On October 30, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Ram Naam Mantra Lekhan Yagna’ from Gandhinagar, a campaign under which devotees would inscribe the name of Lord Ram in pothis (notebooks) at the Ram temple located in the precinct of Somnath temple in Gujarat. The pothis will be sent to the under-construction Ram temple in Ayodhya for its inauguration on January 22, next year.
The campaign comes 33 years after BJP patriarch L K Advani led the Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath to build the temple at Ayodhya. The yatra had ended abruptly with his arrest on October 23, 1990, in Bihar by then Lalu Yadav’s government.
The Shree Somnath Temple Trust — which manages and maintains the Somnath temple in Gir Somnath district and a few dozen other shrines — has kept 10 pothis in the Ram temple in Somnath for devotees to write the name of Ram. When the Ram-Janmabhoomi Babari Masjid title suit was pending before the Supreme Court, the Trust had got its own Ram temple constructed near Triveni Sangam, opposite the Somnath temple, and inaugurated the same in 2017.
According to a statement issued by the Trust, a bus has been arranged to take devotees from the Somnath Temple to the Ram temple in Ayodhya from time to time (or at regular intervals) where “special books and scribes prepared for writing the name of Ram have been arranged for devotees”. A separate arrangement has also been made to provide food to every devotee who inscribes Ram’s name in such books, the Trust added.
BJP leaders in Gujarat view the campaign as part of the party’s efforts to create “an atmosphere of celebration” in every village on January 24. Zaveribhai Thakrar, a former RSS functionary from Veraval and state BJP secretary, said: “Lord Ram lives in the hearts of everyone. Inauguration of Ram temple in Ayodhya will mark the triumph of a 576-year-long fight. Advani embarked on Ram Rath Yatra to ignite the spirit of Hindutva among people and that effort still continues. There should be celebrations in every village. We are grateful that the Trust, via its yagna, has decided to supplement such efforts.”
“We have planned programmes to create a Rammay (immersed in Ram) atmosphere in the entire country. Lord Ram is maanbindu (an article of faith) for everyone in India. Therefore, temple inauguration will neither be a political or religious event. It is for the people to construe whether it is a cultural event, a political event, a religious event or one marking the beginning of Ram Rajya,” he added. Trust secretary and officer on special duty at Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel’s office, Yogendra Desai, said that the campaign has been devised with the core idea of getting maximum number of people to connect to the Ram temple in Ayodhya. “Ram mandir is being built in Ayodhya and everybody would aspire to visit it in person. But that may not be possible. Then how can you reach Bhagwan? By reciting the name of Bhagwan,” Desai, also an additional collector-rank officer, added. Desai said that writing the name of Ram at Somnath temple has its own significance. “Ram, Lakshman and Janaki had come to the Prabhas Kshetra (the region of Somnath temple) and it finds a mention in Skandh Purana.”
“So far, around 7 lakh inscriptions of Ram’s name have been written by devotees. The campaign has touched people immensely,” he added.
Welcoming the initiative, Hitendrasinh Rajput, VHP spokesperson in Gujarat, said: “People’s faith is associated with the place. Somnath is the first Jyotirling and Prime Minister (Modi) is chairman (of the Trust). His faith is associated with both the temples (Ram temple in Ayodhya and Somnath temple)… It is very fortunate that a political person, sitting on a constitutional post, is starting this. It is a big thing. Earlier, people used to run away from Sanatan Dharma. It is a matter of pride.”
A BJP leader from Saurashtra said that the Ram Naam Mantra Lekhan Yagna campaign will witness a transformation, as the day of Ram temple inauguration approaches. “It might be a small initiative by the Trust as of now. But closer to the temple inauguration day, it will transform into a big mobilisation tool,” the leader said.