The disputed structure
For all the sound and fury in the media about Ayodhya, the historical question is surprisingly simple: was there or was there not a Hindu temple at the spot known as Ram Janmabhumi that was destroyed to build a mosque? The answer is also equally simple — ‘yes’. There are two parts to the question: was there a Hindu temple, and was it destroyed and a mosque known as Babri Masjid built in its place. Again the answer is — ‘yes’ to both questions. It is as simple as that.
This is what I shall try and make clear in this section, by presenting the latest and the bare minimum amount of details necessary. A great deal has been written about all this, most of which is unnecessary while some of it is meant intentionally to confuse. The reader will see that when properly presented, there is little room for confusion.
There are basically two sources for studying the history: literary sources and the archaeological record. Following the demolition on December 6, 1992, a great deal of archeological and historical information has come to light. Thus, much of the published material, as well as the controversy about previous temples at the site has been rendered moot by new discoveries following the demolition. What is presented here is a summary of the latest evidence — literary as well as archaeological.
The latest (fifteenth) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, in its article on Ayodhya tells us:
Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babur in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple. (Article on Ayodhya, Encyclopaedia Britannicavolume 1, 1985: Fifteenth Edition.)
The Britannica, though generally regarded as an authoritative reference work is not a primary source. When we turn to the primary sources, the material available on the topic is so voluminous that one despairs of ever obtaining a simple, easily comprehensible account. One recent author (Harsh Narain, below) cites more than a hundred and thirty references in English, French, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian and Arabic. And I have identified several not found in his work. So the problem one is faced with is not a lack of material, but one of selection.
Fortunately, Sita Ram Goel has compiled a two-volume magnum opus under the heading Hindu Temples: What happened to them? The second volume is particularly valuable in that it presents a comprehensive summary of the Islamic record, quoting chapter and verse from the primary sources. Even a cursory glance through these volumes leaves little doubt regarding either the destructive record of Islam in India, or the record of dishonesty and venality of the Secularists.
The two volumes by Goel are an invaluable source for researchers, though, typically enough they are studiously ignored by Secularist historians and their allies in the media. For the lay reader, Goel has provided also a highly readable summary of the two volumes in his book Islam vis-a-vis Hindu Temples. It is recommended reading for every serious student of Islam in India.
As far as Ayodhya itself is concerned, the most comprehensive discussion of the primary material available is probably the book The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on the Muslim Sources by Harsh Narain. We next go on to examine several of these sources provided by Harsh Narain.
These sources are so numerous that we can only survey a few. But even this survey will suffice to show that until recently, until the Secularists created the so-called ‘controversey’, no author — Hindu, Muslim, European or British official — had questioned that a temple existed on the spot which had been destroyed to erect the mosque. We may begin with a few references from European writers provided by Harsh Narain. These are from published sources that are widely available.
- Führer in his The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Archaeological Survey of India Report, 1891, pp 296-297 records: ‘Mir Khan built a masjid in A.H. 930 during the reign of Babar, which still bears his name. This old temple must have been a fine one, for many of its columns have been utilized by the Musalmans in the construction of Babar’s Masjid.’ [This is supported by archaeology, as we shall soon see.]
H.R. Neville in the Barabanki District Gazetteer, Lucknow, 1905, pp 168-169, writes that the Janmasthan temple ‘was destroyed by Babar and replaced by a mosque.’ Neville, in his Fyzabad District Gazetteer, Lucknow, 1905, pp 172-177 further tells us; ‘The Janmasthan was in Ramkot and marked the birthplace of Rama. In 1528 A.D. Babar came to Ayodhya and halted here for a week. He destroyed the ancient temple and on its site built a mosque, still known as Babar’s mosque. The materials of the old structure [i.e., the temple] were largely employed, and many of the columns were in good preservation.’ [Again supported by archaeological finds.]
