Sri Ram Temple embodies the very ethos of over one billion followers of Sanatana Dharma. The movement for the same is for the restoration of that glorious ethos. Here is the summary of the peoples’ movement...
Dr. MOHAN KRISHEN TENG & CHAMAN LAL GADOO
Sri Ram an incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu, is the embodiment of the Hindu Dharma. Sri Ram is the absolute and timeless virtue. He is considered the “Maryada Purushottam,” the unified field of cosmic forces within as well as beyond the perceptible reality. Historically, Sri Ram is an inseparable part of the Hindu civilisation.
From The Organiser Archives: Kar Sevaks participating in a rally organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad during Ramjanmabhoomi Movement
Hinduism is a way of worship, devotion and duty. The Hindu spiritual experience is an expression of the civilisation extending across an incredible and long time scale spread over an unbelievable geographical expanse. It transcends all value - relativism. Therefore, it does not recognise heresy nor does it sanction inquisition. In Sri Ram, are personified worship, devotion and duty.
Ramlala in a makeshift temple in Ayodhya
For millions of Hindus, Ayodhya is the birth place of Sri Ram. Therefore, the Hindus have deep devotion and reverence to Ayodhya which is situated on the banks of River Saryu. It is one of the oldest cities in the world. Valmiki Ramayana describes it as a prosperous city with high buildings comparable to Amaravati, the celestial city of the Gods. For Hindus, Ayodhya is the first among the eight holy cities of India -- Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanchi, Ujjain, Jagannath Puri and Dwaraka, which are believed to bring salvation. The great saint poet Tulsidas commenced the writing of ‘Sri Ram Charit Manas’ in Ayodaya, in 1574.
From the Organiser Archives: The Weekly has comprehensively covered every stage of Ramjanmabhoomi Movement
Sri Ramjanmabhoomi temple was renovated and rebuilt several times over the centuries before it was reconstructed by King Vikramaditya. It withstood the ravages of the time until the invasion of Mughal Emperor Babar who destroyed it in 1528 and converted it into a mosque like structure. Babar won the first battle of Panipat in 1526 AD and established his supremacy over North India. Then he marched twards Ayodhaya. Babar ordered the demolition of Sri Ramjanmabhoomi temple in deference to the wishes of Fakir Kaza Abbas Kalandar. The Fakir ordained that Babar build a mosque in place of the temple. Babar’s general Mir Baqi attacked Ayodhya with a huge army. Mir Baqi faced stiff resistance from the Hindus but he overcame it and captured the temple and razed it to ground.
The archaeological findings provide incontrovertible evidences that the Sri ram Temple dates back to at least 1000 BC. The excavations carried out by archeologist in Ayodhya following the directives of the Aallahbad High Court from March 5 to 7 August, 2003 clearly proved that not one but three temples existed there, built one after another from the seventh century AD to12th century AD When the disputed structure in Ayodhya was demolished many pieces and splinters of artifacts which were embedded in its walls were recovered from the debris. The artifacts provided incontrovertible evidence that the disputed structure was built on the remains of a Hindu templeThat the capture of Ayodhya was accompanied by mass massacre of the Hindus was noted by British officer, Hamilton in the District Gazetteer of Barabanki. Hamilton noted that in consequence of the mass scale killings of the Hindus their blood was mixed with mud and mortar used for the construction of the disputed structure in Ayodhya. Hamilton’s descriptions were based upon the tradition handed down from generation to generation and there is hardly any reason to doubt its veracity.
There is enough evidence recorded by the contemporary Muslim chronicles and British historians about the destruction of the Hindu temples and shrines by the Muslim invaders as well as emperors who established their dynasties to rule India. Muslim historians wrote of the demolition of the Hindu temple during Gaznavi’s invasion of India. “In Banaras which is the centre of the country of Hind, they destroyed the thousand temples and raised Mosques on their foundations.” Surat -I- Feruz Shah recorded; “Firoz Tughlaq attacked Orissa in 1360 AD and destroyed the temple of Jaganath.”
