Archaeologist K. K. Muhammed asserts presence of Ram Mandir under Babri Masjid – Swarajya Staff

K.K. Mohammed

Swarajya Magazine“Even now the time has not elapsed. Before the Supreme Court gives its judgement, Muslims should hand over the place to Hindus and create an example. That is my humble request to them” – K. K. Muhammed

With the Supreme Court currently conducting day to day hearing in Ram Janmabhoomi case, the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid issue is again in national focus and amidst all the din one man stands out—archaeologist K. K. Muhammed.

An acclaimed archaeologist who served as Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) regional director, Muhammed was involved in key discoveries including Akbar’s Ibadat Khana in Fatehpur Sikri.

His most notable contribution though has been reporting the presence of a temple below the Babri Masjid.

He was awarded the Padma Shri for his contributions and has been lauded for daring to speak the truth which has been uncomfortable for many entrenched in the Leftist ecosystem.

One such instance was given by author and scientist Anand Ranganathan on Twitter:

When Muhammed was told he was going to be suspended for making public the fact that he had discovered temple remnants inside Babri, he replied, in Sanskrit: “Lokasamgramevapi Sampasyan Kartumarhasi. Swadharme nidhanam shreya.”

I spoke the truth. Death is preferable while on duty.

Now in a latest interview Muhammed has again reiterated his bold claims.

What are K. K. Muhammed’s claims?

Muhammed was part of the first ASI archaeological team led by B. B. Lal in 1976-77 and has strongly maintained that there is enough archaeological evidence to prove that there are temple remains below the Babri Masjid.

During the 1976-77 excavation, Muhammed found that 12 pillars of the controversial mosque were built out of temple remains. He discovered a Purna Kalasha structure shaped in form of a Ghada (water pitcher) part of the Ashtamangala Chinha in Hinduism which is found on the base of 12th and 13th century temples.

He adds that at an excavation in the western side of the Babri Masjid, the team uncovered various terracotta sculptures. This proves the temple’s presence as such structures are haram (forbidden) in Islam.

ASI in 2003 had undertaken another excavation of the site, but matters were complicated with the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Despite this, Muhammed states that the survey found several structures underground.

While the first excavation had found 12 temple pillars, the 2003 excavation found over 50 pillars in 17 rows which proved the large (grand) nature of the structure which stood before the Babri Mosque.

As per Muhammed, this excavation also uncovered the temple Pranala which was used to bathe the deity. It also discovered a Makara Pranali (crocodile face) which is an exclusive property of a temple.

He adds that the excavation also uncovered other parts of the temple like Amalka, Grivah and Shikhara, besides discovering 263 pieces of terracotta structures of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Taking on the Leftist ecosystem

Muhammed has been a big critic of Leftist historians like Irfan Habib and Romila Thapar whom he accuses of preventing an amicable resolution in the Ram Mandir dispute.

He writes in his book Njan Enna Bharatiyan (I, an Indian) that the Babri issue would have been settled long ago had the Muslim community not fallen prey to the “brain washing by the Leftist historians”.

He states that historians like Romila Thapar, Bipin Chandra and S. Gopal supported by Irfan Habib, R. S. Sharma, D. N. Jha, Suraj Bhan and Akthar Ali argued that there was no mention of the dismantling of the temple before 19th century, and they also called Ayodhya a Buddhist-Jain centre.

As per Muhammed, when the Left historians falsely made this claim in the 1990s he then wrote a column detailing his findings.

He also blasts the Leftist historians for making their “ignorant statements” and taking the Muslim community for a ride. He added that virtually no-one in this Leftist team was an archaeologist thus they had no authority to state that they found no evidence of a temple below the Babri Mosque.

K. K. Muhammed’s personal view on the Ram Mandir dispute

Muhammed has time and again reiterated that the Ram Janmabhoomi is as significant for HIndus as Mecca and Madina is for Muslims. He thus has maintained that Muslims should have willingly handed over the piece of land to Hindus.

“Even now the time has not elapsed. Before the Supreme Court gives its judgement, Muslims should hand over the place to Hindus and create an example. That is my humble request to them”, Muhammed was quoted as saying.

With regards to the Supreme Court’s verdict, Muhammed states that archaeological evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of a Hindu temple and he believed that the apex court’s judgement would not be to the contrary. – Swarajya, 2 October 2019

› See also: Babri Masjid dispute was the outcome of a historical blunder

Ramlalla Temple on the Babri Masjid site after the demolition.


 

ASI excavations prove temple existed beneath Babri Masjid – K.K. Muhammed

Destruction of Babri Masjid in January 1992

After a comprehensive analysis of the evidences that had surfaced during the excavation and the discovery of historical artifacts, the Archeological Survey Of India came to the conclusion that there existed a temple beneath the Babri Masjid. – K.K. Muhammed

It was in 1990 that the issue of Ayodhya became hot. Before that, in 1978 itself, as a student of archaeology, I had the opportunity to survey Ayodhya. As a student of School of Archaeology, Delhi, I was a member of the team headed by Prof B.B. Lal, which was carrying out an extensive survey at Ayodhya.

We found that there existed brick foundations, which supported the pillars of a pre-existed temple. No one had viewed such findings as controversial those days. We examined the facts with due sense of history as archaeological experts.

There were temple-pillars embedded on the walls of Babri Masjid. These pillars were made of a particular stone called black basalt. There were poorna kalasas engraved at the bottom of the pillars as was the practice in the 11th–12th centuries.

In temple art, poorna kalas is one among the eight auspicious symbols of prosperity. Not one or two, there were 14 such pillars before the mosque was demolished in 1992.

I could see the pillars closely. The team headed by B.B. Lal included officials of the ASI and us 12 students from the School of Archaeology. We spent around two months at various explorations at Ayodhya. Mir Baqi, Babar’s army chief, constructed this mosque using remnants of a temple, which was either demolished by him or had been demolished by someone else.

While excavating on the back and sides of the mosque, we found brick platforms on which the black basalt pillars used to rest. It was based on these facts that I made a statement in 1990 that there existed a temple beneath the Babri Masjid. The moderates among Muslims had started to think that it is better to leave Ayodhya for Hindus and solve the dispute. Some Muslim leaders felt that leaving Ayodhya to Hindus would take the wind out of the sails of VHP. Had such voices got prominence, it would have been possible to diffuse the situation.

