An alarming story about the cost of Hindu nationalists’ efforts to recreate India in their own image by erasing the country’s Muslim heritage:
The centerpiece of this millenarian fantasy is the 57,000-square-feet, three-story sandstone temple being constructed in Ayodhya. If the parliament complex is necessary to maintain the facade of India’s democracy, the temple is of far greater resonance. It consecrates, supposedly, the birthplace of Ram, the blue-skinned, man-king-god who is the troubled protagonist of the epic poem Ramayana composed between 200 BCE and 200 CE. Given that the temple is being built on the ruins of a 16th-century mosque — the Babri Masjid — constructed by the Mughal dynasty just coming to power then in the Indian subcontinent, the temple is intended as a mark of Hindu supremacy in India and perhaps of the beginning of the end of the Muslim presence here. As a local RSS official called Dr. Anil told me one morning, humanity itself originates in Ayodhya. Here is where the first man Manu was born after the great flood, along with the first woman Satrupa, he said. This is where Ram was born, the ideal king of a utopian kingdom — Ram rajya — that will soon be revived on the Indian subcontinent.