'Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...'

'Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...'

As in any judgment, human nature being what it is, there is very rarely total joy on all sides.

To those openly dissatisfied and those with muted acceptance, I plead to take the long term view, philosophical, spiritual as well as practical, since the problem relates to religious structures. All religions preach there is only one creator and that the Universe, of which planet earth is just a tiny speck, belongs only to Him.

So what’s the difference to the Almighty, where a particular place of worship is located? The site becomes important only to us human beings, because of our attachment to rituals and form. To a good extent even to the belief that being devout in rituals, (as compared to consistent right behaviour in every virtue) our wishes will be granted, our life happier, our prosperity enhanced, our sins forgiven, our troubles overcome, our path to Nirvana smoothened.

The Hindus want to build an unequalled temple. The Muslims want a grand mosque even though there was a dilapidated structure for a century or so. Hence it was a property fight with seemingly endless bickering, and unfortunately a good deal of violence, shedding of innocent blood, destruction of means of livelihood, and so many other negatives.

Would Lord Ram be proud of including these features in the foundation of the new temple? And would Allah be convinced that His devotees had chosen the true path of expressing faith?

I would like the Muslims of India, and those abroad who claim to speak for our welfare, to accept that India as a composite secular nation. Though with many a human failure in practice, it is still very high in the order of fair treatment of minorities, with good opportunities for growth and success in business, art, music, sports, writing, government and all activities that define culture and civilisation.

Take our freedom to worship, the right to women’s education, etc. These are superior to that of many a country, and well protected by our judiciary. Let us express gratitude for all the good we enjoy.

Let us look inward, as to whether only the government and the Hindu majority are responsible for our weak economic status, or are there also inner failings of character, thought, willingness to adapt, passion and perseverance to move forward and evolve in a fast changing world? Let more of the thoughtful speak up for change.

To my Hindu friends -- and I have many cultivated over the years -- please do not consider the judgment as a victory, or even half a victory. The three judges are to be thanked and appreciated for their sensitiveness to our cultural trends and history too.

Our rabid, obstinate organisations on all sides need to be educated in the thought that religion, in it’s true sense, is an entirely private matter. Each accepts only one creator, but with differing names. Each religion is a pathway to the same ultimate destination of every human being. We need to understand that we are not human beings come here for a spiritual experience; rather we are spiritual beings come to this planet for a human experience, to take along with us as many as we can in our limited circles of influence, along the path of virtue, service to the weak, peace and harmony with all who inhabit our beautiful earthly home.

There is never a wrong time to do the right things, even if elections are nearing. I urge the Hindus, the majority community in our beloved country, to take pride in the beliefs since ancient times that has enabled us to welcome all faiths and nationalities over the centuries to live and thrive in peace, and thereby enrich our culture and promote achievements. The Ayodhya decision, if looked at in this spirit, has further strengthened our composite secular character and opened more doors to inclusiveness, with honour and dignity to one and all.

What is now needed are touches of graciousness, generosity and acceptance on all sides. And I am sure this will garner more votes at election time for candidates with merit and those free of corruption and criminal charges.

Let us then seize the moment, look at the glass as half full and not half empty, give a quick burial to past grievances; and why can’t we humans forgive each other? Let us remember and practice Gurudev Tagore’s beautiful verse explaining the meaning of freedom...

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; where knowledge is free;

where the world has not been broken up intofragments by narrow domestic walls;

where words come out from the depth of truth;

where tireless striving stretches it’s arms towards perfection;

where the clear stream of reason has notlost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

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