A few historians under the leadership of S. Gopal, Romila Thapar and Bipan Chandra started questioning the historicity of the Ramayana. They argued that there is no record of demolition of a temple before 19th century. They even declared Ayodhya to be a Buddhist–Jain centre and they took part in various official meetings as experts on the side of Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC).

Many BMAC meetings were conducted under the leadership of Dr Irfan Habib who was chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). Though member secretary M.G.S. Narayanan of ICHR objected to the meetings of BMAC being conducted in ICHR, he was overruled by Irfan Habib.

The Leftist historians had tremendous influence in newspapers and periodicals, and articles published by them questioning the facts of Ayodhya created confusion in the minds of general public. They were responsible for the volte-face of even the moderates among the Muslims who had favoured a settlement.

Had only this compromise worked out, it would have been a major turning point in the history of Hindu-Muslim relations in our country. This would have resulted in the natural solution to other various contentious issues also.

This lost opportunity demonstrated that not just Hindu-Muslim fanaticism, but Communist fanaticism is equally dangerous to our nation.

My statement came out on December 15, 1990. By then, historians and archaeologists had started fierce arguments from both sides. I made it clear in my statement that I had seen remnants of a temple beneath the Masjid.

The most important artifact, which came out during demolition at Ayodhya, was the stone plaque called Vishnu Hari Shila. On the plaque it was inscribed in Nagari script of 11-12th Century in Sanskrit that this temple is dedicated to Vishnu (Rama is the avatar of Vishnu) who killed Bali and the 10- headed (Ravana).

In 1992, when Dr Y.D. Sharma and Dr K.M Srivastava studied the site they could find small statues of Vishnu’s avataras, Shiva, Parvati etc. made of clay.

These belonged to the Kusana period (100-300 AD). In 2003, when excavations were again conducted, as ordered by the Allahabad High Court, more than 50 brick foundations, which once supported the pillars of the temple were found.

The “amalaka, which is usually found on the top of the temple and makar pranali” through which the abhisheka water flows, were also excavated. Uttar Pradesh’s Archaeology director, Ragesh Tiwari, submitted a report that when the front yard of the Babri Masjid was leveled, 263 temple-related artifacts were found. After a comprehensive analysis of the evidences that had surfaced during the excavation and the discovery of historical artifacts, the Archeological Survey Of India came to the conclusion that there existed a temple beneath the Babri Masjid.

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court also reached the same conclusion. To make the excavation impartial, it was ensured that 52 Muslims were included in the team of 131 of excavators. Not just that, the excavation was conducted in the presence of the representatives and archaeological historians belonging to the BMAC group, Suraj Bhan, Mondal, Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon. The ASI had once again, proved its impartiality. – DNA, 6 November 2018

» K.K. Muhammed is an archaeologist who was the Regional Director (North) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). He is currently serving as Project Archaeological Director in the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Ayodhya Dispute Timeline

 


Dr Swamy discusses the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Mosque title suit – Sanjeev Kumar Nayak

Subramanian Swamy

Sanjeev Kumar NayakThe indomitable spirit of Dr Subramanian Swamy has propelled the economist-statistician-politician-activist to the forefront of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The recent Supreme Court judgement dismissing the plea to refer to a larger Bench for review a 24-year-old verdict of Allahabad High Court that mosque is not essential to Islam, thereby removing the “last hurdle” and paving the way for final hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Mosque title suit, has set the BJP MP back into frantic action. In a candid interview with The Sunday Guardian, Dr Swamy answered many awkward questions with utmost honesty.

Excerpts:

Q : You are not a party to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Mosque title suit. How did you come into the picture?

A : Originally, I was in (Bharatiya) Jan Sangh. When it was reconstituted as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), I stayed away from it because I disagreed with Vajpayee on adopting “Gandhian socialism” as the party ideology. I was the president of Janata Party when Chandrasekhar became Prime Minister. I became the Law and Commerce Minister. Then the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was at its peak and Syed Shahabuddin was our party general secretary as well as the chairman of Babri Masjid Action Committee. PM Chadrasekhar asked us to find a solution to the temple issue. That’s how I came into the picture.

Shahabuddin said that they are prepared to give up their claim to the land if it is proved that there existed a temple at the disputed site earlier and the mosque was built later. So we thought of engaging the experts of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to find out whether a temple was there at the site or not. I enjoyed a good rapport with Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders who were spearheading the movement. Upon my mediation, they agreed to suspend their kar seva programme in December 1990.

Q : So the dispute could have been resolved then?

A : I put a condition that we would give up our claim to the 40,000 temples that were destroyed by the Muslim rulers if we are handed over just three of them—Ram temple of Ayodhya, Krishna temple of Mathura and Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi. But Shahabuddin did not agree to it and said they are ready to leave only the Ayodhya one as they regard Lord Ram as “Imam-e-Hind”. However, our government fell before we could do something concrete in the matter.

Later, the Narasimha Rao government came out with a White Paper on the issue in 1991.

Then I was the chairman of the Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade. Rao sent me letters seeking my active role in resolving the temple issue. But BJP and VHP had lost their interest in the issue after the mosque was demolished on 6 December 1992 as they thought that they would come to power soon. However, things did not go their way.

Q : But how did you come back to the scene?

A : When VHP leader Ashok Singhal fell seriously ill, he called me and stated very sadly that perhaps this temple issue would not be resolved in his lifetime. His apprehension was correct as the Allahabad High Court pronounced its judgement in 2010 but nothing was done in the case for the next seven and half years. So he requested me to do whatever possible in the matter. But my problem was I was not a party to the case in the lower court, so I had no locus standi in the Supreme Court.

Somehow I found out a way to enter the legal battle. It was a title suit between the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhada-Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas combine fighting for the ownership of the land. But I went into appeal saying that it cannot be a mere property dispute, rather it is a matter of faith for crores of Hindus that their Lord was born at the very same place.

And our Constitution has given prominence to faith in the Preamble itself. It also comes under Article 25 of the Fundamental Rights. So I contended that it is violation of my fundamental right as I am restrained from offering prayers and worshipping my Lord at the site. The law also value fundamental rights much higher than ordinary rights like property right. So whenever there is a clash between the two, courts have always favoured fundamental right over property right.

Q : Don’t you think Muslims too have their fundamental right to offer namaz there?

: Allahabad High Court had already pronounced that a mosque is not essential to Islam. This fact has further been established after the Supreme Court refused to refer the 24-year-old case to a larger Bench for review last week. A mosque is where they offer prayers collectively but they can do it anywhere.

