Shree Ram Mandir 2024

Ayodhya is situated on the banks of the Saryu river in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The Brahamanda Purana dentifies Ayodhya as the premier amongst the six holy cities for the Hindus. The other five are Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchi, and Ujjain. These holy cities are places of pilgrimage from where the Hindus seek inspiration of their great civilisation and culture. Visits to these places also assure them of Moksha or Nirvana.

According to the Hindu tradition, Shri Rama is the seventh avtaar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. He was born to King Dashratha of Ayodhya to deal with the setting of adharma (unrighteousness) in the trethta Yug, the second of the four Yugas. Hence he is not a mythical figure. In every nook and corner of India there is a unique citation of Shri Rama having visited their place.

The belief in Shri Rama as a person has an antiquity of more than 3000 years, and this tradition is a continuous one. Shri Rama is accepted as a maryada purushottam all over the country, and also wherever Hindu civilisation had spread, as in Indonesia. Many of the incidents that have been mentioned in the Ramayana are being established on the basis of archaeology, attesting to the historicity of the various events that live today in the traditions relating to Shri Rama.

As a person, Shri Rama personifies the characteristics of an ideal person who is to be emulated. He had within him all the desirable virtues that any individual would seek to aspire. For example, he gave up his rightful claim to the throne, and agreed to go into exile (vanvas) for fourteen years, to fulfil the vow that his father had given to Kaikeyi, one of King Dashratha’s wives. This is in spite of the fact that Kaikeyi’s son, Bharat, begged him to return back to Ayodhya and said that he did not want to rule in place of Shri Rama. But Shri Rama considered his dharma as a son above that of his own birthright and his life’s ambition. For such supreme sacrifices, and many other qualities, Shri Rama is considered a maryada purushottam.

Archaeology has established that the antiquity of the belief in Shri Rama to be more than 3000 years, and that too on a continuous basis. However, the Hindu literature places the date back even further. Even the later figure would make the belief to be based on history, and not myth. The submerged city of Dwarka, which was recently discovered by a marine archaeological survey, has always existed in the collective consciousness of the Hindus. Many other events in different parts of the world have been accepted as facts on the basis of traditions (parampara) which are even younger than the belief in Shri Rama.

Yes. In 1975-80, the Archaeological Survey of India, under the leadership of Prof B B Lal, took up extensive excavations, in different parts of India, to establish the various sites mentioned in Ramayan. Similar excavations were undertaken in Ayodhya, including in two places around the Babri structure. The team was able to establish that the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site was occupied prior to 7th century BC.

Yes. Muslim records attest to the fact of the destruction. European visitors, prior to the British rule, mention the fact of the destruction. Archaeological studies have found the existence of buildings prior to the construction of the Babri structure. Land revenue records, maintained by the British, have identified the site as Janmasthan. There is even legal judgement of 1886 that avers the fact that the structure was constructed on a site that was holy to Hindus.

In December 1990, the above facts, along with many others, were compiled by the VHP and presented to the Government of India. A copy was given to the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, and was also published by the VHP. Neither the committee, nor the so-called secular historians have refuted the evidence.

Destruction of the indigenous places of worship has been a norm for the Islamic invaders all over the world. India and the Hindus have not been an exception in experiencing these barbaric practices. It is, thereore, difficult to believe that Babur would have behaved any differently, as can be seen from his diary, Babur Nama.

Babur did not come to India merely to loot the wealth of our nation. He had a religious motivation too, as is the case with many other Islamic invaders. His motivation can be well judged by his actions and what he wrote in his diary called Babur Nama. He says:

“For Islam’s sake, I wandered in the wilds,

Prepared for war with Pagans and Hindus,

Resolved myself to meet the martyr’s death,

Thanks be to God! a Ghazi I became.”

Whether Babur himself supervised the destruction of the temple at Shri Rama Janmabhoomi is difficult to say, since the pages in question from his diary relating to his presence at Ayodhya have been lost. However, the pages that are available show that he was near Ayodhya just prior to the destruction of the temple, and that Ayodhya was planned for attack. The fact that the structure was named after Babur also points out to the role of this Islamic invader from outside, in the destruction of the temple in honour of Shri Rama in 1528 AD.

