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The making of Shri Ram Mandir and the dawn of India’s civilisational renaissance

On January 22, 2024, India will witness a historic event that marks a significant milestone in its civilisational history – the consecration ceremony of the Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. This event, unfolding after five centuries of persistent struggle and devotion, symbolises not just the spiritual awakening but also the realisation of a collective aspiration of millions. The Ram Mandir, a beacon of faith and perseverance, is set to redefine India’s cultural and spiritual landscape.


Historical Background

The story of the Ram Mandir is a saga of devotion, struggle, sacrifice, and resilience that stretches back over 492 years. The temple believed to have been demolished by the Mughal tyrant Babar in 1528, has been at the centre of a historical and spiritual quest for centuries. This quest, deeply embedded in the hearts of millions, has seen countless devotees laying down their lives for the cause.


The Legal Battle and Archaeological Evidence

The legal battle for the Ram Mandir, tracing back to 1855, intensified with the discovery of Lord Ram idols inside the disputed structure in 1949. This led to a series of legal proceedings and the movement gaining momentum in the late 1980s. The late 1980s saw the movement gather unprecedented momentum thanks to the efforts of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Ram Rath Yatra of Lal Krishna Advani culminating in a yet intense series of legal proceedings. On 9th November 1989, Kameshwar Chaupal of Bihar played a pivotal role in the historic foundation stone-laying ceremony by placing the inaugural stone at the site.

Groundbreaking Archaeological Evidence for Ram Mandir

In a significant turn of events, the Allahabad High Court ordered a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey in 2003. This advanced survey, using radar waves for sub-surface imaging, revealed the existence of a structure beneath the Babri Mosque. To validate these findings, the High Court commissioned an excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The ASI’s report confirmed the remnants of a North Indian-style temple beneath the disputed site, adding a crucial archaeological dimension to the legal case.


The Allahabad High Court Verdict

In September 2010, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court addressed the long-standing dispute over the Ayodhya site. This crucial judgment acknowledged the demolition of the original temple, a significant point in the historical and legal narrative of the Ram Mandir. In an attempt to resolve the complex web of civil suits tied to the land, the court proposed a three-way division of the contested site. This unprecedented decision aimed to allocate separate sections to the three main parties involved in the dispute.


Despite the court’s efforts to provide a balanced resolution, the verdict did not receive unanimous acceptance. Each party involved, holding firm to their respective claims and religious convictions, found the judgment unsatisfactory. This unanimous discontent led to a swift progression of appeals to the Supreme Court, seeking a more conclusive and acceptable solution to this centuries-old conflict.


Mediation Efforts

In a bid to resolve the dispute amicably, the Supreme Court, in March 2019, proposed mediation, forming a committee including Retired Supreme Court Justice Kalifulla, Senior Advocate of Madras High Court Sriram Panchu and spiritual Guru of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. However, by July, it became clear that mediation would not yield the desired outcome.

The Supreme Court verdict

On 6th August 2019, the Supreme Court embarked on a definitive phase in the Ayodhya case, initiating daily hearings. Presided over by the Chief Justice, a five-judge bench meticulously reviewed the appeals. This judicial endeavour, spanning 40 days and encompassing 170 hours of arguments, concluded on 16th October 2019. Among the many legal luminaries who contributed to this cause, the unmatched dedication of father-son duo Hari Shankar Jain and Vishnu Shankar Jain stands out. They have also been instrumental in other significant legal battles related to Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist holy sites.

The pivotal moment arrived on 9th November 2019. The Supreme Court’s full bench, in a unanimous decision, affirmed the 1993 acquisition of the disputed 14,000 acres, including its surroundings, as the legitimate property of Lord Ram. This landmark verdict paved the way for the construction of the Ram Mandir, as the court directed the government to establish a dedicated trust. This trust was tasked with overseeing the temple’s development on the entire 70-acre land, thereby bringing a historic resolution to the centuries-old dispute.


Formation of the trust and foundation stone laying ceremony

This decision led to the formation of the ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirth Kshetra’ trust on 5th February 2020, to oversee the temple’s construction. The Bhoomi Pujan, held on 5th August 2020, saw dignitaries like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat lay the foundation stone, marking the beginning of a new era. Sacred waters and soil from the country’s holy rivers and pilgrimage sites were dedicated to the ceremony.

Architectural and Structural Details of the Ram Mandir

The Ram Mandir, a marvel of traditional Indian architecture, stands as a testament to the timeless Nagar style. With its grand dimensions, the temple spans a length of 380 feet from east to west, a width of 250 feet, and reaches a majestic height of 161 feet. This awe-inspiring structure is spread across three levels, each floor standing 20 feet tall. The temple’s robust design is supported by a total of 392 intricately carved pillars and is accessible through 44 ornate doors, blending strength with splendour.


