By: Abhijit Majumder
Last Updated: October 21, 2022, 12:42 IST
New Delhi, India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers prayers at the Kedarnath temple in Rudraprayag district on October 21, 2022. (PTI)
As Narendra Modi unboxes connectivity projects from Kedarnath and Badrinath worth Rs 3,400 crore, a cursory audit of the PM’s revival of nerve centres of a wounded civilisation reveals where he wants to take Bharat.
In the Islamic invasions of the last thousand years, historians estimate that at least 40,000 were plundered and destroyed. British colonialists manufactured history and education to divide Hindus and subjugate their identity. Leftists whom Jawaharlal Nehru outsourced teaching of the humanities to completed whatever remained of the shaming and whitewash.
The skyline of city after city changed — starting with the Capital, Delhi — with domes, minarets and crosses. Temples and temple towns fell into ruin. Most importantly, in the Hindu psyche, one’s own faith became a thing of shame, a furtive exercise to be done in private.
Modi, sometimes criticised by his own supporters for not doing enough for Hindus, has actually been presiding over a superhuman project of Hinduness revival. In the last eight years, he has undone the damage done over centuries. He has injected the Hindu psyche with a pride and confidence which was unthinkable just a decade ago.
It started with the revival of the Somnath temple — a phoenix-like shrine believed to have been destroyed 17 times by invaders and shahenshahs —when he was the Gujarat CM.
Immediately after he became PM, his government drew up an elaborate blueprint to develop Ramayana and Buddha tourism circuits. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, for instance, it plans to further develop and connect better the Buddhist sites of Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Sarnath, Shravasti, Kushinagar, Kaushambi, Sankisa and Kapilavastu.
The flood-battered Kedarnath temple was reconstructed in the grandest manner. Under the Chaar Dham Pariyojna, a highway connecting Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri is being built. He also unveiled a 12-feet statue of Adi Guru Shankaracharya among the mountains of Kedarnath.
He did the puja for the inauguration of the construction of the big one, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya for which Hindus have fought in courts and protested in streets for five hundred years.
He kicked off the Kashi-Viswanath corridor, slowly transforming one of the world’s most ancient living cities from its chaotic dirtiness to the smart heart of the Hindu faith.
After his government revoked Article 370 in Kashmir, it restored the Raghunath Temple in Srinagar. Restoration and revival of other temples in the Valley are underway. About 50,000 temples were closed in Jammu and Kashmir over the decades. By the state government’s own admission in 2012, 208 of the 438 temples in the Valley were destroyed in two decades of Islamic militancy since the late ’80s.
And now, two ambitious ropeways and wide highways will be built to connect Gaurikund with Kedarnath and Govindghat with Hemkund Sahib.
There are two main outcomes of Modi’s massive civilisational push.
One, these projects are helping build an evergreen faith tourism map in India which will reap and grow for not just decades or centuries but for millennia. As long as the faith remains, billions will visit these places, spend money, which in turn will spawn numerous industries and infrastructure locally. These will continue to become global attractions. If Bharat were to rise to being a superpower, it may want to offer the world more than its vast market and exports. It could become the spiritual centre of the world.
And second, this is the reawakening of a civilisation after a thousand years of invasions and colonisation. Its sacred geography needs to be restored, its symbols of pride revived and protected. New ones have to be built.
The site of the main reconstruction, though, is the healing psyche of the nation.
Abhijit Majumder is a senior journalist. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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By: Abhijit Majumder