Srijan Foundation organised a talk on Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue, kicking of a series of talks and interviews on this topic at INTACH, Lodhi Estate.
The speaker, Dr. Meenakshi Jain is Ph.D from Delhi Univeristy. She specialises in Cultural Studies. She is presently a member of the Governing Council, ICHR.
Here is the refined transcript of the talk delivered by her.
Dr. Meenakshi Jain:
Most Indians have heard of the controversy at Ayodhya, they know that a temple was destroyed to make way for Babri Masjid but beyond that they have a very hazy idea of the intricacies of the dispute, that means that they are not aware of the way a handful of historians, politicians and religious leaders have manipulated this whole dispute and not allowed a resolution of this issue to take place.
Now, so that means that we need to be aware of the way this dispute has been distorted by Principally left academics, supported by some politicians and religious leaders. Since the time the controversy broke out in the 1990s, the left historians have tried to deny the centrality of Ram and Valmiki Ramayana in the Indian scheme of things. So, they have said that, what have they tried to do, Valmiki Ramayana is not the most important Ramayana, they have projected Buddhist and Jain Ramayana as counters to Valmiki Ramayana and they have said that Ram worship itself was an 18th-19th century phenomenon.
All these points that they have made can be refuted on the basis of work done by Sanskrit scholars. According to these scholars, the Ram Katha or the story of Ram was being recited orally several centuries before the Christian era and they say that Valmiki also wrote his Ramayana several centuries before the common era. Valmiki in his Ramayana says that his work was also recited orally by the sons of Ram, so why does he say this? perhaps it is paying tribute to an ancient tradition of extolling the life of Ram. So this is the first point that I would like to make. the popularity of Ramayana can be judged by the fact that there are over 25 renditions of Ramayana in Sanskrit alone and if we count the vernacular, Ramayana has been told in the vernacular so many times.
According to father Camille Bulcke, there are at least 300 versions of the Ramayana in the various languages, but Valmiki Ramayana is the oldest and the most authoritative version. All other versions derive from Valmiki Ramayana. There is a Sanskrit scholar, V S Suptankar, he compiled the critical edition of the Mahabharata and he said the Ramayana was already known as an ancient work before the Mahabharata assumed it’s present form. So that is the extent of the antiquity of the Ramayana and the popularity of the Ramayana. Now in the second century A.D., there is a Buddhist writer, Kumarlata, he talks about public recitation of the Ramayana, so as early as the second century A.D., we have reference to the public recitation of the Ramayana.
Now, the importance of the Ramayana in Indian civilisation has been emphasized by many religious leaders, public thinkers through the ages and what is the Ramayana? It is a manual of morals, it is to instruct a people in right conduct and right values. It is a national code. Ram is the exemplar of Dharma. Now the message of the Ramayana, it’s a new message of the heroic and the godly in human relations. R C Dutt, in 1899 before he was going to address the Lahore session of the Indian national congress, He wrote English edition of the Ramayana for the benefit of western scholars and in this he said, the Ramayana gives us a true picture of Hindu faith and righteous life. In India the Ramayana is still a living tradition and a living faith, it forms the basis, the moral instructions of a nation and is part of a life of the 100 of billions of people.
C Rajagopalachari, He wrote a version, The Ramayana, it went into the 2nd edition within 6 months of its publications. In the preface he said, one could not understand Hindu Dharm unless one knew Ram, Sita, Bharat, Lakshman, Kumbhkarana, Hanuman. He appealed to the youth to read the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He said there is not a page after reading which one would not emerge with greater courage, stronger will and purer mind. He said the Ramayana is the record of the mind and the spirit of our forefathers, who cared for good ever so much more than for the pleasure. Shri Aurobindo said , the work of Valmiki has been an agent of incalcuble in moulding the cultural mind of India. And Mahatma Gandhi, we all know, for Mahatma Gandhi, Swaraj meant Ram Raj.
So, now very early on we find scenes of the Ramayana depicted in art. The first art depiction of the Ramayana is a terracotta of the second century BCE. It shows Ravan carrying away Sita and Sita is shown throwing down her ornaments, hoping that that will help somebody to find her. So, this is the first depiction of a scene from the Ramayana second century B.C. Now, you know that every piece of art has survived all these centuries but this is one that has survived and it gives us some idea of the popularity of the Ramayana because why would somebody depict a scene from the Ramayana in art, unless it was a popular theme. Then, the next evidence that we have in art is from the second, third century A.D, it is a seal from Kashmir’s Smast and it has in Brahmi Ram Siya written on it and the most interesting is a small terracotta piece that is now in a museum in America. It shows Ram with a quiver full of arrows at his back and on his skirt the word Ram is written. So, these are three earlier depictions of scenes from the Ramayana which tell us that it was quite widely known very early in our history.
Then when temples begin to be made we find full scenes of the Ramayana depicted in temples. What is important for us is that, in the 12th century 3 huge temples were built exclusively devoted to Ram. The oldest of these temples was at Ayodhya which we will discuss a little later.
