To Rama, Four Lamps i will light today within my heart

This open letter speaks of faith, morality, anguish and history

January 22, 2024

Dear Rama,

I have little choice but to write directly to you today on the eve of the grand consecration of your temple to speak my heart.

Hopefully you will understand better than this Government led by a Mere Mortal aspiring to take your place in the hearts of those who revere you. Why He is even changing dresses like a chameleon every day in order to beat you in the dashavatara and antaryami department! It is all very confusing….is He man, superman or cameraman? Only you will know.

Infact as the Shankracharya, in an interesting interview the other day with the fellow who speaks very oddly with an Oxbridge accent said, this MM seems to be thinking of Himself as the next Vishnu Avatar! Much of what the Shankracharya said about “political” Hindus (a species evolved in Kalyuga you may not be familiar with) and Hindus of faith infact echoes what Pandit Lal Das said way back when Anand Patwardhan interviewed him for his documentary “Ram ke Naam.”

You will remember Lal Das. He was the priest of your idols within the Mosque compound when the Babri Masjid still co existed with the temple. When asked what he thought about the plans for building the temple at the spot of the Masjid he said something so important. “This is a political game played by the VHP. There was never any ban on building the temple.

Besides according to our tradition any place where idols of God are kept, is a temple. That is a Hindu custom. And even if they wanted to build a separate temple why demolish a structure where idols already exist?

Those who want it are actually more interested in creating tensions all over India inorder to cash in on the Hindu vote. They don’t care about the genocide that will occur. How many will be killed. How much destroyed.”

Prophetic words. Words that preceded not only the bloodbath that followed the destruction of both the Masjid and infact the temple that housed your idols, but his own death. He was shot dead on 16 November 1993 in the middle of the night 20 km from Ayodhya. And who murdered him and why only you will know.

You know on December 6, 1992 when the Mosque and the temple that was within it was razed to the ground I was devastated. Like so many of my generation born into the Hindu faith I raged and mourned at this Great Betrayal of what I was brought up believing. That this faith would never goad me to become a “good Hindu” but guide me to become a better human being. That the feminine greeting of Jai Siyaramji ki would never morph into the macho murderous battle cry “Jai Shri Ram.”

I protested with fellow mourners through multifaith gatherings where we remembered the best of all faiths that are in danger from their fundamentalist followers.

But strangely enough three decades later today on the eve of the inaugural of the glitzy new temple built I feel neither rage nor sorrow. I feel, in fact, rather still. Still. In the midst of the unholy noisy melodrama around it which reveals the ridiculous depths to which this country has been driven. So low that PVR cinema can advertise free popcorn with the livestreaming of the consecration of your temple! Popcorn? Seriously??

Am sure even you are laughing at the way you have been turned into an electoral mascot and salesman from a maryada purshotham.

So you will please excuse me if I do not light four lamps in front of my house as is the diktat from above.

But what I will promise to do is light four lamps within my heart.

One for Sita who exiled herself from the Ram Rajya your followers built (now that is another quarrel we need to have another time) leaving behind the memory of a strong self respecting woman willing to stand up and walk away for what she believed.

One for Gandhi who was killed for being a self proclaimed Sanatani. You will remember that he died with your name on his lips and believed that “The chief value of Hinduism lies in holding the actual belief that all life is one i.e. all life coming from one universal source, call it Allah, God or Parameshwar”

One for Ambedkar who was a fierce critic of caste ridden Hindu dogma and for who true religion was to promote a universalist ideal of humaneness and fellow feeling that he enshrined in the concept of Fraternity underlying the remarkable Constitution of this country.

And finally one for Bilkis Bano that most inspiring of women in our times who kept her faith in this country and its justice system alive despite how both failed her.

Until the Supreme Court stood firmly with her by sending those who raped her and murdered her back to jail where their inhuman crimes have driven them.

These lamps will help to not only keep out the darkness of despair within but also keep bright our belief in the power of love – the most divine and transcendental of all faiths that can conquer all fear, hate and injustice.

Am sure you will accept and bless these lamps, for as Gandhi’s favourite bhajan went: “Raghupathi raghava raja ram patita pavana seeta ram Ishwar allah tero naam sab ko sannmathi de bhagawan.”

Yours in peace and love

Madhu Bhushan



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