Q : Is it not applicable to a temple also?

A : No, it can’t be. A temple comes into being only after prana pratishta or rituals for the Lord to enter into the idol established inside it.

Q : And what about the idols installed under the roadside trees everywhere?

A : No no … they cannot be considered as temples as prana pratishta is not done there as per Agama Shastra. Once it is done, nobody can touch it. I have won a few cases wherein the idol is stolen but was re-established after carrying out proper rituals upon its recovery, sometimes from abroad. For example, the Nataraj statue was stolen from a temple and I got it back from London and properly re-installed it there. Now, Muslims cannot say the same thing about the Ayodhya site.

Q : So what is the road ahead for you now?

A : When I went into appeal with this plea, the court said it would form a separate Bench to hear it. It disturbed the Congress people as they realised the verdict will go in my favour as they knew that faith as a fundamental right has always had an upper hand on property rights. That’s why they raked up the Ismail Faruqui case. Now that that has been set aside, my path is clear. The court had asked me to approach it after this verdict is out. So now I go back to the court and get the hearing started in my case … most probably on Monday….

Q : Are you hopeful of finally winning the case?

A : The Narasimha Rao government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 1994 that if it was proved that a temple did exist earlier, then the land would be handed over to the Hindus to rebuild the temple. The Apex Court had included it in the Ismail Faruqui case and referred it back to Allahabad High Court. The HC in turn asked the ASI to find out the truth and ASI had put two distinguished historians Prof B.B. Lal and Prof K.K. Muhammed on the job. The duo carried out excavations at the site and found that there is a grand structure of a Vaishnava temple lying buried there.

Their findings are very much recorded in the judgements and I have also attached it to my application.

Interestingly, Prof Lal had carried out a similar operation in 1976 too but Indira Gandhi stopped it midway fearing a backlash after the truth was out.

Now, as per the affidavit, the Uttar Pradesh government, which has been appointed as the receiver of the land in question, has to hand it over to the Hindus. So it’s only a matter of time that the court gives a verdict in our favour and a grand temple of Lord Ram is built at the very same site … and I am very happy and content with my contribution – Sunday Guardian Live, 29 September 2018


 

Secularists seek to prolong Ayodhya case indefinitely – Balbir Punj

Rahul Gandhi Cartoon
Balbir PunjBoth the pro- and anti-Ram temple parties have failed to grasp the issue at stake. The fight has never been for a piece of land or against a mosque. … The Babri structure was brought down because a Ram temple could not be built at that very spot without doing so. What the agitated karsevaks demolished was not a mosque, but a symbol of humiliation forced by a ruthless foreign victor over the vanquished. – Babir Punj

While Congress President-designate Rahul Gandhi was making a desperate bid to pose as a practicing janeu-dhari Brahmin in the wake of elections to the Gujarat Assembly, another top leader of his party and noted lawyer Kapil Sibal was arguing against an early hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case in the Supreme Court, a move clearly aimed at cultivating the Muslim vote bank. Running with the hare and hunting with the hounds?

Appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board, Sibal asked the Supreme Court to postpone the hearing of the case to July 2019. An absurd request considering the fact that appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict in the case have been pending for the last seven years!

In fact, litigation on the vexed Ayodhya issue is over a century old. On January 29 next, it will compete 133 years!  Still, Sibal questioned the court about the “hurry” to hear the matter now and pleaded for the hearing to be postponed to July 2019. This is ‘secularism’ in action. Keep such emotive issues alive to infinity and the communal cauldron boiling.

A flashback: On 29 January 1885, Raghubar Das, Mahant of the Janmasthan, filed a civil suit seeking permission to construct a temple over the Ram Chabutra spot. The Mahant’s plea was opposed by Mohammed Asghar, mutawalli (guardian) of the Babri Mosque.

The Faizabad sub judge dismissed the suit on 24 December 1885. On 23 December 1949, idols of Hindu Gods were installed in the “disputed structure” and puja was started. Meanwhile, the Faizabad civil judge, on 1 January 1950, passed an ad-interim injunction  restraining the removal of the idols. The puja continued. The public was allowed darshan from beyond the brick-grill wall.

In 1985 came the Shah Bano judgment and the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave in to the Muslim fundamentalist pressure, overruling a secular court’s decision that the divorced Bano was entitled to alimony from her ex-husband. Rajiv enacted a law abolishing the alimony provision in conformity with the sharia.

Within months, Rajiv tried to restore the balance. In 1986, the Faizabad district judge, on an appeal by advocate Umesh Pandey, allowed the public to have the darshan from inside and ordered the respondents to remove the locks on the brick-grill wall. Rajiv Gandhi’s hand was clearly seen behind the court order.

However, mere unlocking was not good enough for the Hindus, who have been aspiring and struggling for centuries to build a grand temple at the Janmabhoomi site, befitting the stature of Lord Rama in Hindu tradition. So the agitation for the temple continued.

On the fateful day of 6 December 1992, a frenzied mob tore down the Babri edifice and hurriedly put a temporary-tented structure on the demolition site under which an idol of Ramlalla sits till this day.

There are irrefutable historical records that the Hindus had repeatedly attempted to recover the Janmabhoomi—in 1735, 1751, 1756 and so on. In 1767, Austrian Jesuit traveller Joseph Tiefenthaler noted that in spite of the Mughal king’s efforts to prevent them, the Hindus were worshipping and celebrating Rama Navami under the Babri structure.

Why has the issue remained unresolved for so long, even after the departure of the British? One, the “secularists” of various hues, who have been in power for most of the time in post-independent India, have a vested interest in keeping the dispute alive. And both, the pro- and anti-Ram temple parties, too have failed to grasp the issue at stake. The fight has never been for a piece of land or against a mosque. Twenty-five years ago, on December 6, the mob which demolished Babri, did not touch any other mosque either in Ayodhya or neighbouring Faizabad.

The Babri structure was brought down because a Ram temple could not be built at that very spot without doing so. What the agitated karsevaks demolished was not a mosque, but a symbol of humiliation forced by a ruthless foreign victor over the vanquished.

Demolishing a temple, highly revered by the locals and replacing it with a mosque on that very site was a political statement by the barbarous invader. The response to this historical injustice too should have been political and not legal—a la reconstruction of the Somnath temple, undertaken at the initiative of Sardar Patel after Independence.

Courts are a poor mechanism to deal with issues which carry long-standing historical baggage concerning faith and have political underpinnings. Reservations for Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and later for OBCs, was a political decision to undo the injustice of the past. Can you expect a court to decide whether reservations are needed or not?

