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Ayodhya: a Hindu Jerusalem

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This article discusses the concept of 'holy war' and the religious ideas it implies. According to some these ideas are characteristic of monotheistic traditions. The author investigates recent developments in Hinduism and comes to the conclusion that some of these characteristics are coming to the fore in modern forms of the Hindu religion that have strong bonds with fundamentalist movements. The question of the mosque occupying the holy spot in Ayodhyā, which is considered as the birth-spot of Visnu's incarnation as Rama, plays a central role in these developments. 'Liberation' of this site has many features in common with the motif of liberating Jerusalem in the age of the crusades. The author concludes by remarking that, though Hinduism has proved in the past to be a religion not prone to holy wars, recent developments in Indian society have made the prospect of a holy war between Hindus and Muslims seem only too real and close.


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