A Timeline of Ayodhya – Part 3

Ayodhya's significance has never waned in the minds of Hindus as they have continued their struggles to reclaim it for centuries on end.

A Timeline of Ayodhya – Part 3

Continued from Part 2

c. 1590 – In a lesser-known work, Tulsi Doha Satak, the celebrated poet Tulsidas records in a few verses the destruction in Samvat 1585 (i.e., 1528 CE) of a temple at Ayodhya by Mir Baqi and the construction of a mosque at the same spot. In the following extract, the first translation of each verse is by the Allahabad High Court (AHC) and the second by the scholar Dr. Nityanand Misra (NM); ‘Yavanas’ refers to barbarians, that is, in the present case, Mohammedans.     

mantra upanisad brahmaanhoo bahu puraan itihaas.
javan jarae rosh bharee karee tulasee parihaas 

AHC: Goswami Tulsidas Ji says that ‘Yavans (barbarians/Mohammedans) ridicule hymns, several Upnishads and treatises like Brahmans, Puranas, Itihas (histories) etc. and also the Hindu society (orthodox religion) having faith in them. They exploit the Hindu society in different ways. NM: Tulsidas says that the Yavanas, filled with rage, burnt many Mantras or Samhitas, Upanisads and even Brahma: as (parts of Vedas), and Purana and Itihasa scriptures, after ridiculing them.

sikha sootr se heen karee, bal te hindoo log.
bhamaree bhagae desh te, tulasee kathin kujog //86//

AHC: Goswami Tulsi Das says that forcible attempts are being made by Muslims to expel the followers of Hinduism from their own native place (country), forcibly divesting them of their Shikha (lock of hair on the crown of head) and ‘Yagyopaveet’ (sacrificial thread) and causing them to deviate from their religion. Tulsi Das terms this time as a hard and harrowing one.

NM: Tulsidas says that in the hard and inappropriate age, [they, the Yavanas] forcibly made the Hindus bereft of Sikha (the hair tuft) and Sutra (the sacred thread) and made them wander [as homeless people], after which they expelled them from their country (native place).

baabar barbar aaike kar leenhe karavaal.
hane pachaari pachaari jan, tulasee kaal karaal 

AHC: Describing the barbaric attack of Babur, Goswami Ji says that he indulged in gruesome genocide of the natives of that place (followers of Hinduism), using sword (army).

NM: The barbaric Babar came, with a sword in his hand, and killed people after repeatedly calling out to them. Tulsidas says that the time was terrible.

sambat sar vasu baan nabh, greeshm rtoo anumaani.
tulasee avadhahi jad javan, anarath kiye anakhāni. //88//

AHC: Goswami Tulsi Das Ji says that countless atrocities were committed by foolish ‘Yavans’ (Mohammedans) in Awadh (Ayodhya) in and around the summer of Samvat 1585, that is, 1528 AD (Samvat 1585- 57=1528 AD).

NM: Tulsidas says that in the Saevat 1585 (1528 AD), sometime around the summer season, the ignorant Yavanas caused disaster and sorrow in Awadh (Ayodhya).

raamajanam maheen mandirahin, toree maseet banae.
javahi bahu hindun hate, tulasee kinhee haay. //89//

AHC: Describing the attack made by ‘Yavans’, that is, Mohammedans on Sri Ramjanambhumi temple, Tulsi Das Ji says that after a number of Hindus had been mercilessly killed, Sri Ram Janam Bhumi temple was broken to make it a mosque. Looking at the ruthless killing of Hindus, Tulsi Ji says that his heartfelt aggrieved, that is, it began to weep, and on account of the incident it continues to writhe in pain.