The pre-Independence leadership gave into the Muslim League’s blackmailing and agreed for the partition of the country. Did any court decide if Muslims needed a separate country to feel safe?

In January 2015, Shireen Dalvi, editor of Awadhnama, was arrested for reprinting a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed. The works of noted authors such as Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie were banned in India, even before anyone in India had even read them. Non-Muslims, who constitute roughly 85 per cent of the population, were denied their right to read these works in deference to the sensitivities of Muslims.

In none of these cases, the executive or the affected parties waited for a judicial intervention or sought the opinion of the courts. In the Ramjanmabhoomi case, the legislature and executive should have taken the call. But with the likes of Kapil Sibal deeply embedded in the system, obviously it is not that easy. – The New Indian Express, 9 December 2017

» Balbir Punj is a former Rajya Sabha member and Delhi-based commentator on social and political issues.

Kapil & Promila Sibal

Fundamentals of the Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya – Subramanian Swamy

Sri Ram Lalla Temple, Ayodhya

The Sri Ram Lalla Temple on Ramjanmabhoomi has a superior claim to the site than any mosque. This is the fundamental truth in the Ayodhya dispute. … Therefore under law the Union Government can acquire the Babri Masjid site by a public notification, and urge the Muslim community to agree to shift the building of a new masjid to some other site well beyond and across the Saryu River. – Dr Subramanian Swamy

True and devout Hindus believe that Bhagvan Sri Rama was born in Ayodhya, the then capital of a flourishing kingdom of the Suryavansha dynasty. Rama is venerated as Maryada Purushottam, and worshipped by Hindus of the north. As an avatar of Vishnu, while it was first propagated by the Tamil saints known as Nayanmars and Alwars who composed many hymns and songs dedicated to his divinity, the North which later came to accept Rama as one, especially thanks to the saint Tulsidas, the fervour for Rama worship is much more. In that sense, Sri Rama was the first truly national king of India, supra region, supra varna or jati. That is why poet Iqbal called him “Imam-e-Hind”.

The exact spot of the palace where Rama was born has been and remains firmly identified in the Hindu mind and is held as sacred. This is the very area where stood from 1528 till December 6, 1992, a structure that came to be known as Babri Masjid, put up in 1528 by foreign invader Babar’s commander, Mir Baqi.

In fact, Baqi was a Shia Muslim, and hence he intended it to be a place for Shias to read namaz. Today, interestingly, it is the Sunni Wakf Board, which entered the legal dispute as late as 1961. It has been litigating in the Supreme Court claiming the title to the land on which the structure once stood. At the Allahabad High Court level, Sunni Wakf Board claim to the title of the land was rejected. No Muslim party today claims the Babri Masjid must be rebuilt on where it once stood because a masjid can be demolished under Islamic law.

I call it a “structure” since it cannot be strictly called a mosque by Sunni edicts—because it did not have the mandatory minarets and wazu [water pool]. That a Ram temple existed and or that there is a sacred spot known as Ramjanmabhoomi is attested by many ancient sources and by modern scientific methods.

In Skanda Purana [Chapter X, Vaishnav Khand] the site is vividly described. Valmiki Ramayana also describes it beautifully. Less than two decades before Mir Baqi carried out the horrible demolition of the Ram temple, Guru Nanak had visited the Ramjanmabhoomi and had darshan of Ramlalla in the mandir at the spot.

There are many commentaries on this visit which are a part of the Sikh scriptures. Guru Nanak himself records the barbarity of Babar’s invasions [in Guru Granth Sahib at p. 418]. In Akbar’s time, Abul Fazal wrote the Ain-i-Akbari in which he describes Ayodhya fame as the place of “Ram Chandra’s residence which in Treta age combined spiritual supremacy and kingship.” [Translated by Col. H. S. Jarrett and published in Kolkata in 1891]

In Chapter X of the Report of the Archeological Survey of India, NW and Oudh (1889), it is mentioned (p. 67) that Babri Mosque “was built in AD 1528 by Mir Khan on the very spot where the old temple of Janmasthan of Ram Chandra was standing.”

Hindus throughout foreign occupation of India have deeply held as sacred that exact spot where the Babri Masjid once stood, as is recorded in many official and judicial proceedings. In 1885, for example, Mahant Raghubar Das in a Suit No 61/280 of 1885 filed in the Court of the Faizabad Sub-Judge against the Secretary of State for India (who was based in London), prayed for permission to build a temple on the chabutra outside the mosque. His suit was dismissed on March 18, 1886.

However, in his order the Sub-Judge, an Englishman, stated thus: “It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus. But as the event occurred 358 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance.” Since the English as policy never sought to disturb the social status quo in India as evidenced, for example, on the sati question, the Judge took the easy way out and dismissed the suit.

It is now well established by GPRS-directed excavations done under the Allahabad High Court monitoring and verification in 2002-03, that a large temple did exist below where that Babri Masjid structure once stood. Inscriptions found during excavations describe it as a temple of Vishnu Hari who had killed the demon king Dasanan [Ravana].

The Sunni Wakf Board does not accept these findings as of any meaning or of any consequences. It does not, however, matter if all this was indeed so or not, since under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code it is prescribed that “Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of personswith the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

That is, an offence under criminal law is committed if a body of persons hold something as sacred. It does not matter if the majority does or does not hold so. Nor can a court decide what is sacred and what is not. Only a body of persons can identify what is sacred. The offence under Section 295 IPC is cognisable and non-bailable, as well as non-compoundable.

The fundamental question before us is thus this: Can a temple and a masjid be considered on par as far as sacredness is concerned ? Relying on two important court judgements that hold the field today, the answer is: No!  A masjid is not an essential part of Islam, according to a majority judgement of a Constitution Bench of India’s Supreme Court.

In the famous Ismail Farooqui vs Union of India case [reported in (1994) 6 SCC 376], the Supreme Court observed: “It has been contended that a mosque enjoys a particular position in Muslim law and once a mosque is established and prayers are offered in such a mosque, the same remains for all time to come a property of Allah … and any person professing Islamic faith can offer prayer in such a mosque, and even if the structure is demolished, the place remains the same where namaz can be offered.” [Para 80]

The Constitution Bench rebutted this contention stating: “The correct position may be summarised thus: Under Mohammedian law applicable in India, the title to a mosque can be lost by adverse possession…. A mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) can be offered anywhere, even in the open. Accordingly, its acquisition is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution of India.” [Para 82]

Thus, any Government depriving the Muslims of the Babri Masjid by an order of acquisition is within law, if the government decides to do so in the interest of public order, public health and morality [Article 25 of the Constitution]. The position in Islamic law is even more clear: in Saudi Arabia the authorities demolish mosques to lay roads and build apartment buildings. Even the mosque where Islam’s Prophet Mohammed used to pray was demolished!

