As the historical judgment by the Supreme Court on the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is still awaited, the writer brings forward few important facts
Ramayana states that the capital of Rama was Ayodhya. Its believed that the site of the now-demolished Disputed Structure is the exact birthplace of Rama. The mosque is believed to have been constructed during 1528-29 by a certain 'Mir Baqi', a commander of the Mughal emperor Babur. Interestingly there is scant evidence for the above. Even Baburnama doesn’t find a mention of same. Though Baburnama includes various instances of Babur destroying Hindu Temples and Building Mosques over it.
Historical and Mediaeval References
In 1611, an English traveller William Finch visited Ayodhya. Finch recorded the "ruins of the Ranichand [Ramachand] castle and houses" but made no mention of any mosque. In 1634, Thomas Herbert described a "pretty old castle of Ranichand [Ramachand]" which he described as an antique monument that was "especially memorable".Flinch & Herbert make the case for a temple with reference to the castle. However, by 1672, the appearance of a mosque at the site can be inferred because Lal Das's Awadh-Vilasa
describes the location of birthplace without mentioning a temple.
In 1717, the Moghul Rajput noble Jai Singh II purchased land surrounding the site and his documents show a mosque. The Jesuit missionary Joseph T who visited the site during 1766-71, wrote that either Aurangazeb or Babur had demolished the Ramkot fortress, including a house. The house was considered the birthplace of Rama. Joseph T further stated that a mosque was constructed in its place, but the Hindus continued to offer prayers at a mud platform that marked the birthplace of Rama. This is a significant statement coming from a person who was not a Hindu.
In 1810, Francis B visited the site, and stated that the structure destroyed was a temple dedicated to Rama and not a house. Many subsequent sources state the same (Ref: Robert L & Julian T. Destruction and Conservation of Cultural Property. Routledge. pp. 2–9). The police officer and writer Kishore Kunal states that all the claimed inscriptions about the date on the Babri mosque were fake and very recent. They were affixed sometime around 1813 (almost 285 years after the supposed construction of the mosque in 1528 AD), and repeatedly replaced. Till the 1940s, the Disputed Structure was called Masjid-i-Janmasthan including in the official documents such as revenue records. Shykh MD Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami (1811–1893) wrote: "the Babri mosque was built up in 923(?) A.H.Azamat Ali attributes construction to have happened under the patronage of Sayyid Musa Ashiqan in the Janmasthan temple in Faizabad-Avadh, which was a great place of (worship) and capital of Rama’s father".
H. R. Neville, the editor of the Faizabad Dist Gazetteer(1870), wrote that the Janmasthan temple "was destroyed by Babur and replaced by a mosque."He also wrote that the Janmasthan was in Ramkot and marked the birthplace of Rama. In 1528 Babur came to Ayodhya and halted here for a week. Neville goes on mention that Babur destroyed the ancient temple and on its site built a mosque, still known as Babur's mosque. The materials of the old structure [i.e., the temple] were largely employed, and many of the columns were in good condition as per preservationists.
Nirmohi Akhara and Hanumangarhi Temple issue
1853, a group of armed Hindu ascetics belonging to the Nirmohi Akhara occupied the Babri Masjid site, and claimed ownership of the structure. Subsequently, the civil admin stepped in and in 1855, divided the mosque premises into two parts: one for Hindus and the other for Muslims. It is claimed that there erupted armed clashes between Hindus and Muslims over the Babri Mosque in 1855. However, historian KM Panikkar in the book ‘Anatomy of a Confrontation: Ayodhya and the Rise of Communal Politics in India’, points out that the clash to be over Hanumangarhi temple. A Muslim party claimed that the Hanumangarhi temple had been built over a mosque and organised a raid in 1855 to occupy its premises. The raiders were beaten back, some killed, and others chased to the Babri Masjid where they took refuge. However, the victorious Hindus did not make claims to the Babri Masjid. This suggests that the mosque had not yet become contentious in Ayodhya’s local memory.
