From Temples to Politics: The 800 Year Old Legacy of Ram as a Political Symbol Amidst 'Jai Shri Ram' Slogan'

The slogan "Jai Shri Ram" has deep political and religious significance, stemming from the 800-year-old legacy of Ram as a symbol in Indian politics and temple controversies.

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'Jai Shri Ram' Slogan

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For centuries, Lord Ram has been a revered figure in Hindu mythology, known for his bravery, compassion, and sense of justice. But in recent times, this deity has taken on a new role - that of a powerful political symbol. The chant of 'Jai Shri Ram' (Hail Lord Ram) has become synonymous with politics in India, with leaders and supporters of the ruling BJP party using it as a slogan to rally their followers. This phenomenon has sparked debates and controversy, as many have argued that the fusion of religion and politics goes against the secular fabric of the country. But where did this 800-year-old legacy of Ram as a political symbol begin, and what does it mean for the current state of Indian politics?


To understand the evolution of Ram as a political symbol, we must go back to the 12th century when the first known retelling of the epic Ramayana, penned by the poet Valmiki, was composed. The story of Lord Ram's exile, his battle against the demon king Ravana, and his eventual return to Ayodhya as a victorious king captured the imagination of the masses. It became a source of inspiration for rulers and the common folk alike, with the deity being seen as the ideal king - just, righteous, and adhering to dharma (righteousness).

Fast forward to the 16th century, when Tulsidas wrote the Ramcharitmanas, a popular version of the Ramayana in Hindi. This text gave a more emotional and devotional touch to the story, making Ram an even more popular figure among the masses. It also propelled Ram as a symbol of Hindu identity, with his worship becoming a key element of the Bhakti movement that sought to bring people together through devotion to God.

With the advent of British rule in India, Ram's popularity as a political symbol was taken up by leaders of the national freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi, who played a pivotal role in India's independence, saw Lord Ram as the embodiment of truth and non-violence. He even popularized the chant of 'Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram' as part of his satyagraha (non-violent protest) movements. Subsequently, the Indian National Congress, the main political party during the freedom struggle, used Ram as a symbol of unity and patriotism.


However, it was the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992 that changed the course of Ram's political significance. The incident triggered communal tensions and gave rise to the Hindutva ideology, which seeks to establish India as a Hindu nation. This movement was spearheaded by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the ruling BJP party. The BJP, which came to power in 2014, saw the use of Ram as a powerful political tool to garner support from the majority Hindu population.

In recent years, the chant of 'Jai Shri Ram' has become a battle cry for the BJP, with its leaders and supporters using it to assert their Hindu identity and polarize the masses. However, it has also been used by the opposition parties to counter the BJP's narrative and invoke the idea of secularism. The irony of the situation is that while Ram has been worshipped by Hindus for centuries, it is only in the last few decades that his name has been used for political gain.

The use of Ram as a political symbol has also evoked strong reactions from certain sections of society, with claims that the BJP is trying to appropriate the deity for its political agenda. The recent controversy surrounding the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya has further fueled the debate on the mixing of religion and politics.

In conclusion, the 800-year-old legacy of Ram as a political symbol has shaped the course of Indian politics in ways that were unimaginable in the past. While many argue that it is a dangerous trend that goes against the secular fabric of the country, others see it as a means to connect with the masses and push their political agendas. However, one must not forget that Ram is, first and foremost, a revered deity for millions of Hindus and should not be reduced to a mere political tool. It is time that we re-evaluate the meaning and significance of 'Jai Shri Ram' beyond its political connotations and uphold the true spirit of Lord Ram's teachings of righteousness and compassion.

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