NM: Destroying the temple at Ramajanmabhumi, they constructed a mosque. At once (or with great readiness/alacrity) they killed many Hindus. [On thinking of this,] Tulsidas cried out – Alas!

dalyo meerabaakee avadh mandir raam samaaj.
tulasee hraday hati, traahi traahi raghuraaj. //90//

AHC: Seeing the mosque constructed by Mir Baqi in Awadh, that is, Ayodhya in the wake of demolition of Sri Ram Janam Bhumi temple preceded by the grisly killing of followers of Hinduism having faith in Rama and also seeing the bad plight of the temple of his favoured deity Rama, the heart of Tulsi began to always cry tearfully for Raghuraj (the most revered among the scions of the Raghu Dynasty). Being aggrieved thereby, submitting himself to the will of Sri Rama, he shouted: O Ram! Save … Save…

NM: Mir Baqi destroyed the temple in Awadh (Ayodhya) and the Ramasamaja (the idols Rama Pañcayatana — Rama, Sita, Bharata, Laksmana, Satrughna, Hanuman). [On thinking of this,] Tulsidas cries, beating his chest, O the best of Raghus! Protect us, protect us!

raamajanam mandir jahan, lasat avadh ke beech.
tulasee rachee maseet tahan,meerabaankee khaal neech. //91//

AHC: Tulsi Das Ji says that the mosque was constructed by the wicked Mir Baqi after demolishing Sri Ram Janam Bhumi temple, situated in the middle of Awadh, that is, Ayodhya.

NM: Tulsidas says that in the midst of Awadh (Ayodhya), where the Ramajanmabhumi temple was resplendent, there the wicked and vile Mir Baqi constructed a mosque.

raamaayan gharee ghant jahan, shruti puraan upakhaan.
tulasee javan ajaan tahan, kaiyon kuraan ajaan. //92//

AHC: Tulsi Das Ji says that the Quran, as well as Ajaan call, is heard from the holy place of Sri Ram Janam Bhumi, where discourses from Shrutis, Vedas, Puranas, Upnishads etc. used to be always heard and which used to constantly reverberate with the sweet sound of bells. (Verses 85 to 92 of the Tulasi Doha Shataka; AHC Judgement RJB-GM vol. IV, 525. OPW 16 p. 783-84, Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Swami Rambhadracharya affidavit 15.7.2003; http://elegalix.allahabadhighcourt.in/elegalix/ayodhyafiles/honsaj-vol- 4.pdf )

NM: Tulsidas says that where there was constant ringing of the bells and the narrations (upakhana, from Samskrta upakhyana) of the Ramayana, Veda and Purana, the ignorant (ajana) Yavana read (literally, “did”) the Quran and the Azaan (ajana). (Yamaka figure of speech in the repetition of ajana.) (See Nityananda Misra’s post dt. 26.09.2012 on Bharatiya Vidvat Parishad egroup: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/bvparishat/X9xQiS5HhUs)

1598 Persian scholar at Akbar’s court – Abu al-Fazl, mentions Ayodhya in his Ain-i Akbari: “Ayodhya, commonly called Awadh. The distance of forty kos to the east, and twenty to the north is regarded as sacred ground. On the ninth of the light half of the month of Chaitra a great religious festival is held. … [Rama] was accordingly born during the Treta Yuga on the ninth of the light half of the month of Chaitra (March-April) in the city of Ayodhya, of Kausalya wife of Raja Dasaratha. … Awadh [Ayodhya] is one of the largest cities of India … and it is esteemed one of the holiest places of antiquity. It was the residence of Ramachandra who in the Treta age combined in his own person both the spiritual supremacy and kingly office.” (Abu ’l-Fadl 1598: II.334, 316-37, III.182, quoted by Narain 1993: 17)

c. 1604–05 Rama and Sita on Akbar’s coin – A coin minted in gold and another one minted in silver, issued by Akbar, portray Rama and Sita along with their names. (Lal 2008: 6)

1608-11 A British traveller’s testimony – William Finch visited Ayodhya:

“To Oude [Ajodhya] … a citie of ancient note, and seate of a Potan king, now much ruined; the castle built foure hundred yeeres agoe. Heere are also the ruines of Ranichand[s] [Ramachandra] castle and houses, which the Indians acknowledge for the great God, saying that he tooke flesh upon him to see the tamasha of the world. In these ruines remayne certain Bramenes, who record the names of all such Indians as wash themselves in the river running thereby; which custome, they say, hath continued foure lackes o yeeres … Hither resort many from all parts of India …” (Foster 1921: 176)

Foster notes that Finch’s mention of a ‘castle’ is a reference “to the mound known as the Ramkot or fort of Rama”.

