Revisiting Ram Janmabhoomi – Part III
This post contains further references and evidence supporting the presence of a ShriRam Mandir at the disputed site. In the next part, I will strive to summarise evidence exchanged between VHP and AIBMAC in 1991. I believe the VHP subsequently submitted a rejoinder in reponse to AIBMAC’s evience but the the AIBMAC did not do so – I am not absolutely certain of this though so if any of you have more information, please do leave a comment below.
First some excerpts from a summary of the archeological evidence (source):
1. The Babri structure had 14 pillars made of ‘Kasauti’ black stone with Hindu images. Also inside the Babri compound was a piece of a door jamb with images of ‘Mukut-dhari Dwarpal’ and ‘Devakanyas’. Iconographical evaluation of these pillars and the door jamb by Dr. S. P. Gupta (former Director of Allahabad Museum) showed that these belonged to a Hindu temple of the 11 th Century A.D. when the Garhwal Kings of Kanauj ruled Ayodhya.
2. Between 1975 and 1980 Prof. B. B. Lal (the then Director General of Archaeological Survey of India) conducted an excavation behind the Babri structure. The excavation showed pillar bases of burnt bricks (of the preexisting temple). The most beautiful pottery dated around 8 th-9th Century B.C. was also found.
3. On June 18 th 1992, when the ground near the Ram Janma Bhoomi was being levelled, at a depth of 12 ft, several beautifully carved buff sandstone objects were found. These objects included images of Vaishnav divinities with one ‘Chakrapurush’ sculpture also showing ‘Parashuram’ and ‘Balram’, an image of ‘Shiv-Parvati’ (largely broken) and many carved stones such as corner were terrecotta Hindu images of Kushan period (1 st to 3 rd Century A.D.).
These and other objects found during subsequent excavations during July 1992, were found to be members of a Hindu temple complex of about 11 th Century A.D. by a team of 8 eminent archaeologists and historians. The team included Dr. Y. D. Sharma, former Deputy Director General of Archaeological Survey of India, and Prof. B. R. Grover, Director of Indian Council for Historical Research.
4. The destruction of Babri structure on Dec. 6, 1992 revealed many archaeological remains which irrefutably prove that Mir Baqi had incorporated parts of the preexisting temple in the construction of the Babri mosque. The remains include a temple bell, several intricate and detailed carvings, an image of Vishnu, and several other Hindu images.
The principal amongst the findings however is a 2 ft wide by 4.5 ft long buff sandstone tablet ‘SHILA LEKH’ bearing an inscription in ‘Devanagari’ script and Sanskrit language. The ‘Shila lekh’ describes an ancient Ram Mandir existing at Ram Janma Bhoomi at least since the 12 th Century A.D. which was built by a Garhwal king Raja Govindachandra.
The 4 th line of this ‘Shila lekh’ specifically describes a temple of Lord Vishnu (Hari) at the ‘Janma Bhoomi Sthal’. The 15 th line describes it as a massive, magnificent temple dominating the landscape, and with steeples ‘shikhar’ adorned with gold ‘Kalash’. The 17 th line specifically mentions the location as Ayodhya and the ‘Saket Mandal’, while the 19 th line mentions the ‘Vaman Avatar’ and then mentions Ram as the destroyer of evil Ravan.
Second, a video on History of Ayodhya and the Evidence (recommended; 40mins long).
Next, excerpts from Rama-Janmabhumi Temple: Muslim Testimony by Harsh Narain (emphasis added):
All relevant British government records followed by the District Gazetteer Faizabad compiled and published by the Congress Government in 1960 declare with one voice that the so-called Babari mosque at Ayodhya is standing on the debris of a Ramajanmasthan temple demolished by the order of Babar in 1528.
Syed Shahabuddin, JNU historians, and selfstyled ‘secular’ scholars and leaders are hotly contesting that the existence and demolition of such a temple is a myth floated by the British in pursuance of their policy of ‘divide and rule’. Syed Shahabuddin and many Muslim divines go a step further and assert that neither Babar nor any other Muslim for that matter would take into his head to erect a mosque by displacing a temple, for, they argue, such a mosque would not be a mosque in the eyes of the Shari’ah and would be liable to demolition by the Muslims themselves.
…Sayyid Shahabuddin Abdur Rahman, the well known Muslim historian who died in an accident recently, modifies the stand of the Muslim divines thus: ‘It is also thinkable that some mosque was erected close to or at a short distance from a temple demolished for some special reason, but never was a mosque built on the site of a temple anywhere.’ (See his Babri Masjid, 3rd print, Azamgarh: Darul Musannifin Shibli Academy, 1987, p.19.)
As regard the verdict of the Shari’ah, it is true that there are theologico-juristic rulings to the effect that no mosque can be built on land grabbed or illegally/illegitimately acquired. See for example the great Fatawa-i Alamgîrî, Vol. 16, p.214.
But the question is, Do they hold true for land acquired in Jihad as well?