The demolition of Hindu temples by the Muslim invaders was aimed at extending Muslim power in Bharat and to facilitate the spread of Islam. The construction of mosques over the remains of the demolished temples was aimed at telling the Hindus that they were beyond redemption and that it was to pave the way for the destruction of Hinduism. A mosque was built by Sultan Quota-Uddin – back in 1193 AD and named “Quwwatul-Islam masjid.” The mosque was renovated and enlarged by Shamsuddin lltutmish in 1211 -36 AD and Alauddion Khilji in 1216 -1316 AD. Quwwatul –Islam masjid symbolised the might of Islam. Pillars and the stone slabs of as many as twenty seven Hindu and Jain temples demolished by the Muslim rulers were used in the construction of the mosque. The mosque is still intact standing in the enclosure of the Qutub Minar in Delhi.
“In Ayodhya, the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram, which was two or three thousand years old,” says VS Naipaul, historian and novelist.
Summing up what the Mohammedan invasion of India meant in history, Will Durant, an American historian (1885-1981), ‘The Story of Civilization’, Vol. l Our Oriental Heritage p.459, worte; “The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history, a discouraging tale for its evident moral is that civilisation is a precious thing whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians.”
The struggle of the Hindus to reclaim the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi commenced with the demolition of the Ram temple at Ayodhya by Mir Baqi. For the Hindus the construction of the disputed structure in Ayodhya marked a catastrophic event. The civilsational overlap signified a far deeper and wider conflict than it appeared to be. Babar expressed ecstasy on the destruction of the Ram temple as noted in Babarnama. “For Islam’s sake” he exclaimed, “I wondered in the wilds prepared for war with Pathans and Hindus, resolved myself to meet the martyrs of death. Thanks be to God a Ghazi l became.”
It is believed that in the struggle for the reclamation of Sri Ramjanmabhoomi hundreds of thousands of Hindus lost their lives; seventy seven attempts were recorded to have been made by the Hindus to recover Sri Ramjanmabhoomi from the Muslims. During Akbar’s regime Swami Balram Dhari of Coimbatore raised an army of Hindu youth and mounted twenty attacks to liberate the temple between1556 and 1560. It is estimated that about 300,000 Hindus laid down their lives in addition to an unknown invaders small and big battles fought for the control of temple.
During the regime of Akbar, the Hindus built the Ram Chabutara and rebuilt Sita Ki Rasoi. Ram Chabutara was built near the structure that housed the Garbhagriha, the sanctum, sanctorum of the Ram Mandir destroyed by Babar. Evidently, the Hindus were unable to reconcile themselves with the destruction of the Ram temple and their eviction from the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi where they had worshipped Sri Ram from times immemorial. Incontrovertible evidence is present that the Hindus celebrated Ram Navami at the Ram Chabutara as well as under the domed structure in defiance of the efforts of the Mughal kings. They could not fight the Mughal Sultanate but they defied its authority.
During the British rule, the Hindus attempted to invoke the judicial remedies in the new civil code introduced by the British in India provided to recover Sri Ramjanmabhoomi. Mahant Raghubardas ji appealed to Faizabad Distirct Judge that order be given for re-construction of a temple on the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi. On March18, 1886 the District Judge, an Englishman, passed the following order:
“I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babar stands on the border of Ayodhya that is to say to the west and south. It is clear of habitants. It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to agree with the grievances. All that can be done is to maintain the party in status–quo.”
In 1934, a very serious Hindu-Muslim armed encounter took place in and around disputed structure in Ayodhya over an incident involving cow - slaughter in which many people were killed and the domes of the mosques were damaged. After the incident the authorities repaired the domes and closed the mosque. The British Government recovered the cost of repairs of the mosque by a punitive fine imposed on the Hindus. No namaz was offered in the disputed structure after 1934. Milestones in Ayodhya area were fixed by the British in 1934. In all there were 36 milestones with commemorative inscriptions. On the first of these milestones, installed at Babri mosque was inscribed ‘Janmabhoomi’.
The revenue records as recorded in the village of Ramkot or Kot Ramchandra shows the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi site area as “Janmasthan”.
“During the year 1949 on the night of December 22 and 23, the idol of Sri Ram appeared inside the main structure of the mosque which had remained locked since 1934.”
On 16th January, 1950 Shri Gopal Singh Visharad and Paramhans Ramchandra Das filed two civil suits in the city civil court of Faizabad for injection against removing the idol and performance of the poojas. On January 19, 1950 an interim injunction was granted by an order dated March, 1951, the temporary injection was confirmed. A blanket order prohibiting the removal of the idol granting the petitioner’s right to offer worship before the deity was granted.