But then what of a temple? Is it in the same category as the mosque in our jurisprudence?  When I was Union Law and Justice Minister in 1990-91, this question of the status of a temple—even if in ruins or without worship—had come up before me in a case of a smuggled-out bronze Nataraja statue which was up for auction in London.

Earlier the Government of India, when Rajiv Gandhi was PM, had decided to file a case in the London trial court in 1986 for recovery. The Nataraja statue had by then been traced to a temple in ruins in Pathur, in Thanjavur district. A farmer named Ramamoorthi had in 1976 had accidentally unearthed it while digging mud with a spade near his hut.

When the news spread, touts of an antique dealer by the name Ahmed Hussein reached him and paid a small sum and smuggled it out to London, where in 1982 they sold it to Bumper Development Corporation Private Limited. In turn, the said Corporation sent it to the British Museum for appraisal and possible purchase. By then the Government of India was onto it and asked the UK Government to take action.

The Nataraja idol was seized by London Metropolitan Police, and thus the Bumper Development Corporation sued the Police in court for recovery but lost the case. An appeal was filed in the Queens Bench [i.e., our High Court level] which was dismissed on April, 17 1989. So, the Bumper Corporation went to the House of Lords [our Supreme Court level]. On February 13, 1991 when I was Law Minister, the judgement came, which is truly landmark, dismissing Bumper’s final appeal [see (1991) 4 All ER 638].

The House of Lords upheld the Indian government’s position that because of the prana prathista puja, a temple is owned by the deity, in this case Lord Shiva, and any Hindu can litigate on behalf of the deity as a de facto trustee. The Bench consisting of Justices Purchas, Nourse and Leggatt concluded: “We therefore hold that the temple is acceptable as party to these proceedings and that it is as such entitled to sue for the recovery of the Nataraja.” [Page 648 para g]

Thus, even if a temple is in ruins as the ASI had found the Thanjavur temple or destroyed, as Ram temple was in the Babri Masjid area, any Hindu can sue on behalf of Lord Rama in court for recovery! No such ruling exists for a mosque for the simple reason that a mosque is just a facilitation centre for reading namaz, and has no essentiality for Islamic religion. It can be demolished and/or shifted as any building can and are being so today in Arab countries and Pakistan.

That is, the Ram temple on Ramjanmabhoomi has a superior claim to the site than any mosque. This is the fundamental truth in the Ayodhya dispute. This truth will apply, for example, to Kashi Vishvanath and Mathura temple sites as well.

Therefore under law the Union Government can acquire the Babri Masjid site by a public notification, and urge the Muslim community to agree to shift the building of a new masjid to some other site well beyond and across the Saryu River.

It is important to note here that as of now there are eight mosques in Ayodhya area which the ASI has taken over since these had no one coming to read namaz. Hence what use will another mosque be?

Hence the national response to the judgement of Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court allotting one-third of the Ramjanmabhoomi to the Sunni Wakf Board to build a mosque in the area near the Ramlala temple should be a resounding “No”! A temple cannot be equated to a mosque in either its immutability or its divinity. The masjid in Islamic law is just a building to facilitate reading of namaz, which anyway can be read anywhere.

Nor can we Hindus by the back door allow aggression and atrocity of demolishing temples be rewarded in any manner. Therefore, as with the Shah Bano case precedent, Government should bring an amendment to the Acquisition of Certain Areas Act of 1993 to bar constructing any structure other than those connected with a temple for Sri Rama.

That will be the fit atonement of the so-called secular people of our nation for tacitly tolerating for so long the demolition of Ram temple on the orders of Babar of Afghanistan. Babri, after whom the mosque is named, was a 9 year boy in Kabul who was a “special” intimate of Babar, with whom he was infatuated.

If such an amendment is not brought forth, Hindus should wage a fierce democratic struggle for the next 3½ years to force the government to do so or weld a solid Hindu Front supported by the Hindu Dharmacharyas, VHP and RSS can obtain an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha in the future.

From February 8, 2018, the Supreme Court will hear all the civil appeals plus my writ petition seeking enforcement of my fundamental right under Article 25 of the Constitution to worship at the spot where Hindus have faith Lord Ram was born. Since the Sunni Wakf Board is basing its argument of its rights to property, which is an ordinary right and not a fundamental right, hence under law my right is superior and overrides the Sunni Wakf Board claim of its ordinary right to property. –PGurus, 6 December 2017

» Dr Subramanian Swamy is a BJP National Executive member and Raja Sabha MP.

Ramlalla Temple on the Babri Masjid site after the demolition.

Babri Masjid and the great Indian Muslim divide – Sandhya Jain

Babri Masjid (1991)

Sandhya JainThe Shia Board asserts that the Sunni Board has no stake in Ayodhya as the mosque was Shia property. – Sandhya Jain

In a stunning blow to the hitherto dominant Sunni sect, the Shia Waqf Board filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on August 8, 2017 fracturing the united front put up by the Muslim community since the dramatic fall of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, asserting that the temple for Maryada Purushottam Sri Rama Chandra could come up at the Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, and a mosque could be raised at a reasonable distance in a Muslim-dominated area.

As one of the parties to the dispute, the Shia Board claimed that the demolished mosque was a Shia mosque, as the alleged destroyer of the Rama Mandir was a Shia general named Mir Abdul Baqi; hence the mosque built upon the ruins of the temple was a Shia mosque. The Board indicated a desire for peaceful resolution of the dispute which the Supreme Court is not keen to adjudicate upon.

This is a stupendous development as hitherto, since 6 December 1992, all efforts to strike a deal with the Shia community have met with failure as community leaders in Lucknow always pleaded helplessness in opposing the strident Sunni community. The Babri Masjid Action Committee that spearheaded the movement against handing over the site to the Hindu claimants has been dominated by Sunnis. It was the Sunnis who reneged on the promise to the Government of India and the Supreme Court that they would surrender claims to the site if it was established that the mosque was built on the ruins of a temple.

