Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Ayodhya Issue: A Summary of the History of the Ram Temple

 Hindus have always known that the site on which Babur built his infamous structure which has been erroneously regarded as a mosque was the site where Shree Raama, Vishnu Incarnate, took birth in human form. The fact that this building did not have minarets, or a water-pool for mandatory ritual pre-prayer ablutions, is evidence that this building was not a mosque. It was built as a monument to celebrate the subjugation of the people of Hindusthan by the incoming invaders. This structure, just like the Qutab Minar in Delhi , was established as a monument to pronounce publicly ‘Quvat-ul- Islam’ – the might of Islam.

 Hindus fought and sacrificed their lives to prevent the demolition of the holy temple at Ayodhya by Babur, and on many occasions since then have attempted to regain that site back to rebuild the temple that had been there.

 During the 20th Century, particularly around the time of Partition and thereafter, the demand for this site to be restored to Hindus was thwarted by politicians, impelled by their need to ‘not upset’ the Muslim community. The myth was created and perpetuated that Hindus were bent upon ‘subjugating Muslims’ and wanting to ‘destroy their mosques’. The reality is far from it. Hindus have always supported the concept of freedom of religious belief and expression. There are well over a million mosques in India , with many more regularly being added to that number with the passage of time. Hindus have not sought to damage or destroy these mosques, despite the fact that over the centuries numerous Hindu temples and holy shrines were destroyed by the Muslim rulers. Of these, they hold three sites as amongst the holiest – Ayodhya, the birthplace of Shree Raama, Mathura , the birthplace of Shree Krishna, and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi . They have made it clear that these three sites must be restored to the Hindus devotees.

 The judicial process for the restoration of the Ayodhya site has been dragging on in the courts for decades, the court’s judgement being delayed for one reason or another, year in and year out. The brief account given in the attached document illustrates that.

 One of the latest developments was the directive given to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) by the Indian Government and the Supreme Court to undertake excavations at the disputed site to find out whether there is any evidence in support of the existence of a temple at the disputed site. The report from the ASI is also attached as a PDF file, and speaks for itself.

What should have been a straightforward case has been made into a complex issue, with political dimensions attached to it. A verdict is now expected to be given this month. Hindus earnestly hope and pray that the courts, not succumbing to political pressure, and taking account of facts, will pronounce their judgement that does justice to the sentiments and aspirations of the Hindu community.


The Archaeological Survey of India Report

        The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated the mosque site at the direction of the Allahabad Bench of the Uttar Pradesh high court in 2003. The archaeologists reported evidence of a large 10th century structure similar to a Hindu temple having pre-existed the Babri Masjid. A team of 131 labourers including 29 Muslims - who were later on included on the objections of the Muslim side- was engaged in the excavations. In June 11, 2003 the ASI issued an interim report that only listed the findings of the period between May 22 and June 6, 2003. In August 2003 the ASI handed a 574-page report to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.

        The ASI, who examined the site, issued a report of the findings of the period between May 22 and June 6, 2003. This report stated:

“Among the structures listed in the report are several brick walls ‘in east-west orientation’, several ‘in north-south orientation’, ‘decorated coloured floor’, several ‘pillar bases’, and a ‘1.64-metre high decorated black stone pillar (broken) with vaksha figurines on four corners’ as well as "Arabic inscription of holy verses on stone" Earlier reports by the ASI, based on earlier findings, also mention among other things a staircase and two black basalt columns ‘bearing fine decorative carvings with two crosslegged figures in bas-relief on a bloomed lotus with a peacock whose feathers are raised upwards’.

        The excavations give ample traces that there was a mammoth pre-existing structure beneath the three-domed Babri structure. Ancient perimeters from East to West and North to South have been found beneath the Babri fabrication. The bricks used in these perimeters predate the time of Babur. Beautiful stone pieces bearing carved Hindu ornamentations like lotus, Kaustubh jewel, alligator facade, etc., have been used in these walls. These decorated architectural pieces have been anchored with precision at varied places in the walls. A tiny portion of a stone slab is sticking out at a place below 20 feet in one of the pits. The rest of the slab lies covered in the wall. The projecting portion bears a five-letter Dev Nagari inscription that turns out to be a Hindu name. The items found below 20 feet should be at least 1,500 years old. According to archaeologists about a foot of loam layer gathers on topsoil every hundred years. Primary clay was not found even up to a depth of 30 feet. It provides the clue to the existence of some structure or the other at that place during the last 2,500 years.

        More than 30 pillar bases have been found at equal spans. The pillar-bases are in two rows and the rows are parallel. The pillar-base rows are in North-South direction. A wall is superimposed upon another wall. At least three layers of the floor are visible. An octagonal holy fireplace (Yagna Kund) has been found. These facts prove the enormity of the pre-existing structure. Surkhii has been used as a construction material in our country since over 2000 years and in the constructions at the Janma Bhumi Surkhii has been extensively used. Molded bricks of round and other shapes and sizes were neither in vogue during the middle ages nor are in use today. It was in vogue only 2,000 years ago. Many ornate pieces of touchstone (Kasauti stone) pillars have been found in the excavation. Terracotta idols of divine fugurines, serpent, elephant, horse-rider, saints, etc., have been found. Even to this day terracotta idols are used in worship during Diwali celebrations and then put by temple sanctums for invoking divine blessings. The Gupta and the Kushan period bricks have been found. Brick walls of the Gahadwal period (12th Century CE) have been found in excavations.

        Nothing has been found to prove the existence of residential habitation there. The excavation gives out the picture of a vast compound housing a sole distinguished and greatly celebrated structure used for divine purposes and not that of a colony or Mohalla consisting of small houses. That was an uncommon and highly celebrated place and not a place of habitation for the common people. Hindu pilgrims have always been visiting that place for thousands of years. Even today there are temples around that place and the items found in the excavations point to the existence of a holy structure of North Indian architectural style at that place.

Radar search

        In the January 2003, Canadian geophysicist Claude Robillard performed a search with a ground-penetrating radar. The survey concluded the following: "There is some structure under the mosque. The structures were ranging from 0.5 to 5.5 meters in depth that could be associated with ancient and contemporaneous structures such as pillars, foundation walls, slab flooring, extending over a large portion of the site".

        Claude Robillard, the chief geophysicist stated the following: "There are some anomalies found underneath the site relating to some archaeological features. You might associate them (the anomalies) with pillars, or floors, or concrete floors, wall foundation or something. These anomalies could be associated with archaeological features but until we dig, I can't say for sure what the construction is under the mosque."

        The final ASI report of August 25, 2003 stated that there was evidence of a large Hindu temple having pre‐existed the Babri mosque. 

        Midway into the excavations the courts ordered the removal of the head of the ASI excavations for not following the excavation norms.  

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