The answer has to be an emphatic ‘No’. The Prophet has made it clear that all land belongs to God or the Prophet (‘Alamu anna’l-arza li’llah-i wa rasul-i-bi), and, obviously, through the Prophet to the Muslims (Bukhari,II, Kitab al-Jihad wa’s-Siyar, Hadith 406).
lqbal puts the following words, in a Persian verse, into the mouth of Tariq, the great conqueror of Spain: Har mulk mulk-i mast ki mulki Kbuda-i mast. That is, all land belongs to the Muslims, because it belongs to their God. Ibn Taymiyyah, the 14th century theologian and jurist, argues that Jihad simply restores lands to the Muslims, to whom they rightly belong. This serves to vouchsafe to them the moral right to extort lands in Jihad from others.
Thus, the argument from the Shari’ah has no leg to stand upon.
Now, I proceed to cite certain purely Muslim sources beyond the sphere of British influence to show that the Babari mosque has displaced a Hindu temple – the Ramajanasthan temple, to be precise -wholly or partly.
First, an indirect evidence. In an application dated November 30, 1858, filed by one Muhammad Ashghar, Khatib and Mu’azzin, Babari Masjid, to initiate legal proceedings against ‘Bairagiyan-i Janmasthan’ the Babari masjid has been called ‘masjid-i Janmasthan’ and the courtyard near the arch and the pulpit within the boundary of the mosque, ‘maqam janmasthan ka’.
The Bairagis had raised a platform in the courtyard which the applicant wanted to be dismantled. He has mentioned that the place of Janmasthan had been lying unkempt/in disorder (parishan) for hundreds of years and that the Hindus performed worship there (maqam Janmashtan ka sad-ha baras se parishan para rahtha tha Ahl-i Hunud puja karte they). See Sayyid Shahabuddin Abdur Rahman, op. cit., pp. 29-30.
…My second document is the Hadiqah-i Shubada by one Mirza Jan, an eyewitness as well as active participant in the Jihad led by Amir Ali Amethawi during Wajid Ali Shah’s regime in 1855 for recapture of Hanuman Garhî (a few hundred yards from the Babari mosque) from the Hindus. The book was ready just after the failure of the Jihad and saw the light of day in the following year, viz. in 1856, at Lucknow. Ra’is Ahmad Jafari has included it as chapter IX in his book entitled Wajid ‘Alî Shah aur Unka Ahd (Lucknow: Kitab Manzil, 1957), after, however, omitting what he considered unnecessary but without adding a word from his side.
Now, let us see what information we gather from it, germane to our enquiry. Mirza Jan states that ‘wherever they found magnificent temples of the Hindus ever since the establishment of Sayyid Salar Mas’ud Ghazi’s rule, the Muslim rulers in India built mosques, monasteries, and inns, appointed mu’azzins, teachers, and store-stewards, spread Islam vigorously, and vanquished the Kafirs. Likewise, they cleared up Faizabad and Avadh, too, from the filth of reprobation (infidelity), because it was a great center of worship and capital of Rama’s father. Where there stood the great temple (of Ramjanmasthan), there they built a big mosque, and, where there was a small mandap (pavilion), there they erected a camp mosque (masjid-i mukhtasar-i qanati). The Janmasthan temple is the principal place of Rama’s incarnation, adjacent to which is the Sita kî Rasoî. Hence,what a lofty mosque was built there by King Babar in 923 A.H. (1528 A.D.), under the patronage of Musa Ashiqan! The mosque is still known far and wide as the Sîta kî Rasoi mosque. And that temple is extant by its side (aur pahlu mein wah dair baqi hai) (p. 247).
It must be borne in mind that Mirza Jan claims to write all this on the basis of older records (kutub-i sabiqah) and contemporary accounts.
My third document is a chapter of the Muraqqah-i Khusrawî, otherwise known as the Tarîqh-i- Avadh, by Shykh Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami (1811-1893), who happened to be an eyewitness to much that happened during Wajid Ali Shah’s regime. The work was completed in 1869 but could not see the light of day for over a century. Only one manuscript of it is extant and that is in the Tagore Library of Lucknow University. A press copy of it was prepared by Dr. Zaki Kakorawi for publication with the financial assistance of the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Memorial Committee, U.P., Lucknow.
The Committee vetoed the publication of its chapter dealing with the Jihad led by Amir Ali Amethawi for recapture of Hanuman Garhî from the Bairagîs, from its funds, on the ground that its publication would not be opportune in view of the prevailing political situation#, with the result that Dr. Kakorawi had to publish the book minus that chapter in 1986, for the first time.
Later, however, he published the chapter separately and independently of any financial or other assistance from the Committee in 1987 from the Markaz-i Adab-i Urdu 137, Shahganj, Lucknow-3, under the title Amîr Alî Shahid aur Markah-i Hanuman Garhî.
It is a pity that, thanks to our thoughtless ‘secularism’ and waning sense of history, such primary sources of medieval Indian history are presently in danger of suppression or total extinction. Dr. Kakorawi himself laments that ‘suppression of any part of any old composition or compilation like this can create difficulties and misunderstandings for future histori ans and researchers‘ (P-3).
