How the Kula Devi Temple of Sri Rama helped in reconstruction of Sri Ram Janambhoomi Temple in Ayodhya

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar  on Ram Mandir ( Satsang transcript date 9th Jan. )


As the country gets set for the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, a long-awaited dream is about to become a reality. It’s also time to acknowledge and appreciate the role played by the Honourable Supreme Court, our Prime Minister and all the stakeholders in bringing it to fruition. The saga around the Ram Temple in Ayodhya is full of interesting anecdotes and mystery.

In the summer of 2002, Ashok Singhal, then President of the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), came to meet me at our Bangalore Ashram. He had arrived from Kanchipuram where he had met the erstwhile Kanchi Shankaracharya Shri Jayendra Saraswati in connection with the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid dispute. This was soon after the talks between the Shankaracharya and prominent Muslim leaders had failed.

Ashokji wanted the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to decisively clear the path for the Ram Mandir immediately. This was his one-point agenda. Some of his demands seemed impractical in the context that Vajpayeeji was running a coalition government.

Vajpayeeji and I had kept in touch on the Ayodhya issue ever since we met in 2001 following my return to India from the World Economic Forum (WEF). He had entrusted me with the task of finding a peaceful and cordial settlement of the long-standing dispute. I embarked on a series of discussions with leaders and influential members of the Muslim community. The nuances of these deliberations are a tale for another time.

At the time, Ashokji was not in talking terms with Vajpayeeji, especially after the latter had him force-fed during his fast unto death campaign over the Ayodhya dispute. He had come to persuade me to convince Vajpayeeji to bring in legislation to solve the Ram Janmabhoomi matter once and for all even if it meant the collapse of the government. “I don’t care,” he said.

At the age of 76, Ashokji, one and a half times my age, radiated a fervent spirit and a spark in his eyes; a spark that displayed passion, righteous indignation and frustration. He asked me whether the temple would ever be built? Would he get to see it in his lifetime? I then intuitively felt that it would not happen for at least another 14 years. I remember telling him “pray for it and with your commitment, all is possible”. Ashokji left the Ashram half convinced of what I had said. The next morning during meditation, I had a vision of a dilapidated Devi temple with a pond that needed to be resurrected. I didn’t pay much heed to it at the time. A few days later, an elderly Naadi Siddhar from Tamil Nadu visited the Ashram and wished to meet me. As he read the ancient palm leaves, he said with a gentle authority, “Gurudev, it is written that you will need to play a role in bringing both the communities together to resolve the Ram Janmabhoomi issue.” He also added, "The naadi leaves also reveal that a temple built for the Kuladevi (family deity) of Shri Rama, Devkali, is languishing in severe neglect. Unless it is restored, the violence and strife surrounding the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will not end." There was a sense of urgency and strong conviction when he repeated, "It has to be done!"

Neither the Naadi Siddhar nor I were aware of the existence of such a temple. Through some contacts I made enquiries about Kali Mandirs in Ayodhya. It wasn't long before we discovered that there were, indeed, two Kali Mandirs. The first, in the heart of the city, was called Chhoti Devkali Mandir while the second, slightly more distant, was known as the Devkali Mandir.

The Devkali Mandir structure was in ruins with its central pond reduced to a dumping ground. I reached out to our volunteers in Delhi and Lucknow to start work on renovating the temple and rejuvenating the pond.

When the restoration of the temple's physical structure was completed the team expressed their desire for my presence during the reconsecration rituals of the Devkali temple in Ayodhya. In September 2002, I found myself in Ayodhya accompanied by a few followers and a group of Vedic and Agama pundits for the sacred proceedings of the pran prathistha ceremony.

We visited Hanuman Garhi, Shri Ram Janmasthan and other sacred sites. The town's narrow lanes, litter-strewn paths, and overall lack of hygiene painted a stark picture of neglect. A sense of fear prevailed among people. Everywhere I went, people would have a tragic story to tell about how many sadhus and saints had been killed over this long-standing conflict. Nobody would dare to speak up for these sadhus who had no designated ashrams, no family or any locus standi. It was heart-rending to hear their tales of woes, stories that never found a place in the media.

The reconsecration of the Devkali temple took place on the morning of 19th of September, 2002. As I offered the purnahuti into the yagya performed by a group of pundits led by Sri Sundaramurthy Sivam, the chief priest at our Veda and Agama Pathashala in Bangalore, it was a delight to see Devkali shining in all her resplendent glory. The aged priest of the temple had no words to express his feelings to see the lost glory of the Devi temple restored; just tears as he hold me in a warm embrace. I then recounted my vision, which I had initially brushed aside and about the Naadi reader’s prediction to Dr BK Modi who was also present that day. Ironically, since the puja at the temple, there has been no incident of bloodshed or rioting due to communal violence. A prophecy had been fulfilled.

Ashokji was also present that day and I had the same premonition that the Ram temple would take at least another 14 years to gather steam. Later that evening, a Sant Samagam was held at the premises of the temple, to which we had invited both Hindu and Sufi saints. A few thousand people joined in joyful satsang. As I was honouring the Muslim leaders, they presented me with a copy of the Quran along with a book of the Tulsi Ramayan and spoke of their deep reverence for Sri Ram. There was an unmistakable spirit of brotherhood in their gesture. I strongly felt that it was vote-bank politics and those with vested interests who would want the communities to stay divided on the dispute.

Enough blood had already been shed in this age-old conflict and a resolution that would hold the test of time was needed. It was with this in mind that in 2003 I proposed an out-of-court settlement where the Muslim community could gift the Ram Janmabhoomi to the Hindus as a gesture of goodwill and the Hindus in return could gift them a five-acre plot for the construction of a mosque that they would help build. This would have sent a clear message of brotherhood between both communities that would last for generations to come.

Ashokji invited me to his ancestral home in Allahabad. After guiding a group meditation, I told Ashokji that it is not human effort alone and Divine will too plays a role in the fructification of any action. And for that, we need patience. I hinted to him that he should not rush matters and do anything in haste. By the end of the evening, he seemed much more relaxed and reassured, and he softened in his stand against the Vajpayee government.

Years passed. In 2017, prompted by leaders from both communities and later the Supreme Court, I resumed my efforts to mediate in the Ram Janmabhoomi matter. Ultimately, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment allocating the said land for the construction of a temple and designating five acres for the construction of a mosque. It was a momentous occasion as a 500-year-old conflict reached a peaceful resolution.

Often, what appears to be a gross phenomenon has an underlying subtle aspect to it. Events occur in the subtle space before they manifest in the gross. We usually grapple between the cause and effect within the realm of the gross, but rarely see beyond it. The subtle forces of the devatas play a definitive role in what finally appears in the gross, and indeed have a greater say over it. May the Divine hand be the guiding light.

Jai Sri Rama

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