What is at Stake
The High-court judgment with regard to the Babri Masjid has internationalized the issue and put religious honor and integrity of a large number of people at stake. In the words of “The Guardian,” :.. more hinges upon the just resolution of the Babri Masjid dispute than the fate of a mosque.” (12 October 2010).
The demolition of the mosque was a disaster. Muslims lost trust in the majority community, in law and order authorities, and in an India where justice could prevail. Many of the majority community felt ashamed, had to adopt apologetic attitude, helplessly watch the dance of the fanatics, wonder where was India heading, and what other shame tomorrow promised. The elite decided to ignore it, as if nothing had happened, although they felt guilty-conscious because they knew that a disaster had occurred. They realized that they will have to, while interacting with foreigners, remain apologetic. They felt that even the while India progressed materially, it had taken several steps backwards culturally.
Barring the unlawful elements who did the demolition, the general masses were no less disturbed. Although initially they felt triumphant, they knew that a grave error had been committed, and that from now on they’d be estimated lower in the sight of the peoples of the world. That was a terrible thing to happen. The rationalists began to ask questions. Who is Rama? Is he real or myth? When was he born? Where exactly? And there were no answers that a modern mind would accept. All along they had been taught by serious literature that there was no historical evidence that Rama existed. It was a matter of faith. Just everybody in the community said so, and so, you were obliged to hold the same faith in order to remain loyal to the community. Says Britannica:
It is possible that Rāma was an actual historical figure, a tribal hero of ancient India who was later deified…
References to Rāma as an incarnation of Vishnu appear in the early centuries AD; there was, however, probably no special worship of him before the 11th century, and it was not until the 14th and 15th centuries that distinct sects appeared venerating him as the supreme god. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2006, art. Rama).
While the issue of “existed” or “did not exist” cannot be settled one way or the other in full certainty, what is said about his birthplace is also disturbing to many. Within the town of Ayodhya there are several spots whose occupiers claim that Ram was born right there. Claims go beyond the town. Some believe that Rama was born in a village called Gharam in Patiala District. It is said that his mother Kushalyaji belonged to village Gharam near Patiala and Rama being the first child, was born in that village:
Satnam Singh, octogenarian resident of Gharram, said “various university publications from across the world” say that “Sri Ram Chandraji was born at a place called Gharram”. According to Satnam Singh, villagers have frequently found “very old ornaments and utensils from that age” in the village, but the government has not tried to establish if an ancient settlement indeed existed at the spot. … Kuldip Singh, a veteran Punjab Archelogical Survey officer who has been posted in Patiala for over 30 years, said “people do believe that Lord Ram was born here, and many people from across India visit this village”. Kuldip Singh said that “Guru Gobind Singh mentions the village in the Dasham Granth, and many Persian and other historical texts also mention the place as the birthplace of Lord Ram”. M S Randhawa, convener of Culture and Heritage Society, claimed the Society has found evidence to suggest that Ram was born in Gharram. … Village folklore has it that Dashrath of Ayodhya married Kaushalya, Maharaja Khoh Ram’s daughter, in Gharram, and Kaushalya returned to her father’s home to deliver her first child, Ram. A large step-well, the Bawli Sahib, was dug in the village before the wedding of Kaushalya and Dashrath.”
Although history could not establish the existence of Rama, the challenge faced is, when did he live, if ever? At a colloquium organized by the Mythic Society in Bangalore in January 2005:
.. dates as wide as 1478 BC to 3067 BC were proposed (as the date of birth of Rama). Contributors included S. Balakrishna (from NASA, USA), using Lodestar Pro software, who proposed 2559 B.C. as the start of the war. Prof R.N. Iyengar (from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore) brought the event closer historically, suggesting the date 1478 B.C., while B.N. Narahari Achar (Department of Physics, University of Memphis, US) after “critically examining” the astronomical events in the Mahabharata pointed to 3067 B.C. (http://www.hvk.org/)
An answer provided by those who seem to combine faith with scientific methodology is that he was born at 12.30 p.m. on 10th January 5114 BC. The precise determination of the moment the birth took place, spoke of the value that could be attached to this ‘scientific’ answer. How many scientific minds would accept it when they read the following analysis presented by Bhatnagar?” According to him:
“Rama was born on the Navami tithi of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra masa (9th day of the increasing phase of the moon in the lunar month of Chaitra). At that time, the nakshatra was Punarvasu, and Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus were in Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer and Pisces respectively. Lagna was Cancer and Jupiter & Moon were shining together.”