The second one was at Rajim, district in Madhya Pradesh and the third was also constructed in the 12th century by feudatory of the Tripuris, Kalachuris of Tripuri. All these three temples devoted to Ram had inscriptions on them. The Ayodhya inscriptions I will discuss later, the inscriptions at the Raipur temple and at the second temple built by Malay Singh are still there but these two inscriptions are not mentioned in any debate and discussions by left historians, why? Because they say that Ram worship is only an18th and 19th century phenomena, so, every evidence which is countering their view, they ignore, so, I have mentioned the earliest depiction of Ramayana’s theme, second century before Christ and three temples in the 12th century with the inscriptions of them there.
Now, I will come straight to the temple at Ayodhya. We all know that it was destroyed by Babar, this was not the only temple, this was not the only mosque that Babar built in India. Babar built three mosques in India and the location of all the three mosques was very significant. The first mosque that he built was at Panipat. Why did he build at Panipat? Because that was the site that marked his victory over the Lodhi dynasty and made him the master of large part of north India. So, the mosque at Panipat, it is still there. The second mosque that he built was at Sambhal. Now, why at Sambhal? There was a temple at Sambhal already there and Sambhal, according to Hindu tradition is the place where the last Avtaar of Vishnu will be born, Kalki Avtaar. So, Hindus believe that the Kalki Avtaar will be born in a place called Sambhal and there was a temple at Sambhal. Babar ordered his general to destroy that temple and there, the mosque was built on his orders. The inscriptions on the mosque clearly says that it was built on the orders of Babar and pieces of the temple can be found used in the mosque site. Now, the point is that Babar does not mention that he destroyed this temple, so, if he does not mention the Ayodhya temple that does not mean anything because he does not mention the temple at Sambhal and he visited Sambhal after the mosque was created but even then in his autobiography or Babarnama he does not mention it and it is very interesting, that Abul Fazal the official historian of Akbar. He writes that Sambhal was a very important site for the Hindus but he does not mention that the temple was destroyed by Babar. Similary, Abul Fazal writes that Somnath was a very dear place for the Hindus but he does not mention that the Somnath has also been destroyed by the Turks. So, these are the three mosques that Babar builds.
Now, what is the evidence that we have, literary evidence of the mosque being destroyed at Ayodhya, the temple being destroyed, sorry. There are a large number of histories that were written in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Arabic, Persian and lastly in Urdu, not one of these history says that Babri Masjid was built on vacant land. All the Persian, Arabic, Urdu histories written in the 18th and 19th century clearly say that Babar ordered the destruction of the Ram temple and then ordered a mosque to be built at that side, not one book says otherwise. I am talking about Arabic, Persian and Urdu sources and many scholars have listed these sources. There is one particular book that I would like to refer to, it is called the Tarikh-e-Avadhi, it was written in 1869, but was published in 1969, about a 100 years later. The person who wrote this book was an eye witness, he lived in the reign of the last Nawaab of Awadh and was an eye witness to many developments that took place there and he writes that you know, now the Hindus have started paying bribes to the people in charge of the Babri Masjid and have started worshiping inside the Masjid also, so, all the evidence that we have, the literary accounts of Arabic, Persian and written in Arabic, Persian and Urdu say that it was a temple that was destroyed and Masjid was built on that and this last particular text also says Hindus bribe the officials, government officials, Muslim government officials, and have now started worshipping in Babri Masjid also.
Then what are the other references that we have in Persian, we have Abul Fazal, the official historian of Akbar. He says that Ayodhya is very sacred land because lord Ram was born there and Ram Navmi, at Ram Navmi, lots and lots of people go to pay their homage at Ayodhya, so, this is another source written in Persian. There is one more interesting evidence, in 1600, Akbar had given 6 Beeghaas of land to hanuman teela for some construction work. One hundred years later that grant of Akbar had to be renewed, so, in 1723, all the documents were checked and the Mughal ruler at that time said the grant should be renewed, so, the scribe, scribe means somebody has to write the renewal grant, so, that scribe says that this grant which was given by Akbar in 1600 is now being renewed in 1723 and I , the scribe, I am writing this from the Janmabhoomi of Ram, so , the scribe who is writing this document in Persian in 1723 also says that I am writing this from the Janmabhoomi of Ram, so, what I have said so far is that no work in Arabic, Persian or Urdu says that Babri Masjid was built on vacant land and we have Persian authorities like Abul Fazal and the scribe saying that Ayodhya is sacred because it is the birth place of Ram so that is being acknowledged.
Now, exactly what is happening at that site. We have two European accounts, the first is written by William Finch who came to Ayodhya within 80 years of the demolition of the mandir and William Finch says, that you know, Hindus come over here they go to the Sarayu river, take a dip over there and then Brahmins come, the Brahmins are there and they record the names of all the pilgrims who have come. William Finch does not talk about Muslim presence there, he does not talk about Namaaz there, he just talks about Hindus over there. The second account is a Jesuit father, Joseph Tiffin Thela, Joseph Tiffin Thela was an extra ordinary man who lived in India for 40 years, he travelled over large parts of India and he wrote very very valuable accounts on the geography and so many other things about India. He stayed in Ayodhya, in Awadh for about 7-8 years and his book has got even detailed drawings of the buildings that he saw at Ayodhya. Now, he says that, you know, I have been to this place and the Hindus have constructed a Bedi, a Bedi or a Vedi is a cradle (palna jismey chote baache ko rakha jata hai) so he says that in this complex where I went, the Hindus have constructed a Vedi and they do Parikrama around it and at the time of Ram Navmi so many people come to celebrate the birth of Ram. But this Joseph Tiffin Thela also does not mention any Muslims over there and does not mention Namaaz, so, the first question that I want to ask is that , are we to assume that Babar or his general came there , demolished the temple, constructed the mosque and left because there was no local Muslim population to use that mosque, so, it was just to appropriate that site, I hope you got my point that just destroy the temple even if there is no Muslim population locally to actually use it but you have occupied that site, so, it is possible because two eye witness accounts, which are genuine eye witness account, we cannot challenge the genuineness of these accounts, so, they refer to Hindus over there but they do not refer to Muslims at that sight. So, this is a possibility.
Now, to come to the dispute at Ayodhya. We are very fortunate that in the case of Ayodhya, the dispute from 1822 is recorded in the district courts, so, the first evidence in the district court is a note which is submitted by a court official, Hafizullah, he submits a note to the Faizabad district court in which he says that Babri Masjid was built after destroying the Ram temple and it is built next to Sita ki Rasoi, so, it mentions Ram temple and it mentions Sita ki Rasoi. They said court official submitting a note in the Faizabad high court.
Now, in 1855 something very interesting happens. The British resident, he writes a letter to the Nawaab of Awadh because the Nawaab is still there, he is not been dethroned that happens only after the revolt of 1857. So, he writes to Nawaab of Awadh saying that you know, there is a Sunni leader, Gulam Hussain, is his name I think, let me just check, yes, Gulam Hussain, and he has collected a force and he is planning to attack Hanuman Garhi and he tells the Nawaab of Awadh, please stop him, send some reinforcements, so his attack on Hanuman Garhi can stop. The Nawaab does not do anything and a small fight takes place then in July a much more serious skirmish takes place. Gulam Hussain and his group, they attack Hanuman Garhi and the Hindus at Hanuman Garhi, they fight to prevent the attack on Hanuman Garhi and 70 Muslims are killed in that attack. Now, why do the Muslims attack Hanuman Garhi? Because they say that there is a mosque inside, there is a mosque in Hanuman Garhi, there is a mosque inside Hanuman Garhi and we should be handed over Hanuman Garhi, so, this second fight takes place in which 70 Muslims are killed. After this, the British resident, he sends two bonds to the Awadh Nawaab. Now, these two bonds he had got, he had secured these bonds from the Bairagi’s who control Hanuman Garhi. In the first bond, the Bairagi’s said that we have no enmity with the Muslims, we have feelings of friendship towards them and inspite of the attack on us, we will continue to behave in the same friendly manner, that we used to behave with them in the past. In the second bond, they say that if an independent enquiry shows that there was a Masjid inside Hanuman Garhi, we will immediately hand over the whole premises to them and not fight about it, at all. Then, they say that the Nawaab of Awadh, your ancestor had given us land in Hanuman Garhi but he never would have given it if there was a Masjid over here and he never mentioned that there is a Masjid and they attach copies of the order which the previous Nawaabs had given. So, now the Nawaab of Awadh, he does not know what to do, so, he says, let us have a compromise and the compromise is that we build a Masjid next to Hanuman Garhi ,so, the Mahants of Hanuman Garhi say that this is not acceptable to us and an independent committee that had been set up also comes to the conclusion that there had never been a Masjid in Hanuman Garhi. Now, when this report of the independent committee is made public, the Jihadi’s, the Jihadi forces, they are very angry and a new leader comes to the fore, Amir Ali, he gathers a large force to attack Hanuman Garhi, the British try to stop him, to reason with him, he does not agree. So, before he can attack Ayodhya, they kill him. So, this is the first armed conflict in the city of Ayodhya that is recorded in 1855.
About a decade and a half later, the British are already in control, so the first settlement officer, it’s a person called Patrick Carnegy, Patrick Carnegy writes a report in which he says that till the dispute broke out in 1855, the Hindus had free access to the Masjid and after the dispute broke out, the British created a railing and the Muslims were allowed to pray inside the mosque and the Hindus were given the open space within the complex but outside the mosque and subsequently all British administrators reiterated this position, so, the Allahabad High Court when it was hearing this case, it said that this means that till 1855, Hindus had free access to the Masjid, they could pray inside the Masjid and they could pray in the complex, where they already had Ram Chabutra or what is called Bedi , Sita ki Rasoi and these structures, so, now this is uptill 1855 and now, the story gets really interesting because we come to the actual Masjid and the conflict over it.
