Let’s go to Ayodhya again, the birth place of Lord Ram where in a highly-anticipated event watched by millions on television, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the temple. The culmination of a campaign that fueled the rise of the BJP and marked the fulfilment of one of its core poll promises. Amid the chanting of shlokas, PM Modi consecrated the very first bricks for the temple at the spot where many believe Lord Ram was born.
The wait of centuries has ended, he said after performing the groundbreaking ceremony. PM Modi described Ram as the common thread in India's unity in diversity, and drew a parallel between the country's independence movement and "centuries" of people's struggle to build the temple at Ram Janmabhoomi. The Prime Minister sought refuge in Lord Ram for the welfare of the people of the entire country.
However, four days before the Bhoomi pujan, i.e. July 31 was another significant day. It was the birth date of Damodar Dharmanada Kosambi. Kosambi was a prominent mathematician, linguist, philosopher but above he used to believe himself as a Marxist. The brightest student at Harvard, a UNESCO nominated fellow in the United States, a visiting professor of Path-Geometry in Chicago and an honored guest at Princeton.
You might be wondering that the discussion was going on about Ayodhya then how did Damodar Dharmanada Kosambi came in between? Before answering to the question let me say that Kosambi in spite of being a Marxist used to think that it is solemnly indispensable for students to study about India’s Hindu religion, Sanskrit language, Buddhist scriptures, Purana literature. Being a Marxist his expression of warmth towards institutional Marxists was significant. It is especially memorable today. Even his intolerance of Indian scholars should be judged today.
I have been in Delhi for a long time now. For more than three decades I’ve seen the Hindi belt of the country. Quite frequently I visit cities like Allahabad, Patna, Indore etc. When I visit to all these cities situated on the banks of rivers Ganga and Narmada, I see how people in these cites get pulsated listening to the chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’. By sitting in Bengal, it is very difficult to understand the ‘vibrating soul’ of the Hindi belt. You might say the people of these states are not as intellectual or educated as Bengalis, you might say whatever reformation took place in Hindu religion did not take place in these states. You can move a step ahead and question why would I even compare Bengalis with Biharis and Gujartis?
Why the narrow priestly system still prevails in those areas of India? Why on television screens there are quite a few numbers of religious channels like Sanskar, Astha etc. ? Billions of people watch these channels, like the same way the Bengalis have started listening to various clairvoyant or astrologers on television and YouTube. In such a religious new channel, I saw a spiritual leader with glistening eyes repeatedly praising PM Modi. He said This Ram Mandir construction is such a colossal occasion.
A book titled, “Unsetting the past” edited by the daughter of D.D.Kosambi was published in the year 2013. In this book besides the old essays and letters of Kosambi, various essays of Romila Thapar, Ranjit Guha and Kunal Chakraborty were published. These theorists while evaluating Kosambi on many issues have criticized him. But regarding some everyone agrees.
1) Sanskrit is a strong and a scientific language, the transition from Prakrit to Sanskrit is a historical event. But he showed it in terms of Marxist classification that how Sanskrit language got transformed into the aristocratic language of the ruling class.
2) How the upper caste especially the Vedic Brahmin Priestly system limited Sanskrit and education to small groups.
3) Kosambi discussing the Indus Valley Civilization of Mohenjodaro to Aryan culture. Then history of Ashoka and Mauryan ancestry showed that how the study of Puranas and religion have remained linked to Indian theory again and again .
Even today after so many years, if I bring this question as even after independence why did the rulers withdraw from the priestly system of Indian Religion, theism- Sanskrit, Ramayana, Mahabharata and failed to attach and spread it amongst the common mass? Sanskrit was declared as the ‘dead language’. I am not saying that after Nehru became the Prime Minister, he was wrong to call heavy industry like steel industry a ‘temple’. At that time Bhakra Nangal or Villai-Rourkella was more necessary than Gandhi’s rainbow.
But for that reason, by saying the practice of Hinduism of the past means superstition, the attempt to establish a socialist philosophy of life influenced by Soviet atheism was gravely unjust. And that sketch is becoming the counter sketch in Modi-Amit Shah’s Ayodhya project, which actually is the property of no party. This wealth entirely belongs to the people of India.
Now it is like if I narrate you the story of Greek Goddess Athena then I am progressive but if I tell you the story how under the curse of sage Vishwamitra king Harishchandra donated everything and became a cremator a Chandal in Kashi, I will become a superstitious Hindutva fanatic and so on. At Harvard University, scholars like Diana. L. Eck therefore are now doing research on Indian religion. Bihani Sarkar researched about the greatness of the Indian power cult or goddess chandi at the Oriental Institute of Oxford and the University of Hamburg, Germany. In abroad the research on Indian religion and philosophy is rather increasing. And we ended up forgetting Kosambi. Marxists think that he was not an ideal Marxist, he was anti-Stalin. Again, Sangha family think of him as a Marxist.
Marx called religion opium, but he also said that it is the sigh of the oppressed about which we have forgotten. Karl Marx’s son in law Paul Buffer had interest to research on religion and superstitions. He had written a book where he showed how religion and superstition are still working among people to overcome the lack of security in the tribal and rural society.
To become modernists we instead of fighting against the rigid priestly system we created a self-atheistic fantasy, which the majority in India failed to accept.