Kolkata: Economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said the affinity towards the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was a recent development in Bengal and not part of Kolkata’s culture.

It is ‘Maa Durga’ who is omnipresent in the lives of Bengalis, Sen said while speaking at a programme in the Jadavpur University. 

“Jai Sri Ram slogan is not associated with the Bengali culture,” he said, adding that even Ram Navami is “gaining popularity” nowadays and he had “never heard of it before”.

“I asked my four-year-old grandchild who is your favourite deity? She replied that it is Maa Durga. Maa Durga is so much omnipresent in our lives,” he said.

“What I feel is slogans like Jai Sri Ram are used as pretexts to beat up people,” the economist said. However he can’t describe any real incident, but he is known to criticise Hindus & Hindutav, His dislikes of BJP & RSS is well known in 2013 he even said that ” I don’t want Narendra Modi as PM” 

But today Sen tried to divide Bengali Society & people by dividing deities, claiming Bengali worship only Devi & Shri Ram is imported. He forgot West Bengal is mother land of devotees like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Before Bengal embraced Tantric Shaktism, it was the bedrock of Vaishnavism, for ages, perhaps immediately after Adi Sankara. The Madhava’s school of Dvaita (dual) Vaishnavism gained primary prominence during 13th century and spread from Udupi, across the Vijayanagara kingdom, through shores of Neelachala (Puri, Odisha) to Bengal, as the popular Vaishnavite seers of East, Madhavendra Puri, Ishvara Tirtha and Sri Chaitanya were the central figures.

Now, let us explore the ‘Bengal before RSS’, how Shri Ram was revered then and the Bengali Hindu traditions of celebrating Ram Navami. Many ancient Shri Ram temples are built in between 16th and 17th century, which were destroyed by Islamic invaders had a different story, following is the list of ancient temples of Prabhu Shri Ram located in Bengal since 1700 A.D 

Ram Navami Fair and Baul Assemblage of Sonamukhi (Bankura)

Ram Chandra Temple of Guptipara (Hooghly)

Raghunath Mandir of Chandrakona (Medinipur)

Ram Mandir and Ram Navami Fair of Ramrajatala (Howrah)

Ram Sita Mandir of Krishnaganj (Nadia)

Ramjiu Deul of Tamluk and Sita-Ram Mandir of Ghatal (Medinipur)

Ramachandra Mandir of Chirulia (Medinipur)

Raghunathji Mandir of Nashipur Akhara (Murshidabad)

Sita Ramjiu Mandir of Rautara (Medinipur)

Matiari Ram Sita Mandir and Rural Ram Navami Celebrations (Nadia)

Garh Panchakot – Ruins of Ram Temple (Purulia)

Ramchandra Mandir and Ram Navami of Narajole Royal Palace (Medinipur)

There are many newer Ram Mandirs in Bengal built post-Independence that are highly popular destinations for devotees. Birla Ram Mandir of Kolkata, Ram Temple of Durgapur are to name some of them. 

And a few more, still standing, built in the period since late 16th century until the birth of RSS, like that of Pila near Patuli, Purba Bardhaman or those in old Malda and Murshidabad. Frightened with the huge gathering of devotees turning to Shri Ram Navami celebrations in West Bengal for some times the ruling Trinamool questioned it as being the festival of Bengal and alleged that it is RSS-BJP conspiracy to import Ram from North India. But, the fact is that Shri Ram is deeply rooted in the life of Bengalis for centuries.

It is really strange how liberals, intellectuals & Nobel laureate Dr. Sen is talking like ruling Party of West Bengal (TMC), by doing so they are losing their credibility. Pritish Nandy already tried this earlier this year but can’t get many headlines but as Noble prize winner Dr. Sen will surely raise many eyebrows.

In west Bengal politicians are trying to divide people is a one thing but try to divide God in the name of Geographical Region is a new low, even for political parties and for the noble prize winner Mr Sen as well.