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Reconstructing Ayodhya History To Decide Who Wins

In the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute, the Muslim claim is weak because their faith in the Babri structure wavered much before it went down on 6 December 1992

The Ayodhya dispute that the polity, society or community heads of the country could not settle has practically slipped out of the highest court of the country as well. From a regular hearing replete with arguments from both sides, it will now seek a resolution through mediation — of course, under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

This is once again the time to ask who gets the disputed plot of land. Going by historical accounts, The Muslim invaders of the early medieval era were so ruthless in demolishing every Hindu structure that came their way since the earliest part of the last millennium that it is unlikely they spared a Ram temple in the Awadh region, situated right in the middle of the territory where the invaders established their rule.

Therefore, Mughal conqueror Babar’s general Mir Baqi might not have been the one who demolished a Hindu temple on the land, which is a matter of dispute in the highest court of the country.

Building and rebuilding in Ayodhya

At the same time, saying that the Hindu claim on the plot is merely by somebody placing an idol in the disputed structure is equally untrue. There were temples — rather than one temple — on the plot, built in different eras of history by different kings.

If one has visited Ellora in Maharashtra, one would know how the area in Ayodhya would have been in ancient India. In Ellora for example, one would find Hindu, Jain, as well as Buddhist temples, monasteries, and palaces, cohabiting.

Aggregate of archaeological findings

While in Ayodhya, the excavated structures did not belong to different faiths, they were built by kings of different eras (1000 BC – 300 BC, 200 BC, 100-300 AD, 320-600 AD, 11th to 12th century). Most probably, one on the ruins of another. Lord Rama was revered but not worshipped back then. These were temples of Vishnu and other structures.

  • 1000 BC-300 BC: Ashokan Brahmi inscriptions in a round signet, terracotta figurines of female deities
  • 200 BC: mother goddess, human and animal figurines in terracotta; beads, hairpins, pottery (includes black slipped, red and grey wares), stone and brick structures
  • 100-300 AD: In terracotta again — human and animal figurines, remnants of beads, bangle fragments, votive tanks, ceramics with redware and large-sized structures of 22 courses
  • 320-600 AD and post-Gupta era: terracotta figurines, a copper coin with the legend Sri Chandra (Gupta), and illustrative potsherds of the Gupta period have been found. A circular brick shrine with an entrance from the east and a provision for a water chute on the northern wall
  • 11th to 12th century: A huge structure of almost 50 m in north-south orientation has been found on this level. Only four of the fifty pillar bases belong to this level. Above this lay a structure with at least three structural phases which had a huge pillared hall

[Source: The Pioneer, article “Ayodhya: Lost and Found” By Sandhya Jain published on 9 September 2003]

Twist in the chronology

At different stages of archaeological excavations, not only the remains of the Hindu structures above but also epitaphs written in Arabic were dug out. This gives rise to the possibility that, when Mir Baqi arrived at the disputed plot, he might have found a Muslim graveyard. That graveyard, in turn, might have been built either after razing a Hindu structure or at a time when the Hindus of the area no longer cared for the temple or whatever existed there. Thereafter, Muslims of the neighbourhood did not care for the graveyard either; if they had, Baqi would be un-Islamic to build a mosque on one.

Possibly, by a process known as aggradation in geography, layers of earth got deposited on the graves, obliterating their view and posing no religious problem in erecting a mosque on the spot.

Nevertheless, by the 19th century, history also tells us that Muslims once again forgot. As they had abandoned the graveyard earlier, they forgot the masjid too. All hell broke loose when some ascetics of the Nirmohi Akhara (one of the three parties to the dispute at the court) claimed Hindu ownership of the place and offered prayers inside the structure in 1853. The protest after ages since the Mughals had virtually collapsed (none in the hierarchy after Aurangzeb was a real emperor) suggests Muslims were sensitive only to the fact that the structure in Ayodhya was their property, which is at the core of the dispute in the court.

Hindus, on the other hand, want the place back for the sake of worship. It is beyond a property for them. The Supreme Court was never equipped to handle this Hindu point of view. If faith is the determinant, Ram Janmabhoomi must go to Hindus.

Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta began his career as a banker with Citibank and then switched to journalism. He has worked with The Statesman, The Pioneer, Swarajya, Hindusthan Samachar, MyNation, etc and established his own media houses Sirf News and Swadharma. His professional career began in 1993. He is a mathematician by training and has acute interest in science and technology, linguistics and history. He is also a Sangeet Visharad.

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