That claim was conclusively proved in a Supreme Court-ordered and monitored excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India. But far from retreating gracefully, the BMAC dug its heels in and refused to retreat from the scene, resulting in a prolonged stalemate.

The sudden divergence of views between the Shia and Sunni Waqf Boards appears to reflect larger Shia-Sunni conflicts in the Muslim world, with Shias being targetted by jihadis in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, and their holy sites desecrated. Iran, the self-proclaimed protector of Shias worldwide, has facilitated the spectacular victory of the Syrian Arab Army against Islamic State jihadis in Syria, thus enabling the survival of the Alawite (Shia) regime headed by Basher al-Assad; it has also prevented Yemen from crumbling before the Saudi assault.

Now, the Shia Board explicitly asserts that the Sunni Board has no stake in Ayodhya as the mosque was Shia property; hence, “only Shia Central Waqf Board UP, is entitled to negotiate and arrive at a peaceful settlement with other remaining stake holders”.

The Board further opined that proximity of “place of worships should be avoided in as much as both denominations using loudspeakers tend to disturb the religious performance of each other often leading to conflicts and acrimony”. Therefore, “to bring a quietus to the issue, Masjid can be located in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Ram.”

Reports claim that the Shia Board decided late July to stake claim to the Ayodhya site. Such a momentous decision could hardly be taken overnight. It seems likely that Yogi Adityanath, head of the non-communal Gorakhnath Peeth, was selected as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister by Prime Minister Narendra Modi precisely to accomplish an acrimony-free transfer of the sacred site for the Rama Temple. Should this be accomplished, it would be a far greater feat than rebuilding the Somnath Temple in Saurashtra, where the only resistance to be overcome was that of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In Civil Appeal No. 10836-10867 of 2010, the Shia Central Waqf Board through its chairman, Syed Waseem Rizvi (Respondent No. 24), filed a counter affidavit asserting that the “Babari Masjid” was a Shia Waqf and not a Sunni Waqf as claimed by the Sunni Central Waqf Board UP. As the Allahabad High Court judgement stated that “Muslims” should get not less than one-third of the disputed area, chairman Rizvi asserted that this obviously alluded to “Shias” as the High Court had rejected the Sunni Board’s claim (based on Notification dated 16 February 1944 by the Chief Commissioner of Waqfs under the Muslim Waqfs Act, 1936) that Babari Masjid was a Sunni Waqf.

The High Court declared the said Notification of 16 February 1944 as illegal as it was issued in violation of provisions of the 1936 Act, as it was made without issuing a notice to the interested persons, which was a statutory requirement. It follows that the Waqf was a Shia Waqf as a waqf must always be Shia or Sunni, according to its creator (Waqif).

Certain Arabic inscriptions in the disputed structure, cited in previous judgments, establish beyond doubt that the mosque was built by Mir Baqi, a Shia Waqif, who created a Shia waqf. All mutawallis, including the last one (1949) were admittedly Shia and were descendants of Abdul Baqi, a Shia from Ispahan (Persia). It is notable that the Baqi family tree has not been seriously challenged. Verses engraved on a tablet in the central arch of the mosque describe Mir Baqi as an ‘Ispahani’, a resident of Ispahan.

On 30 March 1946, the Faizabad Civil Judge, S.A. Ahsan, ruled that it was inconceivable that a Sunni waqif would appoint a Shia mutawalli, or vice versa (Regular Suit No.29 of 1945).

The affidavit states that Muslims must ponder that the entire world wants to know the exact teaching of Islam in respect of the relationship of Muslims with others. Indian Muslims, it says, enjoy a unique position. They have been rulers, they have been ruled and now they are sharers in power. They are not in majority but they are also not a negligible minority and are in fact the most populous Muslim community in the world after Indonesia. As legatees of a huge corpus of religious knowledge, Indian Muslims are exceptionally placed to tell the world the true teachings of Islam, beginning with a resolution of the Ayodhya dispute.

The Allahabad High Court proclaimed Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara as joint title holders to the disputed premises and allotted them one-third share each, with the stipulation that the portion beneath the central dome, where the murti of Sri Rama is installed, would be allotted to Hindus in the final decree. The Nirmohi Akhara would receive the portion including the Ram Chabutra and Sita ki Rasoi, and the parties could make minor and mutual adjustments while dividing their respective shares.

The Shia Waqf chairman observed that the intent of this judgment was that the parties amicably settle the dispute, and his sect was willing to do so. As there has been no dialogue in the matter in the past seven years, he urged the Supreme Court to appoint a Committee headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court and two retired Judges of the Allahabad High Court, with the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (or his nominee) and a nominee from the Prime Minister’s Office. The nominees of the Shia Central Waqf Board UP, Nirmohi Akhara and Hindu sect, would offer suggestions for an amicable settlement to this committee.

The Shia leader added that the Sunni Central Waqf Board UP was dominated by “Sunni hardliners, the fanatics, and non-believers in peaceful coexistence, who have absolutely no stake in the present case”. As Babari Masjid was a Shia Waqf, the Shia Central Waqf Board UP alone is entitled to negotiate a peaceful settlement with other remaining stakeholders.

Chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi further informed the Court that after his views became known, he had received threats from the hardliners, and had informed the Government of Uttar Pradesh, which is reportedly taking steps for his security. He reiterated the keenness of the Shia sect for amicable settlement of the dispute.

Should the Supreme Court constitute such a committee, this could be a very different Diwali. – PGurus, 9 August 2017

» Sandhya Jain writes on political and contemporary affairs. She is a post-graduate in Political Science from the University of Delhi and a student of  Indian civilisation.

Ramlalla Temple on the Babri Masjid site after the demolition.

Epitaph for the Ayodhya affair – Koenraad Elst

Sri Ram Lalla Temple, Ayodhya

Koenraad ElstProfessor Meenakshi Jain’s new book, “The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya,” is a definitive and scholarly guide to the biggest controversy of the early nineties, which totally changed the dynamics of Indian politics. – Dr Koenraad Elst

Ayodhya, the city supposedly founded by the patriarch Manu, and at one time the seat of the kings belonging to the Solar Dynasty, including Rama, still decides who can rule India. It no longer arouses the passions it did ca. 1990, but we all have to live with the political consequences of the controversies of those days.