A public statement was made by another former Home Minister of India, Dr. Kailash Nath Katju that in the interest of promoting Hindu-Muslim unity in India the Muslims must voluntarily handed over Muslim shrines that had been raised on the sites of Vishwanath temple in Kashi, Sri Ramjanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya and Krishna Janmabhoomi Mathura.
During September 1961, two eminent Indian parliamentarians – Shri Prakash Vir Shastri and Balraj Madhok raised the issue of Sri Ramjanmabhoomi in Lok Sabha. Prof. Madhok, while addressing the Lok Sabha members, referred to Kashmiri Pundits who worshipped the foundation of a great temple which was destroyed during the period of the Muslim Sultanate at the behest of ‘Shah Hamdan.’ A mosque, known after Shah Hamdan, was built on the
foundation of temple. Kashmiri Pundits still worship the riverside edifice of stonework on which the foundation of the temple was laid.
In December 1961, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqfs filed a suit in civil court of Faizabad whether the disputed structure was Waqfs property. On April 26, 1966, the court held: “No notification under section 5(i) of the Muslim Waqf Act Xlll of 1936 was ever made relating to the specific disputed property of the present suits and the alleged Government Gazetteer notification did not comply with the requirements of the valid notification in the eyes of law and serves no useful purpose of the plaintiff of the leading case.”
The litigations initiated by the Hindus in 1950 and ten years later in 1959 and the Waqf board suit filed in 1961 were not settled by the courts. The Hindu Saints gradually lost hope in the judiciary to decide the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi issue. A mass movement was initiated to reclaim the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi. In 1964, on ‘Janma Ashtmi’ Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was formed by Dharamacharys at Sandipan Ashram.
On March 6, 1983 a Virat Hindu Sammelan was organised at Muzzafarnagar. More than one lakh Hindus participated in the Sammelan and it was resolved that the three holiest of holy places of the Hindus, namely; Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura should be returned to Hindus. On Febuary 2, 1984, the Hindu youths under the guidance of Shri Vinay Katiyar formed Bajrang Dal at ‘Valmiki Bhawan’, Ayodhya to strengthen the movement. On April 7 and 8, 1984 the first ‘Dharam Sansad’ took place. Five hundred and twenty-eight saints from all over the country participated in this Dharam Sansad. The Sansad unanimously resolved to liberate Sri Ramjanmabhoomi, Krishan Janmabhoomi and Kashi Vishavnath temple.
Shortly after Saints and VHP formed the Ramjanmabhoomi Mukti Yajna Samiti to campaign for the liberation of Ram Janmabhoomi.
On October 7, 1984, thousands of people assembled on the banks of the Saryu in Ayodhya and took a vow for liberation of the birthplace of Sri Ram. They also demanded opening of the locks of the temple. On October 23, 1985 the Ramjanmabhoomi Mukti Yajna Samiti declared that the saints would forcibly break open the locks to liberate the janmabhoomi if the locks were not removed and the place of worship was not thrown open by Shivaratri, i.e. March 8, 1986. This ultimatum was repeated on January 19, 1986 from Lucknow. On February 1, 1986 the district court at Faizabad passed an order directing the government of Uttar Pradesh to open the locks of the disputed structure. The court further directed that the government should not impose any restriction or create any hurdle in the “Darshan” of Sri Ram or daily pooja performed by the Hindu community.
With the re-opening of the locks of the disputed structure, Ram Bhakts thronged the temple and streams of pilgrims started pouring into Ayodhya every day. Meanwhile, VHP approached the government for the allotment of the sixty acre site adjacent to Sri Ramjanmabhoomi for the construction of a cultural and educational centre.
Between the year 1970 and 1980 the Education Ministry of the Government of India drew up a plan to excavate the places of sanctity pertaining to Ramayana and to ascertain the age of Ramayana. The excavation was conducted under the guidance of Prof. B.B. Lal who was at one time the Director of Archaeology in India and enjoyed the reputation of being one of the ten most celebrated and reputed archaeologists in the world. Out of seventeen places of excavation in Ayodhya, Prof. B.B. Lal selected “Janamsthal” ‘Garbhgrih’ as one of the sites for excavation. Deep excavation was carried on the back of the site. Prof.B.B. Lal reported:
- The foundation stones (Adharastambhas) of the pillars dating back to 10th century and 11th century were found.
