I regard Ram as the great grandfather of the Indian nation (in which I include Pakistan and Bangladesh), the father being Emperor Akbar and the grandfather being Emperor Ashok.
Today, because of some bigots, Ram is regarded as an oppressor or tyrant by the minorities in India, but was he really like that? On the contrary.
In the Ramayan by Valmiki (which is the original Ramayan in Sanskrit, written perhaps 2,500 years ago) it is mentioned that when the king of Ayodhya Dashrath became old he intended to hand over his throne to his eldest son Ram, but before doing so he invited the citizens of Ayodhya and asked them their opinion whether Ram was fit to be their next king.
The citizens replied :
"Nikhilenaanu poorvya cha pita putraan iva aurasaan
Shushrushante cha woh shishya kachit varmasu danshitaah
Iti woh purush vyaagrah sada Ramobhibhaashate
Vyasaneshu manushaanaam bhrisham bhavati dukhitah
Utsaveshu cha sarveshu pitev parutushyati"
"O king, your son Ram is indeed fit to be our next king. He behaves like a father to us. He grieves with us in our sorrows, and rejoices with us like a father when we celebrate festivals."
Thus, far from being an oppressor, Ram was like a father to the people. A good father takes care of all his children. He is not selective, taking care of only some while oppressing others. If Ram had been the king of India today, he would have taken care of not only Hindus, but also Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others, and he would have severely punished those who oppressed or committed atrocities on minorities.
Justice Markandey Katju retired from the Supreme Court in 2011
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK