Jai Shri Ram
Jai Shri Ram (or Jai Shree Ram, Jaya Śrī Rāma) is an expression in Indic languages, translating as "Glory to Lord Rama" or "Victory to Lord Rama". The proclamation has been used as an informal greeting or as a symbol of adhering to Hindu faith or for projection of varied faith-centered emotions, by Hindus in recent past.
The expression was used by the Indian Hindu nationalist organisations Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their allies, which embraced the slogan in the late 20th century as a tool of increasing the visibility of Hinduism in public spaces and went on to use it as a war cry. The slogan has since then been employed for perpetration of communal violence against people of other faiths.
Photojournalist Prashant Panjiar wrote about how in the city Ayodhya, female pilgrims always chant "Sita-Ram-Sita-Ram", while the older male pilgrims prefer not to use Rama's name at all. The traditional usage of "Jai" in a slogan was with "Siyavar Ramchandraji ki jai" ("Victory to Sita's husband Rama"). A popular greeting invoking Ram is "Jai Ram ji ki" and "Ram-Ram".
The worship of Rama increased significantly in the 12th century, following the invasions of Muslim Turks. The Ramayana became widely popular in the 16th century. It is argued that the story of Rama offers a "very powerful imaginative formulation of the divine king as the only being capable of combating evil". The concept of Ramrajya, "the rule of Ram", was used by Gandhi to describe the ideal country free from the British.
The most widely known political use of Ram began with Baba Ram Chandra's peasant movement in Awadh in the 1920s. He encouraged the use of "Sita-Ram" as opposed to the then widely used "Salaam" as a greeting, since the latter implied social inferiority. "Sita-Ram" soon became a rallying cry.
The slogans raised... were never about Ram as an individual, let alone a warrior. They were about the duo: Bol Siyavar or Siyapat Ramchandra ki jai [victory to Ram, Sita’s husband]."
In the late 1980's, the slogan "Jai Shri Ram" was popularised by Ramanand Sagar's television series Ramayan, where it was used by Hanuman and the monkey army as a war cry when they fought the demon army of Ravan in order to free Sita.
The nationalistic organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad and its Sangh Parivar allies, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, used it in their Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Volunteers at Ayodhya at the time would write the slogan on their skin, using their own blood as ink to signify their devotion. The organizations also distributed a cassette named as Jai Shri Ram, containing songs like "Ram ji ki sena chali" (transl. the army of Rama is on the move) and "Aya samay jawano jago" (transl. the time has come for the martial youth to arise). All the songs in the cassette were set to the tunes of popular Bollywood songs. Kar sevaks, led by the Sangh Parivar allies, chanted the slogan when laying a foundation east of the Babri Masjid in August 1992.
A 1995 essay published in Manushi, a journal edited by academic Madhu Kishwar, described how the Sangh Parivar's usage of "Jai Shri Ram", as opposed to "Sita-Ram", lies in the fact that their violent ideas had "no use for a non-macho Ram." This also mobilised more people politically, since it was patriarchal. Further, the movement was exclusively associated with Ram's birth, which had occurred many years before his marriage to Sita.
It is a 'Blut und Boden' (blood and soil) movement which aims to purify Bharat (the Motherland) from foreign elements.... The damage that the nation sustained is, to a significant extent, the consequence of the gentleness and indulgence that the people showed in the face of the repressive foreigners. The softness and femininity that came to be dominant in Hinduism, a change that was wrought by the cunning machinations of the enemy, now must make place for the original, masculine, powerful Hindu ethos. This explains the warlike, extremely aggressive character of the appeal for a national revival launched by the advocates of Hindutva. An interesting aside here is that the greeting 'Jai Siya Ram' has been transformed into the battle cry 'Jai Shri Ram' ('Long live Lord Ram'). The Hindu supreme god has assumed the form of a macho general. In the original meaning, 'Siya Ram' had been a popular greeting of welcome in the countryside since time immemorial... The Hindu fanatics have now also banished her from the popular greeting by changing Siya to 'Shri' (Lord), thereby suppressing the feminine element in favour of masculine virility and assertiveness.
In 1992, during riots and the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the same slogan was raised. Former BBC Bureau Chief Mark Tully, who was present at the site of the Masjid on 6 December, recalls the usage of the slogan "Jai Shri Rama!" by the Hindu crowds rushing towards the mosque. In June 1998, 300 copies of the New Testament were taken from the students of a Christian school in Rajkot and burned amidst shouts of the slogan. In January 1999, the slogan was heard again when Australian missionary doctor Graham Staines was burned alive with his two children in Manoharpur, Orissa.
In the events leading up to the Godhra train burning of February 2002, supporters of the Gujarat VHP and its affiliated organisations like the Bajrang Dal forced Muslims to chant "Jai Shri Ram" on their journey to Ayodhya,[better source needed] and on their return journey, they did the same at "every other station", including at Godhra. Both journeys were taken in the Sabarmati Express for the ceremony at the Ram Janmabhoomi. During the 2002 Gujarat riots that followed, the slogan was used in a leaflet distributed by the VHP to encourage Hindus to boycott Muslim businesses. "Jai Shri Ram" was also chanted by the mob that attacked and killed Ehsan Jafri, a former Member of Parliament from Ahmedabad. He was also forced to chant the slogan before he was brutally murdered. The slogan was also heard from the mob during the Naroda Patiya massacre. The slogan then evolved as a means of "survival" for Hindus living amongst Muslims.
The victim in the 2019 Jharkhand mob lynching was forced by the mob to chant "Jai Shree Ram" and "Jai Hanuman". All India Democratic Women's Association, the women's wing of CPI(M), alleged that the perpetrators of the Gargi College molestations were chanting the slogan.
During the 2020 Delhi riots, rioters were reported to have kept chanting "Jai Shri Ram" while beating their victims. The police were also found to join in the chant while siding with the Hindu mobs. The Muslims were told Hindustan me rehna hoga, Jai Shri Ram kehna hoga (transl. "If you want to stay in India, you will have to chant Jai Shri Ram"). Indian journalist Rana Ayyub, writing in Time, commented that the slogan had become a "racist dog whistle" against Muslims during the riots.
There have been some reports of violent incidents being associated with the slogan, in which the allegations were later found to be false. In June 2019, a group of prominent Indian citizens wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to put a stop "to the name of Ram being defiled" as a war cry. They demanded that strict action be taken against using the slogan for violent purposes.
In June 2019, the slogan was used to heckle Muslim MPs as they proceeded to take their oath in the 17th Lok Sabha. In July that year, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen stated in a speech that the slogan was "not associated with the Bengali culture", leading to some unknown groups publishing his statement on billboards in Kolkata. The slogan has also been used to heckle West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on multiple occasions, triggering angry reactions from her.
The slogan is painted on the walls of a mandir[a] in a house in the 1994 film Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!. It is used as a salutation in the 2015 film Bajrangi Bhaijaan. A 2017 Bhojpuri film, Pakistan Me Jai Shri Ram depicts the hero as a devotee of Ram who enters Pakistan and kills terrorists while chanting the slogan. Stickers stating Hello nahin, bolo Jai Sri Rama (transl. "Don't say hello but say Victory to Rama") became popular on the vehicles and telephones of people running small businesses. A 2018 song, "Hindu Blood Hit", features psychedelic repetitions of the slogan and goes on to warn Indian Muslims that their time is up. Another song from 2017, "Jai Shree Ram DJ Vicky Mix", hopes for a time in the future in which "there will continue to be a Kashmir but no Pakistan".
Following the ground-breaking ceremony of the Ram Temple, Ayodhya, in August 2020, the slogan was used as a chant in celebrations. The slogan was used by lawyers after the 2019 Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute.
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The characters enter and exit the house by first paying respects to the mandir whose walls are inscribed with "Jai Shri Ram"... This is undoubtedly a 'feelgood' scenario for the Sangh Parivar.
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