Ayodhya Issue: The Shifting Stand-I
Professor Makkhan Lal, Historian.
In the context of Rama Janmabhumi in Ayodhya things were muddies by the secular and Marxists right from the beginning and they were determined not to allow the settlement ot happen. Thigs got further muddied specifically after the publication of JNU pamphlet a lot of material has been published by the so called progressive historians and our secularist like Syed Sahabuddin. During period several issues were raised and some of them totally irrelevant to the problems. A lot of mud has been thrown on many scholars (archaeologists and historians) who have been known for their integrity and impartiality. Their only fault is that they do not belong to any party or do not participate in academic terrorism, a hall mark of Marxist historians who not only want to rewrite the history but also want to change not only the future history but also the past history.
According to these self-proclaimed secularists any fact that might show any religion in bad light has not only to be magnified but also as far as possible should be distorted and made to look ugly. The only exception in this general approach is the Islam, where not only all the efforts are to be made to avoid talking the minus point but also hid away any evidence that exist about the brutal and vulgar aspect of that religion.
Another trait and character of these Marxist is to destroy everything good about the past, sever all the connection with proud past and portray the past as the most terrible thing that has ever existed on the earth. This is precisely what has happened in the countries they came in power. Not only the history has been rewritten to suite their needs but also the evidence about the past has been destroyed.
This is exactly what was being tried by the Marxist historians of this country through the New Papers, popular articles and in a more settle manner through the textbooks published by the NCERT and academic books from ICHR. The books published by these agencies, funded entirely by the Government of India, has been written exclusively by the Marxist historians who are card holders of one or other communist parties in India. This provided them ample opportunity to distort the history of this country specifically the ancient period. In the medieval and modern period it is only the Hindus (culturally, politically and religiously) are their target. This blatantness has become more and more apparent even to the general public since their stand in the case of Ayodhya has become clear through the newspapers etc. They have consistently gone on denying, falsifying and hiding the evidence and on the other side mounted a full blooded smear campaign on anyone and everyone whose writings (of today or even decades or even centuries ago) were inconvenient to them.
The purpose of this article is show how they have consistently shifted their stand from the various points raised by themselves when the proper irrefutable evidence were provided to prove that they were wring. Our approach in this endeavour is to quote from various articles and News Papers and quite often leave the judgment on the readers.The JNU Pamphlet
Our starting point is the pamphlet entitled “Document: The Political Abuse of History” published in a number of New Papers and the CPI(M) party paper People’s Democracy. This was published in Marxist journal Social Scientist also. The page number referred to are from Social Scientist.
The pamphlet begins with high claims and tries to get the legitimacy under the canopy of academic writing. It claimed “...when beliefs claim the legitimacy of history, then the historians has to attempt a demarcation between the limits of belief and historical evidence. When communal forces make claims to ‘historical evidence’ for the purpose of communal politics, then the historian has to intervene.” What a pious pronouncement!
The pamphlet is divided into three sections which deal with different aspects of Ayodhya problems. These are:Section I
This section deals with the description of Ayodhya in traditional Hindu literature and scriptures. The great pains have been taken to explain Ayodhya's antiquity, antiquity,location and its place among the religious centers of Hindus (they would have done far better without much pain had they consulted P.V. Kane's History of Dharmashashtra). While concluding this section they write:
“The historical uncertainty regarding the possible location of the Rama janmabhumi contrasts with the historical certainty of the birth place of Buddha. Two centuries after the death of Buddha, Asoka Maurya put up an inscription at the village of Lumbini to commemorate it as the Buddha's birth place” (p.78).
For the benefit of reader those who may not understand the new name of the king - Ashoka Maurya - mentioned above is Asoka, the great; the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. I hope, I am right.Section-II
The Section II deals with Ayodhya being the centre of Buddhism and Jainism also beside being the centre of Hindus. The further claim that:
“The cult of Rama seems to have become popular from thirteenth century. It gains ground with the gradual rise of Ramanandi sect and the composition of Rama story in Hindi.”
