In the midst of the fervor surrounding the idol consecration at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Mahant Rajendra Prasad Tiwari of Varanasi raises concerns about the disregard and contempt shown towards India’s sacred spaces. He criticizes the transformation of these spaces into commercialized areas resembling malls. This article explores Tiwari’s perspective on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda, the clash over Sanatan Dharma, and the potential consequences of intertwining political power, faith, and trade.
The Significance of Varanasi’s Vishwanath Temple:
The Vishwanath temple in Varanasi holds great historical and religious importance. The Tiwari family had been overseeing the temple’s rituals for over 10 generations until the Uttar Pradesh government revoked their administrative powers in 1983. Despite recent alterations, the temple’s rituals mainly follow the traditions established by the Tiwaris.
Tiwari’s Criticism of the Vishwanath Temple Corridor Project:
Tiwari strongly opposes Prime Minister Modi’s Vishwanath Temple Corridor project, which involved demolishing ancient temples and uprooting 286 shivlings. Many of these shivlings were damaged, and only 146 could be recovered. Tiwari expresses distress over the mindless remodeling of Varanasi’s sacred spaces.
Tiwari’s Stance on the Ram Temple Event:
While the idol consecration at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya was celebrated by many as a symbol of “Hindu civilizational resurrection,” Tiwari remains detached from the event. He believes it serves the agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rather than catering to genuine spiritual sentiments. Tiwari questions the violation of religious rules by conducting the pran pratishtha ceremony in an incomplete temple and suggests political motives behind the haste.
The Commercialization of Sacred Spaces:
Tiwari expresses concern over the transformation of sacred spaces into commercialized areas resembling malls. He believes that such developments exploit the sacred rather than fostering devotion among visitors. Tiwari humorously refers to the Kashi Vishwanath temple as the first “mall” and predicts the construction of similar structures in Mathura.
The Battle Over Sanatan Dharma:
Tiwari argues that the controversy surrounding the consecration ceremony reflects a larger battle over Sanatan Dharma, the eternal order of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) seeks to establish its authority over defining Sanatan Dharma and its principles. This battle has caused divisions among religious preceptors, with some aligning with the Sangh. Tiwari warns that the Sangh’s control over religious power may be accompanied by its political influence, leading to complete dominance.
What is the Vishwanath Temple Corridor project?
The Vishwanath Temple Corridor project involved demolishing ancient temples and uprooting shivlings in Varanasi to create a corridor around the Vishwanath temple. The project faced criticism for disregarding the sanctity of sacred spaces.
Why does Mahant Rajendra Prasad Tiwari oppose the Vishwanath Temple Corridor project?
Tiwari opposes the Vishwanath Temple Corridor project due to the mindless remodeling of Varanasi’s sacred spaces and the destruction caused to ancient temples and shivlings.
How does Tiwari view the Ram Temple event in Ayodhya?
Tiwari remains detached from the Ram Temple event, viewing it as an event driven by the political agenda of the BJP rather than a religious gathering.
What concerns does Tiwari raise about the commercialization of sacred spaces?
Tiwari expresses worry about the transformation of sacred spaces into commercialized areas resembling malls, emphasizing the exploitation of the sacred for commercial gain rather than nurturing devotion.
What is the significance of the battle over Sanatan Dharma?
The battle over Sanatan Dharma reflects a struggle for authority and control in defining the eternal order of Hinduism. The RSS seeks to establish its dominance, which could extend beyond religious power to political influence, potentially leading to complete control over society.
In conclusion, Mahant Rajendra Prasad Tiwari’s concerns shed light on the clash between political power, faith, and the commercialization of sacred spaces in India. The battle over Sanatan Dharma reflects a larger struggle for control and authority within Hinduism. It remains to be seen how these dynamics will shape the future of India’s sacred spaces and religious traditions.