One could cite many more in similar vein, but these examples should suffice for recent European records. When we reach back in time, what we find particularly interesting are the accounts attributed to Guru Nanak. He was a contemporary of Babar, and an eyewitness to his vandalism. Nanak condemned him in the strongest terms. Harsh Narain writes (pp 14-15):
Guru Nanak, according to Bhai Man Singh’s Pothi Janam Sakhi, said to have been composed in 1787 Anno Vikrami/1730 A.D., visited Ayodhya and said to his Muslim disciple Mardana: ‘Mardania! eh Ajudhia nagari Sri Ramachandraji Ji ki hai. So, chal, iska darsan kari’e. Translation: ‘Mardana! this Ayodhya city belongs to Sri Ramachandra Ji. So let us have its darsana.’
This indicates that Nanak visited Ayodhya shortly before the destruction of the Rama temple by Babar. Man Singh’s book was written two hundred years later, which means that he was drawing upon existing traditions or some other source relating to Nanak’s visit to Ayodhya. But another work by Baba Sukhbasi Ram gives a similar account, again suggesting that Nanak visited Ayodyha before the temple was destroyed by his contemporary, the invader Babar whose atrocities he condemned. ‘These kings are nothing but butchers’ said Nanak, refering to the Moghuls and others in his time.
Before I get to the Islamic evidence, it is worth looking at an Indian account from the twelfth-thirteenth century period attesting to the atrocities of the Islamic invaders. It is preserved in the ‘Bhuvana-kosha’ section of the Garuda Purana, which throws light on the invasions of the Mlecchas and the Saindhavas (Arab occupiers of Sindh). The ‘Kumarika-khanda’ of the Skanda Purana speaks of invaders based in Mulasthana or the modern Multan. So does the Kurma Purana.
Returning to the Bhuvana-Kosha of the Garuda Purana, the Mlecchas of the Himalayas and the Turushkas (Turks) of the north were the Ghaznavids and the Ghurids. In the Introduction to the Garuda Purana, the well known Puranic scholar A.B.L. Awasthi points out:
The Mlechchhas of the Himalaya region and the Turushkas of the North mentioned in the Bhuvana Kosha section [of the Garuda Purana] also reflect upon the Turkish conquest of Northwestern India by the Ghaznavids. The passage found in the Garuda Purana that the country was threatened by the Dasyus (dasyutkrishta janapadah) is also very significant and it reflects upon the age of terror and turmoil caused by the Turkish invasions.
The alien invasions of such people, who destroyed the shrines and the roots of religion, viz, Deities, Brahmanas and cows, and also carried away the ladies. They defiled the tirthas, which also caused great terror.
The Pauranikas accepted the challenge and exhorted the Kshatriyas of accepting the svadharma of giving protection to country and culture. …
The freedom of the country was also imperilled after the fall of Prithviraja III at the hands of Muhammad Ghori after the second battle of Terain (1192 A.D.). The Pauranika points to the political blunder of the Chahamana ruler who was succumbed in [Sic] sensuous slumber in the company of his newly acquired wife Samyogita [or Samyukta].
We shall soon see that this is not very different from what Muslim chroniclers themselves tell us. But the Secularists would have us believe that there was no persecution and no mass destruction of temples. Going by their logic, both the victims and the perpetrators were subject to identical fantasies!
Another point frequently made by the Secularists and their allies is that during the Islamic period, there was little animosity between Hindus and Muslims, that is to say, the two communities lived harmoniously together. The animosities that led eventually to the Partition of India, according to the Secularists, was the result of the British policy of ‘divide and rule’. Well, here is what Alberuni, who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazna on his numerous campaigns into India had to say nearly a thousand years ago:
Yamin-addaula Mahmud [Ghaznavi] marched into India during a period of thirty years and more. … Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions. … Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion of all the Muslims. (Emphasis added.)
So it was not just the wealth that was looted; Mahmud was responsible for uprooting Hindu learning from the places he invaded. This is not very different from the account given in the Bhuvana-Kosha of the Garuda Purana and other Hindu chronicles. From this we can see that the hostility between the Hindus and the Muslims has a thousand year history that surely cannot be blamed on the British!
