Rishtey mein Lord Ram hamare baap lagte hain?

It is lecture time. “The interest of ordinary Muslims in new India lies in embracing modernity,” says Minhaz Merchant. The headline of the editorial page piece in The Times of India is ‘Educate, Don’t Appease’. It assumes, therefore, that only the uneducated are appeased and the white knights like Mr. Merchant are not.

I will tell you how they are. In his own precious words:

As a group of visiting senior Muslim clergy from Ayodhya, with wisdom born of great learning, said recently to Swami Shri Swaroopananda Saraswati, the highly respected Shankaracharya of Dwarka: “Even though our religions are different, we share the blood of the Hindus.” The Shankaracharya replied gently: “That makes our Lord Ram your ancestor as well.”

Very well, we are family and all. Then, rishtey mein Babar is also daddy dearest to Hindus, no? And most certainly Emperor Akbar? After all, he was married to Jodha bai and used to rock the cradle with Krishna’s idol, at least that is what they showed in Mughal-e-azam. So, if you want to play ball, then you have to be on the same court. You can’t just lob it up in the air.

The author goes on to state:

This is not just about genealogy – it reflects India’s embedded religious diversity.

Sure. The TOI used this picture with a caption, ‘Reinforce the tolerance that unifies’.

Tolerance has to be mutual, even though I dislike the word tolerance. You cannot have one idea of god and a stereotype of another religion paying obeisance to that god and call it diversity.

I had written about just such a narrow vision in the article Mainstream Terror:

It is interesting that while the urban elite has taken over religious celebrations and consumerised it, they use the ‘backward’ idea to drive home the point of India’s colourfulness. It almost seems like they are sitting away and cheering at a spectator sport.

My real issue, though, is how the Muslim clergy and the shankaracharyas are considered the only wise folks around worth quoting. Does the author not talk about modernity? Then why is he appeasing religious heads?

Grow up and get your priorities right. It is shameless and insensitive that this piece was written as a prelude to the December 6 Babri Masjid demolition’s 18th anniversary. Was that appeasement or modernity?


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