Sadhus of Ayodhya have lashed out at Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli for claiming that the “real Ayodhya” was in his country, even demanding that India try to dislodge him.
“Oli is a pawn in the hands of China, which not only wants to pollute India’s people and its land but also its culture. India must try to dislodge Oli soon as he doesn’t know that Ayodhya is on the bank of river Saryu in Uttar Pradesh and not in Nepal,” said Ram Vilas Vedanti, a sadhu from Ayodhya who is a former BJP MP and an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition.
Mahant Paramhans Das, another sadhu in Ayodhya, said: “India should immediately prevent Oli from confusing the people. He is a traitor who needs to be taken to task.”
Oli was quoted as making the claim on Monday at an event in Kathmandu to celebrate the 207th anniversary of Adikavi Bhanu Bhakta Acharya, a poet who translated Valmiki’s Ramayan from Sanskrit to Nepali.
“We have been suppressed culturally. Facts have been twisted. Even today, we believe that Sita was married to an Indian prince, Ram. We did not give her to an Indian, but to the one from Ayodhya. Ayodhya is a village in Thori that lies to the west of Birgunj. Valmiki Ashram is in Nepal and Dhashrath (father of Ram) had executed the rituals to get a son in Ridi,” Oli said.
“Lord Ram is a Nepali and not an Indian,” he continued.
Thori is a municipality in Parsa district, barely 50km from Birgunj in Nepal.
Birgunj borders Raxaul in Bihar. Ridi is a temple town 30km from Thori.
India’s relations with Nepal have been on a downward slide through the year — largely spearheaded in Kathmandu by Oli who is facing a political challenge at home.
“In India there is great dispute on Ayodhya. But there is no dispute in our Ayodhya,” Oli was quoted as saying.
Janakpur, where Sita is said to have lived before her marriage to Ram, is 150km east of Thori in Nepal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Janakpur in 2018 and offered prayers at a temple dedicated to Sita.
Oli said it was not possible for Ram to travel 520km from Ayodhya in India to Janakpur in those days.
While the Indian external affairs ministry did not respond to requests for a response all day to Oli’s remarks, Nepal’s foreign ministry issued a clarification stating that the Prime Minister had no intention of hurting anyone’s sentiments.
The Nepalese foreign ministry said: “The remarks made by the Prime Minister are not linked to any political subject and have no intention at all to hurt the feeling and sentiment of anyone.
“As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the Prime Minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilisation. The remarks were not meant to debasing the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears.’’
It also pointed out that Nepal annually celebrates Bibaha Panchami, when a marriage procession comes from Ayodhya in India to Janakpur.