The historian Harsh Narain observes that Finch “found neither Muslims nor the mosque but only Panda-s in the Ramkot … Hence, it appears the Babari mosque must then be lying deserted and in ruins and the Hindus, though in possession thereof, could not have rebuilt the temple till then.” (Narain 1993: x, 40)

1675 – Sant Laladasa, in Avadhavilasa Mahakavya, describes the Rama Janmabhumi/Janmasthana which, according to him, secures heaven for whoever pays a visit to it. (Laladasa 1675: 11-375, 268 quoted in Narain 1993: 13)

1695-96 – Sujan Rai Bhandari, Aurangzeb’s chief secretary, author of the KhulaHatu ’t-Tawarikh, refers to Ayodhya thus: “As this city was the residence of king Ramchand, it is held to be one of the holiest places.” (Quoted in Narain 1993: 41) Harsh Narain comments:

“Sujan Rai Bhandari … mentions the replacement of the Keshava Rai temple at Mathura on the orders of ‘Alamgir Aurangzib’ but is silent about the similar incident at Ayodhya, although he does deal with Ayodhya and calls it the birth-place of Rama. It appears that Aurangzib had not tampered with the Ayodhya shrine till then. … It appears that the Rama temple fell a victim soon after to the forces of temple destruction let loose by Aurangzib.” (Narain 1993: 40, x)

1707 Statement of Aurangzeb’s granddaughter – From Sahifa-i Chihal Nasa’ih- i Bahadurshahi (the ‘Bahadurshahi Book of Forty Sermons’), a Persian text written by the daughter of Bahadurshah Shah-i ’Alam, Aurangzeb’s son, and cited by two Muslim medieval writers. The 25th sermon reads:

“… Keeping the triumph of Islam in view, devout Muslim rulers should keep all idolaters in subjection to Islam, brook no laxity in realization of Jizyah [a tax imposed on ‘infidels’], grant no exemption to Hindu Raja-s from dancing attendance on ’Id days and from waiting on foot outside mosques till the end of prayer (namaz) and discourse (khuKbah), and keep in constant use for Friday and congregational prayer the mosques built up to strengthen Islam after demolishing the temples of the idolatrous Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras and Awadh, etc., which the wretched infidels have, according to their faith, adjudged to be the birthplace of Kanhaiya in one case, Sita Rasoi [Sita’s kitchen] in another, and Hanuman’s abode in a third and claim that after conquest of Lanka Ramchandra established him there. And, as has been stressed, idolworship must not continue publicly, nor must the sound of bell reach Muslim ears.” (quoted in Narain 1993: 23-26)

1717 – In Jaipur (Kapad-Dwar collection of the City Palace Museum), a map of Janmasthan, painted on white cotton fabric (Narain 1993: 18, 41, 91). Harsh Narain remarks, “[This] shows that, in, 1717, the superstructure comprised of three Sikhara-s (temple-spires) had no domes but only corbelled ceilings originally, in all probability, and that the domes and their finials belong to the 18th century.” (Narain 1993: 41)

1735 – A document carrying the seal of the Qazi of Fyzabad mentioned that a serious riot had taken place between Hindus and Muslims over the Masjid “built by the emperor of Delhi”, during the times of Burhan-ul-Mulk Saadat Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Oudh (1707- 1736) over the possession of this mosque (quoted in Vishva Hindu Parishad 1991: 26).

1751 –“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.” (Srivastava 1954, quoted in Vishva Hindu Parishad 1991: 26)

1756-57 – “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 … 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 …” (Vishva Hindu Parishad 1991: 26-27).