The Nawab of Oudh instituted a committee of inquiry into the conflict of 1855. The inquiry concluded that the Hanumangarhi temple hadn’t been built over a mosque. However, to mollify Muslims, the Nawab toyed with the idea of constructing a mosque adjacent to the Hanumangarhi temple. It perhaps prompted the construction of a parallel story around the Babri. Few years after the revolt of 1857, the Mahant of Hanumangarhi built a chabutra near the Disputed Structure.A complaint regarding the appropriation was made to the magistrate by the then muezzin. In 1861, the admin built a wall to separate the mosque from the chabutra.In 1883, the Hindus launched an effort to construct a temple on the platform. When the administration denied them permission to do this, they took the matter to court. In 1885, the Hindu Sub Judge Pandit Hari Kishan Singh dismissed the lawsuit. Subsequently, the Court also dismissed the lawsuit in 1886, in favour of status quo. In December 1949, some Hindus placed idols of Rama and Sita in the mosque, and claimed that they had miraculously appeared there. As thousands of Hindu devotees started visiting the place, government declared the ‘so-called mosque’ a disputed area and locked its gates. Subsequently came lawsuits from Hindus asking for permission to convert the site into a place of worship came up. In the 1980s, the VHP and other organisations launched a campaign to construct the Ram Temple at the site.
Later, the Rajiv Gandhi government allowed Hindus to access the site for prayers in the late 80s. It was well understood that it happened in order to appease Hindus post the damage while appeasing Muslims through the Shah Bano case. Few also say that it happened to hide off Gumnami Baba issue. Extensive works by Anuj Dhar clearly proves that Gumnami Baba living in Faizabad was none other than Netaji and Congress holistically wanted to divert countries attention when Gumnami Baba was turning into the pop wind of time.
Razing of the Mosque
On December 6, 1992 the disputed structure was razed off. Though lakhs of people had actually congregated for Bhajan and Puja, few took law in their hands. It followed with communal violence nationwide leaving at least 2000 dead.
On 7th Jan 1993, the PV Narasimha Rao government issued an ordinance taking over 66.7 acres of land in Ayodhya, including the 2.77 acres on which the disputed structure had once stood. The ordinance was turned into the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993. The Act prescribed maintenance of the status quo that prevailed before the acquisition. It meant that the makeshift temple was to remain and puja was to be continued. The Act also abated court proceedings on disputes over ownership rights to all properties in the acquired land. In other words, the Ayodhya title suits, pending in the High Court, too abated. Either the government was willing to let the mosque become a temple or planned to use the prevailing status quo to negotiate a deal between Hindus and Muslims.
A 5-member bench heard a challenge to the Act in what is known as Ismail Farooqui vs Union of India(1993-94) case and also debated over the Presidential Reference made to it. The Reference asked SC to give its opinion on“whether a Hindu temple or any Hindu religious structure existed prior”. The SC refused to give its opinion on the Presidential Reference as it didn’t involve a point of law. As former CJI AM Ahmadi pointed out “We were being asked to give an opinion on whether there existed a temple or a Hindu religious structure, not whether a Rama temple existed.”CJI further said, “However, the cause of the dispute was that a Rama temple had been demolished to build the Babri Masjid in 1528. It was akin to shifting the goalpost, so to speak.” Meanwhile as per court’s (Allahabad) order, ASI took up an excavation project.
Role of Left ‘Distorians’!
Besides all that’s said above, we can’t miss out the communist historians acts of bigotry. They appeared on behalf of the Babri Masjid Action Committee as experts, though none of their testimony speaks of same. Few even went on to contradict own statements. Let’s examine them meticulously.
Their stand had been driven by ideology from the start. The attacks and commentaries by them in publications, which went on to create the popular anti-Ram Janmabhumi mandir narrative were not based on facts or historicity, but on creating an emotional appeal for
Babri Masjid.The main arguments were:
1) Rama is a mythic figure
2) Identification of present-day Ayodhya with Valmiki’s Ayodhya is incorrect
3) Variants of Rama story are proof that the Valmiki version is not accurate
4) Buddhists texts state Kosala and not Ayodhya as Ram Janmabhumi.
5) Ayodhya is a sacred place of Buddhists and Jains and not Hindus to that extent
6) Ayodhya has not been a place of pilgrimage for Hindus for a very long time
7) There was no Rama cult before the thirteenth century
8) Babri Masjid was built on virgin land.
9) The remnants discovered from beneath the structure are of non-religious nature
10) The architectural remnants are brought from elsewhere and planted Possibly an idgah or qanati mosque lays below Babri Masjid
11) Babri masjid does not stand on the birthplace of Rama.
12) There is no reference to the demolition of Ram Janmabhumi temple at Ayodhya before the 19th century
13) It is an assumption that Muslim rulers were invariably and naturally opposed to the sacred places of Hindus.
In favour of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMC) historians. S. Sharma, D.N. Jha, Suraj Bhan and Athar Ali insisted that they be treated as independent historians, but the VHP team refused to agree to this demand. There were evidence exchanges, but it helped little in shaking the determination of the proponents of Babri. The coterie kept behaving like a broken record. The gang had power, and the establishment supported it. What the gang did not have was solid evidence on their side or the scholarship to refute the pro-Ram Janmabhumi evidence. The court observed them as non-qualified. Counter questioning kept bursting the bubble of their knowledge and also nullified all false claims and opinions. Judgment from Honorable Justice Sudhir Agarwal is the longes which runs into 21 volume and 5000 pages and is a goldmine of interesting information.
Below are nine surreal testimonies from the Waqf board brigade:
1) Suvira Jaiswal, Former Professor of JNU (PhD under RN Sharma) - “I have read nothing about Babri Mosque. I did not study thoroughly, therefore, I cannot say as to when Babri Mosque came into existence... I cannot say as to what was there at the site before coming into existence of Babri Mosque. In my knowledge, no such evidence is found which may indicate that Babri mosque was constructed after demolishing Sri Rama’s temple....... Whatever knowledge I gained wrt disputed site, was on the basis on newspaper or what the others told, i.e., from the report of historians. By historians’ report, I mean ‘Historians Report to Nation.’It is correct to say that I am giving a statement on oath regarding Babri...... mosque without any probe and not on basis of my knowledge, rather I am giving a statement on the basis of my opinion.” That’s the first interesting laughable testimony by an eminent Historian. Let’s go to next gem historian of BMAC.
2) S.C. Mishra, Satyawati College, Delhi University (PhD under D.N. Jha) - “I have heard of Jaziya tax. At present, I fail to recollect when and for what purpose it was levied. I do not remember that the Jaziya was levied only on Hindus......It is wrong to say that Aurangzeb built the Gyanvapi mosque by demolishing half of the Kashi Vishwanath temple.”I have read many books written from the time of Baburnama till 1989regarding Babri mosque. I do not remember the name of any book right now.”...... “I have done a deep study about Babri mosque, after the beginning of this dispute… In my studies no evidence was found about the existence of any temple at this place.” That was the testimony of SN Mishra, let’s move to next gem of BMAC.
3) Shireen M, Prof AMU “In my view,2 ascertain whether it is temple or mosque, it was not necessary to see the disputed site.I had historical literary evidence, ongoing thru which, I conclude that disputed struct was mosque or mosque was not construct demolishing temple.”......”I had deciphered the epigraph on the disputed site between 1975&1980. The study of those epigraphs was not necessary for my research.”During my studies, I have not come across any such evidence or proof of med-period to suggest that Babri M had bn built by destroying any temple.”
4) Sushil Srivastava, Ph. D. Allahabad Univ - “From the research carried out by me; I found no such evidence regarding this disputed site to suggest that this mosque had been built after demolishing temple.” “Neither I can read nor write Persian. I can also not read Arabic…... I have no sound knowledge of Sanskrit also. It is correct that my father-in-law (S.R. Farooqui) helped me a lot in reading and writing…” “I have no knowledge of Epigraphy. I have no knowledge of Numismatic. I did not acquire any specialisation in archaeology…... I did not acquire any knowledge about the survey of land… The title of my book is ‘The Disputed Mosque, A Historical Inquiry’… Except for this book, there is no other research of mine nor published, about medieval history.”...... “It was only after 1988 publication that my luck brightened. Became a reader and was conferred PhD degree, Sri Wahiuddin Malick was the VC of Allahabad University. It is also correct that, at that time the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was Mulayam Singh Yadav.”......my wife is M Afshan Farooqui. I have adopted Islam religion at the time of my Nikah. I was given new name Sajid. Presently, I’m neither a Hindu nor a Muslim. I made nomenclature of my children in Persian lang. It's true that after 11 years of continuous efforts, I secured PhD.”
5) S Bhan, Retd. Prof, Kurukshetra Univ.Sent report to ICHR, then headed by Irfan Habib on the disputed site. In 2003,he along with the other 3 BMAC historians and I Habib questioned the objectivity of ASI in its ability to conduct “rigorous, scientific and impartial excavations. S Bhan says: “.. I didnt try to know what is written in the Ramayana by Tulsi D. I didnt read what features a mosque may not have.I m not a spec. in epigraphy and numismatics.I m not a geologist. I m not a student of History.I m not a specialist in architecture”...“Nobody forbade me from observing the potteries in the pottery yard but no archaeologist was there to help me in my study.” “I didn’t make any study of any recorded history with regard to the disputed subject.”.…... At the time of my exploration at the disputed site, Prof. Irfan Habib was Chairman of the said institution. It is true that we had received grant for the exploration of the disputed site through this very institution.”
Let’s move to next eminent historian.
6) R. C. Thakran, DU. He was a student of Suraj Bhan and also part of the coterie that attacked ASI in 2003. This is his testimony - “In newspapers and magazines, I have read Babur had built a mosque in Ayodhya. As a historian, I consider newspapers and magazines to be a source of knowledge…... I didn't certify the authenticity of these articles and monographs.This fact has already been certified by the historians.I haven't read a book of any historian in this regard.I myself never did any excavation in any field…... It will be wrong to say that I m not a field archaeologist; rather, I m just a table archaeologist … I have not studied in any particular book on this subject.I have not gained knowledge of it in any science lab 2 bt I hv this knowledge on the basis of my exp and study.”
7) D. Mandal, Retrd Prof, Allahabad University.He was a communist Party card holder and wrote the book ‘Ayodhya: Archaeology After Demolition’in 1993 based on the pictures depicting excavation undertaken by Prof. BB Lal.Sketches used in the book were hypothetical, he told the court later.This is what D Mandal had to say: “I never visited Ayodhya. I don’t have any specific knowledge of history of Babur’s reign.Whatsoever little knowledge I have about Babur is only that Babur was ruler of 16th century.”... “Since it was not the issue of my research to see whether these stones can be part of the mosque, I didnt make any research on them, &for this very reason I didn’t make any research to see whether they may be of the temple. Its true that human figures are engraved....I have no knowledge that this square place was used as ‘Vedi’ of ‘Yagyashala’. In this behalf I would like to say that no archaeological evidence has been found about this place being the ‘vedi’ of ‘yagya’.” “I neither know the meaning of ‘yagya’ nor of ‘vedi’.”
8) Ashok Dutta, CU. He was part of the eight member team of Waqf and Left Historians that questioned ASI capabilities in 2003. He said,“…As an archaeologist at least I have that amount of knowledge to differentiate between mosque and temple.”...... I don’t have any idea whether this type of stone slabs having decorative motif were used in the mosque or not.” “As I have mentioned that the Muslim people do not believe in idol worship, hence there is no question of associating terracotta figurine with Muslim culture..... Makar Pranal is one part of Hindu temple architecture. I am not very sure whether Makar Pranal has any association with mosque or not.”