Political fall-out

In the 1980s the Congress Party aimed for a non-conflictual way to leave the contested site of Rama’s birth to Hindu society, where it belongs, all while compensating the Muslim leadership with some concessions. This would have been typical Congress culture: horse-trading may not be noble, but it has the merit of not needlessly exacerbating tensions, it is bloodless and keeps all parties satisfied. By 1990, the temple could have been built, just one more of the thousands that adorn India, and the whole matter would have been forgotten by now.

But the secularist historians publicly intervened and put everyone on notice that the misplaced Babri Masjid which Muslims had imposed on the site centuries ago was the last bulwark of secularism. Just like Jawaharlal Nehru said about democracy in peril: “Defend it with all your might!” Though it was a Congress PM, PV Narasimha Rao, who presided over its demolition by Hindu militants on 6 December 1992 and refused to save the Masjid, the party did not stay the course. It had been intimidated into conformity with the secularist line and also underwent the natural effect of polarization: it adopted the line opposite to the one that had by then been chosen by its adversary, the BJP.

Under the fateful leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee, the BJP had been reduced to total marginality in the 1980s. After it committed itself to the Ayodhya cause championed by the Vishva Hindu Parishad, however, it made a spectacular leap in the 1989 elections and became the largest opposition party in the snap elections of 1991. After those profits had been politically encashed, it effectively abandoned the cause. This betrayal (together with the Supreme Court’s dithering in speaking out on the controversy) provoked the activists into wresting the initiative from BJP leader Lal Krishan Advani and physically removing the mosque. This only encouraged the BJP to disown the movement entirely.

No matter, for by then, a decisive turn had been taken. For Rama and his devotees, the main hurdle in the way of building a proper temple at his birth site was now out of the way. Hindus could look forward to Ayodhya becoming an unfettered pilgrimage site. Most Muslims now gave up all hopes of having the site as their own. However, the Muslim hardliners could console themselves that, on present demographic trends, India will turn Islamic-majority anyway, at which time all open accounts can still be settled. The case which the secularist historians had tried to build, deploying rhetoric with which they managed to over-awe the politicians, still had to judicially confront the case built in favour of the temple by other scholars. Those in the know expected that the secularists would not be able to convince the judges.

For the BJP, what counted was that it had by now become a non-ignorable political player. It was on the way to accession to the government. As Prime Ministers, both Vajpayee and Narendra Modi owe a debt to Rama and his dynamic devotees. Conversely, by leaving the issue to the BJP, Congress no longer had a monopoly on being the natural party of government.

Battle

To sum up: the Ayodhya controversy was one of the main events in post-Independence India. It is inappropriate, though significant, that all the vocal Ayodhya-meddlers of yore have fallen silent. Conversely, it is everyone’s good fortune that a comprehensive account of the decisive factors in at least the scholarly debate has been presented, and further researched for angles hitherto unknown, by as competent a historian and as serene a writer as Meenakshi Jain.

In her new book, ‘The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya’ (Aryan Books International, Delhi 2017), Prof. Jain gives a contents-wise overview of the controversy. It hardly touches upon the street riots and political campaigns but focuses on the documentary and archaeological evidence and the scholarly debate about these. The book carries plenty of photographs of the artefacts found at the site. With only 160 pages and a pleasant layout, it ought to reach the larger public and henceforth serve as the definitive guide to what the stake of the whole affair was.

She, first of all, lays bare what the controversy was about. First of all, not about Rama’s existence or the exact place where he was born. Religions never submit their basic convictions to a secular court (though these convictions are a fair object of free intellectual debate). Hindus need not lower themselves to that level, though some leaders actually felt pressured into the silly exercise of “proving” Rama’s existence. Conversely, nor should the secularists have demanded this of them: they already showed their malicious intent by even raising the question. And, of course, they never asked of the Muslim party by what right a mosque had been imposed on the temple site, even though it directly implicates their scriptures and the example set by their Prophet, who had personally destroyed the murtis in the main pilgrimage site of the Pagan Arabs, the Kaaba in Mecca.

Rather, the focus rightfully was, and has effectively been, on the medieval history of the site, when a replay of the usual scenario of iconoclasm already enacted in numerous places to India’s west had been inflicted on the Rama Janmabhumi site. Until the early 1980s, no interested party had denied that a Rama birthplace temple had been demolished to make way for a mosque. In the atmosphere of ca. 1990, whipped up by the secularists, arguing for this scenario had seemed an uphill task, and the scholars who did the job were widely acclaimed in Hindu circles. Not just the medieval battles resulting in iconoclasm and the street riots then taking place, but even the historians’ debate turned out to be a battle requiring some courage.

Brazen-faced deceit

But in fact, they could capitalize on a number of documents written in tempore non suspecto, mostly by Muslims, that attested it. Their argument claimed nothing out of the ordinary, it was the secularist case that, with hindsight, stood out as far-fetched. The closer verification of the evidence undertaken by Prof. Jain shows that the secularist case proves to have been even poorer than we thought at the time.

In her book Rama and Ayodhya (2013), she had already shown that the Leftist academics who had fought for the Babri Masjid, had crumbled under judicial court examination. This time, we are given to deal not just with their lack of genuine expertise, but with actual deceit and deliberate lies by some of them. Back in 1990, in his article “Hideaway communalism”, Arun Shourie had already brought to light four cases where Muslim authorities had tampered with old documents that showed how the Muslim community itself had always taken for granted the mosque’s location on land venerated as Rama’s birthplace. Now, Irfan Habib’s seemingly strongest piece of evidence (not for the temple’s non-existence, of course, but at least for the untrustworthiness of some pro-temple spokesmen) turned out to be false.

During the demolition on 6 December 1992, many Hindu artefacts had turned up, albeit in less than desirable circumstances from an archaeological viewpoint. Proper excavations at the site in mid-1993 found some more, before the thorough Court-ordered excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India in 2003 uncovered the famous pillar-bases, long ridiculed as a “Hindutva concoction” by the secularists but henceforth undeniable. Among the first findings during the demolition was the Vishnu Hari inscription, dating from the mid-11th century Rajput temple, which the Babri Masjid masons had placed between the outer and inner wall. Several Babri historians dismissed the inscription as fake, as of much later date, or as actually brought by the Kar Sevaks during the demolition itself.