Well, what light does our author, Shykh Muhammad Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami, have to throw on the issue of demolition versus non-existence of the Janmasthan temple? The opening paragraph of his book is akin to the passage quoted above from Mirza Jan’s Hadîqah-i Shuhada. I give below the paragraph in the author’s own words, omitting very few details: ‘According to old records, it has been a rule with the Muslim rulers from the first to build mosques, Monasteries, and inns, spread Islam, and Put (a stop to) non Islamic practices, wherever they found prominence (of kufr). Accordingly, even as they cleared up Mathura, Bindraban, etc., from the rubbish of non-Islamic practices, the Babari mosque was built up in 923 (?) A. H. under the patronage of Sayyid Musa Ashiqan in the Janmasthan temple (butkhane Janmasthan mein) in Faizabad-Avadh, which was a great place of (worship) and capital of Rama’s father’ (p.9). .’Among the Hindus it was known as Sîta kî Rasoî(p.10). The passage has certain gaps, thanks to the wretched condition of the manuscript, which I have tried to fill within brackets.
Dr. Kakorawin has appended to the book an excerpt from the Fasanah-i Ibrat by the great early Urdu novelist. Mirza Rajab Ali Beg Surur (1787-1867), which constitutes our fourth documents. It says that ‘a great mosque was built on the spot where Sîta kî Rasoî is situated. During the regime of Babar, the Hindus had no guts to be a match for the muslims. The mosque was built in 923 (?) A. H. under the patronage of Sayyid Mir Ashiqan … Aurangzeb built a mosque on the Hanuman Garhî … The Bairagîs effaced the mosque and erected a temple in its place. Then idols began to be worshipped openly in the Babari mosque where the Sîta kî Rasoî is situated’ (pp.71-72). The author adds that ‘formerly, it is Shykh Ali Hazin’s observation which held good‘ and quotes the following Persian couplet of the Shykh:
Bi-bîn karamat-i butkhanah-i mara aiy Shaikh!
Ki chun kharah shawad khanah-i Khuda garded
Which means: O Shykh! just witness the miracle of my house of idols, which, when desecrated, or demolished, becomes the house of God (a mosque). So, purporting to mean that formerly temples were demolished for construction of mosques, the author, Surur, laments that ‘the times have so changed that now the mosque was demolished for construction of a temple (on the Hanuman Garhî’ (P.72).
The..documentary evidence leads us to certain incontrovertible conclusions, which can be stated as under:
…That there did exist a temple called the temple of Janmasthan at Ayodhya, where Rama is believed to have incarnated and that adjacent to it was what is called Sîta kî Rasoî, which might originally have been part of it….
That, like Muslim rulers who desecrated Mathura, Vrindavana, etc., Babar chose Ayodhya for spread of Islam and replacement of temples by mosques, thanks to its supreme importance as a holy place of the Hindus, and in 1528, under the patronage of Sayyid Mir Ashiqan, got the so called Babari mosque erected in isplacement of the Rama-Janmasthan temple, certain relics of which appear to have persisted at least till 1855.
…That the Babari mosque was also called ‘masjid-i Janmasthan’ and ‘masjid-i Sîta kî Rasoî’ from long before 1855.
… That the Hindus had long been carrying on worship at the Rama-Janmasthana even after the replacement of the Janmasthana temple by the Babari mosque.
…That the foregoing facts are yielded by authentic Muslim records and have not been fabricated by the muchmaligned British to ‘divide and rule’.
This chapter was first published as an article in the Indian Express dated 26 February 1990. Diacritical marks are being added in this Edition (1998).
And finally, a brief summary of findings based on both literary and archaeological/epigraphic evidence (Source: The evidence at Ayodhya: wasted 17 years of Liberhan by N S Rajaram):
1. All the literary sources without exception…are unanimous that a Rama temple existed at the site known since time immemorial as Rama Janmabhumi.
2. Archaeology confirms the existence of temples going back to Kushan times, or about 2000 years. This date may well be extended by future excavations assuming that such excavations will be permitted by politicians.
3. Archaeology records at least two temple destructions: the first in the 12th-13th century; the second, later, in all probability in the 16th. This agrees well with history and tradition that were temple destructions following the Ghorid invasions (after 1192 AD) and restored, and was destroyed again in 1528 by Babar who replaced it with a mosque. This is the famous — or infamous — Babri Masjid that was demolished by kar-sevaks on December 6, 1992.
4. A large inscription discovered at the site dating to 11th-12th century records the existence of numerous temples including a magnificent one in which Hari-Vishnu was honored as destroyer of the ten-headed Ravana. Ayodhya was always known as a temple city.
More to follow in Part IV.
Liberhan: Rock and a hard place by Sandhya Jain
Switch to Hinduism and back by Zia Haq.
# This attitude reminded me of: Lies and Half Truths in the name of National Integration