1759-60 Persian author Chhatraman – (i) Das Kayastha Ra’izadah, in Chihar Gulshan, observed: “Oudh is an ancient city. … It is the birth-place of Raja Ramachandra, who was one of the ten Avatara-s, that is, a perfect manifestation of God. Sita was married to him.” (Quoted in Narain 1993: 18)

1766-71 – The Austrian Jesuit Joseph Tieffenthaler travelled to India in the 1740s and stayed on till his death, adding to his missionary activities a detailed geographical study of the country, stayed in Awadh in 1766-71. A few extracts from his Descriptio Indiae, chapter “The Province of Oude”:

“Avad called Adjudea by well-read Hindus is a city of the remotest antiquity. …

“Today, this city is not much populated; “There was here a temple constructed on the river’s higher bank; but Aurengzebe, always mindful of spreading the sect of Mahomet and abhorring the Gentiles, got it demolished and replaced by a mosque fronted by two obelisks in order to abolish the very memory of the Hindu superstition. Another mosque built by the Moors [Muslims] is adjacent to this one on the eastern side.

“… One particularly famous place is the one called Sitha Rassoi [kitchen], that is to say, the table of Sitha, wife of Ram. This place adjoins the city on the southern side and is situated on a hillock.

[One of the Hindu-temple pillars in the disputed structure]

“Emperor Aurengzebe had the fortress called Ramkot demolished; at the same place he constructed a Mahometan temple with three domes. Others say that it was constructed by Babor [Babar]. Fourteen pillars of black stone … can be seen in it, pointing to the location of the former fortress. Twelve of those pillars now carry the inner arcades of the Mosque; two (of the twelve) are located at the door of the cloister. The other two [pillars] are part of the tomb of a certain Moor [Muslim]. People say that those pillars, or rather those fragments of pillars, which are artistically crafted, were brought from the island of Lanca [Lanka] or Selendip [Serendip] (called Ceylan by Europeans) by Hanumann, King of the Monkeys.

“On the left is seen a square bin raised 5 inches above ground and coated with lime about 5 aulnes long and at most 4 aulnes wide [i.e. about 6 x 4.5 metres]. The Hindus name it Bedi, that is to say, the Crib.1 The reason is that here was once a house where Beschan [Vishnu] was born, appearing under the person of Ram, and where his three brothers are also said to have been born. Afterwards Aurengzebe, or, according to others, Babor, got this place razed in order to deprive the Gentiles of the opportunity to practise their superstitions; nevertheless they continue to offer a superstitious cult at both places ¾ namely, at the house where Ram was born ¾ by doing three circumambulations while prostrated on the ground. Both places are encircled by a crenulated low wall. One enters the front hall through an arched low door.

“Not far from there is a place where people dig out black rice grains turned into small stones, which they say were hidden underground since the time of Ram.

“On the 24th of the month of Tschet (Chet), a big congregation of people celebrate here the birth of Ram, so famed in the whole of India. …” (Tieffenthaler, 1786: 252-54, emphasis added)

19th c. – Poet of Avadhi Jaswant Kavi, is said to have composed 70 poems on the wars between Mir Baqi and the Hindus over the possession of the Janmabhumi (quoted in Narain 1993: 13).

1838 – The British Surveyor Montgomery Martin notes, “The bigot by whom the temples were destroyed, is said to have erected mosques on the situations of the most remarkable temples; but the mosque at Ayodhya …is ascertained by an inscription on its walls … to have been built by Babur …” (Montgomery 1838: II.335-36, quoted in Narain 1993: 7)

1855 – Second major confrontation at the disputed site in Moghul times. Jihad led by Mawlawiyy Amir-ud-din, alias Amir ’Ali Amethawi, under the last Nawab Wajid ’Ali Shah’s regime for the recapture of Hanumangadhi (a few hundred metres from the Babri mosque) from the Hindus.