“Even in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Ramanandis had not settled in Ayodhya on a significant scale. Shaivism was more important than the cult of Rama. Only from eighteenth century do we find the Ramanandi Sadhus settling on a large scale. It was in the subsequent centuries that they built most of their temples in Ayodhya” (p.78).
Since the pamphlet has been issued from a high pedestal the JNU historians do not need to give evidence from historical writings. Their writing or saying or opinion “seems to have” should be taken as the word coming from God so that you take it as truth. A religious movement of such importance and magnitude is being judged through the words like “seems to have”. The temples of Rama cult “seem to have” been built in nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
What a great and innovative way of writing scientific history? One does not need to give evidence for what one says.Section III
It is section three of the pamphlet which is most interesting and also it is this section which has been discussed most in the news papers. It is in this section we get the real glimpses of their great knowledge of history and archaeology along with their logic and arguments, Thus, I am quoting the section in full. The collegiums of historians write:
“so far no historical evidence has been unearthed to support the claim that the Babri masque has been constructed on the land that had been earlier occupied by a temple.
i) Except for the verses in Persian inscribed on the two sides of the masque door, there is no other primary evidence to suggest that masque had been erected on Babur's behalf. Mrs. Beveridge, who was the first to translate the Babur Nama, gives the text and the translation of those above verses in an appendix to the memoirs. The crucial passage reads as follows: 'By the command of the Emperor Babur, whose justice is an edifice reaching up to the very height of the heavens, the good hearted Mir Baqi built the alighting place of angels. Bawad [Buwad] khair baqi (may this goodness last forever)'. (Babur Nama, translated by A.F. Beveridge, 1922,II.pp LXXVII ff).
The inscription only claims that one Mir Baqi, a noble of Babur, had erected the masque. Nowhere does either of the inscriptions mention that the masque had been erected on the site of a temple. Nor is there any reference in Babur's memoirs to the destruction of any temple in Ayodhya.
ii) The Ain-i-Akbari refers to Ayodhya as 'he residence of Ramachandra who in Treta age combined in his own person both spiritual supremacy and kingly office'. But no where is there any mention of erection of the masque by the grand father of the author's patron on the site of the temple of Rama.
iii) It is interesting that Tulsidas, the great devotee of Rama, a contemporary of of Akbar and an inhabitant of the region, is upset at the rise of mleccha but makes no mention of the demolition of a temple at the site of Rama janmabhumi.
iv) It is in the nineteenth century that the story circulates and enters official records. These records were then cited by others as valid historical evidence on the issue.
"The story of destruction of the temple is narrated, without any investigation into historical veracity, in British records of the region. (See P. Carnegy, Historical Sketch of Tahsil Fyzabad, Zillah Fyzabad, Lucknow, 1870; H.R. Nevill, Faizabad District Gazetteer, Allahabd, 1905)”, (p.79).
Writing on Mrs. Beveridge's inference and comments the JNU historians say
“Mrs. Beveridge produced no historical evidence to support the assertion that the masque was built at the site of a temple…To British officials who saw India as a land of mutually hostile religious communities, such stories may appear self-validating. Historians, however, have to carefully consider the authenticity of each historical statement and the record on which they are based”, (pp.79-80)
The publication of this pamphlet so pompously titled “Document” did attract the attention of scholars who in tern went on to consider the authenticity of each and every word these JNU historians wrote for a self proclaimed high pedestal. What followed were a series of articles based on archaeological and literary evidences which not only exposed the hollowness of the claims made by JNU historians but also showed their tremendous ignorance of historical and archaeological evidence.The Pamphlet and the Archaeological Evidence
We shall first take up the analysis of archaeological data presented by Dr. S.P. Gupta. This analysis has been published, like the previous one in several new papers and magazines like Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Nava Bharat Times (in Hindi) Manthan etc. Several reports also appeared in The Times of India.
I am quoting here Dr. Gupta's reply of the JNU pamphlet on the basis of archaeological evidence. Before we come to the actual archaeological evidence, it is important to mention briefly about the background of this archaeological evidence.
