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Ram Janmabhoomi (Hindi/Devanagiri: राम जन्मभूमि) is believed by many Hindus to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. "Lord Rama" is referred as the god and described as an Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu according to the Hindu theology and tradition. The exact location of Lord Rama's birth as stated in holy Ramayana is on the banks of Sarayu river in the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pardesh. In 1528 Babur built a mosque. From 1528 to 1853 (the year of the first riot regarding the birthplace), the Babri Mosque became a place of worship for Muslims. From 1853 to 1949, separate areas were earmarked for both Hindus and Muslims to worship and in 1949, Idols were placed inside the disputed structure. The site of the Babri Mosque which was surrounded on all sides by Mata Sita Rasoi (Lord Rama's wife Sita Devi's Kitchen - actually a Temple and other Temples of Hanuman) and the disputed structure sharing walls with Sita and Hanuman Mandir was destroyed when a political rally developed into a riot involving 150,000 people. This happened due to the movement that was launched in 1984 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP party) to reclaim the site for Hindus who want to erect a temple dedicated to the infant Rama (Ramlalla), at this spot.
Many Muslim organizations have continued to express outrage at the destruction of the disputed structure. Since then, the matter is sub-judice and this political, historical and socio-religious debate over the history and location of the Babri Mosque, is known as the Ayodhya Debate.
References such as the 1986 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica reported that "Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babur in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple". According to the Hindu view, the ancient temple could have been destroyed on the orders of Mughal emperor Babur. Claims have been made that worship took place on a platform called the "Ram Chabutara" prior to Independence. According to British sources, Hindus and Muslims (who came from Faizabad) used to worship together in the disputed structure in the 19th century until about 1855. P. Carnegy wrote in 1870:
- "It is said that up to that time, the Hindus and Mohamedans alike used to worship in the mosque-temple. Since the British rule a railing has been put up to prevent dispute, within which, in the mosque the Mohamedans pray, while outside the fence the Hindus have raised a platform on which they make their offerings." This platform was outside the disputed structure but within its precincts. Hindu protagonists say that they have been demanding the return of the site for centuries, and cite accounts from several western travellers to India during the Mughal rule in India.
Chronology of events
In December 1949, icons of Lord Ram were placed (as found by the Allahbad High Court) in the Babri Mosque. The semi-governmental Waqf Board, an Indian Muslim trust, owned the land on which the mosque stood. Both Hindu and Muslim parties launch civil suits. The Indian government, declaring the site "disputed", locks the gates to the mosque.
In 1986, a district judge of Uttar Pradesh, orders the opening of the disputed structure to Hindus. This, allegedly, came from the Congress government, headed by Rajiv Gandhi, which tried to balance the favor shown to the Muslims in Shah Bano controversy.
In 1989- 1990, the VHP intensifies its activities by laying foundations of the Ram temple on the adjacent property. Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar proposes negotiations which only intensify the crisis.
In 1992, on 6 December, the Babri Mosque is forcibly demolished by Kar Sevaks. The then Narasimha Rao led Congress government let a makeshift temple appear in its place before moving the courts for status quo. The demolition of the mosque triggered large-scale rioting.
In November 2009 details of the Archeological survey are announced, which result in heated exchanges in the Indian parliament.
Archaeology of the site
Archaeological excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1970, 1992 and 2003 in and around the disputed site have indicated a large ancient complex existed prior to the Babri structure.
Historical accounts of the site
The Austrian Jesuit Joseph Tieffenthaler wrote in 1768: “Emperor Aurangzeb demolished the fortress called Ramcot, and erected on the same place a Mohammedan temple with three cupolas. Others believe that it was constructed by Babor.” Tieffenthaler also writes that Hindus celebrated Ram Navami (Rama's birth festival) in front of the mosque, and that the mosque was built on a temple. He wrote: "The reason is that here existed formerly a house in which Beschan (Vishnu) took birth in the form of Rama and where it is said his three brothers were also born. Subsequently Aurangzeb and some say Babur destroyed the place in order to prevent the heathens from practising their ceremonies. However, they have continued to practice their religious ceremonies in both the places knowing this to have been the birth place of Rama by going around it three times and prostrating on the ground."
