Hindu Vivek Kendra
7. Untenability of the alternative hypothesis

7.1 No second Janmasthan

A thesis advanced by the anti-Mandir people is that the new Janmasthan temple (also known as Sita ki Rasoi) on the mound adjacent to and north of the Babri structure is itself the original Janmasthan shrine.  On many grounds, this proposition is untenable :

1) This is a relatively new temple and there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that it is more than 250 years old.

2) Available historical evidence shows that this shrine was originally started by a sadhu named Ram Dasji in about 1704 AD, on a piece of land donated by Mir Masoom Ali Mafidar.  Subsequently, the present impressive structure was built by a Hindu minister of Safdarjang (the Shia Nawab of Awadh), Naval Rai, who rebuilt many temples during this period of relative benevolence, mostly on sites of original sites destroyed by Muslims.  Where the original site was occupied, as in this case, a neighbouring site was used for the construction.

3) Tieffenthaler described the new Babri Masjid in detail as being the site of the original Ram Janmabhoomi, while he also mentions the new Janmasthan temple (Site ki Rasoi) as a very famous one in the city.

4) The thesis that the original Ram Janmabhoomi shrine continued without any interference leaves unexplained the origin of the persistent controversy about Ram Janmabhoomi on the Babri Masjid site.

7.2 Hindus never ceased claiming the site

It is well-attested that Hindus persistently tried to retrieve their holy land, which led to conflicts between Hindus and Muslims.  The Hindus regained control of the courtyard by the 18th century and kept up their pressure on the site under the domed structure.  There is no reasonable explanation for this persistent attachment to the site, except that it was in continuation of an older, pre-Masjid tradition.

A document enclosed with a letter dated 12th August, 1855 from Wazid Ali Shah, the king of Oudh, to the British Resident Major James Outram, carrying the seal of the Qazi of Faizabad in the year 1735 A.D., mentioned that a serious riot had taken place over the Masjid "built by the emperor of Delhi" (apparently a conflict of the kind that took place in 1855) between Hindus and Muslims, during the times of Burhan-ul-Mulk Saadat Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Oudh (1707-1736) over the possession of this mosque.  (NAI, Foreign, Political Proceedings, 28th December, 1855, No.355 (Enclosure No.5)).

Maratha documents show that one of the main objectives of Maratha operations and policy in North India was the liberation of the sacred cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi and Prayag.  In the year 1751 Maratha armies led by Malhar Rao Holkar, at the invitation of Safdarjang, the second Nawab of Oudh, defeated the Pathan forces in Doab.  Immediately after his victory Malhar Rao Holkar requested Safdarjang to handover Ayodhya, Kashi and Prayag to the Peshwa.  (A.L. Srivastava: The First Two Nawabs of Oudh)

Again, when in 1756 the third Nawab Shujauddaula invited Maratha help against impending Afghan invasion, the Maratha agent of the Court of Oudh demanded the transfer of these three holy places including Ayodhya and the negotiations lingered on for more than a year on this one point.  Ultimately in July 1757, Shujauddaula agreed to transfer the holy cities of Ayodhya and Kashi to the Maratha leader Raghoba.  But the transfer could not be implemented as Maratha armies got entangled in the conquest of the Punjab which ultimately led to the tragedy of Panipat (1761 A.D.)

But Peshwa Balaji Bajirao's eagerness to acquire Ayodhya is reflected in one of his letters dated 23rd February, 1759 to Dattaji Scindia, his General in the North wherein the Peshwa reminds Scindia that "Mansur Ali's son (i.e., Shujauddaula) had promised to Dada (i.e. Raghoba) to cede Benares and Ayodhya" and instructs him to take hold of those places alongwith Prayag.  (Cf. Sarkar J.N.: Fall of the Moghul Empire, Vol.II, Calcutta, 1934 ff 231-233).

Historians Dr. A.L. Srivastava, Sir J.N. Sarkar, G.S. Sardesai and Dr. Hari Ram Gupta who have studied this period of history very deeply have concluded that "Had the Bhau (Sadashiv) emerged successful from Panipat, within a few years Kashi, Prayag and Ayodhya would have been emancipated".  (Hari Ram Gupta: Marathas & Panipat, Chandigarh 1961, p.292).