“By using a powerful planetarium software,” (Bhatnagar states), “I found that the planetary positions mentioned in Ramayana for the date of birth of Lord Ram had occurred in the sky at around 12.30 p.m. of 10th January 5114 BC. It was the ninth day of the Shukla Paksh of Chaitra month too. Moving forward, after 25 years of the birth of Lord Ram, the position of planets in the sky tallies with their description in Ramayana. Again, on the amavasya (new moon) of the 10th month of the 13th year of exile the solar eclipse had indeed occurred and the particular arrangement of planets in the sky was visible. (Date comes to 7th October, 5077 BC). Even the occurrence of subsequent two eclipses also tally with the respective description in Valmiki’s Ramayana. (Date of Hanuman’s meeting Sita at Lanka was 12th September, 5076 BC). In this manner the entire sequence of the planetary positions gets verified and all the dates can be precisely determined.”
The occurrences, positions, and derivations disturb the educated class of the majority community. They realize that if they presented the above “scientific facts” to the scientific community, say of America (whose powerful planetarium software was used), and asked to lay a bet on the finding, they could expect to get a shoulder shrug in response.
Not only have these ‘facts’ placed them in intellectually awkward position but there are other claims. For example,
Rama was born in Suryavansha, later known as Raghuvnsha after king Raghu. Based on Puranic genealogy, Rama is believed by Hindus to have born in 7323 B.C.E. Rama is traditionally considered to have appeared in last quarter of Treta Yuga. Source (Wikipedia).
Another opinion maintains,
The original Amavasya before Rama’s birth took place at 353 deg. Deducting 7.8 deg. from it, we obtain 345 deg. as the position of this Amavasya which falls in the Uttara Bhadrapada nakshatra. Naturally, the next month was Chaitra, when the coronation was arranged on Pushya day at 104 degrees. One ‘tithi’ contains 12 degrees. So the moon was in Pushya on 29th November 7306 B.C., when Rama proceeded to the forest. (http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.com/)
Yet another religious authority pushes back the date by a few thousand years:
Sri Rama was born on Monday, 17-01-10,205 BC on Tamil Nala Varsha, Mesha Chitra 6th Day, on Punarpusa Nakshatra, after Chaitra sukhla Ashtami, The Navami Thithi at around 12 noon. (http://hitxp.wordpress.com/)
Other authorities take the date back to a million years ago:
It is well known fact that Rama was born during the latter part of traita. Hence, if we assume that Rama was born in the present chaturyugi then it means he was born at least 1,000,000 years ago. The period of his birth may be more than this.
However, Vayu purana provide us the correct chronological period of Ramayana. If we take Vayu purana period into consideration then period of Rama goes to at least 18,000,000 years back. Hence we can easily conclude that period of Rama is at least 1,000,000 years to 18,000,000 years. (http://www.satyavidya.org/)
Apart from relying on the clues given by the ancient literature, those who take the date back to a million years or more, claim that their dates corroborate with the biological developments of the human beings on earth. According to them, between 1-2 million years ago, men were still in the process of Darwinian evolution which explains the existence of “half-men half-monkeys” such as Hanuman of the Ramayana.
