Shahi Tharoor asked whether a Ram temple at the expense of violence should be built
With calls by right-wing groups for a Ram temple in Ayodhya growing louder, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said no Hindu text condones the use of violence to get one's way and scriptures say people should have Lord Ram in their heart.
"In fact, if anything, there is a scripture that says build Ram in your heart. And if Ram is built in our heart it should little matter where else he is or he is not, because he is everywhere," Mr Tharoor said said.
The Congress parliamentarian was responding to a question about his recent remark that no good Hindu would want a temple at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.
Mr Tharoor reiterated his point asking if a good Hindu would want to build a Ram temple at the expense of an act of violence.
"My only point is, would a Hindu have wanted to build such a precious place at the expense of conducting an act of violence? A good Hindu is a law-abiding Hindu. A good Hindu is someone who has insaaniyat," the Congress leader said.
He said Hindu scriptures do not allow the use of violence to have one's way.
"A good Hindu is also obviously somebody who worships and believes in his worship. But where have we been told in our Hindu texts and our Hindu teachings which, in fact since the days of Adi Shankaracharya, have emphasised much more on ahimsa. Where have we been told that we should conduct violence against other people to have our way?" Mr Tharoor said.
The Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram said he wanted to know why his remarks had "shocked the BJP so much". "Most good Hindus I know would want a Ram temple at the place where they believe he was born. But most good Hindus would not have wanted it by demolishing other people's place of worship. And this is more or less what Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani also said," Mr Tharoor said.
He quoted Mr Advani as having called the day of demolition of the Babri Masjid as the "saddest day of his life". "Advani said he would have respectfully wanted to relocate the site and Vajpayee had also hinted at all sorts of compromises provided the Ram temple could also be built, it could even be a joint wall between a mosque and a temple. Who knows what Vajpayee would have wanted? He is not here to tell us but no, neither of them ever spoke in terms of demolishing the mosque and when it happened they both condemned it. So what am I saying that is so shocking for the BJP?" Mr Tharoor said.
On the claims of the right-wing groups about the site where they claim evidence suggests that a temple existed, Mr Tharoor said this was an academic argument. "A temple really did exist. Whether it was the Ram temple we don't know. Definitely there were pillars underneath. But given the experiences of that period so many temples were destroyed and mosques built in their places. I am not challenging the historical veracity of this belief, that debate is over. That's totally academic now," said the Congress leader.
The Congress leader acknowledged that "the important thing is that an overwhelming majority of Hindus, particularly in north India, believe this was where Lord Ram was born and where there should be a mandir", but went on to add, "to my mind arguing that point is academic."