'His speech will stand out for a long time in the memory of those who listened to it for touching the pinnacle of excellence and brilliance in both style and content,' declares B S Raghavan, the distinguished civil servant.
The great and incomparable Hindi poet Tulsidas, who wrote the epic Ramayan in Hindi in the name of Ramcharitamanas while confessing at one point that he is at a loss for words in describing the many-splendoured personality of Ram, uses these immortal words Gira Anayan Nayan Binu Baani in explaining his inability: He says I am speechless because my tongue is without eyes, and my eyes are without voice.
I am forced to borrow the same words in expressing my feelings after watching the bhoomi puja ceremony and listening to Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi's speech on the occasion of the laying of the foundation for the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya on August 5.
Modi's oratorical skills are by now known to the people of India, including even those who are not well-versed in Hindi.
Being a graduate in Hindi at a fairly young age, and a pracharak in Hindi through regular classes and over All India Radio before I joined the Indian Administrative Service, I have paid fulsome tribute in many articles published by Rediff.com to Modi's mastery of language and power of expression.
But his speech at the bhoomi puja will stand out for a long time in the memory of those who listened to it for touching the pinnacle of excellence and brilliance in both style and content.
Na bhooto, na bhavishyati: Neither in the past have I heard one comparable to it, nor do I expect to hear one like it in the future.
From every angle -- national, international, literary, social, sociological, cultural, spiritual, emotional, ethical -- he wove a spectacular tapestry of images to describe the hold of Prabhu Ram for ages past over the millions not only in India, but in countries extending as far as Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and even Iran and China.
He flawlessly brought out the different versions of the Ramayan in a number of Indian languages, and even quoted a Tamil line from Kamban's Ramavatar distilling the quintessence of the maryada purshottam that Ram was.
He rightly and emphatically laid stress on how those qualities of Ram -- truth, rectitude, integrity, compassion, concern for the poor and the downtrodden, working unremittingly for the welfare and happiness of all entrusted to his care -- were relevant in modern times and for ages to come as the bedrock of a nation committed to universal development and prosperity.
This was what Ram Rajya was all about, and this was why, Modi reminded his worldwide audience, Mahatma Gandhi made it the centre-piece of the freedom struggle and made it his recipe for the efflorescence of free India.
Altogether a masterpiece of a speech with masterstrokes of the right sentiments and exhortations in respect of the right goals for the nation, which would not discriminate among religions, castes, creeds, or languages.
It was calculated to set aglow the imagination of the hearers and inspire them to scale ever new heights of achievement and, in my view, succeeded in serving that purpose.
An Indian has to be an incurable moron to be purblind to the fact that Ram is inextricably interwoven with every fibre of being of every Indian.
This has nothing to do with the Bhartiya Janata Party, or Narendra Modi, or any concoctions like Hindutva, but owes its origin to the innermost recesses of his mind.
I can do no better than fall back upon New Testament (Acts 17:28): 'For 'in Him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are His offspring'.'
This is what explains the sudden declaration of unbounded devotion to Ram by Priyanka Gandhi, and parading of his janevu by her brother Rahul, This is what has compelled even even the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which bent its energies its political life towards desecrating temples, defaming Hindus and preaching atheism to profess respect for the deities and tenets of Hinduism.
This in a way also provides the justification for arranging this bhoomi puja on such a scale.
It should also explain why those wearing their secularism and Modi-phobia on their sleeve are muted, belying their penchant for doing a veritable devil's dance at any such event which would have normally drawn their instant ire as a manifestation of the Hindutva brand of communalism.
What a pity that the bhoomi pujan ceremony had perforce to be held at a time of crippling restrictions imposed by the vicious coronavirus!
If it had been held in normal times, more than a million devotees from all over the country would have flooded Ayodhya like a human tsunami, each of them bringing (as I fancy) whatever construction materials he or she could as his or her contribution to the building of the temple.
Finally, the question arises whether in the present circumstances, persisting with the case relating to the alleged demolition of the Babri Masjid three decades ago makes any sense.
From whatever I could make out from reports of the trial that have been appearing in the public domain, the prosecution is of dubious merits, especially at a distance of time when no reliance can be placed on the recollection of facts and events by any of the witnesses.
Subramanian Swamy has publicly voiced his demand for the withdrawal of the prosecution, calling the case 'silly'.
There is already a legal provision for such withdrawal by the prosecuting agency, but, regardless, this is a fit case for the exercise of the sovereign power of the State so that no vestiges of the charges against them attach to the accused.
B S Raghavan is a retired member of the Indian Administrative Service. He was formerly a US Congressional Fellow, Policy Adviser to UN (FAO) and chancellor, Jharkhand ICFAI University.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com