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The History Of Sri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the Ram Janmabhoomi (birth place).

Bhagwan Sri Ram and His Legacy:

  • Bhagwan Sri Ram is revered as Maryada Purushottam – a person who knows and follows all the assigned duties, as an ideal king, brother, student, husband and son. Sri Ram is considered as the epitome of Dharma or righteousness.

  • Ram Rajya or the benevolent rule of Sri Ram is considered as the benchmark for a just and responsive administration.

  • Sri Ram symbolised the unity of Bharat when he travelled North to South. Starting from Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) to Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh) to Dandakaranya (Orissa) to Panchvati (Maharashtra) to Kishkindha (Karnataka) to Lepakshi (Andhra) to Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu) to Sri Lanka.

  • Sri Ram and Ramayana forms the core heritage not only of Bharat but also of the places where Hindus have settled outside of Bharat as well as South east Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia etc.

  • Despite being revered as 7th Avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu for millennia and an icon of Hindu civilisation, as of today, there exists no historical Mandir of Sri Ram in Bharat.

Historical Significance of Ayodhya:

  • Ayodhya was the capital city of Ikshwaku dynasty to which Sri Ram belonged.*

  • Sri Ram was born in the city of Ayodhya. The site where he was born is called as Sri Ram Janma Bhoomi (the place where Sri Ram was born).

  • 2nd millennium BC : Archaeological excavations have confirmed that the Ram Janmabhoomi has been in continuous use as a sacred site since the second millennia BCE.*

  • 12th century CE : The last known Mandir at the site of Sri Ram’s birth was constructed by a King from Gahadavala dynasty.*

Timeline of events:

  • 1528: Sri Ram mandir was destroyed by Mir Baki, a general of the first Moghul Emperor Babur.*

  • 1608-1611: William Finch, an English traveller, noted Hindu reverence for the city of Ram’s birth and described the ruins of Ram’s castle. *

  • Abul Fazal (1551 -1602) the official chronicler of Mogul emperor Akbar documented in Ain-e-Akbari that Ayodhya was regarded as sacred ground and a great religious festival is held on Sri Ram’s birthday in the month of Chaitra.*

  • The Mogul emperor Akbar (1542-1605), on the insistence of his courtiers Birbal and Todarmal, ordered that the construction of a platform be allowed in front of the Babri masjid and a small Ram temple can be built on top of it. It was further proclaimed that no harm should come to the Hindu worshipping in the temple. *

  • This order was followed by Moghul emperor Jahangir (1569-1627) and grandson Shahjahan (1592- 1666), who allowed the daily worship to occur sans interference. *

  • 1634: Thomas Herbert mentioned about the old castle of RamChand at the Ram Janmabhoomi*

  • 1717: Raja Jay Singh II, a Rajput king from Rajasthan, bought some land in the premises to facilitate pilgrimage. *

  • 1766-71: Joseph Tiffenthaler, an Austrian Jesuit priest noted a cradle worshipped by Hindu devotees and also a large gathering of pilgrims on Ram Navami, Sri Ram’s birthday. He mentions the destruction of a temple at Rama’s birthplace by a Mogul ruler and the construction of a mosque over it.*

  • In 1810, Francis Buchanan visited the site and stated that the structure destroyed was a temple dedicated to Rama, not a house. Buchanan also recorded that there was an inscription on the wall of the mosque stating it to have been built by Babur.*

  • 1828: Walter Hamilton in his Gazetteer, noted an influx of pilgrims in the ‘capital of Great Rama’.*

  • 1838: Montgomery Martin who was entrusted with the task of compiling historical and topographical data on eastern India, described Ayodhya as a Hindu city. He mentioned about the black stone pillars incorporated in the mosque.*

  • 1858: Police record in British India noted that 25 Nihang Sikhs entered the disputed structure led by Baba Faqir Singh Khalsa from Punjab, wrote the name of Ram with charcoal on walls, planted a religious flag and conducted a havan for Sri Ram.*

  • 1858: After a series of disturbances, the premises were partitioned with a fence by the British authorities so that the two communities could gain access separately.*

  • 1862-63: Alexander Cunnigham, the leading British archaeologist mentioned ‘In the very heart of the city stands the Janam Asthan, or Birth place temple of Ram’.*

  • 1866: the caretaker of the disputed structure (Mutawalli) filed a complained to the District Commissioner that Bairagis (Hindu ascetics) had constructed a small structure inside the compound with the intention of placing idols in it and requested the structure to be dismantled.*

  • 1870, Patrick Carnegy, the first British commissioner in Faizabad which adjoins Ayodhya, stated that Janmasthan marked the place where Sri Ram was born, over which Babur built a mosque.*

  • Various British court and revenue records mention of Ram Janmabhoomi site as Masjid-e- Janmasthan.*

  • 1877: WC Bennett Gazetteer mentioned black carved pillars being used in the disputed structure.*

  • 1885: Mahant Raghubir Das filed a plea in local court to be allowed to build a structure over the platform. Rejecting the plea, the District Judge of Faizabad Col. F.E.A Chamier noted in his judgement ‘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 to now remedy the grievance’.*

  • 1912: Lt Governor in British India, after a visit to Ayodhya observed, ‘It is very difficult for anyone who is not a Hindu to appreciate the reverence which they feel for the holy ground of Ayodhya’. *