Let’s now read the last testimony, the funniest of all.
9) Supriya Varma, Ph. D. from JNU. She got her Ph.D. under Prof S Ratnagar, JNU who in turn had written intro to Prof. Mandal’s book. Her testimony - “I think very categorically it is very difficult to say that some of the finds of ASI relate to Hindu religious structures because…...these finds could well have been part of palaces, Buddhist structure, Jain structure and Islamic structure.” “It is wrong to say that use of ‘Yaksh’ or ‘Yakshi’ is only limited to Hindu Dharmashastra. In fact, it is also associated with Buddhist religion.”......“I cannot say whether the word ‘Yaksh’ or ‘Yakshi’ is referred or mentioned in any religious book of Buddhism.”
Likewise there were many more testimonies which do no good to Babri case but exposed the left historians.
The Most important ASI Findings
The most important discovery from Babri demolition was a Gahadavala inscription.Ideally this stone slab that fell from the wall of Babri should have settled the controversy once and for all. It was ‘THE PROOF’ that a temple lay beneath the masjid.
Prof Ajay Mitra Shastri, specialist in Epigraphy and Numismatics stated Inscription is in chaste and classical Nagari script Dated to 11th or 12th century recorded beautiful temple of Vishnu Hari,unparalleled by any other temple built earlier.“Constructed in temple city of Ayodhya, situated in Saketa mandala Described God Vishnu destroying King Bali(in Vamana avatar) & Dashanana(Ravana).”Home ministry and Allahabad High court quizzed Dr K.V. Ramesh, former Director of Epigraphy, ASI in this regard.Dr Ramesh also deciphered same information and dated the slab to mid 12th century.Lucknow museum Inscription number 53.4 broken on upper right was compared against the slab broken on
bottom right because of Prof Irfan Habib’s charge of it being stolen.
Lucknow inscription was ‘fragmentary’ while Ayodhya inscription was 5 feet by 2 feet. The dates didn’t match as alleged by Irfan Habib, suspected to have been stolen in 1953 and kept hidden till 1992.In 2003 Special Bench of Allahabad High court instructed ASI to undertake excavations at Ram Janmabhoomi, revealing remains from beneath the disputed site and following were the findings:
1) Terracotta objects and fragments dated to Shunga period (2nd century BC), Kushan period (1st to 3rd century CE), Gupta period (4th to 6th century CE), post-Gupta Rajput period (7th to 10th century) and early medieval period (11th to 12th century CE) were identified.
2) Pillar bases were an important find as their size was an important evidence that the pillars once stood there and that the pillars weren’t independent adornments. Foundations and nearly 50pillar bases were found from the excavations and the structure was definitely not for residential use
3) Glazed ware shards and glazed tiles at each successive levels were found during excavations.
4) Structure plan had garbha griha, mandapa, ardha mandapa and wide mandapa: a distinctive feature of Hindu temples.
5) C14 dating dates Level 1 (lowest level excavated) as back as 13th Century BCE strengthening the Hindu belief that itihasa of Shri Rama is older than that of Shri Krishna and Hastinapur.
6) ASI concluded that a temple existed for long before Babri mosque.
Earlier form of Ram Chabutra was also excavated, which appeared to match the description of Joseph Tieffenthaler.
There are lot more pieces of evidence that support the case, however, the judgment by CJI in September has definitely reinforced State’s support to Ram Temple. I opine that the disputed structure should not have been razed the way it was but at the end of the day, it was an illegal structure. With all hope I appeal to PM Narendra Modi to ascertain that a grand Mandir is built in Ayodhya for Ram.
(Compiled from the tweet threads by @Aabhas24 on Twitter)