Yes. Construction of structures, either religious or secular, over sites vandalised by the invaders has been a standard practice of both Islam and Christianity all over the world. The Hindus have been no exception to this barbaric practice. The objective of the new structure is to show the conquered people that the invaders were the new masters, and hence the structure had nothing but a political message. To draw any other meaning clearly signifies that the programme of trampling of the sentiments of the indigenous people is sought to be continued. This is no way to have cordial relations between groups. In the English translation of the Persian diary of Babur Nama, Annete Beveridge mentions specifically the destruction of the temple. She says that Babur was impressed with the dignity and sanctity of the ancient Hindu shrine at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi. She also says that as an obedient follower of Mohammed, Babur regarded the substitution of the temple by a mosque as a dutiful and worthy action

The act has to be interpreted in terms of the one who committed it. From what Babur has written about himself in his Babur Nama, it is clear that his intention was also to spread Islam. His actions after his victories also attest to this fact. It is true that he had a political mantle in terms of being a ruler. But in Islam most of the rulers also did take all actions to propagate their religion. This is something that has happened all over the world, and the treatment meted out in India to the Hindus is no exception.

If Babur was purely a political person, there would have been no need, one, to destroy a place of worship of the indigenous people and, two, to construct an alien place of worship and/or victory monument where such destruction took place. The fact that the Babri structure was built after destroying a temple in honour of Shri Rama establishes the religious nature of the act.

Whether it is destroyed for a religious reason or for a political one, the Babri structure, supposed to be a Muslim place of worship, would still be termed as a monument of the slavery and subjugation of the Hindus. Also, since it was built after destroying Shri Rama’s temple, the recovery of the site is still justified. The Hindus are not asking for the return of the thousands of the vandalised sites, but only three that are the most important to them in their tradition.

These were built during the time of Akbar, that is within fifty years of the destruction of the temple in honour of Shri Rama in 1528 AD. The Sita-ki-Rasoi was built at the original site. The Ram Chabootar was built slightly away from where the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) existed. Hindus accepted this as a second best option, because they did not want to give up their claim of the site, and wanted to establish their right by their presence there. This is a clear indication of the attachment of the Hindus demonstrated to the place where Shri Rama was born. Akbar’s acceptance of the demand also indicates that he respected the Hindu sentiments for the site

Throughout the existence of the Ram Chabootar, continuous worship of Shri Rama took place. There are numerous accounts of Ram Navami (Shri Rama’s birthday) being celebrated from 1700 onwards.

Tens of thousands of people sacrificed their lives in defending the temple at Shri Rama Janmabhoomi. Further, right from the time of the destruction of the temple at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi in 1528 AD, the efforts to recover the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site has been a continuous one. In spite of a relatively strong Islamic rule in the area, Hindu kings used every opportunity to liberate the site. Prior to 1947, there have been a total of 77 recorded attempts to wrest the control of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi from the clutches of Islam.

The insistence of construction of the Ram Chabootar and Sita ki Rasoi, within the precincts of the Babri structure, was with the intention of establishing the Hindu claim to the site. At the Ram Chabootar, prayers of Shri Rama were conducted on a continuous basis. Ram Navami was always celebrated at the site, even during the time of Islamic rule.

Yes. In the period 1975-80, an archaeological study was done of the various places mentioned in the Ramayan, and two pits were dug near the Babri structure. This led to the discovery of bases of pillars of the destroyed temple. These were aligned in the same direction as the fourteen Kasauti-stone pillars that were used in the structure. These pillars in the Babri structure had distinctive Hindu carvings of the 12th century period. They were used, as in many other similar situations, to establish that the Babri structure was built after destroying a temple, as was done in many other cases of similar vandalism. This was a standard Islamic practice carried out all over the world.

In addition, artefacts of the time of the destruction of the mandir in 1528 were also recovered. Since the bases of the pillars were aligned in the same direction as the pillars in the Babri structure, it clearly shows that the two are linked with each other.

At the time of the destruction of the Babri structure, various other archaeological artefacts of the temple were discovered. One of the most important one was a 1.10×0.56 meter slab consisting of a 20 engraved lines in Nagari script. These lines mention of an existence of a beautiful temple of Vishnu-Hari at the site.

During the time of Islamic rule, a peaceful return of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site to the Hindus would have defeated the very purpose of constructing the Babri structure. This purpose was to provide a visual reminder to the Hindus that Islam ruled even over their holy sites, and that Hindus were now slaves.

However, Hindus insisted on having at least a symbolic presence at the site. The permission to construct the Ram Chabootar and Sita-ki-Rasoi next to the Babri structure was a recognition of the Hindu sentiment of attachment to the site. Such a permission could only be done by a person who wanted to be benign, namely Akbar. For the Hindus, it was only a second best option. It was accepted only to establish their rightful claim for a future return of the site.

One should not forget the fact that temples were destroyed not only during the time of Babur. The record of Aurnagzeb in this respect was particularly atrocious. Hence, to try for a full return of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site would have been futile.

Yes. Even though the Hindus were still not their own masters, at least an option of seeking the return through the judiciary process was available to them. This was taken up and a case was filed in 1885.