A Muslim chronicler, drawing from numerous sources, made this statement on the outcome of the confrontation: “Ultimately, on Zilqadda 1271 AH [July 1855], for the tenth or twelfth time, nearly two or three hundred Muslims gathered at Babri Masjid which is situated inside the Sita ki Rasoi [Sita’s kitchen]. … In short, the turbulence [of 1855] reached such a stage that apart from the mitigated mosque at Hanuman Garhi, the Hindus built a temple in the courtyard of Babri Masjid where Sita ki Rasoi was situated.” (Rampuri 1919: II.570-575, quoted in Vishva Hindu Parishad 1991: 17)

The Gazetteer of Oudh adds important details on the confrontation and its outcome: “In 1855, when a great rupture took place between the Hindus and Muhammadans, the former occupied the Hanoman Garhi in force, while the Musalmans took possession of the Janamasthan. The Muhammadans on that occasion actually charged up the steps of the Hanoman Garhi, but were driven back with considerable loss. The Hindus then followed up this success, and at the third attempt, took the Janamasthan, at the gate of which seventy-five Muhammadans are buried in the ‘Martyrs’ grave’ (Ganj-i-Shahidan.) Eleven Hindus were killed. Several of the King’s regiments were looking on all the time, but their orders were not to interfere. It is said that up to that time the Hindus and Muhammadans alike used to worship in the mosque-temple. Since British rule a railing has been put up to prevent disputes, within which, in the mosque the Muhammadans pray; while outside the fence the Hindus have raised a platform on which they make their offerings.” (The Gazetteer of Oudh 1877: 7, entry by P. Carnegy)

1856 Extract from Mirza Jan, eyewitness as well as participant in the above jihad: “From old records and the tradition it is gathered … that, after the triumph of Salar Mas’ud Ghazi, wherever in the territory of heaven-like Hindustan they found magnificent Hindu temples, the Muslim rulers of the past constructed mosques, monasteries, and inns, greatly spread Mujammadanism by appointing mu’adhdhin-s [callers], teachers, caretakers, devastated the paraphernalia of idolatry and bell-ringing, gave grace and glamour to Islam, and vanquished the army of infidels. And this to such an extent that all over Hindustan no trace of infidelity was left besides Islam and no practice of idol-worship survived besides worship of God. And the few Hindus who remained safe from the hands of the Muslims became the slaves of Islam … In short, even as the Muslim rulers cleared up Mathura, Banaras, etc. from the dust and dross of infidelity, they cleared up Fyzabad and Avadh also from the filth of false belief, inasmuch as it is a great place of worship and was the capital of Rama’s father. Here they broke the temples and left no stone-hearted idol intact. Where there was a big temple, there they got a big mosque constructed, and where there was a small pavilion, there they erected a plain camp mosque/enclosure. Accordingly, what a majestic mosque Babar Shah has got constructed in 923 A.H. [1526 CE] under the patronage of Sayyid Musa ’Ashiqan! … It is still known far and wide as the Sita ki Rasoi mosque.” (Mirza Jan 1856: 4-5, quoted in Narain 1993: 36- 37)

1856 – Awadh was annexed by the British, bringing an end to the Nawabi rule.

1858 – Scottish Surgeon General Edward Balfour, arrived in India in 1838 with a lifelong interest in climate change and environmental problem. He noted that Ayodhya had “three mosques on the sites of three Hindu shrines: the Janmasthan on the site where Rama was born; the Swargadwar Mandir, where his remains were buried; the Treta ka Thakur, famed as the scene of one of his great sacrifices.” (Balfour 1858: 56, quoted in Vishva Hindu Parishad 1990: 20)

