December 6, 1992: Ayodhya

Before Maharaj left the United States, I went back to Delhi to help arrange interviews with devotees there for the BBC programme on Gobind Sadan. On this fateful day, a mob of 100,000 or more Kar Sevaks pushed their way through security forces in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, to climb onto and extensively damage the three domes of the Muslim mosque which, they believed, had been built over an earlier Hindu temple to Lord Ram. Because the Uttar Pradesh government had not acted strongly to protect Muslim rights and prevent this long-brewing disaster, the Prime Minister of India immediately dissolved the Uttar Pradesh government and established President’s Rule. Curfews were imposed to avert the communal violence which was expected to follow.

We had planned to take the BBC World Service crew to Shiv Sadan, Maharaj’s large farm in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the Ganges. We wanted to show them the practical effects of Maharaj’s work in transforming barren wastelands and uplifting neglected people. However, the decision was taken to cancel that visit for it was too dangerous to expose them to the Hindu-Muslim riots which could—and in fact did—erupt along the way.

As the whole country faced the threat of communal violence, a phone call came from Maharaj advising his great devotee Surendra Nath to accept the governorship of Uttar Pradesh if the central government would ask him. They had already been strongly wooing him to take over the position, but Gyani Ji’s hukam was for him to decline. [Maharaj had blessed Gyani Ji to pray for people and give them visionary advice.] This time, a call from Maharaj brought new hukam: Surendra Nath must accept the post if requested, and then immediately restore the mosque. This would bring calm to the country and balm to the hearts of Muslims, Maharaj said. Surendra Nath had earlier under Maharaj’s blessings taken on the governorship of Punjab when it was wracked with separatist violence—and under Maharaj’s blessings, had brought peace and stability to the state. This time, however, Surendra Nath did not take a position in Uttar Pradesh, and the Ayodhya wound still festers.