The Ayodhya dispute (Hindi: अयोध्या विवाद’Ayōdhyā Vivād , Urdu: مسئلۂ ایودھیا ‘Masʾala-ē Ayōdhyā’ ) is a political, historical and socio-religious debate in India, centred on a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya, located in Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh. The main issues revolve around access to a site traditionally regarded among Hindus to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity Rama, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque.
The Babri Mosque was destroyed during a political rally which turned into a riot on 6 December 1992. A subsequent land title case was lodged in the Allahabad High Court, the verdict of which was pronounced on 30 September 2010.
While the three-judge bench was not unanimous that the disputed structure was constructed after demolition of a temple, it did agree that a temple or a temple structure predated the mosque at the same site. The excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India were heavily used as evidence by the court that the predating structure was a massive Hindu religious building.
In 1526 following the Mughal invasion of the Indian subcontinent, Mir Baqi, a general of the emperor Babur, built a mosque at Ayodhya which he named after Babur. In Hindu mythology, Ayodhya is the birthplace of the god-king Rama.Local traditions hold that a temple to Rama stood at the site and was demolished by Baqi.
According to an early 20th century text by Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar and the surrounding historical sources examined by historian Harsh Narain, the young Babur came from Kabul to Awadh (Ayodhya) in disguise, dressed as a Qalandar (Sufi ascetic), probably as part of a fact-finding mission. Here he met the Sufi saints Shah Jalal and Sayyid Musa Ashiqan and took a pledge in return for their blessings for conquering Hindustan. The pledge is not spelled out in the 1981 edition of Abdul Ghaffar’s book, but it is made clear that it is in pursuance of this pledge that he got the Babri mosque constructed after conquering Hindustan.The original book was written in Persian by Maulvi Abdul Karim, a spiritual descendant of Musa Ashiqan, and it was translated into Urdu by Abdul Ghaffar, his grandson, with additional commentary. The older editions of Abdul Ghaffar’s book contain more detail, which seems to have been excised in the 1981 edition. Lala Sita Ram of Ayodhya, who had access to the older edition in 1932, wrote, “The faqirs answered that they would bless him if he promised to build a mosque after demolishing the Janmasthan temple. Babur accepted the faqirs’ offer and returned to his homeland.”
Late Mughal period
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.
The Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler, who visited Awadh in 1766-1771, wrote, “Emperor Aurangzebe got the fortress called Ramcot demolished and got a Muslim temple, with triple domes, constructed at the same place. Others say that it was constructed by ‘Babor’. Fourteen black stone pillars of 5 span high, which had existed at the site of the fortress, are seen there. Twelve of these pillars now support the interior arcades of the mosque.”This ambiguity between Aurangzeb and Babur could be significant.
Tieffenthaler also wrote that Hindus worshipped a square box raised 5 inches above the ground, which was said to be called the “Bedi, i.e., the cradle.” “The reason for this is that once upon a time, here was a house where Beschan [Vishnu] was born in the form of Ram.” He recorded that Rama’s birthday was celebrated every year, with a big gathering of people, which was “so famous in the entire India.”
If Muslims are entitled to an Islamic atmosphere in Mecca, and if Christians are entitled to a Christian atmosphere in the Vatican, why is it wrong for the Hindus to expect a Hindu atmosphere in Ayodhya?”
Early historical surveys
In 1767, Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler recorded Hindus worshiping and celebrating Ramanavami at the site of the mosque. In 1788, Tieffenthaler’s French works were published in Paris, the first to suggest that the Babri Mosque was on the birthplace of Rama, saying that “Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas” reclaimed by Hindus through numerous wars after death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D like they earlier fortified it during Jahangir’s rule as Ramkot.
In 1858, the Muazzin of the Babri Mosque said in a petition to the British government that the courtyard had been used by Hindus for hundreds of years.The British recognized the religious and political tension between the Muslims and Hindus. An early census, taken in 1869, found the Hindu people to comprise 66.4 percent of the total population in Ayodhya, and a little over 60 percent in nearby Faizabad. The British contended that the Ayodhya area was primarily Hindu, not in regards to this census, but to the chief spiritual significance for the birthplace of Rama.
The 1986 Allahabad High Court ordered the opening of the main gate and restored the site in full to the Hindus. Hindu groups later requested modifications to the Babri Mosque, and drew up plans for a new grand Temple with Government permissions;
Archaeological excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1970, 1992 and 2003 in and around the disputed site have clearly found the evidence indicating that a large Hindu complex existed on the site. In 2003, by the order of an Indian Court, The Archaeological Survey of India was asked to conduct a more indepth study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure that was beneath the rubble indicated definite proof of a temple under the mosque. However, it could not be ascertained if it was a Rama temple as remnant had more resemblance to a Shiva temple. In the words of ASI researchers, they discovered “distinctive features associated with… temples of north India”.
In 2003, The court ordered a survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram existed on the site. In August, the survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups disputed the findings.
ASI (Archeological Survey of India) has done 5 surveys in total on that disputed site from the year 1862–63 to 2003.
Out of these 5 surveys, 4 clearly stated the association of Ayodhya with the traditions of Rama and asserted that the present-day Ayodhya was the Ayodhya of the Ramayana years.
The last ASI survey report also said there is sufficient proof of existence of a massive and monumental structure having a minimum dimension of 50×30 metres in north-south and east-west directions respectively just below the disputed structure.
The report concluded that it was over the top of this construction during the early 16th century that the disputed structure was constructed directly resting over it.
Also Radar search done by Canadian geophysicist Claude Robillard in the year 2003 stated as :
Three inscriptions were found after the demolishion in 1992. Most prominent was Vishnu Hari inscription.
I am attaching the meaning of this inscription here:
Also, Pillar bases were first discovered by the ASI’s former director-general, BB Lal, in 1975.
In the Babri Mosque were at least fourteen stone pillars that have been dated to the early 11th century and more pillars were found during excavations buried in the ground near the mosque.
I wonder if any Mughal existed in India in 11th century?