Opting for Living Walking Statues and Temples

Image Source: Youth Ki Awaaz

How are we to understand the politics of statues and the Mandir that seem to be gaining momentum in our country? Does BJP and its affiliates in the Sangh are moving towards a grand self defeat? Are we facing a situation that puts faith over law? Have we forgotten that the Government has to be neutral before religions? Maybe secularism is dead a long time back in our country. How could we challenge the Supreme Court? We saw it in Kerala in the context of Sabarimala judgement and now we are facing temple politics. Shall we reduce our supreme court into a toothless Tiger? Everyone has forgotten the criminality of the demolition of Babri Masjid. Last year the supreme court has framed charges for the vandalisation and demolition of the Masjid. Are we descending into Chaotic tyranny of the Majority? The aspiration for a temple is right only within the constitutional framework. Maybe we have to reflect on these issues dispassionately. Congress got trapped into corruption and did not deliver development to the people and the people of India punished it for its excesses. After all its development rhetoric and Congress bashing, unfortunately, BJP with no development to show has paradoxically walked full circle and have reached where Congress was in 2014. The politics of statue is elitist though the Mandir issue appears to have a mass appeal, both are grounded into a what maybe called victimhood and legitimate themselves thereof. A sense of victim generates a sense of innocence as well as complexly constructs others as villains. It is within this victimology that we may trace how the desire for statues as well as the Mandir has become a restoration of something precious that is strongly felt as lost. BJP seems to nurse a hope that in this sense of reclamation of the lost glory, it stands to gain electorally. This is why we will find that victimology will be constructed from different directions and will intensify in the coming days. The rightwing narrates that we have been victims of the invading Islamic rulers and the colonisers. PM Modi’s ridicule of seventy years of Congress also constructs that we have been victims of Congress. We have been systematically fed on victimology. All rightwing politics is based into victimology. The statues and the temple are both outgrowths of the victimology. The question therefore becomes acute and we have to address it deep reflection fearless. What is the real benefit of the statues and temple? Besides some psychic and spiritual benefits what would they really do to us? Temple we must have but as a fruit of peace and justice. The political discourse around statues and temples seem to lead as to ask: Are we being given the cake of Maria Antoinette when we are crying for bread? It seems so. If one reads the discourse of the opponent carefully we can discern it . Some have juxtaposed statues and Mandir with IITs, IIMs, universities, dams, and other infrastructures of development and have begun to think… what would be India? If we only concentrated on the statues and temples. At this point, we seem to be re-enacting the ritual excesses that gave us the watershed of the Upanishads as a course correction. What would be the janan marg of the Upanisads teach us? Against such ritual excesses, the Great Indian Thinker Adi Shankara, also preferred the jnana marga. Maybe we need to enlighten ourselves from our great traditions of the janan marga. There is nothing wrong in the apparent Bakti marga preferred by the Government and its allies. Maybe we have to test it against the Karma marga which seems to have met its waterloo as the Government seems to have very little to showcase as development of our people. Against roti rogar, we are bombarded by the media about the mandir karobar!

Buried into a sense of victimhood, we seem to be seeking freedom from it by seeking recognition. It appears that statue and the Mandir politics is a cry of recognition. It is a desire to fit in within an idealized order of things. The idealised order of things always come from the other side. This order of things is not one that emerges from within. One has to fit into this external order of things. This order of things gives us benchmarks that we have to live for. The desire that is being triggered from the other side has to be understood and addressed. The cry for recognition has taken us to the point of murder and killings. To recognise one self as a Hindu one is sometime drawn to kill a Muslim. Maybe we have to look at the thoughts of French thinker Luce Irigaray to gain an insight into our predicament. She accused the feminist thinkers for conceptualizing feminism on the basis of masculine parameters. This way woman is thought in terms of single sex which is male. When Simione de Beauvior attempts to restore the balance by reminding us that there is the second sex, Irigaray retorted saying that the notion of woman as a second sex already bows down to man who remains the first sex. Hence, she opts to reject the order of things that come from outside and attempts to view woman positively from woman herself and not in relation to man. Similarly the rankings of the tallest and the grandest comes from outside.

Women does not become subject by subjecting herself to the masculine order of things so also we cannot become proud Indians based on borrowed models like tall statues and ‘grand temples’. The grandeur of the sense of having the tallest statue in the world is merely a statistical achievement and will not change anything of great significance for us. Having the tallest statue in the world does not seem to promise any great index in our quality of our existence. We have gained little or nothing beating the rival statue of Buddha in China to become the custodians of the tallest statue in the world. Maybe our poor tribals from the surrounding villages where the statue is standing knew it when they rejected the tallest statue in the world. Some of us are also in tune with the view of these villagers but do not muster courage to speak up. The rightwing has successfully triggered castration anxieties in us. We cannot meaningfully propose a different view without having to feel unHindu and unIndian about it. Often these and other views are construed as anti-Hindu and anti-India views. As a result dissent and dissident has no room in our society.

We seem to impose an Oedipal interdiction upon us. This is why it is important to become an anti-Oedipus. We have not made a social contract with the state for a stoic silence when the poor children of our mother India are being fooled and looted. The drama around the statues and the Mandir threatens to become the opium of the masses. In these moments of confusion, perhaps the teachings of Basavanna, the great founder of Vir Shaivism in Karnataka might provide us direction. He writes, ‘The haves makes temples for Shiva, Ayya, what can I do? I am poor. My legs are pillars, my body the temple and my head the golden pinnacle. Koodalasangamadeva , listen, the sthavara comes to an end but the jangama does not.’ His teachings state that a human person as a living walking temple in the context of denial of temple entry based on his caste. These ideas can become an antidote to the politics of statues and the Mandir. As living walking temples, we are sacred and we need to care for the God living in us only then we shall be able to truly worship God in temples of stone. The recognition that the politics of temple provides is short lived. Our desire for such recognition is insatiable. This is why we can find so many aspirations of other statues soon after the tallest statue in the world was solemnly installed. It is only by becoming aware of this insatiable desire ( as the Buddha will teach us) that we can find freedom from it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao