Ayodhya Dispute-II: A Timeline of Events

This article will highlight the impeccable scholarship of pro Ram Janma Bhoomi team on Ayodhya and the struggles they had to go through.

Between writing Part I and Part II of this series, I came across this article by Deepanjana Pal on a documentary by Anand Patwardhan on Babri-RJB episode named Ram ke naam. And trust me, it has all the ingredients highlighted in part I of series. There are emotions between lies and more emotions and more lies, which makes this Part II of the series all the more important. Here, I wish to highlight the impeccable scholarship of pro Ram Janma Bhoomi team and the struggles they had to go through.

The most vocal Babri campaigner, Professor Irfan Habib would want you to believe that the claim to Babri site “started only after 1934 riots”. Prof Romila Thapar would want to convince you that “divine or semi divine being worshipped by group” should not claim land by declaring it birthplace all of a sudden.  25 JNU historians led by Professor S. Gopal and Bipin Chandra would force to intervene because “beliefs claim the legitimacy of history”. Professor R.S Sharma would proclaim that Hindus in medieval times did not perceive invaders in “purely religious or Islamic terms” and that the archaeologists got caught in communal trap. Professor Sharma also would try to convince you that Ayodhya “neither appears as a place with a temple of Rama nor as a place of pilgrimage for to the Hindus”. “Not a shred of evidence” for Shri Ram Janma Bhumi.

How then did the court decide to grant the decision in favour of Ram lala? The answer to this is long, but has been summarized here.

Time Period – Before CE 1

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • Terracotta showing Sita mata being carried away by Ravana got buried in Kaushambi to be later excavated and be dated around 2nd century BC.
  • Shri Rama story from Rishyashringa Jataka, on a Bharhut medallion and another Sama Jataka at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh dated to 2nd century BC

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • Preparing to deny “Rama cult” before 13th century.

Time Period – 1st to 12th Century CE

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • Even if we completely ignore oral history, establishment of name of Shri Rama was complete by 4th century.
  • Valmiki in 3rd century, Kalidasa in 4th century, Prabhavatigupta queen (daughter of Chandragupta II) were all documenting Raam katha or praising Shri Rama in their literature.
  • Parvarsena II in 5th century (Paunar, Wardha), Chandela King Dhanga in 10th century (Khajuraho), Parantaka I in 10th century (Chingleput, Tamil Nadu) were all building temples depicting scenes from Shri Rama Katha.
  • Terrocotta got buried In Kachchi Kuti (in district of Gonda and Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh) to be later excavated and be dated around 5th century AD.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, the whole of India was building temples, pillars, coins or statues in Shri Rama’s name to be used as sculptural evidence later.
  • It was being recorded that all this is being done for Lord of Ayodhya / Koshalraj / Shri Rama through proper literary documentation, kavya, samhitas and architectural inscriptions, engravings and seals.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • Preparing to deny “Rama cult” before 13th century. If anything, they were collecting Jain, Buddhist and other sources where the description of Ayodhya was Saket [even this was refuted later] or which were para-Ramayanas.
  • Ayodhya slipped from under the Pratihara kings (9th century) to Mahmud Ghaznavi (11th century). Rashtrakutas regained power but again fell to Muhammad Ghori in 12th century.
  • Leftists had not imagined then that the major blow to the future Idea of India will come from this period. Within half a century of death of Mahmud Ghaznavi, Gahadavalas had initiated a major temple re-building programme at Ayodhya, most important of them being – Chandra Hari, Vishnu Hari and Dharma Hari temples.

Time period 12th to 15th century CE

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • Shri Rama katha in regional languages, orally as well as in writing spread on the outskirts of Delhi sultanate. The power packed Kodanda-Rama gained massive popularity in the south.
  • In 13th century Dharmanibandha (law code) by Hemadri (minister, Devagiri Kingdom) provided liturgical instructions for worshipping Shri Rama as incarnation.
  • The Chalukya/Solanki King Jayasimha Siddharth (Gujarat), Prithviraja III (Ajmer) and several other Hindu kings styled themselves as Rama incarnates or adopted terminology vowing to exterminate the invading ‘mlechhanam’. There is no dearth of literature or archaeological evidence from this period that Ayodhya-Naresh Shri Rama was worshipped throughout India.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • This was the main period of Islamization by the invaders and it would be incorrect to call them explorers because they were not willing to assimilate. Building temples was precluded, so no major temple of significance came up till 18th century where Ghori, Lodhi, Mughals, etc. ruled.
  • Between 28th March 1528 to 18th September same year, Babar stayed near Ayodhya as per his memoirs. It is said that Babri masjid was created during this period.
  • Belief is pir Fazl Abbas Musa Ashikhan goaded Babar to demolish mandir and raise mosque instead. Two pillars present on pir’s grave in Ayodhya resemble 14 pillars inside Babri. New janmasthan temple was built north of Babri masjid.

Time Period 16th to 18th century CE

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • Efforts to reclaim temple space kept stirring rigorously. Todar Mal, Marathas, Rajputs, Jaisinghpuras and several other kings kept seeking opportunities to rebuild the lost temples, including in Ayodhya and occupy the lost dignity.
  • In 18th century, the Kapad dwar collection having at least 8 maps of Ayodhya got created. These maps would go long way in proving Shri Ram Janma Bhumi. In one of the maps the temple of Shri Rama is discretely marked, in another map the palaces, kunds, ram kot, vedis, chabutra, Seeta chowki etc. are clearly marked. The marking of chhathi denoting the birthplace is present in another.
  • William Finch, foreign traveler from 1608 to 1611 AD (arrived 80 years after Babar) noted high reverence placed on Ayodhya by the Hindus. He does not note anywhere namaz being offered.
  • Tieffenthaler (1766-1771) mentions destruction of mandir, Hindus worshipping vedi, celebrating Rama navami, 14 black stone pillars of temple, 12 black stone pillars of mosque, location of Janmasthan where Hindus prostrate after 3 parikrama. He too does not mention Muslims offering namaz.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • The BMAC experts later would proclaim the following:
    • Rama cult is a 13th century phenomenon
    • Babri masjid is built on virgin land
    • It is a Doordarshan’s Ramayana serial inspired non-righteous demand
    • VHP and Hindus are fueling communal hatred
    • Location of Ram Janma Bhumi is not known
  • Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Oudh, sent purcha to British resident, Major James Outram containing 5 documents which said Delhi’s king built temple and Hindus had accepted they would be “meddling with the mosque” (1722-1739)
  • British officials noting Nawab and others’ actions in conflict in Hanumangarhi in 1855

Time Period – 18th century CE

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • British commissioners, officials compiling historical and topographical data noted Ayodhya as “Hindu city”.
    • Carnegy wrote “It is locally affirmed that at the Mahomedan conquest there were three important Hindu shrines… at Ayodhya” These were the Janmsthan, the Sargadwar mandir and Treta ka Thakur.
    • (Sir) H.M, Elliot noted “on the first of these Babar built the mosque which still bears his name…”
  • British accounts talk at length about most sacred spot being destroyed and the bitterness this caused. These were written to be used as exhibits later.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • Leftists would later accuse the colonial historians and archaeologists for setting “the communal trap” (Prof. R.S. Sharma). They would say
    • Ayodhya “always had cosmopolitan attitude”
    • British writings are suspicious
    • “Birth place temple of Rama” has become “strongly entrenched in the psyche..” implying that it is merely a faith that needs to be dislodged
    • British writers were “not impartial” when they “insisted” on calling Babri masjid the Janmasthan

Time Period – 19th Century CE

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • Hindus continue to claim the site. Large crowds kept visiting Ayodhya particularly on occasions like Rama Navami.
  • Rajab Ali Beg Surur in Fasanah-I-Ibrat in 1860 stated how mosque was created by Babar’s regime on the spot of Sita ki rasoi as it was religious rule to “put a stop to blasphemous practices”.
  • First available record on contest at the site is a report dated 28th November 1858, by Sheetal Dubey, thanedar of Oudh describing Nihang organizing “Havan and Puja of Guru Gobind singh and erected a symbol of Sri Bhagvan, within the premises of the Masjid”. 25 sikhs were also stated present at the “Mandir Janam Asthan”.
  • There are several records of the litigations (Kehm Dass, Mahant Raghubar Das), reports and follow-up orders generated in this time which would help the Pro-RJB lawyers later.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • Muhammad Asghar wrote to British govt. in 1858 complaining “Fire has been lit there for light and Home is continuing there. In whole of this masjid, ‘Ram Ram’ has been written with coal.” He stated the ‘Janamsthan had been lying desolate, where Hindus had been worshipping for hundreds of years’.
  • On his complaint, thanedar was suspended and fined, the newly constructed chabutra demolished and Hindus ousted. This was the irrefutable proof that Hindus prayed in and around the Masjid that Leftists would deny in 21st century.
  • In 1861 Mir Rajib Ali, in 1866 Muhammad Afzal would claim things like imli trees, removal of Charan paduka, erection of new door near wall of RJB etc. that would go on describing the layout, accessories, Murtis , chulha, yagya vedi etc. at RJB. Leftist historians would later confirm not coming across these or other land records.

Time Period – 20th century Pre-Independence

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • 1912 riots broke out in Ayodhya and adjoining Faizabad on the issue of cow slaughter on Bakr-Id. According to Dist Magistrate “the reason why cow slaughter was started in 1910 was probably because Mohammadans were annoyed at the order of Government … and determined to sacrifice cows … with the object of establishing a precedent”
  • Constant cause of friction, strained relations kept being mentioned in government records, Home Department.
  • The contract for the construction and repair work of the masjid was awarded by the order dated 12th May 1934. Several engraving, construction elements of masjid as we see today come from this event from 1934-1935.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • Leftists would later argue that the claim to RJB started only after 1934.
  • Professor Romila Thapar said that the court observing that only Friday prayers were offered and outer courtyard was out of Muslim control etc. from these records is “annulled respect for history and seeks to replace History with religious faith”.

Time Period – 20th century Post-Independence to Pre-Babri demolition

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • On 20th July 1949, Kehar Singh, Deputy Secretary of the UP Government, wrote to S.S. Hasan, Commissioner, Faizabad to erect “a decent and vishal temple instead of a small one that exists at present”. In a letter to Chief Secretary dated 26th December 1949, Bhagwan Sahai pointed to the tremendous cost of tax payer for policing “a deserted and almost unused mosque permanently”.
  • In another letter dated 2nd December 1949, K.K.K. Nayar said the Commissioner had given him scheme to surreptitiously remove the idol from the mosque and that this idea was “fraught with gravest danger to public peace… Hindus are ready to kill and die in the cause”. The solution he offered was to exclude both Hindus and Muslims with exceptions of pujaris, who can offer bhog and puja to the Murtis.
  • 1969-1970 Department of Archaeology of Banaras Hindu University conducted excavations at Ayodhya under Professor A.K. Narain. Excavations revealed that the first occupation of Ayodhya could be ascribed to the early Seventh century BC.
  • Between 1975 and 1980, Professor B.B. Lal undertook the project- Archaeology of Ramayana Site and published summary in Indian Archaeology 1976-1977 –A review.
  • 1980s – VHP and other Hindu nationalist groups launched collective campaign to construct RJB mandir.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • Leftists (quotes from Suraj Bhan, People’s democracy 3rd March 1911) would argue, of course, without research and only to be discredited later that:
    • Stone pillars forming part of Masjid structure is “absolutely unfounded”
    • Carvings of pillars don’t “specifically relate to Rama temples”
    • Structure collapsed by itself anytime between 11th century and 1528 for the pillars to be re-used in Babri Masjid
  • [And this one is the best] Even if “hypothetically speaking, some remains of a Rama temple were found below Babri masjid, wrongs of past cannot be rectified today.”
  • Apart from obnoxious and ill-founded moral high ground, leftists were preparing to provide absolutely nothing well researched in the legal arguments. They were however dishing out books, pamphlets, opinion-editorials and conferences and seminars condemning the communal historians.

Time Period – 20th century Post-Independence to 1989

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

    • September 1990, L.K. Advani started rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. Rajiv Gandhi invited representatives of BMAC and VHP and evidence of both sides were presented on 26th December to his government and exchanged.
    • On 10th January 1991, it was decided that the evidence would be divided under four heads – History, Archaeology, revenue records and law. This is where deep study of each of the above mentioned records came together.
    • June 1992, more archaeological findings came forward during leveling the ground at Ayodhya.
    • In 1992, booklet from Pro-RJB side was published containing pictures of pillar bases (size of bases was an important and definitive evidence in archeological findings which would destroy “pillars were brought from outside” argument)
    • No progress was made other than exchange of evidence. Leftist Historians who were ready with 42 academics few weeks back in signing a statement that there was absolutely no proof of a pre-existing temple at Babri site, at the exchange of evidence kept demanding more and more time to evaluate the evidences.
    • Till December 1992 BMAC representatives stayed away from talks.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

    • Professor Irfan Habib accused B.B. Lal of being “prophet” of the movement, indicted him of being inspired by Biblical archaeology.
    • 13th May 1991 Left Historians who had participated as BMAC experts regretted in writing to the government that they were doing negotiations with the VHP.
    • Prof. D Mandal stated that those were not pillar bases but walls. The 14 stone pillars were decorative pieces and not load-supporting pillars. Based only on pillar base pictures (and no individual research) concluded that mosque was built on an open space. They said that the June 1992 evidence was planted (although it was proven to be done under required supervision).
    • On 8th November 1992, they stated “…despite our frantic and continuous search for presence of temple at Babri site for last twenty-two months, so far we have not been favoured with any luck”

 

 

    • Till December 1992 BMAC representatives stayed away from talks.
    • On 6th December 1992 Babri masjid was demolished.

 

 

Time Period – Post Babri Demolition

Pro – Rama Janma Bhumi researchers

  • 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 Ayodhya controversy once and for all. It was THE PROOF that a temple lay beneath the masjid. Professor 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) and Dashanana (Ravana)
  • On being asked by Home ministry and Allahabad High court, Dr K.V. Ramesh, former Director of Epigraphy, ASI 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 – to have been stolen in 1953 and to be kept hidden till 1992.
  • In 2003 Special Bench of Allahabad High court directed Archaeological Survey of India to undertake excavations at Ram Janma Bhumi, revealing remains from beneath the disputed site.
    • 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.
    • Pillar bases were important find (and their size was an important evidence that the pillars once stood at them and that the pillars were not independent adornments)
    • Foundations, trenches, and nearly 50 pillar bases were found from the excavations and the structure was definitely not for residential use, but public use purpose
    • Glazed ware shards and glazed tiles at each successive levels were found during excavations.
    • Structural plan had garbha griha, mandapa, ardha mandapa and wide mandapa- distinctive feature of Hindu temples.
    • C14 dating dates Level 1 (lowest level excavated) remains to as back as 13th Century BCE strengthening the Hindu belief that itihasa of Shri Rama is older than that of Shri Krishna and Hastinapur.
    • In short, ASI concluded temple existed for long before Babri mosque.
  • Earlier form of Ram Chabutra excavated, which appeared to match the description of Joseph Tieffenthaler.

Left Historians and BMAC researchers

  • On ASI excavations, Leftists argued court is giving “tacit judicial recognition” to the principle that monument could be destroyed if there were grounds for assuming that a religious site of other community had previously stood at the site.