30 Nov. 1858 – Petition against the Hindus’ continued worship in the ‘Janmasthan mosque’. Muhammad Asghar, khatib and mu’adhhin of the Babri Masjid, filed an application to initiate “judicial proceedings against the ‘Bairagiyan-i Janmasthan’, calling the mosque ‘masjid-i Janmasthan’, and the courtyard near the arch and the pulpit within the boundary of the mosque, ‘maqam Janmasthan ka’. The Bairagi-s [devotees] had raised a platform in the courtyard which the applicant wanted dismantled. He mentions that the Janmasthan area had been lying unkempt/in disorder (parishan) for hundreds of years and that the Hindus carried on worship there.” (Narain 1993: 27)

c. 1860 – The Muslim scholar Mirza Rajab ’Ali Beg Surur notes that “a glorious sky-high mosque was built up during king Babar’s regime on the spot where Sita ki Rasoi tomb (?) is situated, in Awadh. During this Babari [dispensation] the Hindus had no guts to be a match for the Muslims. … There [on the HanumangaJhi] Aurangzib constructed a mosque. … The Bairagi-s [devotees] effaced the mosque and erected a temple in its place. Then they intruded into the ‘Masjid-i Babari’ where the Sita ki Rasoi was situated.’ The author … laments that ‘times have so changed that now the mosque was demolished for construction of a temple (on the Hanumangadhi)’.” (Surur 1860: 121-122, quoted in Narain 1993: 30)

1861 – A map by Hadbast of village Kot Ram Chandra, appended to the Settlement Report, shows only Janmasthan, without the symbol of a mosque on the plot. This practice continues during later Settlements (1893, 1939 and 1989). (Vishva Hindu Parishad 1990: 24)

1871 – A. Cunningham in his Ancient Geography of India records: “The present city of Ajudhya, which is confined to the north-east corner of the old site, is just two miles in length by about three quarters of a mile in breadth; but not one half of this extent is occupied by buildings, and the whole place wears a look of decay. There are no high mounds of ruins, covered with broken statues and sculptured pillars, such as mark the sites of other ancient cities, but only a low irregular mass of rubbish heaps, from which all the bricks have been excavated for the houses of the neighbouring city of Faizâbâd. This Muhammadan city, which is two miles and a half in length by one mile in breadth, is built chiefly of materials extracted from the ruins of Ajudhya. The two cities together occupy an area of nearly six square miles, or just about one-half of the probable size of the ancient capital of Râma.” (Cunningham 1924: 465– 66)

1877 Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh

“Ajodhya, its eponymous city, was the capital of that happy kingdom in which all that the Hindu race reveres or desires was realized as it can never be realized again, and the seat of the glorious dynasty which began with the sun and culminated after sixty generations of blameless rulers in the incarnate deity and perfect man, Rama. Whether criticism will finally enroll the hero among the highest creations of pure imagination, or accord him a semi-historical personality and a doubtful date, it is barren to speculate: history is more nearly concerned with the influence which the story of his life still has on the moral and religious beliefs of a great people, and the enthusiasm which makes his birthplace the most highly venerated of the sacred places to which its pilgrims crowd.” (Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh, 1877: xxxi, entry by W.C. Benett)

“It is locally affirmed that at the Muhammadan conquest there were three important Hindu shrines, with but few devotees attached, at Ajodhya, which was then little other than a wilderness. These were the ‘Janamasthan,’ the ‘Swargaddwar mandir’ also known as ‘Ram Darbar,’ ‘Treta-ke-Thakur.’ On the first of these the Emperor Babar built the mosque, which still bears his name, A.D. 1528. On the second, Aurangzeb did the same, A.D. 1658 to 1707; and on the third, that sovereign or his predecessors built a mosque, according to the well-known Muhammadan principle of enforcing their religion on all those whom they conquered. The Janamasthan marks the place where Ram Chandar was born. The Swargaddwar is the gate through which he passed into paradise, possibly the spot where his body was burned. The Treta-ke-Thakur was famous as the place where Rama performed a great sacrifice, and which he commemorated by setting up there images of himself and Sita. … If Ajodhya was then little other than a wilderness, it must at least have possessed a fine temple in the Janamasthan; for many of its columns are still in existence and in good preservation, having been used by the Musalmans in the construction of the Babari mosque. These are of strong close-grained, dark-coloured or black stone, called by the natives kasauti (literally, touch-stone slate,) and carved with different devices. To my thinking, these more strongly resemble Buddhist pillars than those I have seen at Benares and elsewhere. They are from seven to eight feet long, square at the base, centre and capital, and round or octagonal intermediately. … The two other old mosques to which allusion has been made (known by the common people by the name of Naurang Shah, by whom they mean Aurangzeb) are now mere picturesque ruins.” (Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh, 1877: 6-7, entry by P. Carnegy)