In 1767 Tieffenthaler found that in spite of the Mughal kings' efforts to prevent them, the Hindus had re-occupied the courtyard, raised the Ram Chabootra thereon, and were worshipping there as well as under the domed structure.

In 1854 Thornton recorded in his Gazetteer exactly the same situation as Tieffenthaler had found.

In 1855 there was a big clash in which nearly 300 Muslims under Shah Ghulam Hussain took possession of the Babri mosque and tried to fix doors on it.  On protests from Hindus, clashes started.  Muslims attacked Hanumangarhi, but were driven back with considerable loss.  Then the Hindus counter-attacked, stormed the Janmasthan and killed 70 Muslims who were buried nearby.  Shah Ghulam Hussain jumped over the wall and fled.

In 1856, the Muazzin of the Babri mosque, in a petition before the British authorities admitted that the courtyard had been in possession of the Hindus for hundreds of years and now they were interfering with the domed structure as well.

In 1934, serious Hindu-Muslim clashes occurred in and around the Babri mosque, occasioned by a cow slaughter.  Many people were killed and the structure was seriously damaged.

In November and December 1949, the Hindus held large sessions of Ramayana-recitation around the site, in order to purify it.  On December 22/23, idols were installed (some say they miraculously appeared) and the place was re-consecrated for Ram worship.

7.3 Attempts to suppress Muslim testimony

While all Muslim writers before 1949 proudly proclaimed the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi for construction of the mosque, hailing it as virtuous act of proclaiming the victory of Islam over Hinduism, there are definite indications that in recent years (especially since the Hindus strengthened their claim over the site) attempts have been made to suppress evidence and manipulate records.  The following cases will show this.

1) Gumgashte Halat-i Ajodhya Awadh by Maulvi Abdul Karim (referred to in 3:8), was translated from Persian to Urdu by his grandson Maulvi Abdul Gaffar.  The first edition of this translation, published in Lucknow in 1979, retained the description of demolition of the temple at Janmasthan.  But this portion was removed from the second edition published in 1981 (p.53-54).

2) In 1989, a leading intellectual of this country looked for the book "Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein" ("Hindustan under Islamic Rule"), by Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai (referred to in 3:11), which included a chapter on Hindustan ki Masjidein, containing a description of the demolition of several temples in the country including the Ram Janmabhoomi, and their replacement by mosques.  He found that many people who certainly should have known thebook, were not willing to recall it.  The book was also missing in the libraries of famed Muslim institutes, including the AMU.  If one perforce wants to consider all this mere concoction and insinuation, this much is verifiable fact : the English version (1977) has the tell-tale passages in the descriptions of seven mosques built on temples, including the Babri Masjid, censored out or substituted.

3) The manuscript of the Muruqqa-i Khusrawi by Sheikh Mohammed Azamat Ali Nami, was only available in the Tagor library, Lucknow, for over 100 years.  In 1986, when the F.A. Ahmad Memorial Committee published it, they omitted the chapter relating to the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi and the Hindu-Muslim clashes in 1855.  Later dr.  Zaki Kakorawi had to get this published independently without getting any financial aid from the committee.

4) The Settlement Record of 1861 (First Khasra Kishtwar Settlement Report) contained only the name of Janmasthan on all the 10 plots of Khasra no. 163.  But in the copy of the report kept in the Faizabad Mahafazkhana, someone has made interpolations to insert the names of Jama Masjid and Muafi against one of the plots.  The interpolation becomes evident if one looks at the record available at Tehsil Office, the record of second Revenue Settlement 91893 AD) and the Revised Khasra records of Nazul department of 1931 AD.

The fact that some people thought it necessary to conceal, manipulate or even obliterate pieces of testimony to the history and the actual use of the disputed structure and its courtyard, corroborates our view that these pieces do have proof value in favour of the Mandir hypothesis.

7.4 Total lack of counter-evidence

The thesis recently advanced by some persons that the Babri Masjid did not replace any extant Ram temple goes against common sense in many ways.  The well-attested fact that the Hindus offered Ram Puja in the mosque courtyard even under Muslim rule, the rows of 11th century pillar-bases aligned with the wall of the present structure, the touch-stone pillars incorporated in it, the Hindu sculptures they carry, all these indications converge on the thesis of a pre-existent Ram temple replaced by the Babri mosque.  This thesis is also in perfect conformity with historically attested behaviour patterns of Hindu devotees and Muslim conquerors.  Indeed, the Ram Mandir hypothesis postulates a little more than that the general patterns applied in Ayodhya too.