Now, this is very interesting because every stage of the conflict and the context between the Mahants of the Janamsthaan and the superintendent of Babri Masjid is recorded in the Faizabad district court. All these papers are there and when the Ayodhya, when the Allahabad court was hearing this case then all these documents were handed over to the Allahabad high court. So, what is the first. The first is a report dated 28th November,1858, this is an FIR which is filed by the thanedaar of Awadh. The thandeaar of Awadh files a report that 25 Sikhs, Nihang Sikhs have entered Babri Masjid and they have started Hawan and puja over there. Two days later, that is on 30th November 1858, the superintendent of Babri Masjid files a complaint, the same complaint, he says, that 25 Sikhs have entered and that inside the Babri Masjid they have started Hawan and puja and with charcoal, Koyla, they have written, Ram Ram, all over the walls of the Masjid and he says that outside the Masjid but within the complex , Janamsthaan is there and the Hindus had been coming for such a long time and worshipping at the Janamsthaan but now, they have entered the Masjid and they are worshipping over there also, so, again the Allahabad High Court regarded this document as very important because it said, because the paper is still there na, the case that he filed is there and it was presented to the Allahabad high court, so , the Allahabad High Court said that this is a very very important document because it is the first individual voice that we are hearing from Ayodhya, and this voice is saying that the Hindu’s are inside the complex, inside the Masjid and it is saying that they were outside in any case. So, that means that at one point in time, Hindu’s had free run of Babri Masjid. After that, it is some weeks before the thanedaar is able to throw out the Sikhs from, inside the Babri Masjid.
I will just refer to some other cases which are very important, there is an application by the superintendent in 1860 and in this application he says that you know the Chabutra that has been constructed inside Babri Masjid should be demolished, he is asking the British, that means they were building whenever they wanted to built and then he says that you know, whenever the Maulvi gives the call for Namaaz, Azaan then the opposite style, they start blowing conch shells, so you can see the tensions and this is important to know because the left historians have said that the Hindu Muslim tensions at Ayodhya were engineered by the British as part of their policy of divide and rule but here we are hearing the voices of the actual people involved, there is no British. It is a fight between the superintendents of Babri Masjid and the Mahants, so, he is saying that they start blowing the conch, that means, they were so conscious of the desire that we must have this place back, you know.
So, this is a way of expressing your voice, you know, you cannot do anything more, so when they start the Azaan then you blow the conch that’s probably you can do. Then in 1866, there is another complaint in which superintendent of Babri Masjid says that you know , that these Mahants, they have constructed a kothri inside the compelx in a very illegal manner and what is the intention of the kothri because they want to use the kothri because they want to put idols inside, so, he tells the British that you must please do something to help us , as it is he says, we are able to continue over here only because of your help because we are all the time being harassed by the priests of the Janamsthaan.
Then in 1877, we have a complaint and this time the superintendent of Babri Masjid is saying that 5 years ago, we complained to you, British, that Charan Paduka, the footsteps , they have been put there illegally, please remove them and you have not done anything and he says, why you have not done anything, I can understand because you are not able to issue the summons to the Mahants of the Janamsthaan because whenever you are about to come, they go underground, so, they say that you know for 5 years this order has not been served on them and this worship is continuing and then he says that you know now they have also added a chulha inside, inside the complex, so, they say that there was a small chulha but now they have made a big chulha, so, now we have evidence of Chabutra, Kothri, you know, this, chulha, that means that there is a constant tussle, there is never any peace in that site and it shows how determined sections of the Hindu community were not to surrender their claims to that site and these are things you know which normally we don’t come to hear or know about in the discourse that is presented in the electronic media and the print media because all the evidence that we have is actually so much in favour of one party that it seems that you know, I sometimes feel, that you know, how is there nothing for the other side, it’s all one sided because that’s the way it is then in 1877, the Deputy Commissioner of Faizabad, he tells the court that I have constructed one other passage way because at the time of Ram Navmi, the rush of pilgrims is so much that we need to have one extra gate to accommodate the rush of pilgrims, so, that means that the Hindu community was also not willing to keep quiet or stay back. they were taking the risk and you know, going to the premises and actually doing parikrama and worshipping over there and the next complaint is very very interesting, it is dated 1882, again it is the superintendent of Babri Masjid who is complaining to the British and what does he say? he says that at the time of Ram Navmi and Kartik Mela, it is the practice that we allow shops to be set up inside the premises which will sell, you know prashad, flowers etc. and the rule has been that whatever the sale is made, we will divide the thing 50-50 between the Mahants and the superintendent of the Babri Masjid but this time, he says that the Mahants have changed the ratio of the, you know sharing of the proceeds and you please restore the old ratio. so, the Faizabad district court, they say that we cannot change the ratio because you have admitted that the whole complex is not yours, is not in your position and this also means that during those days there was no Namaaz being offered because you cannot have, you know a Mela and celebrations of Ram’s birthday, that means there was no Namaaz on those days also, so, this is.
Then, in 1855, one of the Mahants of the Janamsthaan, he writes a letter to a British that this Ram Chabutra that I have, it measures 21 feet by 17 feet and he says that you know, there is no shed over it, it’s just open and in the summer, in the rainy season and in winter, me and my fellow Mahants, we face great difficulty because we are exposed to the weather all the time, imagine, but they don’t give up, so, he says that can we construct a small temple on this area that is already in my position, this case, this appeal of the Mahants is heard by the three levels of the British Judiciary, all of them say that the Mahants has a very strong case, the area is in his position and he is exposed to the elements all the time but they say that we cannot allow construction of anything in this area because it is a very sensitive issue and we cannot disturb the status quo, we realise the injury that was caused to the Hindu 350 years ago but there is nothing we can do.
Now, in 1885, an Amini, Amin commission was set up, and this commission showed that Sita Rasoi, Chabutra, Janamsthaan, Chappar were all situated in the boundary wall of the Babri Masjid but just outside the boundary wall there was a deep depression all along the boundary wall that was the depression of the footprints of pilgrims who had been coming all these centuries, so, parikrama, that means the entire complex was sacred land for the Hindus.
Now, in 1912, riots breakout in Ayodhya and Faizabad on the issue of cow salughter, so, the chief sacredary writes to the sacredary of government of India and in that letter he writes that one reason for the fiction between the two communities is the mosque that Babar built at Ayodhya, so this is the British also saying this then the lieutenant governor, he visitis Faizabad in 1915 and he reports, that report is in the national archives, he says that it is very difficult for an outsider to understand the depth of the sentiment for this area among the Hindus. In 1934, riots breakout again because of the issue of cow slaughter in Shahjahanpur and in this 1934 riots, considerable damage is done to Babri Masjid and the British in an attempt to show fair play, they impose a penalty of 85,000 on the Hindu community to pay for the cost of the damage done to Babri Masjid.
Now, in 1943, the superintendent of Babri Masjid writes to the Sunni Waqf board and in this letter, this is 1943, and in this letter he says that now it is very difficult to offer Namaaz at Babri Masjid and in fact Babri Masjid we open it only on Friday, it is cleaned just before the Friday Namaaz. We bring the mat from the outside because nothing is safe over there and when the Namaaz is over we lock up the place and go away, so, this is a 1943 where the superintendent of Babri Masjid is writing to the sacredary of the Sunni Waqf board and after that, the inspector of Waqf, he prepares 2 reports in 1948, in both those reports he says that Muslims are afraid to go to Babri Masjid because the people are surrounding that Babri Masjid, they throw stones, shoes at them and harass them, so, only the difficulty one Namaaz a week is offered, this is 1948.
These are all Muslim voices that I am quoting, then, so, this is one set of documents but there are other documents also, you know, the British, they prepared revenue reports that means every area, what is the revenue due? Who has to pay for that revenue? That was the systematic report done for every area. For Babri Masjid the first settlement report was done in 1861, and after that the settlement report is done, revised every 10 or 15 years, depending on the situation. In the revenue reports, from 1861 onwards for village Ram Kot, there is no mention of Babri Masjid. Babri Masjid does not get mentioned in the revenue records of the British from 1861 onwards. The land, that land is shown as government land and the Mahants are shown as the under proprietors, this situation is not challanged all the years of the British rule in India, this, because these reports are made public but nobody from Babri Masjid challenges the report and the subsequent report which show the land as government land and the under proprietor as the Mahants but what is interesting is that at some point, I do not know when, but somebody tampers with the records, so , wherever janamsthaan is written somebody has added, and Babri Masjid, how can you make out? because the ink colour is different, the nib thickness is different and the ink, you know, handwriting is different and it’s not possible for anyone to go and make some additions in a government records, they are not just lying on the table that you can walk in and make changes, so, somebody has calculatedly allowed this to happen. When and how? we don’t know. And the more interesting thing is that another set of these documents kept at the other office did not have these changes, so, this is a very clear case of attempting to manipulate the evidence, then there is another.
In 1944, the government of the united provinces, it published a list of all the mosques, Masjid’s in the united provinces. The list named the building, the year it was constructed, who constructed it and the last column was the Waqf, that was created for the maintenance of the building because every building, every Masjid will require maintenance, you know, some money for the maintenance, so, it’s always the case that you create a Waqf, income from that Waqf may be used to maintain the building. In the case of Babri Masjid, column four was left vacant, the name of the ruler is given, Babar, the year was given 1528 but where is the Waqf, that is not given, so, the Allahabad High Court asks the pro Babri parties that how do you explain that there is this column is blank and the pro Babri parties could not give any explanation of why this column was blank, so, the Allahabad High Court said that this is the major weakness in your argument where you cannot show a Waqf that has been created for this building, so, again these questions arise that was it just demolished the temple, build a mosque, what happened to that mosque built between the time that Babar built it and 1822 when we first know that it was there, there is no evidence, so, these are some of the things that we really need to be taken note of.