1878 – The Muslim scholar Haji Muhammad Hasan records: “Sayyid Musa ’Ashiqan built a mosque after levelling down Rajah Ramachandra’s palace and Sita’s kitchen by order of lahiru ’d-Din Babar, king of Dihli, in 923 A.H. [1526 CE], and king Mujiyy-u ’d-Din Aurangzib ’Alamgir built another mosque at the same place.” (Hasan 1878: 38-39, quoted in Narain 1993: 29) “Both these mosques had developed cracks at various places because of the ageing character.” (Hasan 1878: 38-39, quoted in Vishva Hindu Parishad 1990: 16)

Mid 19th c. – Maulvi Abdul Karim, then imam of the Babri Masjid, in his Forgotten Events of Ayodhya, credits Babar with the demolition of the temple and the construction of the mosque: “… In this Kot [of Raja Ram Chander Ji], there were a few burjs [towery big halls]. Towards the side of the western burj, there was the house of birthplace and the kitchen of the above mentioned Raja. And now, they call it Janmasthan and Rasoi-i Sita Ji. Having demolished these structures, king Babar got a majestic mosque constructed.” (Vishva Hindu Parishad 1990: 16; for the complicated publishing history of this work, first published in Persian in 1885, then in several Urdu editions in the 20th century, see Narain 1993: 30–31)

1886 – In a judgement on a petition by Mahant Raghubir Das to obtain permission to build a temple on the spot just outside the Babri Masjid where the Hindus had been worshipping for centuries, Col. J.E.A. Chamier, District Judge, Fyzabad, after visiting the site for personal inspection, observed: “It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago it is too late now to remedy the grievance.” (Chamier 1886, quoted in Narain 1993: 10)

1887 – Map of Faizabad municipality showing the fortified Ramkot complex. The map is reproduced in Appendix 6 to the 2010 judgement of Justice Sudhir Agarwal, vol. 21, with the following caption: ‘A Historical Sketch of Tahsil Fyzabad, Zillah Fyzabad, by P. Carnegy (published in 1887)’. The map shows ‘Hanumangarhi’ within ‘Ram Kot’. (Hanumangarhi, or ‘Hanuman’s abode’, a few hundred metres away from the Babri Masjid, also saw a mosque erected on the site of a temple, with a history of alternating possession by Hindus and Muslims.

1889 – In a report published by the Archaeological Survey of India, the archaeologist and epigraphist A. Führer begins thus a note on Ayodhya: “Babar’s Masjid at Ayodhya was built in A.H. 930, or A.D. 1523, by Mir Khan, on the very spot where the old temple Janmasthanam of Ramachandra was standing.” Führer goes on to list three inscriptions found in the Masjid, one in Arabic and two in Persian (the same as in the entry ‘1528’ above), which together state the same facts. Führer also notes, “The old temple of Ramachandra at Janmasthanam must have been a very fine one, for many of its columns have been used by the Musalmans in the construction of Babar’s masjid.” (Führer 1889: 67)

About Author: Michel Danino

Born in 1956 at Honfleur (France) into a Jewish family recently emigrated from Morocco, from the age of fifteen Michel Danino was drawn to India, some of her great yogis, and soon to Sri Aurobindo and Mother and their view of evolution which gives a new meaning to our existence on this earth. In 1977, dissatisfied after four years of higher scientific studies, he left France for India, where he has since been living. A writer of numerous books including the bestseller, The Lost River: On The Trail of the Sarasvati, he is currently a member of ICHR and a visiting professor at IIT Gandhinagar. The Government of India awarded him the Padmashri (India's fourth highest civilian award) for his contribution towards Literature & Education.

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