The tradition of treating the site as the birthplace of Rama appears to have begun in early l8th century. The earliest suggestion that the Babri Mosque is in proximity to the birthplace of Ram was made by the Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler, whose work in French was published in Berlin in 1788. It says:
"Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas. Others believe that it was constructed by Babur. We see 14 columns of black stone 5 spans high that occupy places within the fortress. Twelve of these columns now bear the interior arcades of the Masjid; two (of the 12) make up the entrance of the cloister. Two others form part of the tomb of a certain Moor. It is related that these columns, or rather the debris of these columns, were brought from Lanka (called Ceylon by the Europeans) by Hanuman, chief of the monkeys." which in French reads as
l'empereur Aurungzeb détruisit la forteresse appelée Ramkot et construisit sur le même emplacement un temple musulman avec 3 dômes. D'autres pensent qu'il a été construit par Babur. On peut voir 14 colonnes faites en pierre noire qui soutiennent des découpages ...
... Plus tard Aurungzeb, ou, selon certains, Babur, détruisit l'endroit afin d'empêcher des païens de pratiquer leurs cérémonies. Toutefois ils continuèrent à pratiquer leurs cérémonies religieuses dans ce lieu, le connaisant comme celui de la naissance de Rama, en en faisant 3 fois le tour et en se prosternant à terre..
We see on the left a square platform 5 inches above ground, 5 inches long and 4 inches wide, constructed of mud and covered with lime. The Hindus call it bedi, that is to say, the birthplace. The reason is that here there was a house in which Beschan, (Bishan-Vishnu) took the form of Rama, and his three brothers are also said to have been born. Subsequently, Aurangzeb, or according to others, Babur razed this place down, in order not to give the Gentiles (Hindus) occasion to practice their worship. However, they continued to follow their practices in both places, believing it to be the birthplace of Rama."
This record reveals that Aurengzeb demolished the Ramkot fortress; that either he, or Babur constructed a Mosque there; the 12 columns of black stone pillars were brought from Lanka; and when veneration of Rama became prevalent after the 17th century, a small rectangular mud platform was built to mark the birthplace of Rama.
Shykh Muhammad Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami
Shykh Muhammad Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami (1811–1893) wrote: ‘According to old records, it has been a rule with the Muslim rulers from the first to build mosques, monasteries, 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, Bindraban, 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’ (p. 9). ‘Among the Hindus it was known as Sita ki Rasoi’ (p. 10). Zak Kakorawi, in his publication of the work of Shykh Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami, also includes an excerpt written by Mirza Rajab Ali Beg Surur. Mirza Rajab Ali Beg Surur (1787–1867) wrote in Fasanah-i Ibrat that ‘a great mosque was built on the spot where Sita ki Rasoi is situated. During the regime of Babar, The mosque was built in 923(?) A.H. under the patronage of Sayyid Mir Ashiqan… Aurangzeb built a mosque on the Hanuman Garhi… The Bairagis raised the mosque and erected a temple in its place. Then idols began to be worshipped openly in the Babari mosque where the Sita ki Rasoi is situated,’ (pp. 71–72).
Guru Nanak Dev
According to Bhai Man Singh's Pothi Janam Sakhi (late 18th century), Guru Nanak Dev 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 go for his darshan (visit the god).'
A. Führer wrote that: 'Mir Khan built a masjid in A.H. 930 during the reign of Babur, 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 Babur's Masjid.'
H.R. Neville wrote that the Janmasthan temple "was destroyed by Babur and replaced by a mosque." He also wrote "The Janmasthan was in Ramkot and marked the birthplace of Rama. In 1528 A.D. Babur came to Ayodhya and halted here for a week. He destroyed the ancient temple and on its site built a mosque, still known as Babur's mosque. The materials of the old structure [i.e., the temple] were largely employed, and many of the columns were in good preservation."