Then soon after independence, this is not known to many of us, the Hindu public made a demand for the construction of a grand temple at Ayodhya and this representation was made to the UP government and the UP government forwarded to the district authorities in Ayodhya and they said we have no problem because the sentiment of the community is that the temple should be made and we have no problem to that but in 1949 December 23rd, the icon of Ram Lalla was placed in Babri Masjid, again it is important that no Muslim came to file an FIR, no muslim came to say that my right to Namaaz has been interrupted , again the FIR was filed by a police man. Now, this placement does not seem to have created much consideration in the muslim community because we don’t hear any muslim voices either protesting or saying that we have the right to Namaaz, we don’t hear anything but it had great repercussions or reverberations in the national capital. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru wrote to the UP Chief Minister saying that it can have a great adverse impact on Kashmir and our relation with Pakistan, I cannot understand what was the link but he wrote this letter and then there was a serious attempt to change the situation. So, the commissioner of Faizabad, he suggest to the Deputy Commissioner K.K Nayyar that let us quietly remove the idol and K.K Nayaar writes to chief sacredary and to the chief minister that I am totally against this, only a person who has no idea of the depth of the Hindu emotions on this issue can suggest this and he said that in any case I will not be able to find anyone in Ayodhya, any priest who will be party to this, so, he said that I suggest another way out and that is, continue the worship of the Ram Lalla idol but deny access to that area for both the communities and let the court decide, so, that is the way it happened but it is very very officially on record that the plan was thought of to remove Ram Lalla idol from that place and was rejected by a person called K.K Nayyar.
Now, to continue the story, in 1992 Babri Masjid was demolished. When the Masjid was demolished from the walls of the Masjid an inscription 5 feet by 2 feet fell to the ground, we call this inscription the Vishnu Hari inscription, this inscription, it was giving the history of the temple, so the Allahabad High Court asks the epigraphy department of ASI to decipher this inscription and present its reading of the inscription to the court, so, this inscription was deciphered by K.V Ramesh who was the chief epigraphist of the archaeological survey of India, he provided the court with the reading of the inscription verse wise, that reading was accepted by the Allahabad High Courtand now is the official reading of this Vishnu Hari inscription.
This Vishnu Hari inscription tells us that the temple was built by this king at this date and gives all the details, so, one would imagine that when this inscription is there, now, all the dispute on Ayodhya should be over because the left historians have been saying that Babri Masjid was built on vacant land, now, an inscription has come from the walls of the Babri Masjid but this was not enough for the left historians and they mounted a campaign against this Vishnu Hari inscription, they said that this Vishnu Hari inscription did not fall from Babri Masjid, it was planted there at the time of demolition. Now, it is very difficult to understand how an inscription could have been planted there, when there were thousands and lakhs of people at that site and when the media, national and international was there in full force, it was a big inscription but they said that this is been planted from outside, then the question was asked where has it come from?
So, the professor Irfan Habib, he said that the inscription came from a private collection but we have no record of anyone having such a big inscription, then 3-4 years later , he changed his line and he said that this inscription was actually stolen from Lucknow museum and it was planted over there, so till now we could not, let me finish this, till now, we could not refute Irfan Habib, we could say that the inscription has fallen but none of us had seen the inscription that he said was stolen from Lucknow museum. Now, the inscription that he said was stolen from Lucknow museum is called the, Treta-Ka-Thakur inscription, there was another temple in Ayodhya which was destroyed by Aurangzeb which was called the Treta-Ka-Thakur temple, that temple also had an inscription which was recovered by the British and kept first in Faizabad museum and later sent to Lucknow museum. Now, last year, there is a gentleman called Kishor Kunal, he was officer on special duty under V.P singh and Chandrashekhar, officer on special duty incharge of Ayodhya, so he had the clout and he went to Lucknow museum and got a photograph of the Treta-Ka-Thakur inscription which has been published for the first time, which I have reproduced from his thing in my book. Now, this Treta-Ka-Thakur inscription is totally different from the Vishnu Hari inscription, so, the picture has been published by him and he also saw the entry record of the Lucknow museum. The entry record of the Lucknow museum described this Treta-Ka-Thakur inscription which was very different from the Vishnu Hari inscription, so, one would imagine that this kind of exposure would embarrass the left historians but you know their strategy is that is something doesn’t suit you, you ignore it, so, they have just not taken cognizance of this inscription which shows how they were deceiving the country and preventing a settlement and understanding between the two communities, for two decades they have been doing this and they have now not reacted to the publication of this.