- Fourteen pillars (stambhas) of black shishtaj kasauti stones were found fixed up in Sri Janmabhoomi temple. These foundation stones were in a particular direction. The pillars in Ram Janmabhoomi temple could be compared with the pillars of the Pratihar style in temples of Kannuj built by Gharwal kings of the 11th century. The pillars and their foundations belonged to 11th century.
May 12, 1986, the Sunni Waqf board filed another suit for the cancellation of the order given by the District Judge on lst Febuary 1986. But the court refused to intervene. On lst July, 1989, one of the vice presidents of the VHP filed an application on behalf of ‘Ramlala’ and the court declared the Vice President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad as the next guardian of the deity at Ayodhya. All suits were transferred to the High Court in July 1988. In November 1989, the full bench of the Allahabad High Court held that “it is doubtful that some of the questions involved in the suit are soluble by judicial process.”
On February 14, 1986 the Muslims observed a ‘black day’ in order to express their resentment against the opening of the locks of the disputed structure in Ayodhya. Anti-Hindu riots broke out in South Kashmir, which resulted in the demolition of 55 Hindu temples. On February 15, 1986, the Babri Masjid Action Committee was constituted. On March 30, 1987 a large rally was organised by Babri Masjid Action Committee at the Boat Club in Delhi. Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi made a highly provocative speech in the rally. Some of the Muslim leaders threatened that they would take recourse to violence in protest against the opening of the Janma Sathan for darshan. Soon afterwards the Government decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GOM) to suggest steps for resolving the issue. The events which took place from 1984 to 1989, reveal that Ayodhya Movement had become a sensitive political issue, and a mass movement.
In June, 1989 the executive meeting of the Bhartiya Janata Party was held at Palampur. A decision was taken in the executive meeting to support the Ayodhya Movement and the construction of the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya. On February 8, 1990 the leaders of Ayodhya movement met the Prime Minister of India on his invitation. He assured them that the problem would be solved within four months. But nothing happened. On June 23-24, 1990 the saints met at Haridwar and decided that Kar Sewa for the construction of the temple would start from Devotthan Ekasdasi day on October 30, 1990. Bharatiya Janata Party president, Shri L.K. Advani announced his plan on 12th September, 1990 for a 10,000 km. Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya starting on September 25, 1990 and reaching Ayodhya on October 30, 1990 to join the Kar Sewa. The Rath Yatra was a great success and it received tremendous response everywhere. On October 30, 1990, the Kar Sevaks, who were approaching Sri Ramjanmabhoomi, were subjected to ruthless firing. More than 50 Kar Sevaks died and hundreds were injured.
On September 30, 1991, Dr. M.P. Sharma, an advocate, appealed to the High Court (Lucknow Bench) that fresh excavation by Archaeological Department Government of India be conducted to establish that Sri Ramjanmabhoomi temple existed on the site where disputed structure was constructed. On June 18, 1992 when the ground near the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi was being levelled, a most starting archaeological discovery was made. At a depth of about 12 feet from the ground level near the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi temple towards the south and beyond the fencing, a big hoard of beautifully carved buff sandstone piece was located in a large pit dug down below the old level. The experts who visited the site on behalf of the academic organisation (The Historian’s Forum) on of July 2 and 3, 1992 were of the unanimous view that the temple to which these fragments belonged to was of the developed ‘Nagara’ form of the ancient temple architecture, which was current in northern India during the period after 900 AD and before 1200 AD. Many more stone sculptures of that period were found at the site. Art objects of burnt clay belonging to the earlier periods such as the Kushana (1st-3rd century) were also found. These images belong to various Hindu gods and goddesses.
There was an attempt to sort out the Aodhya issue bilaterally. But the talks between VHP and Masjid groups failed on October 29, 1992. It was decided in the 5th Dharma Sansad organised in Delhi on October 30, 1992 that symbolic Kar Sewa would be restarted from 6th December to December 10, and to commence the construction from December 11, 1992 after the High Court judgment was delivered . The judgment was expected in December 1991, then in July 1992, then in November 1992 and finally on December 4, 1992 but was again postponed till December 11, 1992. An unprecedented number of over 100,000 Kar Sewaks reached Ayodhya by December 5, 1992 which was the day of Gita Upadesh by Sri Lord Krishna to Arjuna. In a sudden development on December 6, 1992, the disputed structure was demolished by the Kar Sewaks and Ramlala was re-established in the place where he had been originally established. Kar Sewaks wanted to replace the makeshift temple by a permanent temple at Sri Ramjanmabhoomi. A few hours after the demolition of the Babri mosque, the Uttar Pradesh Government was dissolved. There was tension all over the country. As many as 77 temples in Kashmir were desecrated and destroyed. In Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Indian embassies and Hindu and Sikh places of worship were attacked. The Government of India told the Indian Parliament that as many as 148 Hindu temples and cultural centres were destroyed in Pakistan, 350 In Bangladesh, 4 in Afghanistan and 18 in United Kingdom.