It is unnecessary to dwell too much on the documentary evidence since all questions about the pre-existence of the temple at the site of the Babri Masjid have been settled by archaeology, especially following its domolition on December 6, 1992. Actually the primary interest relating to the Muslim records is not so much in what they have to say, but in how there have been systematic attempts by Islamic and Secularist interests in recent years to distort and conceal them. This is what Arun Shourie has called ‘Hideaway Communalism’. We shall be looking at this phenomenon in the next chapter, but here are a few excerpts beginning with Harsh Narain’s observations on recent negationist efforts.
All relevant British government records followed by District Gazetteer of Faizabad compiled and published by the Congress government in 1960 declare with one voice that the so-called Babri mosque at Ayodhya is standing on the debris of a Ramajanmasthan temple demolished by the order of Babar in 1528. Syed Shahabuddin, JNU historians, and self-styled ‘secular’ scholars and leaders are hotly contesting the proposition, contending that the existence and demolition of a temple is a myth floated by the British in pursuance of their policy of divide and rule. … (p 102)
Now I proceed to cite certain purely Muslim sources beyond the sphere of British influence to show that the Babri mosque has displaced a Hindu temple … (pp 103-4)
Then Harsh Narain goes on to cite a few significant examples. I will refer to a few — and a few others will be noted later. The interested reader on the Ayodhya dispute can refer to Narain’s book. Sita Ram Goel’s two-volume magnum opus gives a more comprehensive summary of the record of the Islamic vandalism in India. We shall be concerned, however, mainly with Ayodhya. (JNU is the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi which is considered the Meccah of Secularists with AMU, the Aligarh Muslim University a close second.)
In 1855, Amir Ali Amethawi led a Jihad (Islamic religious war) for the recapture of Hanuman Garhi, situated a few hundred yards from the Babri Masjid which at that time was in the possession of Hindus. This Jihad took place during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. It ended in failure. A Muslim writer, one Mirza Jan, was a participant in that failed Jihad. His book Hadiqah-i-Shuhada was published in 1856, i.e. the year following the attempted Jihad. Miza Jan tells us:
… wherever they found magnificent temples of the Hindus ever since the establishment of Sayyid Salar Mas’ud Ghazi’s rule, the Muslim rulers in India built mosques, monasteries, and inns, appointed mu’azzins, teachers and store-stewards, spread Islam vigorously, and vanquished the Kafirs. Likewise they cleared up Faizabad and Avadh, too from the filth of reprobation (infidelity), because it was a great centre of worship and capital of Rama’s father. Where there stood a great temple (of Ramajanmasthan), there they built a big mosque, … Hence what a lofty mosque was built there by king Babar in 923 A.H. (1528 A.D.), under the patronage of Musa Ashiqqan! (Harsh Narain: p 105)
Harsh Narain goes on to add: “It must be borne in mind that Mirza Jan claims to write all this on the basis of older records (kutub-i sabigah) and contemporary accounts.” Except for its tone of triumph the account is not very different from what the Garuda Purana has to say. Similar accounts are found in a few other Puranas as already noted.
Another interesting piece of evidence unearthed by Harsh Narain is a chapter in the book Muraqqah-i-Khusravi, known also as the Tarikh-i-Avadh. Its author is one Shaikh Azmat Ali Kakorwi Nami (1811-1893). He was a contemporary of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and an eyewitness to the events of the era, including the failed Jihad to recover Hanuman Garhi from the Hindus. His work was completed in 1869, but languished in manuscript form for over a century in the Tagore Library in Lucknow. It saw the light of day only in 1986 when it was published by Dr. Zaki Kakorawi. But this was a censored version in which the F.A. Ahmad Memorial Committee which funded it removed crucial parts. The reason given for this extraordinary action was that Kakorawi’s edition contained accounts pertaining to the Jihad against Hanuman Garhi. This, the Committee found politically unacceptable.
