In the corridors of my memory, the resonance of "Ram Mandir" echoes, a subject that once laid dormant in the recesses of my consciousness. Little did I know about the significance of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya or the arduous struggle of Hindus to reclaim it until I joined Shakha. It was the late '90s, and though the Babri structure had fallen in 1992, and Karsewaks faced adversity in 1989, my school education deliberately omitted discussions on this significant movement. The educational system seemed to discourage any association with Hinduism, compelling us to apologize for our cultural identity.
It wasn't until my involvement in Shakha that the veil of ignorance began to lift. During the intellectual sessions (Shakha Baudhiks), amidst the fervor of Shakha khel, the chants of "Jai Shri Ram" and "Mandir Wahi Banaenge" resounded. For the first time, I realized that being a Hindu was more than just a communal label; it was a profound connection to a historical and cultural identity. Shakha empowered me to be unapologetically Hindu, a sentiment that stood against the prevailing narrative of secularism that often painted us as communal.
Life took me away from Shakha for about eight years due to job relocations, but the essence of being a Swayamsewak stayed with me. In 2008, I found myself attending Shakha again in Delhi. During this period, we organized various awareness programs about the Ram Mandir issue. Despite facing accusations of communalism, our unwavering commitment to our identity as Hindus persisted. The turning point came on September 30, 2010, when the Allahabad High Court ruled in favor of Ram Mandir, acknowledging the existence of a temple demolished by Mir Banki, a lieutenant of Babur. However, societal discussions continued to frame the issue as a Hindu-Muslim conflict, emphasizing the need for a shift in perception. I vividly recall a heated debate in my office post-verdict, where advocating for the importance of Janmbhoomi for Hindus labeled me as communal. The narrative started to change, but being an unapologetic Hindu meant standing firm even when the tide was against us.
In 2019, when the conclusive verdict favored the construction of Ram Mandir, I found myself in Kolkata. The Mandir Nirman Samiti took a principled stand, deciding not to accept funds from the government or influential industrialists. The temple's inception was rooted in social struggle, and it was deemed fitting that the society itself would contribute to its construction. I was entrusted with the responsibility of leading a mass campaign in Kolkata to collect funds from the community. The sense of fulfillment I experienced stems from actively participating in the drive and making a modest yet meaningful contribution to this widespread societal movement.
During the Pran Pratishtha, I found myself in America, not Bharat, but I was determined to keep the momentum alive. Hindus around the world found a unifying identity with the construction of Ram Mandir. Even in America, in my city of Cary, North Carolina, the once considered communal subject was celebrated with zeal. We organized a car rally on the Pran Pratishtha day, and all the temples were open till midnight for live telecasting of the historic event.
I can proudly say that I witnessed history in the making—a moment when Hindus across the globe, transcending borders, came together to celebrate the culmination of a long and heartfelt struggle. The construction of Ram Mandir not only transformed the landscape in Bharat but also resonated with the diaspora, solidifying our identity with a shared heritage and history.
In the current landscape, where discussions about Ram Mandir have become mainstream, I reflect with pride on my journey—a journey of personal awakening, unyielding commitment, and an unwavering belief in the timeless chant, "Jai Shri Ram."