  • 1913: Letter from R Burn, Chief Secretary to the Government of United Province to the Secretary of State of India, Home Department, dated 25th Jan 1913 stated that ‘ One perpetual cause of friction was the existence of a mosque on the traditional site of Ram’s birthplace. This was constructed in 1528 by the emperor Babar who destroyed the ancient temple and used its materials for the new Building.’*

  • 1934: As per the report of British Deputy collector, a large crowd of Bairagis (Hindu ascetics) struck the disputed structure and caused considerable damage. A large fine was levied on the transgressors. * 


Struggle for Restoration

  • 1949: a murti of Sri Ram appeared inside the disputed structure. In his official report to the chief Secretary dated 26th December 1949, the Deputy Commissioner of the District, K K Karunakaran Nayar, mentioned that while the temple premises are occupied at all hours, the mosque is deserted all the time except for an hour during Friday prayers. Following judicial orders, the premises where the murti of Sri Ram was installed, was locked up by the administration though the puja ( Hindu worship) was allowed to continue uninterrupted. No one apart from those performing puja, was allowed access to the site. This effectively excluded anyone else except Hindus from entering the site. Mr K K Karunakaran Nayar, a native of Kerala, implemented this judicial order while resisting multiple pressures to alter the status quo and eventually resigned.*

  • Noteworthy point is that no one apart from Hindus, were allowed to enter the disputed site since 1949 judicial order. 

  • 1951: The Civil Judge, Faizabad, in his court order of 3rd March 1951 noted that at least since 1936, the Muslims have not used the site as mosque nor offered prayers while Hindus have been performing their puja on the disputed site.

  • In coming years, multiple lawsuits were filed from both sides.

  • 1977: Renowned archaeologist Prof BB Lal conducted excavations at the site which yielded numerous artefacts confirming the existence of an ancient Hindu temple under the disputed structure. Padmashri KK Muhammed, then a trainee, was part of the excavation team.*

  • 1984: VHP launched a mass movement to liberate Ram Janmabhoomi and construct a grand Mandir.*

  • All India awareness campaigns such as Ram Janaki Rath yatra and Ram Shila pujan (collection of consecrated bricks for temple construction) were conducted with overwhelming response from Hindu community.

  • 1986: Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India who belonged to the Congress party, ordered opening of the gates of the disputed structure.

  • 1989: Rajiv Gandhi also permitted the foundation laying ceremony of Sri Ram Mandir. This was performed by Shri Kamaleshwar Chaupal a Hindu brother hailing from Dalit community.

  • 1990: Ram-rath yatra (procession of Sri Ram’s Chariot) from Somanth to Ayodhya was undertaken by LK Advani enthusing millions of Hindus.

  • 1990: Call for Karseva or volunteering at the Ayodhya to construct Ram Mandir elicited massive response from across Bharat. Around 150,000 were detained but 75,000 devotees managed to reach Ayodhya. Unfortunately 50 Kar sevaks lost their life in the firing. 

  • 1990: Shri KK Muhammad, the renowned archaeologist, writing in the newspaper Indian Express on 15.12.1990, pleaded that as Ayodhya site is as holy to Hindus as Mecca is to Muslims, Muslims should respect the sentiments of millions of their Hindu brethren and voluntarily hand over the structure for constructing the Rama Temple.*

  • A section of Muslim community leaders, including several Shia leaders, were keen to support but the few leftist historians/academics misguided the community with false assurance that they had strong counter evidence. Hence litigations continued where the existence of an ancient Hindu mandir at the site and sacred nature of the site was repeatedly questioned.*

  • While the overwhelming evidence of the Hindu reverence of Janmasthan site was clearly documented by numerous British administrators of 19th and 20th century, this was dismissed by Leftist historians/Academics as British colonial ploy to divide and rule.*

  • 1992: the disputed structure was brought down.

  • 1999: second detailed excavation confirmed the existence of a massive temple structure under the disputed edifice with 50 pillars of the mandir. Irrefutable evidence in the form of Hindu religious symbols and Murtis were found. Magar Pranala, the water Shute to drain the ablutions from the deity, a distinctive feature of contemporary temples, was discovered leaving no doubt about the existence of an ancient Mandir. The clinching evidence was that of a stone inscription confirming a Mandir honouring Vishnu Hari who slayed Bali and ten headed Raavan.*

 

Judicial Interventions and Resolution

  • 2019: the Supreme Court of India delivered a unanimous verdict of handing over the Ramjanabhoomi site to Hindus for constructing a grand temple. It also ordered the government to give an alternate five acres of land to the Sunni Waqf Board for the purpose of building a mosque. 2019: the Supreme Court of India delivered a unanimous verdict of handing

  • The five-judge bench said the faith of Hindus that Sri Ram was born at the site was undisputed, and he is the symbolic owner of the land.

  • Amongst the legal team who fought one of the longest running Lawsuits in Indian history, on behalf of Sri Ram Virajman, was a legendary 92 yrs. old lawyer Sri Keshav Parasaran from Tamil Nadu, who was a former Attorney General of India.


Consecration of New Temple

  • Over five centuries, despite enormous odds, the Hindu community did not give up on their reverence for the holy site where they believed Bhagwan Sri Ram was born and continued to visit the Ram Janmabhoomi to offer their prayers.

  • Committed devotees from all over Bharat and from all the communities joined together to create the momentum which culminated in construction of the Sri Ram Mandir, a task once considered impossible.

  • 22nd Jan 2024 is that historic day when Bhagawan Shri Ram returns to Ayodhya.

*References: Rama & Ayodhya. Meenakshi Jain, Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2013

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