Fortunately, a year later (1987), Kakorawi published the missing portion at his own expense under the title Amir Ali Shahid aur Ma’rakah-i-Hanuman Garhi. The author pointedly observed that “suppression of any part of any old composition or compilation like this can create difficulties and misunderstandings for future historians.” (Harsh Narain: p 106) May our Secularists heed his words! What is there in the work that made the F.A. Ahmad Committee so sensitive? Well, here is the passage for the reader to judge.
According to old records, it has been a rule with the Muslim rulers from the first to build mosques, monastaries, and inns, spread Islam, and (put a stop) to non-Islamic practices, wherever they found prominence of (kufr). Accordingly, even as they cleared up Mathura, Brindaban, etc. from the rubbish of non-Islamic practices, the Babari Mosque was built up in 923 (?) A.H. under the patronage of Sayyid Musa Ashiqan in the Janmasthan temple (butkhane Janmasthan mein) in Faizabad-Avadh, which was a great place of (worship) and capital of Rama’s father. (Harsh Narain: p 106)
In another work also known as Tarikh-i-Avadhi, by one Alama Muhammad Najamulghani Khan Rampuri (1909) tells us:
Babar built a magnificent mosque at the spot where the temple of Janmasthan of Ramachandra was situated in Ayodhya, under the patronage of Saiyad Ashikhan, and Sita-ki-Rasoi is situated adjascent to it. The date of construction of the mosque is Khair Baqi (923 AH) [or 1528 AD with the correction]. Till date, it is known as Sita ki Rasoi. By its side stands that temple. It is said at the time of the conquest of Islam there were three temples, viz. Janmasthan, which was the birthplace of Ram Chanderji, Swargadwar alias Ram Darbar, and Treta ka Thakur. Babar built the mosque having demolished Janmasthan. (History versus Casuistry, p 17; emphasis added.)
The translation is again by the redoubtable Zaki Kakorawi. It is important to note that the conscientious author of Tarikh-i-Avadhi used as many as eighty one books and manuscripts. The fact they were available to him in 1909 suggests that a few of them might lie concealed in some libraries and archives. In fact, as late as 1923, the book Asrar-i-Haqiqat written by the Hindu scholar Lachmi Narain Qunango assisted by Maulvi Hashmi confirms all of the above details. The book leaves one with the impression that many sources were still available to them, especially to the Maulvi who served as Pandit Lachmi Narain’s munshi. It is to be hoped that they are not being destroyed in the interests of ‘Secularism’.
The Imperial Gazetteer of Faizabad (1881) confirms the construction of three Moghul mosques at Ayodhya on the site of three celebrated shrines: Janmasthan, Swargadwar and Treta-ka-Thakur. Archaeological Survey of India tells us that Mir Khan (on Babar’s orders) built the mosque at Janmasthan using many of its columns. Aurangazeb had the other two mosques built. We see therefore that demolition of temples and replacing them with mosques was a systematic practice under Moghuls. It was simply a continuation of earlier policies of all Muslim rulers as both Hindu and Muslim records testify.
This brings us to a Persian text known as Sahifah-i-Chihal Nasa’ih Bahadurshahi written in 1707 by a grand-daughter of the Moghul emperor Aurangazeb, and noted by Mirza Jan in his Urdu work Hadiqah-i Shuhada previously cited. Mirza Jan quotes several lines from it which tell us:
… 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, grant no exceptions to Hindu Rajahs from dancing attendance on ‘Id days and waiting on foot outside mosques till end of prayer … and ‘keep in constant use for Friday and congregational prayer the mosques built up after demolishing the temples of the idolatrous Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras and Avadh … (Harsh Narain: pp 23-24; emphasis added.)
Spoken like a true child of Aurangazeb!
Mirza Jan is not the only writer to cite this work. Mirza Rajab ‘Ali Beg Surur in his work describing the destruction of the Rama temple at Ayodhya states that in the Sahifah-i Bahadurshahi (as the work was also known) “it has come to be described in detail with reference to year and date. Whoever may choose may look into it.” (Harsh Narain: pp 25-26) This last remark suggests that the work was widely available in the nineteenth century, possibly even in print. It evidently contained details concerning the destruction of the temple and the building of the Babri mosque at Janmabhumi.
