How the people of Vellore gave an impetus to the Ramajanmabhoomi movement

The Ayodhya Verdict on 09 November 2019 offered joyous contentment and an atmosphere of celebration within the fort of Vellore in Tamil Nadu thus making it imperative to know the Vellore connect to the Rama’s fort in Ayodhya.

While the “Breaking TN forces” may rant their policy of isolation with self-imposed seclusion, the people of Vellore, Tamil Nadu are entitled to claim credit for rendering an inspiration to the whole of India. This is yet another classic from the post modern times on how the events during the year 1981 at the Jalakhandeshwar temple located within the Fort of Vellore catalysed the Rama Janmabhoomi movement. 

It was until 400 years ago when the glorious temple of Shri Jalakhandeshwara, which was known for its Magnificent Shivalinga, was desecrated by the Islamic Invaders and took control of the Vellore Fort. However, during the ruthless invasion of the Islamic forces, the locals feared that this Lingam could get mutilated and decided to shift it to a concealed location i.e at Sathuvachari, a place about 15 KM away from the Vellore fort, thereby offering their regular worship to the deity at Sathuvachari. The proof of this unfortunate incident is also put up by way of a stone inscription within the fort, by the Archaeological Department. 

The British rule in India further worsened the state of affairs of the temple with the then Government taking over the control of the fort including the temple through the Archaeological Survey of India. Thus, the fort which was once known only for this monumental temple was compelled to accommodate St. John’s Church, Tippu and Hyder Mahal, Begum Mahal and many more proofs of invasions by external forces. The Post independence scenario proved equally challenging while attempts even by stalwarts such as Rajaji, Kamarajar and Kripananda Warriar to renovate the temple bore no fruits. The elected government(s) of the State of Tamil Nadu was very keen to ensure that their “Secular” badge was not disturbed under any circumstances, for they believed that restoration of a temple that too the one which is on par with the those in Madurai, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Sriragam etc. would displease their select vote-banks. 

But the real heroes of the movement – the local communities, the devotees of lord Jalakhandeshwara, people of Vellore were not ready to give up on their glory. It was at this moment that Hindu Munnani of Tamil Nadu, an institution that doesn’t deter in standing up to reclaim the lost glory of Hindus in Tamil Nadu took the enormous task of organising the Hindus especially those from Vellore to act for what they believed was their imperative need – the punarprathistam (ceremonies restoration) of the Lingam into the Jalakhandeshwar temple. This was also the very first project of Hindu Munnani. 

On 04 January 1981, Hindu Munnani gave its call to the public. The call that tens and thousands of people would walk their way to the temple, install the Shivalingam and liberate the temple from the clutches of the Government. This was readily accepted by more than 5,000 people. It appeared that a massive upheaval was already ready just waiting for a date and time. All the volunteers were even prepared to face any consequence including the expected brutal clampdown by the police even if it were with bullets. This was followed by scores of street corner meetings, regular mass gatherings, loudspeaker campaigns, launching of frequent write-ups and publication on the significance of the movement etc. The tempo now was at its peak. On the pre-designated day i.e. 16 March 1981 the heavy stone lingam about 8 feet in height was carried from Sathuvachari to the Jalakhandeshwar temple. Thousands and thousands of men and women joined in from across villages and towns. People carried with them kalasham for abhishekam, chanting hymns, naamam, bhajans throughout the stretch of 15 Kms accompanied by playing of traditional music. It appeared as though even if the deity wanted to stay back in Sathuvachari; it might be too late now. The volunteers were just unstoppable. Thereon, the Kumbabhishekam was performed and the Kanchi Paramacharya visited and stayed in the temple for couple of days following the occasion. Thus, the four-hundred-year-old insult of temple without a deity was set right by the people of Vellore. 

This occasion, reaffirmed the Sangh and its affiliates of its philosophy that the solution for any and every problem rests with the society and that the resolution is possible if only the society feels the need for the same and thus, the need to make one’s society vigilant of external negative forces. This very incident emerged as the precursor of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to pick up the gauntlet for the liberation of Shri Rama Janmabhoomi. The Dharma Sansad of VHP Meeting at New Delhi in April 1984 passed a resolution for the liberation of Shri Rama Janmabhoomi, Shri Krishna Janmasthan at Mathura and Shri Vishwanatha Temple at Jnanvapi in Varanasi. The approach of the people of Vellore and Hindu Munnani further gave a cue for the plan of action to the VHP. Whether it be the Ram ratha yathra, the Karsevaks thronging Ayodhya from across India, amplification of the concern of the local community to a regional / national level and even the trust in the democratic machinery of a country – Shri Jalakhandeshwara and the people of Vellore, Tamil Nadu definitely have their reasons to celebrate.

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