Hindu Vivek Kendra
1.  Introduction

On the western ramparts of the ruins of an ancient Hindu fortress, called Ramkot or Ram Durga, in the center of the temple city Ayodhya, amidst a large number of Hindu shrines, on the high mound overlooking the latter, stands a medieval Islamic structure, claimed as the "Babri Masjid".  The fact that this structure was built after displacing the holy Hindu shrine of Ram Janmabhoomi, existing on the site believed by the Hindus to be the birthplace of Ram, and therefore held specially sacred by them, rests on a mass of literary, historical, archaeological and judicial evidence.

1.1 Sacredness of the site

Some persons seek to question the very foundation of this evidence by arguing that Ram is a mythical and not a historical character, and that it cannot be proven that he was born on the Janmabhoomi site.  That objection can be answered by pointing out that such proof is not required according to the international standards prevalent in this kind of issue.

No one in the world has demanded evidence for the sacred character of the mosques on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Is it proven that the Dome on the Rock or the Al-Aqsa mosque was built over Mohammed's footprint in the rock? Is it true that Mohammed landed there after a journey through heaven on a winged horse? No one has questioned the grounds on which the Muslims hold these places to be sacred.  And so, even the Israeli government upholds the right of the Muslims to their sacred places.  Similarly, the grotto in which Jesus is believed to have been born, is protected as a place of pilgrimage for the Christians.  The belief that Jesus was born there, is neither theologically important not historically verified.  Yet, the Christians' right to their sacred place is upheld without questioning.

Like followers of other religions, we do not need to offer a justification for considering that very site sacred.

So, the relevant question to be considered, is not: can you prove the grounds on which you hold this site to be sacred? The relevant question is : is there proof that an old and persistent tradition among Ram devotees has considered the site as the sacred Ram Janmabhoomi, and that Ram worship took place there in a temple, before and until the Babri Masjid was built? The evidence which is presented here, will prove that the question has to be answered in the affirmative.  

1.2 Documentary evidence

The literary evidence beginning with Valmiki's Ramayana, written, even on the most modest estimates, before the 2nd century BC, shows how Ayodhya became a sacred city in Hindu perception, a place of abundant sanctity and pilgrimage on account of its being considered as the city of Ram's birth, activities (lila) and death.  The evidence also points to the fact that Hindu veneration has been for the site itself, which, as much as the temples or images standing thereon (if any), is in itself considered to be an object of worship.

The existence of a Ram Janmabhoomi shrine at Ramkot, marking what was believed to be the birthplace of Ram, and held by Hindus as one of their holiest spots on earth in the 12th-13th centuries, is well-attested by its description in the Ayodhya Mahatmya, a sacred Hindu text forming part of the Vaishnava Khanda of the Skanda Purana.  The Ayodhya Mahatmya narrates the supreme glory of the Ram Janmabhoomi shrine situated to the west of Lomash Ashram and north of Vasishtha Kund, specially of offering worship on this spot on Ram Navami day, Ram's birthday.

All the historical literature after 1528 AD, when a mosque was constructed by Mir Baqi at a spot west of Lomash and north of Vasishtha Kund under the orders of the Moghul conqueror Babar, and using 14 black Kasauti-stone pillars of an erstwhile Hindu building, attest that the Hindus continued to consider this as their holy Janmasthan shrine, kept returning to it to offer their devotions, occupied its courtyard in due course, and built thereon a Ram Chabootra (cradle of baby Ram) and a Sita kitchen.  There are numerous accounts that prove the continued celebration of Ram Navami festival at this place with great gatherings of people, and bitterness between Hindus and Muslims over the former's attempts to take over the place, leading to several disputes and clashes in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.  This literature contains a mass of uncontroverted testimony from Muslims and European writers accepting that the Babri mosque was constructed on the site of the Ram Janmabhoomi, destroying the temple and using its materials.

Against this mass of testimony, it has been pointed out that Babar's own, otherwise meticulous, diary is silent about a temple demolition and mosque construction at the Janmabhoomi site.  This seeming "argument from silence" has been conclusively explained by mrs.  Beveridge in her English translation (Babur Nama in English).  Babar reached the Ayodhya area on March 28, 1528, and camped there for a short period to settle the affairs of Awadh.  Unfortunately, in all known copies of Babar's diary, there is a break in the narrative between April 2 and September 18 of 1528.  The loss of these pages could have occurred during the storm on May 17, 1529, or during Humayun's stay in the desert after 1540.  Any reference to the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple would logically have to be found in those missing pages.

To the literary testimony for the continuous tradition of Ram worship at the disputed site, and for the uncontroverted belief that the Babri Masjid had replaced a Ram Janmabhoomi temple, we may add another category of written evidence : the revenue records.  These show that the Masjid/Janmabhoomi area has been considered as Waqf property only after 1931 (and even then this was contested), and that it has always been known as "Janmasthan".  In fact, most pre-British documents call the Babri mosque the "Masjid-i Janmasthan", or even just Janmasthan.

1.3 Evidence on the spot

Our archaeological evidence comes from the excavations conducted in the area immediately south of and adjacent to the Babri mosque.  Here the fieldwork was conducted from 1975 through 1980 by the Archaeological Survey of India under the direction of prof.  B.B.  Lal.  The excavations have revealed the existence of a series of burnt-brick pillar-bases at regular intervals.  These are found arranged in parallelrows in the directional alignment in which a number of black-stone pillars are existing in the mosque.

Archaeological evidence of "robber's trench" clearly proves that some of the bricks from the pillar-bases were intentionally removed by those who destroyed the temple.  However, stratigraphical evidence proves that these pillar-bases were built in the 11th century and they continued to be in use till the end of the 15th century.  From immediately below the topmost floor, which apparently belongs to the general floor of the mosque, archaeologists have recovered a variety of Islamic Glazed Wares which are dated to different periods between the 13th and 15th centuries.  Evidently, the temple belonged to the period immediately before the construction of the mosque.

In the early 16th century when the mosque was built at this very place the builders of the mosque used a number of black-stone pillars from the old temple existing here.  Some of these pillars have been found used as load-bearing pillars for the arches of the domes of the mosque.  Art0historical studies of these pillars show that they bear a large number of images of gods and goddesses, such as the Yakshas, Devakanyas, Dvarapalas and Ganas, and sacred motifs, such as the purnaghata, lotus, hansa and mala, all of which belong to the Hindu iconography.

It is, therefore, clear that the evidence of the pillar-bases, the pillars and the glazed wares is conclusively in favour of the thesis that a temple has existed on the "Janmabhoomi" from the 11th through the 15th century, and that it was destroyed in the 16th century, to which period the "Babri Masjid" belongs.  

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