New Delhi, April 12
Sita is a matter of faith and there is no historical evidence that she existed, Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, triggering a debate on myth and history that often overlaps in India.
Opposition members seized the minister’s remarks to taunt the BJP-led government that Sita’s husband, Hindu god Ram, is a matter of faith too if the same logic is applied.
Ram and Sita are the principal characters of the epic Ramayana, and he is one of most revered gods in the Hindu pantheon.
“Lord Ram is my god. The minister’s reply has shaken my faith. I condemn his reply,” Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said, demanding an apology from the government.
Janata Dal (United) parliamentarian Anil Kumar Sahani accused the government of insulting Sita and women in general. “The government should apologise,” he demanded.
Culture minister Sharma was replying to a question on whether the Centre has any historical proof about Sita’s existence.
“Your government has reached this place today on the back of the Ram movement and now you are saying that Sita is a matter of faith,” Congress leader Singh said.
He was referring to the BJP-spearheaded movement to build a Ram temple at a place where a mosque stood in Ayodhya. The Babri mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992, by right-wing Hindus, sparking communal riots across the country that left more than 3,000 people dead.
Many Hindus believe that god Ram was born at the spot where Babur, the first Mughal emperor, had built the mosque. The disputed site, comprising 2.7 acres, remains India’s most potent religious flashpoint.
As opposition parliamentarians heckled the culture minister, he said his comments were misinterpreted.
“I am saying the government started religious circuits such as Ramayana and Buddha. In the Ramayana circuit we are doing upgrades in Sitamarhi district of Bihar, which is said to be the birthplace of Sita,” Sharma said.
But he clarified that government has not done excavation in Sitamarhi so far.
New Delhi, April 12