The Modern Crusade

Note:- This post is a little behind in time as it was conceived sometime ago but my hectic schedule had prevented me from posting it earlier.  

All the recent hullabaloo about the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi ordeal has sent my neurons firing. Time and again the issue had come up in dinner-table conversations, party debates, newspaper articles and so on. However, I had never been able to make up my mind and take a side. Until now I had believed that perhaps I was too young to understand the potential implications and consequences of this matter, after all it was a matter of great socio-religious as well as political significance. Today, 23 years after I first tread on this planet, when the final verdict is about to be passed, I told myself that its high time I take a side in this debate.
So I went on thinking, which side am I on.. A bunch of religious fanatics who claim their sole right over a piece of land based on an epic composed even before the advent of time. The piece of land is of such importance that they readily defy everything their religion has ever preached. Or another bunch of religious fanatics who believe that ever since an Emperor hoisted a monument in his name at a point 400 years ago, they have reserved the exclusive right to offer their prayers at that spot. Huff.. tough choice.
The only conclusion I could settle upon after thinking about all this was that the fact that this is even an issue is a gigantic evidence of the foolishness and ignorance of mankind since a zillion centuries. A peek back in time, brings us face to face with a very similar issue in the history of world, ‘The Issue of the Holy Land’, The Crusades..
‘The Crusades’ as described in history books, are religious wars between the Catholics and Muslims to resurrect their exclusive rights over the Holy land of Jerusalem. Extending over a period of 200 years, they are tales of horrendous war crimes and massive massacres worse than both the World Wars put together. The Christians consider Jerusalem ‘The City of God’, where the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ took place according to Christian theology. It is an equally important pilgrimage place for the Muslim community as it is also believed to be the site of the ascension into heaven of The Prophet, much like the Ayodhya issue.
However a detailed insight into the historical accounts of renowned historians, makes it very obvious as to what the real incentives behind these military campaigns were, much like the controversial insights on which the Liberhan Commission shed light. Although the Christians had a strong hold over Jerusalem since the 4th century, the Muslim conquest of Syria in the 7th century marked their intrusion into the Holy Land. However the concept of the crusades had not materialized until the late 10th century. I agree that there were numerous reasons which in some way or the other contributed to the flair. However the main reason was the threat the Christian Byzantine Empire felt from the ferocious and ambitious Turks. They hid their fear in the name of Christianity and appealed to the Pope to fight for religion. And the Roman Catholic Church, which was more than pleased at the prospect of bolstering the Papacy and gaining control over the East, did not refrain from breaking the moral code. Thus commenced the inception of centuries of conflict between two of the greatest religious and social communities. Perhaps, the seed of modern day terrorism was sown.
Although the Ayodhya issue was not conceived by the leaders, but few would disagree with me when I say that time and again political propagandas of various political parties have aired the flame scavenging the core of religious harmony and tolerance which still persists in some way at the site. Some examples of which are the Raam Chabutara and the fact that the mosque was called Masjid-i-Janmasthan for a long time.
My claims about the hidden agenda of the great religious wars are not without evidence. History is witness that the first thing the crusaders did after the siege of Jerusalem was creating the Crusader states: the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch and the County of Tripoli. If it was only about the control over the Holy Land then the wars should have ended right there. But it was a dark night, which never saw dawn. Eventually, when the Muslims recaptured Edessa in 1144, the Pope  called for a second Crusade. In addition, in the Kingdom of Jerusalem 120,000 French-speaking Western Christians ruled over 350,000 Muslims, Jews, and native Eastern Christians.
However it is pretty well known, that just like modern day political parties, the medieval Church was a power monger, which wanted to extend its control beyond its original domain. Very cleverly they used the bait of remission of sins. And blindfolded followers in the prospect of remitting their previous sins committed thousands more. I wonder if any of them earned a spot in Heaven.
The crusaders and Knights Templar were mere pawns at the hands of the leaders like the Byzantine emperor Alexios I, papal beaurocrats like Pope Urban II, Pope Gregory VIII etc., preachers, like Bernard of Clairvaux, European Kings like Louis VII, Conrad III, Philip II of France, Richard I of England (aka Richard the Lionheart), and Frederick I, The Holy Roman Emperor, much like the karsewaks being the pawns in this whole strive for Hindutva.
I always reckoned the purpose of history, other than tormenting kids in school, was to remind us of the past mistakes and indiscretions of mankind so that one can learn and elude from reiterating the same. Alas, even after 1000 years, it seems like we have indeed failed to do so.  People have criticized the Ayodhya issue extensively, pointed fingers and passed judgments, but few have sought for a harmonious and peaceful resolution. I wonder how people have chosen to turn blind to a fact even more obvious than the solar motions, the fact that no religious dispute in our country is fuelled by religious animosity. Indeed they are driven by political agendas and power lust.
I am not here to judge, so the verdict is of least significance to me. Although I fail to comment on its candor and decorum or whether or not its agreeable with my personal opinions, but all I can brag and swagger with immense joy and pride in the way the common people of my country have taken it in their stride. The concerned parties accepted the verdict with astonishing dignity. Despite the intimidating scare that verdict was going to tear the country apart, Ayodhya as well as the entire country maintained peace and order. This prodigious act of tolerance has renewed my credence in humanity as well as in the potential of my country. Perhaps this is just another side to the secular spirit of a country where Eid and Diwali are celebrated unanimously and in similar spirit. Or perhaps dawn is setting in on this dark night. This could be the beginning of the end.
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4 Opinions:

kasabiangirl said...

I am so glad I found your blog. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and intelligent post.

The West Wind said...

I am glad that you visited and liked it here :D Thank you for the kind words.. It was just a thought that occured to me.

Anubhav said...

Holy land has always been ground on which angels fear to tread...

Interesting comparison, although a controversial one. If anything, I would say that the Ayodhya issue is a lot more politically motivated than the crusades had been...

The West Wind said...

Ofcourse it is much more politically aggravated.. These times are also way more political. This is just my personal opinion and I think people should make more out of history rather than a lesson forgotten in school. Anyways welcome to my blog.

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