Then there is the evidence of the three inscriptions at the site of the mosque itself, at least two of which mention its construction by Mir Baqi (or Mir Khan) on the orders of Babar. Babar’s Memoir mentions Mir Baqi as his governor of Ayodhya. Some parts of the inscription were damaged during a riot in 1934, but later pieced together with minor loss. In any event, it was well known long before that, recorded for instance in Mrs. Beveridge’s translation of Babur-Nama published in 1926.
Overwhelming as all this evidence is, the archaeological evidence is even stronger.
Discoveries at the site I: The Temple City of Ayodhya
Until recently, much of the evidence was literary, based on accounts in chronicles, supplemented by some archaeology around the site. Even then, archaeology left little doubt regarding the existence of a previous temple at the site at which the Babri Masjid is situated. Ayodhya has drawn the attention of competent archaeologists including a few internationally known experts like B.B. Lal and S.P. Gupta. As a result, the volume of data available is huge running into several volumes. Some of it has probably been rendered obsolete by discoveries following the demolition of December 6, 1992. They settle once and for all the question: Was there a Hindu temple at the site before Babri Masjid was built in 1528?
Let us next look at what archaeology has to say about the Ayodhya site. The first point to note is that Ayodhya lies in a region that is generously watered, and has therefore been densely populated since time immemorial. As a result, archaeological work at Ayodhya is more difficult, and has not been on the same scale as at Harappan sites lying a thousand miles to the west. And for the same reasons, luck plays a large role in the success of any exploration at Ayodhya, which is true of archaeology in general. Here is what a leading archaeologist, Dr. S.P. Gupta (former director of the Allahabad Museum), has to say about recent excavations at Ayodhya. Gupta probably has the most extensive experience among the archaeologists to have explored the site.
From 1975 through 1980, the Archaeological Survey of India under the Directorship of Professor B.B. Lal, a former Director General of the Survey, undertook an extensive programme of excavation at Ayodhya, including the very mound of the Ramajanmabhumi on which the so-called “Janmasthan Masjid” or Babri Mosque once stood and was later demolished on 6th December 1992.
This is an interesting observation: the Babri Mosque was known also as the ‘Janmashtan Masjid’ even to the Muslims! Obviously they believed it to be the birthplace of Rama — not Babar. We shall see later that until the Secularists showed them the value of it, the Muslims never used Negationism; far from it, they took great pride in their record of vandalization of Hindu sacred places. To continue with Gupta’s account:
At Ayodhya, Professor Lal took as many as 14 trenches at different places to ascertain the antiquity of the site. It was then found that the history of the township was at least three thousand years old, if not more … . When seen in the light of 20 black stone pillars, 16 of which were found re-used and standing in position as corner stones of piers for the disputed domed structure of the ‘mosque’, Prof. Lal felt that the pillar bases may have belonged to a Hindu temple built on archaeological levels formed prior to 13th century AD …
On further stratigraphic and other evidence, Lal concluded that the pillar bases must have belonged to a Hindu temple that stood between 12th and the 16th centuries. “He also found a door-jamb carved with Hindu icons and decorative motifs of yakshas, yakshis, kirtimukhas, purnaghattas, double lotus flowers etc.” (See below.)
Pillar bases found at the site of the ‘mosque’
What this means is that Lal had found evidence for possibly two temples, one that existed before the 13th century, and another between the 13th and the 16th centuries. This corresponds very well indeed with history and tradition. We know that this area was ravaged by Muslim invaders following Muhammad of Ghor’s defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in the second battle of Tarain in 1192 AD. This was apparently rebuilt and remained in use until destroyed again in the 16th century by Babar.
Impressive as these discoveries are, Lal had actually been somewhat unlucky. He had barely missed striking a trench containing a treasure trove of Hindu artifacts from the medieval period. As Gupta tells us:
Prof. Lal had hard luck at Ramajanmabhumi. His southern trenches missed a huge pit with 40 and odd sculptures just by 10 to 12 feet. But he did get the pillar bases of the pre-16th century demolished-temple which others did not get.
