram, Eeshwar, Allah, God, Khuda, or Waheguru are different names for the same divine force. The inauguration ceremony of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, which took place on January 22, signifies not only a triumph for Hindus or any saffron colour, but a collective victory for all religions, including Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, who embrace the true essence of their faiths, promoting love, tolerance, and coexistence.
Recently, we gathered in our residence to express our gratitude to Prabhu Ram and to share in the happiness of the Hindu community, who have endured centuries of suffering. The event we celebrated was a symbol of our modern times, where coexistence and religious tolerance are essential. It was a celebration of the triumph of good over the evil perpetrated by Babur hundreds of years ago. It was a celebration of tolerance prevailing over tyranny, with a message that everyone is free to follow their own faith.
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Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru wrote: ‘Manas ki jaat sabhe ek pehchanbo’ (Recognise the whole of humanity as one)." The same message is echoed in the Bhagavad Gita: Vasudeva Kutumbakam (The world is one family).
So, let’s come together and rejoice in each other's happiness, finding our collective solace in the Divine.