Yet, ironically, although the experts, specialists, astronomers and religious authorities offered a variety of dates, varying from 1478 to over one million years, it is reported of the Allahabad High Court Judges ruling over the Ayodhya Mosque that:
“For both Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice D V Sharma (now retired), Lord Ram, son of King Dashrath, was born within the 1,482.5 square yards of the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid premises over 900,000 years ago during the Treta Yuga.” (Indian Express, Wed Oct 06 2010)
According to another commentator:
‘For Justice Sharma, “the whole world knows that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya where the temple Ram Janama Bhumi stands.” Still, he adds that it is “manifestly established by public records of unimpeachable authority” that the premises in dispute is the place where “Maryada Purushottam Sri Ramachandraji Maharaj was born as the son of Maharaja Dashrath, which according to tradition and faith of the devotees of Bhagwan Sri Rama is the place where HE manifested in human form as an incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu.”’ (expressindia.com, Oct. 6, 2010)
How, one wonders, if the appearance was 900,000 years ago, it can be claimed that the “whole world knows” and that Ayodhya was the place of birth? Did Ayodhya exist then? Historical data says no.
It has been mentioned in several books as well as gazettes that for a long time till the first century BC, Ayodhya was completely deserted and was almost a jungle, (deccanherald.com, Oct. 3, 2010)
It was Raja Vikramaditya in the first century BC, who after great research located several places connected with activities of Lord Ram in Ayodhya and constructed/got constructed 360 temples there… However, it has also been mentioned that most of those temples collapsed over the centuries and were in ruined condition. (indianewspost.com, Oct. 4, 2010)
Amara Simha of AD 600, released many Sanskrit Poetry resources in .. magazines “The Week” (25.02.1990) and “Sunday Times” (20.11.1987 ). In that report, after showing several evidences, he confidently explained that, at Ayodhya during that period of 300 – 1100 AD, there was no human, building, temple or anything. (http://kahatowita-kahatowita.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html, & Srinivas P Kannan, posted on [The Hindu – Delhi] Oct 6, 2010)
A commentator on the article “Historical evidence ignored, say historians,” carried by “The Hindu of Oct. 1, 2010, wrote the following:
(India’s first president Dr. Radha Krishnan’s son) Gopal, who was good Hindu devotee and very good research scholar (wrote in) “his research article .. that ‘There was no temple for Ram before 1750 AD, in any part of India.’ He confidently declared that all Ram temples belong to 18th century. (Srinivas P Kannan, posted on The Hindu Oct 6, 2010).
The reliance on the report of the Archeological Survey of India, does not seem to be justified:
The ASI report had been criticised by many archaeologists for ignoring evidence such as animal bones, which would not have been found in a temple for Ram, and the existence of glazed pottery and graves which indicated Muslim residents.
NEW DELHI, October 1, 2010
There are other indirect evidences that feed skepticism. Tulsi Das was a famous admirer of Valmiki and Valmiki’s Ramayana, on which account he is considered a reincarnation of Valmiki. He was born in 1554, during the reign of Akbar. That is, just 50 years after the supposed destruction of the temple by Muslims. He was so learned of Ramayana that he re-wrote it using several dialects, in verse. His epic is called Ramacharitamanasa. He also wrote several other books with Rama as the theme. The interesting point in this connection is that this great admirer of Rama and Ramayana, who devoted his entire life to the two, did not mention the temple for Rama in Ayodhya nor that Ayodhya was the birth place of Rama. (Justice S.U. Khan – one of the three judges of Allahabad High Court – also raised this issue in his judgment). Had Babar got demolished the so-called first temple to Rama, then surely, Tulsi Das or his admirers could have raised the issue with Akbar, who, as a believer in pantheism, went to the extent of creating a new religion, would have been more than willing to demolish the Babri Masjid and allow reconstruction of the temple. Although not an irrefutable proof that the Babri mosque did not replace the temple, it surely offers strong evidence to that effect. In addition, it might be remembered that Tulsi Das did not choose to spend his life of devotion to Rama at Ayodhya; but rather, he chose to live in Varanasi. Why did he preferred Varanasi over Ayodhya?
