Essay: ‘Ram Ke Naam’ Documentary

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  • Subject area(s): Religious studies and Theology essays
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  • Published on: March 2, 2020
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  • 'Ram Ke Naam' Documentary
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‘Ram Ke Naam’ is a documentary that shows the destructive effects of the campaign executed by Hindu-nationalists that emphasized building a Ram temple on the grounds of the Babri Mosque. The documentary explores religious beliefs in India and how politics come into play to create tension between Hindus and Muslims. Since the mid-1900’s, India was a secular state, but as Hindu fundamentalists attempted to redefine India as solely a Hindu nation, the nation became religiously divided. The nation was no longer seen as somewhere where Hindus and Muslims could peacefully reside. The documentary portrays how Hindu history begins to suggest that India’s problems are all a result of Muslim invasion and faults. As Hindus claim to represent the history of Indian Society, we can see that religion in the documentary is portrayed through the caste system, politics, and violence.
The Hindu caste system is divided into four main categories – Brahmins (the priests), Kshatriyas (royalty), Vaishyas (traders), and Shudras (laborers). The Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas are all seen as a part of the ritual system, and thus throughout the movie had strong beliefs towards the Babri Mosque. On the other hand, the Shudras, at the bottom of the caste system, did not have as much investment in the dispute because they were not even allowed to enter the Mosque. This difference between opinions towards the Mosque is seen throughout the documentary through the higher castes taking much more of a violent attitude towards destroying the Mosque as they emphasize getting rid of Muslims and repossessing their land. However, the lower caste has much more of an indifferent attitude: “Hindus and Muslims are brothers. Why shouldn’t we pray side by side?” As presented in the documentary, the lower caste was much more conscientious as they showed more respect towards other religions because they did not believe that it was fair to attack others’ identities for the sake of their own. These Hindus were very critical of the higher castes campaigning to build a Ram temple in place of the Babri Mosque because they themselves wouldn’t even be able to enter the temple. Furthermore, they believed that the money they were trying to collect to build the temple should be used for something more essential such as economic troubles in India. Therefore, not only did religion cause conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, but also caused tension between the higher castes and the lower caste.
The documentary interviewed a diverse subset of people, including Hindu nationalists who advocate violence. Ayodhya, the city holding these disputes in India, has been known as the sacred birthplace of Ram. The Hinduism belief that “every child is Ram’s child” created a dominance that Hindus felt over Muslims as they used Ram’s so-called beliefs to shape their own political agenda. Since they believed that every child was a product of Ram, they believed that their religion should overpower any other religion in India. Hindus used Ram as a justification for killing and violence even though they did not know for sure what the beliefs of Ram exactly were. Destroying the mosque and replacing it with a temple manifests how religion has become much more like a battle rather than beliefs. Instead of believing in their own religion, Hindus took much more of a violent and destructive route by wanting to bring another religion down. In the violent parts of the documentary, religion was used as a justification for creating a divide between two groups within India. This controversial issue, which the government has yet to resolve, has led to thousands of deaths over years.
‘Ram Ke Naam’ examines the ways in which Hindu fundamentalists fought, both verbally and physically, to redefine India as a Hindu nation. The documentary explores the dynamic of the caste system, politics, and violence in Ayodhya. This conflicting dynamic can be seen in the documentary as a result of contrasting religious beliefs between Hindus and Muslims towards the destruction of the Babri Mosque.

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