Recasting Ram

The Ram temple at Ayodhya is a vehicle to promote Brahminical supremacy

21 January, 2024

On 25 November 2023, Rambhadracharya, the high priest at a temple in the pilgrim town of Chitrakoot, in Madhya Pradesh, told a news channel that the Hindu god Ram had granted him a divine visitation one morning. He had woken up to relieve himself, he said, when Ram appeared before him in the form of a toddler, walked him to the bathroom and then back to his bedroom. Rambhadracharya is blind and claims to have divine vision. Sudhir Choudhary, a Savarna journalist notorious for running shows against affirmative action, was hosting him on the channel Aaj Tak. Not only did Choudhary refuse to question Rambhadracharya on what could be considered near blasphemy about a much-revered god, he also referred to the priest as “guruji.” 

Choudhary instead asked the priest what his divine vision said about the Ram temple, slated to be inaugurated on 22 January. Rambhadracharya said that Ram told him that he, too, should “come and celebrate amrit mahotsav with me.” Amrit Mahotsav is a government term referring to the celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of India’s Independence but, in effect, it is more a propaganda vehicle for Brahminical culture. 

During a public event a few weeks before the Madhya Pradesh assembly election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared Rambhadracharya a “national heritage,” for his knowledge of the Vedas and other Brahminical literature. Modi also took pride in the fact that his government had honoured Rambhadracharya with the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honour, in 2015. Thanking Modi that day, Rambhadracharya said that he had told Ram that he did not want eyes for himself but to be born again in India—and that too “only in a Brahmin ancestry.” 

Rambhadracharya is not the only priest whose irrational speeches are being publicly honoured and platformed by Savarna journalists and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, all in the name of Ram. Over the last few weeks, as the temple inauguration drew near, the mainstream media and BJP leaders have been promoting Brahmin supremacy, and the Brahminical version of Ram, while labelling any rational voices as political, controversial and against Hindu beliefs.