My earliest memory of hearing ” Jai Shri Ram ” is when I, as a little kid, had gone to a small temple with my grandmother.
It was a little temple next to her house with hardly any visitors. We had bowed down to the three lined up idols of Lord Raam, Sita and Laxman who stood next to each other.
The priest at the temple had dropped a spoonful of prasad in my outstretched little hand and said, ” Jai Shri Ram ” with a smile on his face.
I had looked up at him and said, “Jai Shri Ram” with a sweet smile as I ate the sweet prasad.
Somehow I always remembered that incident, the sweetness of the Prasad, matched by the sweetness in the voice and the smile of the priest.
My next memory of hearing “Jai Shri Ram” is of Deogarh in late 90s.
I had gone there with a friend and we were having tea at a shop which was run by a “Panda”.
He had handed us our tea and said, “Jai Shri Ram”
Me and my friend had both responded with a “Jai Shri Raam” to him, while gently bowing our heads and giving due respect to his greetings.
I had always associated the term ” Jai Shri Raam ” with respect and endearment. A term that got people closer to each other rather than pushing them away.
“Jai Shri Ram” always made me think of the calm face of Lord Hanuman, who bowed his head to the one and only Lord he worshiped.
“Jai Shri Ram” reminded me of the calmness that Lord Ram had on his face and the humility that Hanuman had on his face despite holding so much power inside him.
Today I see people being murdered at the chant of “Jai Shri Ram”.
Today I see people being forced to shout ” Jai Shri Ram ” .
Today, the same slogan which used to bring a smile to my face makes me worried and concerned, because it is inevitably being followed by some act of violence by those who are misusing it.
The calm and peaceful face is replaced by an eternally angry red face.
And I can’t help but wonder……when did something associated with peace and endearment get turned into something associated with anger, rage and discrimination?
When did Lord Ram, who has always been associated with a discipline, humility and a sense of fairness, suddenly start being associated with beating up other people and murdering them?
When these criminals take refuge in the name of Lord Ram, do they really think that their crimes will be justified?
Does murdering someone in the name of “Ram” not sully the name of the Lord that you actually claim to worship?
This post was first published by the author on his Facebook Timeline.