Excavation was resumed on July 2, 1992 by S.P. Gupta, Y.D. Sharma, K.M. Srivastava and other senior archaeologists. This was less than six months before the demolition (which of course no one then knew was going to take place). Their particular interest lay in the forty-odd Hindu artifacts that had been discovered in the pit missed by Lal. These finds had been widely reported in the newspapers. Gupta, a former Director of the Allahabad Museum and an expert on medieval artifacts had a special interest in examining the finds. He tells us:
The team found that the objects were datable to the period ranging from the 10th through the 12th century AD, i.e., the period of the late Pratiharas and early Gahadvals. The kings of these two dynasties hailing from Kannauj had ruled over Avadh and eastern Uttar Pradesh successively during that period.
These objects included a number of amakalas, i.e., the cogged-wheel type architectural element which crown the bhumi shikharas or spires of subsidiary shrines, as well as the top of the spire or the main shikhara … This is a characteristic feature of all north Indian temples of the early medieval period and no one can miss it — it is there in the Orissa temples such as Konarak, in the temples of Madhya Pradesh such as Khajuraho and in the temples of Rajasthan such as Osian.
There was other evidence — of cornices, pillar capitals, mouldings, door jambs with floral patterns and others — leaving little doubt regarding the existence of a 10th – 12th century temple complex at the site of Ayodhya. So Lal had been right in believing there was an earlier temple — prior to the one destroyed by Babar. More discoveries were made following the demolition of December 6. All these discoveries leave no doubt at all about the true picture.
The discovery of a number of Kushana period terracotta images of gods and goddesses earlier made it clear, first, that at the Janmabhumi site Hindu temples were built several times during the 2000 years with the interval of only 450 years, from 1528 to 1992, when the Muslims destroyed the temple and occupied the site and also built a new structure they called ‘Janmabhumi Masjid’ in their own record; … (See below.)
And finally, the temple was destroyed sometime after the 13th century AD, in every likelihood in the early 16th century, as is fully borne out by the inscriptions of Mir Baqi found fixed in the disputed structure from back in time, during the British days as is clear from the accounts given by Mrs. A. Beveridge in her translation of Babur-Namapublished in 1926.
Kushana period artifacts from the ‘mosque’ site
So archaeology also leaves little doubt about the existence of the prior temple. Then came the explosion of Decembr 6, 1992. This demolished not only the Babri Masjid but the whole case of the Secularists and their allies. It revealed a major inscription that settles the question once and for all.
Discoveries at the site II: the Hari-Vishnu inscription
The demolition on December 6, 1992 changed the picture dramatically, providing further support to the traditional accounts — both Hindu and Muslim. Some of the kar-sevaks, no doubt influenced by all the publicity about history and archaeology, went on to pick up more than two hundred pieces of stone slabs with writing upon them. These proved to belong to extremely important inscriptions, more than a thousand years old. In effect, the kar-sevaks had done what archaeologists should have done years ago; they had unearthed important inscriptions — in howsoever a crude form — something that should have been done years ago by professional historians and archaeologists. The inscriptions, even the few that have been read so far, shed a great deal of light on the history of not only Ayodhya and its environs, but all of North India in the early Medieval, and even the late ancient period.
In any other society, these inscriptions and other archaeological artifacts would not only be greeted with glee — as Biblical scholars did the Dead Sea Scrolls — but there would also be a mad scramble among researchers to see what new discoveries they could make. But the Secularists’ reaction was the exact opposite of this: they wanted the whole thing suppressed. They claimed, without examination, that all the two-hundred and fifty odd pieces of epigraphical records were forgeries planted during the demolition, and demanded a police investigation. This is a point worth noting: they wanted not an investigation of artifacts by scholars, but a police investigation.