When the disputed structure in Ayodhya was demolished many pieces and splinters of artifacts which were embedded in its walls were recovered from the debris. The artifacts provided incontrovertible evidence that the disputed structure was built on the remains of a Hindu temple. They also provided epigraphic evidence which confirmed that the temple which was destroyed and on which the Babri Mosque was built was a Ram temple where Sri Ram was worshipped.
T.P. Verman of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) issued a press release in respect of evidences found in debris of the demolished structure at Ayodhya. “The antiquities found during the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 got wide publicity. Beside the one idol of Kodanda Rama which was about 3 feet high carved in white marble and painted black by oil colour, one sculpture of Ganesh and a head of Bhairawa are worthy of mention. But the most important antiques found were the three Sanskrit inscriptions written in Nagri script of 11-12th century AD. This inscription sets at rest the debate whether there was a temple at the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi site before the construction of the mosque by Mir Baqi in 1528. This inscription is on the foundation stone with a Parashasti, an enology of the king who built the temple.”
On May 10, 1993 a draft petition was presented by Veetraga Swami Vamdev ji to the President of India. The petition was drafted by Dharamacharyas. The petition stated, “We are of the definite view that only the temple should be reconstructed at Sri Ramjanmabhoomi at Ayodhya. A mosque can be built beyond the ‘Panchkosi Parikarma’ area.” A total of over 97 million people appended their signatures to the above petition. A total of 2,81,272 villages participated in the signature campaign. Among the signatories, as many as 3, 97,388 were Muslims, while 1, 19,763 were Christians. Apart from the countrywide signature campaign, the Sant Yatra, Sri Ram Jyoti Yatra, Sri Ram Shilla Pujan, the actual Shilanyas by a Harijan and the congregation of hundreds of thousands of Kar Sevaks has no parallel in history.
The excavations carried out by archeologist in Ayodhya following the directives of the Aallahbad High Court from March 5, to August 7, 2003 clearly proved that not one but three temples existed there, built one after another from the seventh century AD to12th century AD. The Babri Moque was built after cutting the pillar bases and the floor of the 12th century temple. Apart from 70 pillar bases, over 100 big pieces of temple remains have been found there. Dr. Gupta, the chairman of the Archeological Survey of India reported that a wide brick wall belonging to a temple of early medieval period (8th to 9th century AD) still exists. The wall of 9th century temple had collapsed due to floods of the Saryu River and a new temple was built in 12th century AD.
The findings date back to 1000 BC. With people who used North Black polished wares. The figurines of female deities and a round signet were found (1000 to 300BC). Artifacts of Kushan era were also found. Traces of the classical artistic elements and a copper coin with legend of Sri Chandra Gupta were also found (4700-6000 AD). Remains of a circular brick shrine similar to Chiranath temple excavated at Shravasti and Shiva temple in Madhya Pradesh (700-1000 AD) were found at the site. The remains of a fifty metre structure constructed but short lived were also found at the site. On these remains was built a massive three floor structure (1100-1200 AD).
The archeological remains found at the site provide enough evidence that a temple existed at the Janamsthan, which was demolished and on the remains of which the disputed structure was constructed. The official records and references in historical sources, the archeological evidence and the reference in European travelogues prove beyond doubt the historicity of the demolition of the Ram Temple and the construction of the disputed structure over its foundations. The most vital part of the history of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi is the race memory of the Hindu society of its devotion to Sri Ram and the psychological hurt it suffered due to the destruction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.
Sri Ram is the incarnation of Sri Vishnu and he trod the sacred grounds there in Ayodhya. All logical reductionism is a negation of history and the truth in its womb. The tradition handed down from one generation to another generation of the Hindus who lived and died under the subjection of the Muslim rule is an inseparable part of the history of the Indian civilisation. The struggle for the reclamation of the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi is also an inseparable part of the history of the Indian civilisation.
(Excerpts from the book ‘Sri Ram Temple Movement’ published by Vidya Gauri Prakashan, Delhi)