It was also time for historians and archaeologists to try to discredit the find. Sample this:

  • D Mandal without seeing the inscription said “it may or may not be fake”
  • Leftists hitherto saying Saketa is different from Ayodhya started saying the precise location is doubtful. Prof Mandal pronounced “If it is a genuine inscription and if the information as contained therein is correctly interpreted, in that case, the temple as referred to should be looked for somewhere else, as there was no temple at the site of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya…”(New Age, 11-17 April 1999). He offered absolutely no reason for this reasoning.
  • Sita Ram Roy (“without seeing the photograph, estampage of the inscription or its decipherment”) stated etymologically the terms Vishnu Hari both mean Vishnu, so they cannot connote Lord Vishnu, “rather it signifies an individual person named Vishnu Hari”. Roy also stated mandir could also mean dwelling house or palace and not temple because Devalaya means temple.
  • Dr. K.M. Shrimali said “capabilities of modern day stone cutters and carvers should neither be underestimated nor denied”.
  • Irfan Habib in People’s democracy, 2002 declared “certainly a plant as far as mosque is concerned” and the slab is in “mint-fresh condition” and certainly came from “a private collection”. He also later on said the missing inscription No. 53.4 from Lucknow museum is the slab
  • Prof Habib’s critique came even before the ASI report, accused ASI of “deliberately ignoring mosque below the Babri mosque” and “wish to find…the remains of temple”. He said pillar bases could be low stalls for shops, and condemned report as “an unprofessional document, full of gross omissions , one sided presentations of evidence, falsification and motivated inferences”
  • Other leftists too questioned the registers, entries, supervisor diary and stratigraphy (usually done layer, dynasty or century wise- ASI did all three), makara pranala, circular shrine, glazed tiles etc. that were made. None of these stood counter-questions.
  • Idgah or qanati was alleged to be beneath the temple, to which court observed surprise at the possibility. Later Suraj Bhan disclosed to court that it was done to counter the “propaganda” of temple remains.

While writing this piece I had to force myself to stop somewhere. The matter is in Supreme Court and several other articles can explain the judgment of Allahabad High Court. This part was written only to highlight how real and fake historians, archaeologists, epigraphists, numismatics expert and lawyers work. While real independent researchers were going through thousands of documents, land records, Itihasa, epics, granthas, archives of administration letters, foreign travelers’ records, Babarnama, invader’s records, court records, and sculptural and archaeological evidences; the fake researchers were intellectualizing the conflict and pouring an unhealthy dose of Nehruvian secularism into masses through main stream media. While real researchers toiled, leftist historians personally attacked Prof B.B Lal and others of professional dishonesty.

The number of articles dished out by the Leftist Historians on Babri is huge and the quotes one can get surprised at are countless. If we carefully observe the dates, at each successive massive blow to the “Idea of India” brigade in the court by the knowledgeable pro-RJB experts, pro Babri Historians were again writing their busted in court lies as facts. They were accepting in court that the virgin land under Babri was their reactive lie, yet were again pushing same virgin land theory in their op-eds. They were being discredited left, right and centre in the court through the legal records, land records, literary and archaeological evidences, yet they kept the reigns of media narrative in their hands. How and why? You tell me.

Irfan Habib had said “a purely Muslim kind of structure is being appropriated as a Hindu one” and called this “a regular part of the VHP kind of propagandist archaeology rather than report from a body called Archaeological Survey of India”.

References

Jain, Meenkashi 2013 Rama and Ayodhya, Aryan Book International

Decision of Hon’ble Special Full Bench hearing Ayodhya Matters, http://elegalix.allahabadhighcourt.in/elegalix/DisplayAyodhyaBenchLandingPage.do

People’s Democracy http://peoplesdemocracy.in/

Ritika Sharma works in Pharmaceutical industry and is a Management grad. Her interests at present are consumer behaviour, management, and politics.