Make Ayodhya Mediation A Spiritual Enterprise



As soon as the Supreme Court decided in favour of mediation in the Ayodhya matter, scepticism erupted as to its feasibility. It is tempting, and misleading, to understand this scepticism in light only of the complexity of the matter.

Complexity is what we burden an issue with. Complexity is our creation. Complexity cannot sire itself ! We feel helpless in confronting the complexity we create. This is the paradox that Mary Shelley projected through the character, Frankenstein. We are threatened by the monsters we create. They don’t come into being on their own.

From a spiritual and practical point of view, complexity results from our standing on two contrary principles at the same time. The fact that mediation looks more complicated than litigation proves this. Litigation is a monolithic process. It is driven exclusively by law. Law is homogenous in principle and in practice. It proceeds by the force of evidence examined rationally.

No other consideration comes into play; at least, should not. Mediation is, in comparison, a hybrid phenomenon.

It is law plus.

So, when we are sceptical about the outcome of mediation in a particular matter, it is not about the legality of it that we are unsure of. It is about our incapacity for this ‘plus’ factor. That plus factor, in mediation, is goodwill. Goodwill entails a willingness to ‘walk the extra-mile’, which is alien to the application of law.

The comparative merit of mediation – its edge over litigation – is that it could create a win-win situation. Law polarises the two sides into winners and losers. Mediation can transcend this limitation inherent in law.

Law is predicated on power – the power of evidence; complicated, somewhat, by the power of interpretation. As long as ‘power’ is the shaping, driving motive in a process, law, not mediation, is appropriate to it. It is illogical to situate in the sphere of mediation what can belong only to the domain of law. No issue vitiated by the outlook of power, the winner versus loser pattern, can lend itself to mediation.

Human beings are morally free to shift from the outlook of power to that of goodwill. But goodwill presupposes mutual love. As long as two parties are locked doggedly in a power struggle – each hell-bent on defeating the other – mediation doesn’t stand a chance. The sinister complexity that looms large over the Ayodhya dispute stems from this.

It is clear, therefore, that if mediation is to succeed, both parties have to approach this process not from the angle of politics, but from the moral freedom of mutual love and goodwill. If this is a religious dispute, then a spiritual approach, rather than a political tug-of-war, is what’s legitimate to it. Whether or not both parties to this mediation are capable of it, will become evident to the country at large in the days ahead.

The very fact that the matter is remitted to mediation already frames this issue in a certain fashion. If mediation fails, litigation will ensue. Then one party will win and the other lose. But that ‘victory’ will prove less exhilarating than it could seem now; for the reason that what paved the way for it was an incapacity – the incapacity for goodwill.