It was in post-colonial India, when Mahatma Gandhi first projected Ram Rajya, as the ideal state. By Ram Rajya, he meant a divine kingdom where values of justice and equality prevail, where every citizen is treated respectably, irrespective of caste, colour and creed, and even the weakest citizen of the country gets justice, because that was how Lord Ram’s rajya actually was.
Lord Ram’s rajya was an ideal one. Free from wrongdoers, with people devoted to Dharma and virtuousness. Mahatma Gandhi, dreamt of a rajya similar to the one that Lord Ram had created—founded on righteousness and integrity. As a matter of fact, being the ardent Hindu that Mahatma Gandhi was, he was always inspired by Lord Ram’s teachings and included many of them in his daily life.
Be it the Non-Cooperation Movement, the Quit India Movement, or the Dandi March—all these movements led by Gandhi ji had a common ground—they were all padyatras. He was a soul inspired by Lord Ram’s life so much that he incorporated his teachings even when the nation failed to.
When Lord Ram and Lord Lakshman accompanied Vishwamitra during their exile in the forest, they left their chariots behind and walked throughout the exile. The very fact that Lord Ram wanted to understand the agonies of ordinary people and connect with them in a manner that doesn’t distinguish between a prince and a pauper is what Gandhi ji embraced in his life too. The padyatras or the walks that Mahatma Gandhi undertook and the will that he had to connect with the common man, to know his plights, and to help in putting an end to his sufferings—all expressed his faith in Lord Ram and his teachings,
My recent visit to Gandhi ji’s birthplace in Porbandar, made me experience a celestial feel with the Ram Dhun being played all the time. Ram Dhun, the popular bhajan, Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, was the father of the nation’s favourite bhajan. Such was the love for Lord Ram in this man’s heart that the only two words that his lips uttered when he took his last breath were ‘hey ram’, coming straight from his heart, giving his soul the solace it needed.
It is a crying shame that such a man who had always believed in Lord Ram and his principles, have been tagged an “anti-Hindu” and “Hindu chauvinist” by the extremists today.
To top it all, the ruling political party, BJP has even resorted to playing politics on Lord Ram’s name, claiming its legacy on Lord Ram who is every Indian’s god, and not just of the right-wing radicals!
In 1989, when late Rajiv Gandhi inaugurated Congress party’s election campaign, he made a promise to usher in Ram Rajya, a promise that has been long-forgotten by the Congress party today. For some reason, the Congress party has always held back from talking about Lord Ram and Ram Rajya, giving an opportunity to the BJP to capture the term.
And, that’s something that the BJP actually did, and, played with it soullessly, even as it totally disregarded Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of Ram Rajya.
Mahatma Gandhi wanted a place free from malice, a realm that had peace, harmony and truthfulness. But, the BJP fell from grace by forgetting the very core of his vision. Today, it is passing off Mahatma Gandhi’s picture of Ram Rajya as its Hindutva backed citadel.
The Congress party for not being able to realise the importance to do justice to the vision that its most remarkable leader once had? Or, the BJP for maligning this vision for electoral gains? Or, us for letting this fight for Ram Rajya divert the country from the core concept that it was based on?
As a nation, we have failed to recognise the fact that the BJP’s obduracy to create Ram Rajya—a Hindu state, isn’t really a matter of pride for us. Fighting for Hindutva or polarising Hindus to increase vote banks isn’t what Lord Ram’s ideal state was all about.
Disregarding Lord Ram’s beliefs in renunciation of the ego that grasps the mind, our nation today is busy in the uninhibited expansion of this very ego. Parties like BJP, motivated to achieve their materialistic wants and whims, have forgotten the values that Lord Ram once gave to the world.
Instead of being the proud bearers of his teachings and leading a path that does justice to them, political motives have surmounted so high that appropriation of Lord Ram’s name is no longer a sin.
Today, when the nation is dealing with gross inequality, creating a Hindu state and labelling it as Ram Rajya isn’t going to make it one. But, following Lord Ram’s principles and pursuing governance that was as impartial and just as his, will make the entire country a Ram Rajya.
Ram Rajya is described in Yuddha Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana after Rajya-Abhishekam of Lord Ram. Here is how Ram Rajya is described:
न पर्यदेवन्विधवा न च व्यालकृतं भयम् |
न व्याधिजं भयन् वापि रामे राज्यं प्रशासति ||
निर्दस्युरभवल्लोको नानर्थः कन् चिदस्पृशत् |
न च स्म वृद्धा बालानां प्रेतकार्याणि कुर्वते ||
सर्वं मुदितमेवासीत्सर्वो धर्मपरोअभवत् |
राममेवानुपश्यन्तो नाभ्यहिन्सन्परस्परम् ||
आसन्वर्षसहस्राणि तथा पुत्रसहस्रिणः |
निरामया विशोकाश्च रामे राज्यं प्रशासति ||
रामो रामो राम इति प्रजानामभवन् कथाः |
रामभूतं जगाभूद्रामे राज्यं प्रशासति ||
नित्यपुष्पा नित्यफलास्तरवः स्कन्धविस्तृताः |
कालवर्षी च पर्जन्यः सुखस्पर्शश्च मारुतः ||
ब्राह्मणाः क्षत्रिया वैश्याः शूद्रा लोभविवर्जिताः |
स्वकर्मसु प्रवर्तन्ते तुष्ठाः स्वैरेव कर्मभिः ||
आसन् प्रजा धर्मपरा रामे शासति नानृताः |
सर्वे लक्षणसम्पन्नाः सर्वे धर्मपरायणाः ||
दशवर्षसहस्राणि रामो राज्यमकारयत् |
While Rama was ruling the kingdom, there were no widows to lament, neither there was danger from wild animals, nor any fear born of diseases. The world was bereft of thieves and robberies. No one felt worthless nor did old people perform obsequies concerning youngsters. Every creature felt pleased. Everyone was intent on virtue. Turning their eyes towards Ram alone, creatures did not kill one another. While Ram was ruling the kingdom, people survived for thousands of years, with thousands of their progeny, all free of illness and grief. While Ram ruled the kingdom, the talks of the people centered round Ram, Ram and Ram. The world became Ram's world. The trees there were bearing flowers and fruits regularly, without any injury by pests and insects. The clouds were raining in time and the wind was delightful to the touch. Brahmins (the priest-class), Kshatriyas (the warrior-class), Vaishya’s (the class of merchants and agriculturists), Shudras (the servant-class) were performing their own duties, satisfied with their own work and bereft of any greed. While Rama was ruling, the people were intent on virtue and lived without telling lies. All the people were endowed with excellent characteristics. All were engaged in virtue. Ram was engaged in the kingship thus for ten thousand years.
Sadhavi Khosla is a passionate social activist, writer and a political analyst. She has recently written her first book on Punjab’s downfall, ‘Punjab, The Enemies Within’, co-authored with former DGP of Punjab, KPS Gill.
The views expressed in the above opinion piece are the author’s own.