When the Ayodhya was not yet a matter of dispute among the historians and scholars, Prof. Nurul Hassan the then Education minister sanctioned three national projects to be funded by the Government of India. The ‘Archaeology of Ramayana Sites’ was one of them. Director of the project was Prof. B.B. Lal, former Director General, Archaeological Survey of India. With Prof. Lal was associated Mr. K.V. Soundrarajan, the then Joint Director General, ASI and later after his retirement Mr. K.N. Dikshit, presently Director, ASI. The other two Projects were - Excavations at Fatehpur Sikri and Hampi. In all the three projects the collaborator was the Archaeological Survey of India.
Under the direction of Prof. B.B. Lal the excavations were conducted at least at 14 different places in Ayodhya which included Hanuman Garhi and and the land behind the masque. The object of the work was to ascertain the antiquity of Ayodhya. It is from this excavation that Dr. Gupta cites the evidence beside using the already existing evidence in form of temple pillars etc.
Dr. Gupta writes (Indian Express 2.12.90) specifically about the excavations carried out behind the masque in Janmasthan area:
“The team laid four trenches - two exactly at the back of the masque on the western side and two along the southern wall of the masque. In the trenches on the southern side i.e. the latter place, at less than half meter depth we encountered a series of burnt brick pillar bases which were constructed in two parallel rows. In the limited area of the trench, half a dozen of them were recorded some of these bases were dug only partially since parts of them were found running behind the walls of the trenches. Obviously many more will be found existing if we are allowed to dig below the masque. These pillar bases roughly squire, standing at the height of nearly two feet 0.75 m.
“Further we encountered two floors, one above the other but separated by a thick layer of debris which consisted of the reused material.
“We also collected what we call pieces of Islamic medieval glazed ware with a white base a and blue floral paintings. These are securely dated on stylistic grounds and comparative West Asian originals.“On the basis of this evidence we have drawn the following conclusions:
i. A pillared structure was built at the site in the 11th century.
ii. The structure was built of pillars
iii. The floor of the structure was laid twice.
iv. The structure existed till the very end of the 15th century since the Islamicglazed ware can be firmly dated: some belong to the 13th, some 14th and some 15th century. Obviously this structure continued to exist till the last category of ware was in every day used.
“Now comes the vital question: what was the nature of structure ? That is was it a temple or some other secular structure?
“Our findings show that in all likelihood it was a temple. The archaeological evidence
in favour of this surmise is as follows:
i. The brick built pillar bases are only slightly larger than the bases of 14 black stone pillars existing within the masque. This is vital for us since the stone pillars do require in their foundation solidly built bases which should be slightly larger than the bases of the pillars. It is necessary to distribute the vertical gravitational force of the pillar.
ii. There are at least14 pillars in the masque and two similar pillars, laid up side down near a muslim grave, about a kilometer away, i.e. in all there are 16 pillars (see pictures 2 and 6).
iii. There is a door jamb of same black stone kept in the courtyard of comparatively modern building existing near the Janmabhumi-Masjid site, now called Ram-Janmasthan.
“We made thorough art historical studies of the sixteen pillars and this one door jamb. Our findings are as follows.
1. The black stone is schistose, of the black slate variety which is found only in the
Garhwal-Kumaon region as far as U.P.is concerned.
2. Of this stone hundreds of stone images were carved in the past and can be seen in the temples, for example the Vishnu image in the Badrinath temple. Even the Allahabd Museum has an image from this region.
3. This stone has not been found used in any other temple for fabricating pillars except here; it is not found used in any temple even at Ayodhya. It was a highly prized and was exclusively used for the pillars of this temple. The carvings on the pillars a the door jamb are vital since they firmly establish the nature of the structure in which these were used. These carvings consist of the following important elements:
a).Floral designs of garlands, often intersecting each other as well as lotus.
b).Human figures of semi-divine beings such as Yakshas (Gods of water, heaven and earth), Devakanyas (heavenly nymphs), Ganas (short attendant male figures) (picture 4), Dvarapala (door keeper) with a trishul (trident) in one hand and danda (staff) in the, wearing a tall mukat (crown), Salabhanjika (heavenly damsel) etc. (picture 6). All these semi-divine images are almost exclusively represented in a temple complex.
4. These carvings are securely dated to the 11th century A.D. The style is called late Pratihara or Gahadval. Obviously, the temple was established in the 11th century. It continued to be in use till the end of the 15th century as the presence of the Islamic glazed ware in the ever-accumulating debris of the leftouts of the people conclusively prove.
5. At least four central pillars existing in the Masjid show near identical carvings (pictures 2,3,5 and 6). This shows that these are still standing in-situ etc. i.e. in their original place. The rest of them are not their in original position. 6. At least 12 pillars in the Masjid are load-bearing pillars. It clearly proves that these are decorative elements.<,br> 7. There are several large rectangular stone pieces used in the walls. These aere also perhaps taken out of the pre-existing temple since otherwise the masjid was built of brick and lime. It is possible that these blocks of stone have carvings which exist on face now hidden in the walls. This is of course, based on exclusively on our findings at other places where Muslims destroyed temples and built masques, using much of the debris of temple.
“To sum up, at the controversial site, a Hindu temple was built in the 11th century which continued to be in use till the very end of the 15th century. Then suddenly, in the early 16th century it was demolished and its debris was partially used in the construction of th masque, now called Babri Masjid.
“There are two Parsian inscriptions still existing in the Masjid. It records that this masque-like structure was actually built by one Mir Baqi at the command of Babur in Hijra Era 935 which comes to 1528 A.D. Babarnama, i.e the memoirs of Babur written by Babur himself, clearly proves that Babur did actually camp at the confluence of the Saryu and Sidra rivers located some 8 to 10 km. near the township of Ayodhya. The event is dated in the early years 1528 A.D. - 29th March-2nd April 1528, - a total of five days.”
Thus, Dr. S.P. Gupta through his archaeological and art history studies demolished the thesis of JNU historians that "So far no historical evidence has been unearthed to support the claim that the Babri masque has been constructed on the land that had been earlier occupied by a temple".The Pamphlet and the Literary Evidence
The challenge of exposing the ignorance of the JNU's historians was taken up by Prof. A.R. Khan of Himanchal Pradesh University. This too was published in Indian Express of 25.2.1990. Prof. Khan dealt with all the points raised in the pamphlet and effectively knocked down their thesis. We shall quote here from Prof. Khan's article:
“The above historians are well known for their approach to the history and have never missed an opportunity of projecting their secularism by correcting misconceptions of history through "historical evidence " and scientific reasoning, in the national interest and perhaps also in the interest of objectivity in history.
“However, their conscious intervention on such occasions and their over enthusiasm have often made issues out of non-issues and have generated uncalled far controversies...”
After talking about the Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya, Treta and Kaliyug etc. Prof. Khan come on the point of antiquity of Ayodhya referred to in inscriptions and the Buddhist and Jain literature. He writes:
“Writing about the supposed location of Ayodhya, with reference to early Buddhist and Jain texts and telling us that its earlier name was Saket, they argue: "There are very few references to an Ayodhya, but this is said to be located on the Ganga, not on river Saryu which is the site of present day Ayodhya." The fact is that there are references to Ayodhya, though not as many as our authors have wished to so as to accept these references authentic. What is more important here is the statement that the Ayodhya referred to in Buddhist and Jain texts is mentioned as located on river Ganges, not on Saryu which is the location of the present day Ayodhya notwithstanding the controversy regarding the possible mistake in identification of Saryu as the Ganges. If the Ayodhya of Buddhist and Jain text are to be identified as located on the Ganges only a few times, it is, on the basis of logic of fewness of the references that in all probability Ganga is confused with Saryu.
“The contention that it was the town of Saketa which was renamed Ayodhya by Skanda Gupta in the late 5th century A.D. ‘to gain prestige for himself by drawing on the tradition of Suryavamsi kings, a line to which Rama is said to have belonged’ concedes the fact that the tradition of Rama and his association with Ayodhya had gained credibility in the minds of people as early as 1500 years ago, that is much before the birth of Islam and its introduction in India, to the extent that the Gupta king could hope to gain prestige by merely renaming a town as Ayodhya (although there is no evidence to suggest that Skanda Gupta renamed it to gain prestige).
“In the section II of the pamphlet the thrust of the argument is that Ayodhya's rise as a major centre of Rama worship is of recent origin. In support of this contention they have advanced two major pieces of evidence i.e. neither the ‘Inscriptions from fifth to eighth centuries A.D.’ nor the ‘texts of the eleventh century A.D.’ mention the Rama-Ayodhya association, though they references to Ayodhya. The absence of a reference to the RamaAyodhya association in the above works is a non-evidence on the issue. Much depends upon the context in this the above inscriptions and the texts were written. Not every inscription or every text is expected to mention every fact. Not every history written during the reign of Aurangzeb or about Aurangzeb bearing references to Delhi and Lahor mentions the existence of the Jama Masjid at Delhi or the construction of the Shahi Masjid by Aurangzeb in Lahor or Moti Masjid in the Delhi Fort.
“The authors have also tried to emphasize that Ayodhya was an important centre of Jainism and Buddhism. This does not in any way minimize the importance to Ayodhya as a non-Buddhist centre too... But what is more intriguing is the fact that our authors have concealed that the ‘non-Buddhist’ shrines mentioned by Hsuan Tsang were Brhamanical.
“Passing on to a discussion of the masque in question the authors state in the opening part of the section III that ‘so far no evidence has been unearthed to support the claim that the Babri Masque has been constructed on the land that had been earlier occupied by a temple.’ But the next para opens on a negative note suggesting reservations about accepting the contents of the verses inscribed on the masque, to the effect that it was built by the order of Babur. They state: ‘except for the verses in Persian there is no other primary evidence to suggest that a masque had been erected there on Babur's behalf.’ One wonders what other primary evidence other than a contemporary inscription is required to prove that the masque was built by Babur’s order... Further, to the bewilderment of any reader of the pamphlet, despite their reproducing in quotes the translation of in scribed verses from one of the appendices of Mrs. Beveridge's English translation of Baburnama (which has been incorrectly referred to as the first translation) which reads ‘By the cammond of the Emperor Babur the good hearted Mir Baqi built the alighting place of angels,’ the authors persist in their believe in the very next sentence that ‘the inscription only claims that one Mir Baqi a noble of Babur, had erected the masque.’ Here all reasoning of the advocates of ‘historical evidence’ fails and only ‘belief’ prevails upon them in rejecting without giving any reason, the contention of the inscription that the masque was built by the ‘cammond of Emperor Babur’. Not withstanding the conflict between ‘evidence’ and ‘belief’, of which the authors themselves appear to be the victims, as witnessed above, they rightly mention that there is no reference in Babur's memoirs to the destruction of any temple in Ayodhya. However, in this context, it may be pointed out that there is a lacuna in Babur's narrative between 2 April and 18 September 1528, the period during which (according to the date of the inscription) the masque was built, as some pages of Babur's memoirs are missing. As such, it is not surprising that there is no reference in the Baburnama to the destruction of temple, if so done. It was during this period of lacuna that Babur visited Oudh.
“Equally fallacious are the arguments that Akbar's official historiansAbul Fazl, does not make ‘any mention of the erection of the masque by the grand father of the authors patron on the site of the temple of Rama’ in his Ain-i-Akbari and that even Tulsi does not mention about the demolition of a temple. Everyone knows that the Ain is not the sort of work to look for such evidence, as it is primarily a sort of a gazetteer, of Akbar’s empire, giving the rules and regulation of Akbar and the statistical information about various spheres of his administration. It is only in passing that he has mentioned the notable places in different subas of Akbar’s empire. He has not given the history of each and every monument in Akbar's empire. One can cite a long list of pre-Akbari monuments, still extant which do not find mention in the Ain-i-Akbari regarding Tulsi, it may be pointed out that even emperor Akbar, who was a contemporary of Tulsi, does not find any mention of in Tulsi's work. Despite the fact that Tulsi gave thought to the subject of rulership and has expressed his notions of sovereignty. For Tulsi who was disturbed at the vernasanker of his times and who advocated a dharmadhurin ruler who could apply niti, even Akbar did not exist either as an ideal ruler or as a mleccha who opposed sati subscribed to by Tulsi.