Now, since none of these things was settling the dispute, finally in 2003, the Allahabad High Court told the Archaeological Survey of India to please excavate at that site to see if there was a temple beneath Babri Masjid. The Allahabad High Court laid down very strict instructions for the ASI, it said that everyday representative from the Babri Masjid action committee and the Ram, Ram Janmabhoomi group, they should be present at the site, whatever you find everyday should be recorded in a register which would be signed by both the parties. so, the ASI followed these rules and you all know that if found continuous occupation of that site from the second millennium B.C, that site was always a sacred site, it was never used for habitational purposes what did they find there, in, I won’t go to the earlier portions but I will just come to the circular shine that they found in the post Gupta period, it was probably some kind of Shivling , was worshipped over there and the pranal from where the water will fall was still over there then they found in the 10th century, a huge temple was built at that site. Now, that temple according to the ASI was short lived, it did not survive for very long. Now, why did it not survive for very long, it is possible that it was destroyed because we have the case of Somnath where the temple is destroyed again and again, so, was this 10th-11th century temple destroyed? It is very likely because the Turks were active in that area at this time then on the ruins of this temple, a big temple was built in the 12th century, that temple survived till the 16th century when it was demolished to make way for Babri Masjid. Babri Masjid had no foundations, it was built just on the top of the walls of the temple, this should have been finally settling the issue but then the left historians, they carried out a campaign against the ASI on this issue also. Now, I want to conclude my talk by giving you some idea of what these left historians said in court because what they said in court was so atrocious that it is really amazing that anyone take the people seriously even today. There was an agreement among the left historians and archaeologists that the big four, that is, R.S Sharma, D.N Jha, Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib, they will not present themselves in court but they will send their colleagues and students to make statements in court, so, and can you imagine the close group they were.
One of the persons who gave statements in courts was Supriya Verma, she had done her Ph.D under Shereen Ratnagar, who also went to court, Suvira Jaiswal’s work was done under R.S Sharma another left historian , R Thakraan was a student of Suraj Bhaan, Sita Ram Roy was a pupil of R.S Sharma and S.C Mihra did her Ph.D under D.N Jha, it was just a closed group and just to give you some hilarious accounts of what happened in court. Suvira Jaisval, she was a professor at JNU and she said in court that she was an expert in Ancient Indian History and had come to give evidence in court as a specialist on Ancient Indian History. She said that she had not studied whether Muslim rulers constructed mosque after destroying temples nor had she read any report on the subject. She said that she was giving a statement on oath regarding Babri mosque without any probe and on the basis of her knowledge, she said, she was actually giving the statement on the basis of her opinion not knowledge, opinion and she says that she has not read the Babarnama. According to her knowledge no evidence was found that could indicate that Babri Masjid was built after demolishing the Ram temple, she said no evidence was found and she said, I did not study the history of the Babar mosque, whatever knowledge I gained with respect to the disputed site was on the basis of the newspapers and what others told me, others told me, I mean the left historians report to the nation , I along with my companions, please listen to this, I along with my companions published a pamphlet entitled, Rajnaitik durupayog : Babri Masjid Janmabhoomi Vivaad, I prepared this pamphlet from news published in newspapers and after discussions with the Medieval experts in my department. The court express surprise that in this particular case considering the sensitivity of the dispute, persons claiming to be experts, who were making statements without proper investigations, research or study, instead of helping to create a cordial atmosphere, such actions tended to create more complications, conflict and controversy, this is what the court had to say about her. She further said it is correct in her book she had written that by the first second century A.D, Ram was recognized as an incarnation of Vishnu, that means before the controversy broke out, she did her Ph.D in which she said Ram was recognized by the first century A.D as an incarnation of Vishnu and now the 18th scholar, left scholars are saying that Ram worshipping was an 18th 19th century phenomenon which was against her research which she was forced to admit.
Another person is S C Mishra who teaches in Delhi University, I know it’s not good to name people like this but I think the time has come that we should not be so polite about everything. so, he did his graduation and post-graduation from Allahabad university. In B.A, his subjects were History, Philosophy, Sanskrit and in M.A Ancient History. He said that he done a deep study about the Babri mosque, as per his studies the mosque was built by Mir Baqi and that no destruction of any kind had taken place in it’s construction. According to his studies, there was no evidence of the existence of a temple below Babri Masjid. he said I have discovered the birth place of Ram, that birth place is between Ayodhya Brahm Kund and Rishi Mochan Ghat.
Now, he gave some idea, of his knowledge of history. He said that Prithvi Raj Chauhan was the King of Ghazni, he said in court that Prithvi Raj Chauhan was the King of Ghazni and he said that Muhammad Ghori was the King of the adjoining area and he said that I have heard of Jazia but at the moment I cannot remember why it was levied and I don’t think that it was levied only on the Hindus, this is in court a teacher who is teaching History at Delhi University and then he says that it is wrong to say that Aurangazeb built the Gyanvyapi mosque after demolishing half of the Vishwanath mosque that half we already see the back of the Gyanvapi mosque that temple is there if anyone has been there, so this is, he says that I have read many books written from the Babarnama to 1989, I have read many book from the time Babarnama was written till 1989 regarding the construction of the Babri mosque, I do not remember the name of any book now, alright, this is what he says, what did the court say?
