M. VENKAIAH NAIDU, Vice President of India, writes, the life of Lord Shri Rama personifies the virtues of truth, compassion, justice, inclusion and respect for elders
My visit to Ayodhya and Darshan of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi today was the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream, one which, I am sure I share with millions of my countrymen. It was a pilgrimage reconnecting me with our great spiritual roots and our glorious cultural heritage. The rebuilding of Shri Ram Temple in Ayodhya symbolises India’s cultural renaissance and our renewed commitment to the principles of Ram Rajya - a vision of democratic and righteous governance which ensures peace, justice and equality for all.
Lord Shri Rama is an embodiment of Indian culture, a pristine symbol of Bharateeyata. He is the ideal King, ideal son, ideal brother, ideal husband, ideal friend —in other words, an ideal human being. In Him, for centuries, we in India have venerated all of the finest qualities a human being can aspire to possess. That is why Lord Shri Rama, an Avatara of Maha Vishnu, is known as Maryada Purushottama.
The message of The Ramayana has universal significance and transcends geographical boundaries. Different adaptations of this timeless epic are hugely popular across various South East Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. The story of Lord Shri Rama and Goddess Sita has become an integral part of the cultural landscape of these nations. Even in India, The Ramayana is probably the single most important scripture, an itihasa, whose teachings have profoundly influenced the life and thought of people in India . It is the lifeblood of our great civilisation and has been a part of our collective consciousness for centuries.
The life of Lord Shri Rama as depicted in The Ramayana, personifies the virtues of truth, compassion, justice, inclusion and respect for elders. Sage Valmiki describes him as “Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmah”—Rama is Dharma incarnate or an embodiment of righteous conduct. Over millennia, Lord Shri Rama has been synonymous with the Indian value system. That is why Mahatma Gandhi chose the metaphor of Ram Rajya to describe his concept of good governance and a just society.
Ayodhya, meaning ‘invincible’ in Sanskrit, had a rich and glorious past spanning at least two and half millennia. Situated on the banks of holy Sarayu river, the city was the capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom. Being the birthplace of Bhagwan Shri Ram, Avadhpuri (Ayodhya) has been regarded as the first one of the seven most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus (Mokshdayini Sapta Puris). Also known as Saket, the city holds an important place in Buddhist and Jain traditions as well. Gautam Buddha is believed to have visited Ayodhya a number of times and his ‘Phena Sutta’ is said to have been composed here. Similarly, Vimalsuri’s Paumachariyam (a Jain version of the Ramayana) associates the characters of Ramayana with Jain thoughts and philosophy. By most accounts, Ayodhya remained an important economic and spiritual center during Mauryan, Gupta and later periods.
With Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone on August 5, 2020, the reconstruction work of the temple is proceeding apace at Ram Janma Bhoomi site. It was gladdening to know that experts from various institutions including IITs, Central Building Research Institute, L&T Constructions and Tata Consultancy Engineering Limited are working together as a large team overseeing this historic mission. I was delighted to learn that Garbha Griha is being designed in such a way that sun rays will fall on the forehead of Ram Lalla on every Ram Navami – the birthday of Lord Shri Rama. As I stood at his birthplace, I was overwhelmed by powerful emotions as I pictured several scenes from the life of Lord Shri Rama on the canvas of my mind. My walk along the banks of Sarayu River evoked an extraordinary emotional experience. I felt so blessed to walk on the historic and sacred path. The river front has been created most aesthetically with a remarkable devotional ambience.
Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust set up by the Government of India deserves our gratitude and appreciation for excellent planning and construction work of the Grand Shri Ram Mandir. Stones from nearby Mirzapur district have been used as plinth stones and granite stones from southern India and famous Makrana marble from Rajasthan are being used for the main temple structure. I am told that to increase durability and aesthetics of the shrine, stone interlocking technique is being used in the construction and that special attention is being given to preserve the heritage structures of Sita Kup and Kuber Tila in their original form. It is praiseworthy that the 70-acre campus will also house many facilities including a facilitation center for devotees, museum, research center, Gaushala and Yoga center. Four smaller temples have also been visualised on the four corners of the rectangular boundary wall.
Reconstruction of Shri Rama Janmabhoomi temple is not simply a high point in India’s cultural history—it will also herald a new phase in the economy and development of the ancient city of Ayodhya and nearby areas. Spiritual tourism is a major employment generator in India and Ayodhya, one of the most ancient cities of the world, is fast emerging as a preferred destination for national as well as international devotees.
I am pleased to note that to meet the increasing requirements of surging tourist inflows, the Central and State governments have started many infrastructural works. A new airport named Maryada Purushottam Shriram International Airport is being constructed and redevelopment of Ayodhya Railway Station is also underway. The private sector is also investing in hotels, medical sector and food chains. All in all, this sacred region is witnessing an unprecedented scale of development and Ram Nagari is on course to regain its ancient glory.
During my visit, I also had the good fortune of having Darshan at Hanuman Garhi where Lord Hanuman is believed to have lived to guard the city. The temple constructed by Vikramaditya houses a beautiful idol of Bal (young) Hanuman sitting on the lap of Maa Anjani.
As I returned from the ‘City of Shri Rama’, I was filled with a welter of emotions and reflections on the richness of Indian history. It reinforced my belief that the timeless message of the ancient epics needs to spread to serve as a source of guidance and inspiration for everyone. Let us understand and spread the universal message of Ramayana, and enrich our lives based on its rich foundational values. (Adapted from the Vice President’s Facebook post).