At the heart of the temple, in the basement sanctum sanctorum, is the revered idol of Shri Ram Lalla, depicting the childhood form of Lord Shri Ram. Rising above, on the first floor, the temple will house a Shri Ram Darbar, a sacred space dedicated to Lord Ram and his divine assembly. Surrounding these central areas are five distinct Mandaps or Halls – the Nritya Mandap, Rang Mandap, Sabha Mandap, and areas designated for Prarthna (prayer) and Kirtan (devotional song), each reflecting a unique aspect of the temple’s spiritual and cultural significance.


In addition to its spiritual grandeur, the temple is designed with inclusivity in mind. Visitors will enter from the east, ascending a series of 32 stairs leading through the Singh Dwar, a gateway that symbolizes strength and valour. Recognizing the needs of differently-abled and elderly devotees, the temple’s design includes ramps and lifts, ensuring accessibility for all. The entire structure is encircled by a formidable rectangular compound wall, extending 732 meters in length and 14 feet in width, which not only adds to the temple’s magnificence but also provides a sense of serenity and containment.


More About the Shri Ram Mandir

The Shri Ram Mandir, a symbol of India’s rich spiritual and cultural heritage, extends its reverence beyond the main temple structure, encompassing a series of auxiliary temples and significant elements. At each of the four corners of the expansive compound, devotees can find temples dedicated to a pantheon of revered deities: Lord Surya, Goddess Bhagwati, Lord Ganesha, and Lord Shiva. These temples not only enhance the spiritual ambience but also represent the inclusive nature of Hindu worship.


Adding to the sanctity of the site, the northern and southern arms of the temple complex host two more significant temples. In the north lies a temple dedicated to Maa Annapurna, symbolising nourishment and sustenance, while the southern arm is graced by a temple honouring Lord Hanuman, epitomizing devotion and strength. Near the temple complex, the historic Sita Well (Sita koop), dating back to ancient times, serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of the Ramayana.

The temple complex also plans to house temples dedicated to a host of revered figures from the Ramayana and Hindu mythology. These include temples for Sage Valmiki, Sage Vashishtha, Sage Vishwamitra, Sage Agastya, King Nishad, Mata Shabari, and Ahilya, the wife of Sage Gautama. Each of these temples will not only offer spaces for worship but also serve as a testament to the diverse characters that enrich the epic of Ramayana.


In the southwestern part of the complex, an ancient temple of Lord Shiva has been meticulously restored on Navratna Kuber Tila, accompanied by an installation of Jatayu, symbolizing devotion and sacrifice. Remarkably, the entire temple complex adheres to ancient Vedic construction principles, with no iron used in the main temple and no concrete on the ground, preserving the sanctity and traditional authenticity of the structure. Below ground, the sanctum sanctorum boasts a 14-meter-thick layer of roller-compacted concrete (RCC), skillfully crafted to resemble artificial rock, ensuring both the stability and the aesthetic integrity of this monumental structure.


A 21-foot-high granite plinth, constructed for moisture protection, reinforces the temple’s resilience. The temple complex is not just a spiritual haven but also a model of modern amenities and environmental consciousness. It includes a sewage treatment plant, a water treatment facility, and an independent power station to ensure sustainability and self-sufficiency. A Pilgrims Facility Centre is equipped to handle the belongings of 25,000 pilgrims, offering lockers and medical facilities.

Additional conveniences like bathing areas, washrooms, washbasins, and open taps are provided in the Block facilities for the comfort of visitors. Emphasizing environmental and water conservation, 70% of the 70-acre area is dedicated to green spaces, showcasing a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary ecological awareness.


Conclusion

The Shri Ram Mandir, with its intricate design, spiritual depth, and homage to various deities and sages, stands not just as a temple but as a complex embodying the vast tapestry of Hindu mythology and spiritual practice. This architectural masterpiece, with its harmonious blend of spiritual symbolism, cultural heritage, and inclusive design, stands not just as a place of worship, but as a beacon of India’s ancient architectural prowess and its enduring spiritual ethos.


As India awaits the temple’s consecration, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation and pride. This temple is not just a structure of faith but a symbol of India’s resilience and devotion. It stands as a testament to India’s ability to reclaim and celebrate its ancient civilisational identity, potentially heralding a new era where India re-embraces its role as ‘Vishwaguru.’


https://www.opindia.com/2024/01/the-making-of-shri-ram-mandir-and-the-dawn-of-indias-civilisational-renaissance/

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