To return to the inscriptional finds, it will be years before scholars can come up with a complete picture, but they have already yielded much valuable information. Here is what S.P. Gupta found upon examining the two-hundred and fifty or so stone pieces with writing upon them:
Not all were ancient, since scores of them, generally rectangular marble tiles, bore the dedicatory inscriptions in the Devanagari script of the 20th century. However, at least three dozens of them were certainly ancient, belonging to the period bracketed between 10th and 12th centuries AD. (In The Ayodhya Reference: pp 117-18)
The most important of these deciphered so far is the Hari-Vishnu inscription that clinches the whole issue of the temple. It is written in 12th century AD Devanagari script and belongs therefore to the period before the onslaught of the Ghorids (1192 AD and later). Gupta tells us:
This inscription, running in as many as 20 lines, is found engraved on a 5 ft. long, 2 ft. broad and 2.5 inches thick slab of buff sandstone, apparently a very heavy tablet … Three-fourths of the tablet is found obliterated anciently. The last line is also not complete since it was anciently subjected to chipping off. A portion of the central part is found battered, maybe someone tried to deface it anciently. The patination [tarnishing including wearout] is, however, uniform all over the surface, even in areas where once there were inscriptions. (op. cit. pp 118-19) (See below.)
The 12 century ‘Hari-Vishnu’ inscription found at the ‘mosque site’
Gupta is an archaeologist and not an epigraphist trained to read ancient inscriptions. It was examined by Ajay Mitra Shastri, Chairman of the Epigraphical Society of India. Shastri gave the following summary. What the inscription tells us is of monumental significance to the history of Medieval India.
The inscription is composed in high-flown Sanskrit verse, except for a very small portion in prose, and is engraved in chaste and classical Nagari script of the eleventh-twelfth century AD. It has yet to be fully deciphered, but the portions which have been fully deciphered and read are of great historical significance and value … [It has since been fully deciphered.] It was evidently put up on the wall of the temple, the construction of which is recorded in the text inscribed on it. Line 15 of this inscription, for example, clearly tells us that a beautiful temple of Vishnu-Hari, built with heaps of stones … , and beautified with a golden spire … unparalleled by any other temple built by earlier kings … This wonderful temple … was built in the temple-city of Ayodhya situated in Saketamandala. … Line 19 describes god Vishnu as destroying king Bali … and the ten headed personage (Dashanana, i.e., Ravana). (op. cit. 119; emphasis mine. Original Sanskrit quotes given by Shastri are left out.)
Need we say more — a temple for Hari-Vishnu who killed the ten-headed Ravana, in the temple city of Ayodhya? So Ayodhya was known as a temple city even then; Saketa was the ancient name of the district. The inscription confirms what archaeologists Lal and Gupta had earlier found about the existence of a temple complex. And yet the Secularists and their allies have been telling the world that there was no temple!
Part of dwara-palaka (gate keeper) found at the ‘mosque’ site
Summary of findings
We may now sum up the findings based on both literary and archaeological/epigraphic evidence:
1 All the literary sources without exception, until the Secularists began their negationist masquerade, are unanimous that a Rama temple existed at the site known since time immemorial as Rama Janmabhumi.
- Archaeology confirms the existence of temples going back to Kushan times, or about 2000 years. This date may well be extended by future excavations assuming that such excavations will be permitted by politicians.
- Archaeology records at least two destructions: the first in the 12th-13th century; the second, later, in all probability in the 16th. This agrees well with history and tradition that were temple destructions following the Ghorid invasions (after 1192 AD) and restored, and was destroyed again in 1528 by Babar who replaced it with a mosque. This is the famous — or infamous — Babri Masjid that was demolished by kar-sevaks on December 6, 1992.
Another 12th century inscription found at the ‘mosque’ site
- A large inscription discovered at the site dating to 11th-12th century records the existence of numerous temples including a magnificent one in which Hari-Vishnu was honored as destroyer of the ten-headed Ravana. Ayodhya was always known as a temple city.
These facts drawing upon several literary and archaeological sources leave no doubt at all that a temple located at a site sacred to the Hindus was destroyed to build a mosque under Babar’s express orders.