These questions have led Dilip Simeon, a historian, to state and comment on the fact that the case in Allahabad was petitioned on behalf of Lord Ram the Deity. He wrote:
“The court should not have entertained a petition in the name of a Hindu god. By doing so, they have rendered something as sacred as religion into an absurdity. It was not their job to adjudicate where Ram was born. Historically, this is extremely difficult to prove and the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) report on the matter is full of controversies.”
The claim that there was a temple in place of the Ayodhya Mosque becomes all the more doubtful when we consider the fact that Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion, who was strongly opposed to Babar, never mentioned that Babar had ordered demolition of the temple. In fact, history informs us that he went to Ayodhya and enjoyed the beauty of Babri Majid’s Structure without making any comment about it.
With all that has gone above, when we hear the following, one begins to wonder whether there is any truth in claims about the Ram Mandir:
“Study of the history of the Hindu beliefs leads us to the conclusion that Ayodhya became a pilgrimage centre only in the medieval times (i.e. during the Muslim rule).
Prior to that, it did not have this stature. Chapter 85 of the Vishnu Smriti gives a list of 52 pilgrimage centres including cities, tanks, rivers and hills. Ayodhya is not among them. The smriti is supposed to have been written around 3rd century AD, and the list of pilgrimage centre’s given therein is the oldest extent.
Before 16th century, there was no Ram temple in any part of Uttar Pradesh (p.20 of Hindu Updeshi. May 1990). Therefore, the allegation about the demolition of any temple is no more than a figment of imagination. (Wikipedia and http://www.vijayvaani.com/)
Here is another important historical point that has to be borne in mind:
Indias first president was Dr. Radha Krishnan. His son Gopal who was good Hindu devotee and very good research scholar too. In his research article, he proclaimed that There was no temple for Ram before 1750 AD, in any part of India. He confidently declared that All Ram temple belongs to 18th century. (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article805087.ece)
A report, titled “Ramjanmabhumi Baburi Masjid – A Historians’ Report to the Nation”, was authored by historians R.S. Sharma, M. Athar Ali, D.N. Jha and Suraj Bhan. R.S. Sharma and D.N. Jha were professors of History at the University of Delhi (Sharma was also the first Chairman of the ICHR) and Athar Ali was Professor of History at Aligarh Muslim University
The report concluded, after looking at various pieces of textual and archaeological evidence, including Tulsidas’ Ramcharitamanas, that no evidence existed in the texts of any veneration being attached to any spot in Ayodhya before the 16th century (and indeed before the 18th century) for being the birthplace of Ram and that there were no grounds for supposing that a Ram temple or any temple existed at the site where the Babri Masjid was built in 1528-29. (http://hindu.com/)
The historians wrote: “Within 50 years or so of the construction of the Babri Masjid, Tulsidas composed in 1575-76 his celebrated Ramcharitamanas, the most fervent exposition of the Ramayana story in Avadh. Is it possible to believe that Tulsidas would not have given vent to heart-rending grief had the very birth site of his Lord been ravaged, its temple razed to the ground and a mosque erected at that place? His silence can only mean that he knew of no such scandal; and given his attachment to Rama and Ayodhya, this must mean that no such event had in fact taken place. Tulsidas, on the contrary, suggests that it was not Ayodhya but Prayag that was to him the principal place of pilgrimage ( tirath raj); and so no tradition of the veneration of any spot as that of Rama’s birth at Ayodhya had yet taken shape.” (ibid).
We started by saying that the educated class and rationalists of the majority community in India (in fact, quite poignantly those who live oversees) have, in view of the above, found it hard to accept the existence of a temple at the site of the Babri Masjid. It is hard for them to abandon a rational and informed method and make suppositions after suppositions.
The High Court judgment, has added to the confusion. They get to feel that belief seems to have played a greater role than the facts. But the fact is, facts are missing. So, for the Court it was like searching for evidences of man’s lost tail (as claimed by the evolutionists) from the information in the DNA, 98% or more of which is junk anyway.
With the case having gone to the Supreme Court, it seems the test of reasonability, rationalism, honor and integrity has been transferred to the Supreme Court. Can the Court remove the little thorn pricking the heart of the conscientious people?