The British merchant William Finch, who travelled in India during AD 1608-11, recorded a detailed description of Ayodhya and the castle of Ramchand (Ramkot), "extensive enough to undertake a search for gold." Though he does not mention the birthplace of Rama, he gives a detailed account of the place where the ashes of Ram are kept. "Some two miles on the further side of the river in a cave of his with a narrow entrance, but so spacious and full of turnings within that a man may well loose himself there if he taketh not better heed; where it is thought his ashes were buried. Hither resort many from all parts of India, which carry from thence in remembrance certain grains of rice as black as gunpowder which they say have been preserved ever since."
In his Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma writes, "Ayodhya seems to have emerged as a place of religious pilgrimage in medieval times. Although chapter 85 of the Vishnu Smriti lists as many as fifty-two places of pilgrimage, including towns, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., it does not include Ayodhya in this list." Sharma also notes that Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas in 1574 at Ayodhya, does not mention it as a place of pilgrimage. This suggests that there was no significant Hindu temple at the site of the Babri Mosque.
According to Romila Thapar "If we do not take Hindu theology in account the first historical description of the city dates back recently to the 7th century, when the Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zang observed there were 20 Buddhist temples with 3000 monks at Ayodhya, amongst a large Hindu population. In 1528, nobles under Mughal emperor Babur constructed a mosque over the disputed site. The mosque, called the Babri Masjid, has become a source of contention for some Hindus. At the end of the 19th century, Ayodhya contained 96 Hindu temples and 36 Muslim mosques. Little local trade was carried on, but the great Hindu fair of Ram Navami held every year was attended by about 500,000 people."
Hindu parties cite that several attempts to censor information regarding the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi (and other temples) have been discovered. The book "Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein" by Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai, which included a chapter that described the demolition of the Ram Janmabhoomi and other temples, was suddenly missing in most libraries. The English version (1977) has the passages that described the destruction of temples censored out.
The book Muruqqa-i Khusrawi by Sheikh Mohammed Azamat Ali Nami, published by Zaki Kakorawi with the financial aid of the F.A. Ahmad Memorial Committee, has a chapter describing the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi censored out. Zaki Kakorawi later published the relevant chapter independently. He wrote about this incident that the ‘suppression of any part of any old composition or compilation like this can create difficulties and misunderstandings for future historians and researchers’.
Allahabad High Court verdict
On 30 September 2010, Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2,400 square feet (220 m2) disputed land in Ayodhya, on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992, will be divided into three parts: the site of the Ramlala idol to Lord Ram, Sunni Wakf Board gets one third and Nirmohi Akhara gets Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara.
The Ayodhya debate
- Ram Karmabhoomi
- Conversion of non-Muslim places of worship into mosques
- Ramchandra Das Paramhans
||This article uses bare URLs for citations. (August 2011)|
- http://elegalix.allahabadhighcourt.in/elegalix/ayodhyafiles/hondvsj-gist-vol2.pdf. Missing or empty
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- "Timeline: Ayodhya holy site crisis". BBC News. 30 September 2010.
- 15th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 1986, entry "Ayodhya", Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.
- P. Carnegy: A Historical Sketch of Tehsil Fyzabad, Lucknow 1870, cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 81-85504-16-4 p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer Religious Nationalism, p.153
-  Proof of temple found at Ayodhya: ASI report
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-  BBC Mark Tully, Eyewitness: Ayodhya destruction London, UK, 5 July 2005
-  Kuldeep Nair, Editors and Prime Ministers Rediff
- "BJP Lok Sabha Election, 2009 Manifesto - Naresh Kadyan - Care2 News Network". Care2.com. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
- (Quoted by R.S. Sharma et al.: Historians Report, p.19)
- (A.K. Chatterjee: “Ram Janmabhoomi: some more evidence”, Indian Express, 27-3-1990 and History and Geography of India, by Joseph Tieffenthaler, (published in French by Bernoulli in 1785))
- Joseph Tieffenthaler, History and Geography of India, 1785, publisher: Bernoulli, France, cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 81-85504-16-4 p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer Religious Nationalism, p.153
- Shykh Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami, Muraqqah-i Khusrawi or Tarikh-i Avadh cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 81-85504-16-4
- Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, pp 14-15, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 81-85504-16-4
- ( A. Führer: The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Archaeological Survey of India Report, 1891, pp 296-297) cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 81-85504-16-4
- (H.R. Neville in the Barabanki District Gazetteer, Lucknow, 1905, pp 168-169)
- H.R. Neville, Fyzabad District Gazetteer, Lucknow, 1905, pp 172-177) cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 81-85504-16-4
- Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrimes, v. IV, p. 66. On line: Internet Archive.