By contrast, the anti-Mandir thesis rests on a number of untenable assumptions :

1) The Babri Masjid was built on empty land.  But the site is the highest point in central Ayodhya, the place of honour : in no city in the world would it ever have been left empty, much less in a temple city of long standing.

2) Mir Baqi went elsewhere to collect the touch-stone pillars, but at that other place where the material was readily available, he did not build a mosque (for no second mosque with such pillars is known).

3) The tradition associating the site with Rama was created out of nothing while the site was occupied by an imperial mosque.  Hindus left whatever place they had earlier considered the birthplace, without a trace, and started an exclusively Hindu worship in a mosque courtyard taking the unparalleled risk of confronting the Muslim power, for no historical reason at all.

4) The British concocted the story, eventhough their knowledge of these traditions was scant, no priests or sadhus belonging to this tradition would ever believe an outsider's theory (till today they reject any scholarly chronology of Indian history), plenty of temples-turned-mosques were in existence without needing concoction, and no similar rumour-mongering by the British has been reported anywhere in India.

In an academic context, the burden of proof would rest squarely with those coming up with such a string of far-fetched hyptheses to contradict a well-established hypothesis attested to by a long list of uncontroverted independent testimonies by local Muslim as well as European writers spanning 4 centuries.  More so because the Mandir hypothesis is not only supported by the evidence which we have presented, but is coherent with well-attested behaviour patterns:

1) Muslim conquerors destroyed many temples and replaced them with mosques.

2) In a few cases, they left the whole building standing (Kaaba, Aya Sophia); but far more often they left the earlier building only partly standing, or razed it completely, but visibly used parts of the destroyed temple, to flaunt the victory of Islam over paganism: e.g., the Jama Masjid of Damascus (Syria), the Gyanvapi mosque (Varanasi), Jami Masjid of Rajamundri (Andhra), Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid (Delhi), Adhayi-Din-ka-Jhonpra mosque (Ajmer), Jami Masjid of Kannauj (U.P.), Jami Masjid of Sambhal (U.P.).

3) As N.  Manucci (17th century) and A.  Cunningham (19th century) have testified, Hindus often kept returning to places on which a mosque had been imposed, and this more so to the extent that the place itself, rather than the erstwhile temple, was sacred to them.

A simple test whether the anti-Mandir hypothesis deserves any consideration at all, is the element for which evidence should be most easy to find: the British concoction hypothesis.  In the plentiful and well-kept archives which the British have left us, it should not be too difficult for genuine historians to find some piece of evidence.  But so far, no proof whatsoever has been given either for such an actual course of events or even for similar British tactics at another time and place.  If the anti-Mandir polemists cannot even come up with that, their whole hypothesis stands exposed as a highly implausible and purely theoretical construction.

7.5 Conclusion

The choice is between two hypotheses.  Actually, the hypothesis that a Mandir stood on the Ram Janmabhoomi site until Babar's troops destroyed it and replaced it with the Babri Masjid, has only recently been made into a "hypothesis" and forced to compete with the alternative anti-Mandir hypothesis.  Until recently, the pre-existence of a Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir at the Babri Masjid site was a matter of established consensus.  It was confirmed by a large number of Hindu, Muslim and European sources from the 17th century onwards, and never once put in doubt.  And it explains all the relevant facts and observations mentioned in all the sources, and all the iconographical and archaeological findings at the site.

By contrast, the alternative hypothesis is a recent invention of armchair theorizers under political compulsions.  Formally, it does no more than put into question a number of the sources which confirm the Mandir hypothesis.  It does not offer a coherent scenario that would explain all the available facts.  It goes against general historical knowledge in a number of respects, and fails to justify its extraordinary assumptions.  Materially, it does not come up with any proof : no proof that any of the pro-Mandir documents is telling lies, much less any proof of the events that would make up an alternative non-Mandir scenario.

The choice is between a hypothesis firmly rooted in reality, and a hypothesis constructed in the air and totally out of tune with general knowledge and particular evidence.  Faced with this choice, any sincere scholar, and indeed any citizen with common sense, will not find it difficult to make up his mind.

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