The court said that his statements failed to inspire confidence and lack independent fair and impartial opinion, this is what the court said. Shereen Musvi, she did her B.sc and M.sc from Lucknow University and later M.A in History as a private student from AMU and did her Ph.D from there also. She said that during my studies I have not come across such evidence or proof of medieval period to suggest that Babri mosque had been built by destroying a temple. There was an inscription, Babri mosque was divided into three parts and this is what she says, and the court said that this statement, that the inscription was in three parts itself show that she has no knowledge at all of the subject, there is one more thing that I would like to embarrass her then there is Sushil Srivastava, he did his B.A from Allahabad University in History and Political Science, he completed his PH.D after 11 years at a time when Mulayam Singh was the Chief Minister, you can draw your conclusions, so, he said that from the research carried out by me, I find no evidence regarding the disputed site to suggest that a mosque was built after demolishing the temple, then, please listen to this, neither I can read or write Persian, I can also not read Arabic language nor can I write it, I have no sound knowledge of Sanskrit, it is correct that my father-in-law helped me in reading and writing the book and interpreting the Persian language and he says that I cannot say but the inscription in Babri mosque was in Persian or Arabic, I have not studied the science of calligraphy, I have not studied a subject of epigraphy and he says that in my book, I have mentioned books which I have actually not read and you know, then there are people like Suraj Bhan, he says that I am in M.A in Sanskrit language, I cannot speak Sanskrit since I have not used it for quite sometime, I face difficulty in reading it also in following it, I can only remember that Ancient India and early medieval India were not in my course of study and they went as experts, I do not, I did not try to find out what is written in the Ramayana by Tulsi Das, I cannot tell when Indus Valley Civilisation was discovered, I did not, I am not a specialist in epigraphy and numismatics, I am not a geologist, I am not a student of History, I am not a student, I am not a specialist in architecture, I am not a specialist in Sculpture, in epigraphy is also not my field, so, you know I can go on but I think, that, last.
I will just give you one more, D Mandal, he was also very active, he says, I have never visited Ayodhya, I do not have any specific knowledge of the History of Babar’s reign whatever little knowledge I have about Babar is only that the Babar was the ruler of the 16th century expect of this, I have no knowledge of Babar then he says that the communist parties issues red card and I am its holder, it is true that I have no faith in religion, I have no degree or diploma in archaeology, I have acquired knowledge of archaeology, so, it goes on , the thing that has to be noted is that none of these people is shown to have any expertise but, which is motivated by their bias, that they have to make statements against people and they went to any extent to ridicule the whole movement just because they wanted the Pro-Babri group to win, now as things stand today, the left historians are hoping that the Supreme Court will overturn the verdict of the Allahabad High Court and rule in favour of the Masjid because that is now their last hope but it is difficult to understand that how the supreme court can overturn the judgement of the High Court because there is not one evidence that we can find which shows continued Muslim occupation of that site whereas all the evidence that we have shows continued Hindu presence, there is no evidence which shows that the Hindus were missing from that site for a particular period, then the point is, that the Muslims, they never filed a case, in 1949 when the idols were placed inside and they filed a case just 5 days before the 12th anniversary of the placement of the idols in the Masjid, if they filed the case 5 years later, 5 days later, they would have no case because it’s a time limit, property dispute has to be filed within 12 years, for 12 years they kept quite and just 5 days before they filed the case, so, they have actually no attachment to that site and we all know and even the courts in pre-independent and independent India have said that Namaaz can be offered anywhere , the mosque is not a sacred place but Hindu worship is centered around sacreds site’s and sacred spaces, now when all these things went against the Babri group then the leftist historians came up with the last triumph card that was, what is the proof that Ram was born at that exact spot, they have started saying this, what is the proof?
The courts , from the British period onwards, they have said that it is not the duty of the courts to examine or to subject the belief of the people to scientific or judicial scrutiny, the courts only have to take note of the fact that millions believe it so, so, the Allahabad High Court said we are giving the space under the central dome to the temple group because millions believe that is the birth place of Ram, so , I cannot understand what the supreme court can do to overturn the verdict of the High Court but as concerned citizens, I feel what we can do is to popularize the weakness of the Babri case and the duplicitous role that academics has played over 20 years because there is an archaeologist called K.K Muhammad, he was with the ASI and he has written his autobiography, very recently his autobiography has come out and in that he says that there was a very serious thinking among Muslims that let us handover this site to the Hindus because it means so much to them and it doesn’t mean much to us. He said at that moment left historians entered the fray and they convinced the Babri group that you have a very strong case and we will fight your case and the intervention of the left historians made the Babri group changed its mind and says yes , we will fight it, so this is a very painful case of academics doing such harm to the amity between communities, to the social fabric of this country and you know, Ayodhya has been one issue, which has caused so much tension between communities for the last 2-3 decades, so, I can only end by saying that academics should be very conscious of their responsibility to society, it is important for them to present fact as they are and not to deliberately distort them and now, when every distortion of theirs has come to light and been proven, they owe at least an apology to the country. Thank you.