- William Foster, Early Travels in India 1583-1619, Oxford (1921) p. 176. ISBN 1-113-19512-6 On line: Internet Archive.
- Sikand, Yoginder (2006-08-05). "Ayodhya's Forgotten Muslim Past". Counter Currents. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
- Thapar 2000
- (Amir Ali Shahid aur Ma’rkah-i Hanuman Garhi, p. 3)
- "Disputed Ayodhya site to be divided into 3 parts- TIMESNOW.tv - Latest Breaking News, Big News Stories, News Videos". Timesnow.Tv. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
- Ram Sharan Sharma. Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, People's Publishing House (PPH), 2nd Revised Edition, September, 1999, Delhi. Translated into Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Two versions in Bengali.
- Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. 1996. Edited, translated and annotated by Wheeler M. Thacktson. New York and London: Oxford University Press.
- Swapan Dasgupta et al.: The Ayodhya Reference: Supreme Court Judgement and Commentaries. 1995. New Delhi: Voice of India. ISBN 81-85990-30-1
- Ayodhya and the Future of India. 1993. Edited by Jitendra Bajaj. Madras: Centre for Policy Studies. ISBN 81-86041-02-8 hb ISBN 81-86041-03-6 pb
- Elst, Koenraad. 1991. Ayodhya and After: Issues Before Hindu Society. 1991. New Delhi: Voice of India. 
- Elst, Koenraad, Ayodhya, The Finale - Science versus Secularism the Excavations Debate (2003) ISBN 81-85990-77-8
- Elst, Koenraad, Ayodhya: The Case Against the Temple (2002) ISBN 81-85990-75-1
- Emmanuel, Dominic. 'The Mumbai bomb blasts and the Ayodhya tangle', National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, 27 August 2003).
- Sita Ram Goel: Hindu Temples - What Happened to Them, Voice of India, Delhi 1991.  
- Harsh Narain. 1993. The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources. Delhi: Penman Publishers.
- R. Nath. Babari Masjid of Ayodhya, Jaipur 1991.
- A. Nandy, S. Trivedy, S. Mayaram, Achyut Yagnik, Creating a Nationality: The Ramjanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self, Oxford University Press, USA (1998), ISBN 0-19-564271-6.
- Rajaram, N.S. (2000). Profiles in Deception: Ayodhya and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New Delhi: Voice of India
- Thakur Prasad Varma and Swarajya Prakash Gupta: Ayodhya ka Itihas evam Puratattva— Rigveda kal se ab tak (‘History and Archaeology of Ayodhya— From the Time of the Rigveda to the Present’). Bharatiya Itihasa evam Samskrit Parishad and DK Printworld. New Delhi.
- Thapar, Romila. 'A Historical Perspective on the Story of Rama' in Thapar (2000).
- Thapar, Romila. Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History (New Delhi: Oxford University, 2000) ISBN 0-19-564050-0.
- Ayodhya ka Itihas evam Puratattva— Rigveda kal se ab tak (‘History and Archaeology of Ayodhya— From the Time of the Rigveda to the Present’) by Thakur Prasad Varma and Swarajya Prakash Gupta. Bharatiya Itihasa evam Samskrit Parishad and DK Printworld. New Delhi. (An important work on the archaeology of the temple.)
- History versus Casuistry: Evidence of the Ramajanmabhoomi Mandir presented by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to the Government of India in December–January 1990-91. New Delhi: Voice of India.
- The Babri riots are depicted in the 1995 film Bombay.
- Nasrin, Taslima: Lajja
- we have to remove the babri masjid which is near by ayodhya jai shree ram
- A closer look at the Ayhodya issue
- Koenraad Elst, Articles on the Ayodhya Debate
- http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/09/30/world/20101001_INDIA.html Hindus and Muslims to Share Holy Site] - slideshow by The New York Times