The name “Ram” transcends age, race and religion. The noble name is actually an utterance, epitomising the greatness of a nation and its denizens.
About over two decades ago, during the heyday of ULFA (2001) when I was advising the Government of Assam on Counter Insurgency, I was invited by HQ 4 Corps, Tezpur to deliver a lecture on the insurgency situation in the North East.
The ULFA had just given a boycott call of all Hindi music in Assam, especially during Bohag Bihu (Assamese New Year), the celebration of which is integral to Assamese life and culture.
During the Questions & Answer session in 4 Corps, an officer of the rank of a Colonel stood up and asked a strange question. The officer, since I asked him to identify himself, was from Tamil Nadu.
He said, “Is not the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) protecting the culture of Assam by boycotting Hindi music?”.
I answered, “Do you know the name Paresh Baruah?”
He said, “Yes, he is the ULFA chief. He is the person who has asked for the boycott of Hindi music and ingress of Hindi culture into Assam”.
I then asked, “If his name is indeed Paresh Baruah, why doesn’t he give up his name first!”
I still recall the studied silence in the auditorium.
“Paresh is “Ram”. Parashuram of Dashavatar!”
“If Paresh Baruah of the ULFA wants the Assamese people to boycott Hindustani culture then he should know the meaning of his own name and where it originated from!”
“Ram hailed from Ayodhya, an expanse far away from the geographical confines of Assam that Paresh Baruah has been seeking to wage a war with, for the latter’s independence!”
“Yet in his ignorance Paresh Baruah has not renounced a name, albeit his own name, which continues to adorn the proud and sacred crown of the divine monarch of all times, and one who is revered across India till this very day”
“Let us not be deviated from the truth. Indeed, the reality is for all to discern, imbibe and embrace. False punditry and sham warlords have always found their way to ignoble and despicable doom. It would be no different in the context of Assam.”
“Ram and Parashuram are our identity, our culture, our heritage. We, Assamese, are nothing without Ram.”
“Indeed, I am proud to proclaim that my grandfather, a personage who many in Assam know of as a front ranking freedom fighter who courted British incarceration, and later took on a life of letters and Vaishnavism, was the man who sought the prospectus for me from (later) Maj Gen. Apurba Kumar Bardalai and made me an inalienable part of the prestigious “cradle of warriors”, the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun in 1978, and from where I honourably passed out.”
My grandfather bore the noble name Ram Prasad Saikia.
Therefore, Jai Shri Ram.
(Jaideep Saikia is an internationally renowned Conflict Theorist and Bestselling Author Based in Guwahati. He was also an Expert, North East in the NSCS and also the Sole Asian Fellow of West Point, USA)