Prof. Irfan Habib, in a combine with Dr. Jahnawi Roy and Dr. Pushpa Prasad, dismissed this inscription as stolen from the Lucknow Museum and to be nothing other than the Treta ka Thakur inscription. The curator kept this inscription under lock, but after some trying, Kishore Kunal, author of another Ayodhya book, Ayodhya Revisited (2016), could finally gain access to it and publish a photograph. What had been suspected all along, turns out to be true: Prof. Habib, who must have known both inscriptions, has told a blatant lie. Both inscriptions exist and are different. Here they have been neatly juxtaposed on p.104-5. Yet, none of the three scholars has “responded to the publication of the photograph of the Treta ka Thakur inscription, which falsifies the arguments they have been persistently advocating for over two decades.” (p.112)

It is no news if a secularist tells a lie: they have been doing it all along. Only, in the past they could get away with it, as the media and the publishers toed their line and withheld the publication of facts that pin-pricked their authority. Today, internet media have broken open the public sphere and some publishers have been emboldened to defy the secularists by exposing their misdeeds and defeats. The establishment media will not give any publicity to this book but defend the status-quo instead, yet the truth is irrevocably out. Since the suppression of the truth concerning Ayodhya was part of a power equation to the secularists’ advantage, the waning of that power equation means that future scholars will now become free to take the mendaciousness of the then secularists into account.

Pro-temple case

On the other hand, the pro-temple case turns out to have been even stronger than Hindus at the time realized. Thus, in much of the Moghul period, Muslims continuously acknowledged the site’s association with Rama. In the circumstances, Hindus could not replace mosque architecture with temple architecture, but they continued to assert their presence around the site and celebrate Rama’s birthday (Rama Navami). Since the crumbling of Moghul power,  they even seem to have had access to the disputed building itself:

No evidence whatsoever has been proffered of continued Muslim occupation Babri Masjid, while the uninterrupted presence of Hindu devotees has been attested by several sources. Babri Masjid finds no mention in the revenue records of the Nawabi and British periods, nor was any Waqf ever created for its upkeep. No Muslim filed an FIR when the image of Sri Rama was placed under the central dome on 23rd December 1949. (p.144)

It is only in the nick of time that the Sunni Central Waqf Board entered litigation, on 18 December 1961 (five days later, it would have become time-barred), thus juridically causing the controversy. From then on, it was up to the politicians to ensure a peaceful settlement to prevent the Court proceedings from provoking street riots. After the Court gave Hindu worshippers unlimited access in 1986, a definitive formal settlement became urgent. Congress PM Rajiv Gandhi thought he could handle this challenge, but the initiative was wrested from his hands by the secularist historians. With their shrill statements about “secularism in danger”, they raised the stakes enormously. The rest is history.

Discrimination

Even after the Allahabad High Court ruled in favour of the Hindu claim on 30 September 2010, a statement signed by a handful of secularist veterans of the anti-temple campaign considered it a scandal that the verdict had acknowledged the “faith and belief of the Hindus” (quoted p.140). Mind you, the judges had not internalized that claim, they had kept a clear distance, but assumed that “secularism” presupposes a recognition of this fact. This is the attitude that any Indian law or verdict adopts concerning Islam as well. The very existence of a category “Muslim community” (entitled e.g. to the Hajj pilgrimage and even to taxpayer-funded subsidies for this Hajj) implies the acknowledgment of a specific set of beliefs that make up Islam, and nobody finds this a scandal.

So, this statement bespeaks a discrimination between Hindus, who are first expected to give scientific proofs of their beliefs, and the minorities, whose irrational and unprovable beliefs should be accepted without any ado. It is but one of the many illustrations of how in India, “secularist” unambiguously means “anti-Hindu”. That is not paranoia but a hard fact, frequently illustrated by real-life events including unasked-for statements by the secularists themselves. India-watchers who assure their audiences that the Indian state is “religiously neutral”, or indeed “secular”, only prove their own incompetence.

As Prof. Jain concludes:

So why has the matter dragged on for so long? Can a handful of historians be held accountable for stalling resolution of what is essentially a settled matter? Their voluble assertions on Babri Masjid have all been found to be erroneous, yet there has been no public retraction. Are they liable for vitiating social harmony over the issue? If the nation has to move on, honest answers must be found to these questions. (p.145)

Epilogue

This book documents one rare Hindu victory. Having personally lived through some scenes of this long drama, and having seen many of the concerned actors evolve over the years, and seen one generation succeeded by another, I wonder if this victory doesn’t highlight a deeper evolution that can only be characterized as a defeat.

Around 1990, enormous passions were unleashed by the masses’ attachment to the Rama Janmabhumi or the Babri Masjid. It led some activists to acts of resourcefulness and of heroism including giving their lives. It led some scholars to the abandonment of their professional objectivity, to acts of deceit and plain mendaciousness. But at any rate, it proved numerous people’s deep convictions. One can hardly imagine such passions today, and perhaps it is for the better, with cooler heads and calmer minds. Unfortunately, the real reason seems to lie elsewhere.

In comparison, today’s Hindus, and especially the young generation, are more lukewarm about issues of Hindu history. Indeed, they are far more ignorant about them, and “unknown makes unloved”. Today they know all about computer games and silly American-inspired TV shows, but little about Hanuman. When I enquired about this among youngsters looking up from their smartphones, they claimed that they actually knew more about Hinduism than their parents’ generation. That might be true to an extent for the inquisitive ones who look things up on Google (not always a reliable source, moreover), but the vast majority does not compensate for its increasing ignorance this way. On the contrary, the illiterate and semi-literate ones are the demographic where this decline of Hinduism is most palpable (to the extent that an outsider can tell; but then, many insiders confirm this impression). They used to internalize Hinduism not by reading or scanning, but by breathing in the culture that existed all around them. It is this that now disappears, making way for the hollowest contents of the modern media.

In this respect, the secularists have won. It is their version of history that is percolating to the masses. Many of them know nothing about history except what they have learned at school in their history textbooks. And these are under secularist control. A BJP attempt to correct these ca. 2002 failed. The only new schoolbook that was fully up to standard, was precisely the contribution by Meenakshi Jain. In any case, all BJP textbooks were at once discarded as soon as the Congress-Communist alliance came to power in 2004. The present BJP government is hardly equipped to do a new overhaul, and even shows no interest in doing so.

So, either Hindu society is continuing on the present path, and then Prof. Jain’s beautiful book will merely gather dust as a memory from a bygone age when Hindus had not given up yet. A museum piece. Only if it inspires more such thorough history, and only if the latter gets promoted by a powerful establishment among the masses, will it prove to be the light-bringer of a new dawn. – Pragyata, 27 February 2017

The Battle for Rama : Case of the Temple at Ayodhya