The small pilgrim town of Ayodhya has been in the news for the past four decades since 1980 when the Hindu hardliner party, then known as Bhartiya Jana Sangh, had been trying to revive the issue in favor of Hindus. The town and the issue of the Ram Temple cum Babri Mosque was triggered once again when in 1990 BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani decided to go for a Rath Yatra across northern India up to Ayodhya to build a public consensus for building a Ram Temple which was halted in Samstipur of Bihar by then Chief Minister of state Lalu Yadav, resulting in the coalition government collapsing in the center.
But in the next couple of months tens of thousands of Kar Sevaks marched towards Ayodhya in buses, trains and barefoot occupying nearby villages and protested on the streets of Ayodhya to the call of Hindu Harliners that included outfits like Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Gun shots opened on them while they were peacefully protesting and chanting Jai Shri Ram by the then state government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav. This resulted in the deaths of around 30 Kar Sevaks.
A couple of years later the issue again gained momentum when Kar Sevaks, this time much larger in numbers, gathered in Ayodhya at the direct call of hardliners and demolished the ruined structure, referred to as Babri Mosque, on December 6, 1992. A country-wide riot then erupted which left almost 2,000 dead and many injured.
Thereafter in 2002 one more unfortunate incident happened when thousands of Kar Sevaks, who had gone to Ayodhya at the call of Vishwa Hindu Parishad to participate in Ram Shila Pujan and Purnahuti Yagya, were burnt alive in a Gujrat bound train, the Sabarmati Express carrying the Kar Sevaks or pilgrims. The total death toll was 60 and the reason is still unknown. Soon after that riots erupted in Gujrat.
In 2003 Prime Minsiter Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government ordered an excavation of the site of dispute to establish whether a Ram Temple existed beneath the surface. The excavation continued for a month, and I who was present there each evening with a team of local reporters, Lawyers and government officials both local and sent by central government witnessing the remains which were brought out as a result of excavation and kept before both parties. A consensus of the Archeological Survey of India team, local Journalists and historians emerged that established that there existed a temple built in Gupta Period at 50 to 60 feet beneath the surface.
While few debated that it was a Shiva temple others tried to establish whether or not it was a Ram temple. While I was trying to find out the truth I met the Historian of Awadh University Prof V K Pande who opined that though there are two of the oldest Shiva temple in Ayodhya by the names of Nageshwar Nath and Ksheereshwar nath, Ayodhya is largely a Vaishnav City since the period of Manu and hence a there was a negligible chance that such a magnificent temple built in Gupta period belonged to Shiva. He frankly opined that it was a Ram temple the remains of which were found during excavation.
Sadly no action was taken on the report submitted by the Archeological Survey of India to the Government.
On 30 September 2010, the High Court of Allahabad, the three-member bench comprising Justices S. U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D. V. Sharma, ruled that the disputed land be split into three parts. The site of the Ramlala idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the installed Infant Ram deity), Nirmohi Akhara to get Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Wakf Board to get the rest. The Court also ruled that the status quo should be maintained for three months.
Reacting to the verdict, all three parties announced that they would appeal against the division of disputed land in the Supreme Court of India. All three parties, however, conceded that this judgment was an important step towards the resolution of a long-standing dispute.
What is the Ayodhya Dispute
Ayodhya, Kosla or Saket is considered one of sixteen mighty kingdoms during the Mahajanpada period. It is not only the centrsl place of Hindus but also Baudh, Jain and Islam. Gautam Budha spent his sixteen years of divinity while four of Jain Teerthnakar were born in Ayodhya. Today too Ayodhya hosts 3,000 temples in a radius of 5 kms while there are shrines of other religions too.
It is believed that Ayodhya had gone into oblivion after Kusha unless Chandra Gupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta Dynasty revived Ayodhya and built a number of temples including the Ram Temple which is the center of debate. Adding one more feather Skanda Gupta or Kumar Gupat made it the capital of their kingdom.
Kalidas wrote Raghuvansham here in Goprara Tertha (Guptar Ghat). Since then Ayodhya has remained on the center stage except for a few places as Hindus believe that the lineage of Suryavanshi Kshatriya starts from here and that Ikshvaku Vansh started which traces its origin directly from the sun and has been given the boon to die on will. Most of the ancestors of Rama were mighty kings including Ikshavaku, Raghu, Dileep and his father Dashrath and he himself but Rama is considered seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself who took birth to revive mother earth.
Hindus worship Ayodhya as the birth place of Lord Rama and also believe that the the temple which was built of Chandragupta Vikramaditya on a Mond (Teela), sometime also referred to as Kuber Teela. (I recall when I was kid I would climb up on this Teela along with my cousins to see the temple-cum mosque) but now after 1990 there is heavy barricading around all these areas, 1.2 heactares of land and Kuber Teela can be seen only from a distance and is hardly visible. This temple was called a temple on the mond as it was situated on a mond. The area is still referred to as Ram Kot near Kuber Teela.
Hindus believe that this temple on mond was actually the same ram temple which was built by Chandragupta Vikramaditya as a magnificent Ram Temple.
The first Moughal Emperor who traced his origin from Chagez Khan and Taimur invaded India in 1525 and a section of historians believe that the same year he came to Ayodhya in disguise in the name of Qalandar to seek the blessings of Faqirs who refused to bless him unless he would not commit to destroy the temple on mond (Ram Temple) and build a mosque. Babar took an oath and returned to Delhi in the same disguise, Sultan Sikandar Lodhi as Qalandar. Thereafter he was also referred to as Babar Qalandar. On the orders of Emperor Mir Baqi the Aide of Babar came to Ayodhya and destroyed the temple on mond and built a mosque which was referred to as Babri Mosque, later destroyed on December 6, 1992.
The first known report of a mosque appears in a book Sahifa-I-Chihil Nasaih Bahadur Shahi, said to have been written by a daughter of the emperor Bahadur Shah I (1643–1712) and granddaughter of emperor Aurangzeb, in the early 18th century. It mentioned mosques having been constructed after demolishing the “temples of the idolatrous Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras and Awadh, etc.” Hindus are said to have called these demolished temples in Awadh “Sita Rasoi” (Sita’s kitchen) and “Hanuman’s abode. While there was no mention of Babur in this account, the Ayodhya mosque had been juxtaposed with those built by Aurangzeb at Mathura and Banaras.
Jai Singh II (popularly called “Sawai Jai Singh”, 1688-1743) purchased land and established Jaisinghpuras in all Hindu religious centres in North India, including Mathura, Vrindavan, Banaras, Allahabad, Ujjain and Ayodhya. The Jaisinghpuras of Ayodhya still exists in the form of a small residential colony near my village where I was born.
The documents of these activities have been preserved in the Kapad-Dwar collection in the City Palace Museum in Jaipur. Professor R. Nath, who has examined these records, concludes that Jai Singh had acquired the land of Rama Janmasthan in 1717. The ownership of the land was vested in the deity. The hereditary title of the ownership was recognized and enforced by the Mughal State from 1717. He also found a letter from a Gumastha Trilokchand, dated 1723, stating that, while under the Muslim administration people had been prevented from taking a ritual bath in the Saryu river, the establishment of the Jaisinghpura has removed all impediments.
As a person who was born in Ayodhya, has lived there and reported events I strongly feel that this matter of Ram Janambhoomi/Babri Mosque must get a solution. While the High Court has already given a judgement there must be an exercise to build a consensus to give a solution to this issue for which people of Ayodhya and the nation have been waiting for seven decades when the first court petition was filed by Gopal Das Visharad.