The essential section of the judgement that was delivered in 1886 reads as follows: “It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as the event occurred 356 years ago it is too late now to remedy the grievance. All that can be done is to maintain the status quo. In such a case as the present one any innovation could cause more harm and derangement of order than benefit.”

A proper reading of the above judgement would clearly indicate that the Hindus have proved their right over the site. The second part of the judgement indicates that the British did not feel it necessary to be overly concerned about the Hindu sentiments since they were not their own masters. The harm that would be caused was to the colonial masters, and not to the Hindus.

Yes. Since the judiciary option was now available once again, cases were filed in the courts for recovery of the site. After December 1949, when the idols of Shri Rama appeared in the Babri structure, the courts permitted continuous puja of the Hindus within the structure. The Courts also declined the removal of the idols and prohibited Muslims within 200 feet of the idols. In February 1986, it was on court orders that the locks at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi were removed, giving full access to the Hindus to worship Shri Rama lalla.

In addition, the VHP participated in various discussions, organised by the Government of India, during the reign of three Prime Ministers – Shri V P Singh, Shri Chandrashekar, and Shri Narsimha Rao. The most organised and well-documented effort of the three was one at the time Shri Chandrashekar was the Prime Minister. In each case, the discussions were frustrated because the prime ministers refused to proceed further, knowing that it will go against their programme of vote-bank politics. They would have had to stand up not only to an obscurantist Muslim leadership, but also to those politicians and intellectuals who like to wear the badge of secularism on their sleeves.

One would have thought that monuments of slavery would have no place in public life. However, the practice of secularism in this country, which meant that Hindu sentiments are not to be considered, prevented the logical thing from happening.

In December 1990, when the Chandrashekar government organised the meetings to discuss the history of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site, VHP gave written submissions, with sufficient supporting material to establish the authenticity. The VHP has, in its own, published the evidence, and many people have written about it. Thus, the documents are available for study by the general public.

These submissions covered all the aspects relating to literary, historical, revenue, judicial and archaeological records. All these had clearly proved the stand of the Hindus that a temple in honour of Shri Rama and was deliberately destroyed in 1528 AD with an objective of constructing the Babri structure in its place.

The government did acknowledge the receipt of this information. The relevant minutes of the time read as follows: “The VHP submitted the rejoinder in which it tried to refute claims of the AIBMAC point wise. The AIBMAC did not react to the evidences put forward by the VHP. Instead it submitted photo-copies of more evidences in support of its claims. Since the AIBMAC did not give comments on the evidences put forward by the VHP, it is not possible for the government to decide the areas of agreement and disagreement.”

The Narsimha Rao government had formed a cell under Shri Naresh Chandra called the Ayodhya Cell. This was to evaluate the evidence already submitted. The deliberations of the cell is not publicly known. Given the practice of secularism in our country, it would be safe to say that this cell probably came to the conclusion that the historical case of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site is fully in favour of the Hindus.

No. The demand is for the return of only three of the holiest of the holy sites and not the rest of the thousands of the vandalised sites. This has been clearly stated by the VHP as far back as January 1991. In its written submission to the government, VHP said: “We do not even demand the return of the thousands of places of worship that have been forcibly replaced with mosques…We merely want three places back, three age-old sacred places. And we would prefer getting them back from the Muslim community, to getting them back by an official decree…..Muslims should understand what kind of message they are sending by insisting on continuing the occupation of our sacred places, an occupation started by fanatics and mass-murders like Babar and Aurangzeb. We do not like to think of our Muslim compatriots as heirs and followers of such invaders and tyrants. It is up to them to make a gesture that will signify a formal break with this painful past.”

Ten years ago VHP had made this unequivocal statement about its position on the return of only the three sites. In asking for the return of only three sites, which have a special significance to the Hindus, it is clear that they are not seeking revenge.

A long time ago this was an option that was offered to the Muslim community. It was done with an intention of showing the essence of Hindu tolerance and generosity in arriving at a negotiated solution. This is a clear indication that the Hindus had no intention of seeking revenge on the Muslims. It is unfortunate that the Muslim leadership rejected this offer.

What is sought to be constructed is not merely just another temple for Shri Rama, but a temple where he was born, that is the Janmabhoomi. At such sites there cannot be any other structure other than the one that honours the person born there. This is particularly important when we consider that Shri Rama is a maryada purushottam, and a very important symbol of our cultural heritage. The temple will be a reminder of the glory of our civilisation, and a beacon to the future.

The basic ethos of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is to rejuvenate the Hindu samaj and culture, and not just an issue of bricks and mortar. This has been very well expressed by Vidiadhar S Naipaul, when he said: “What is happening in India is a new historical awakening….Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.”

Given the response received from the masses in India and other places in the world for the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement, Shri Rama is clearly at the heart of our civilisation and a major unifying force. There is no section, nor any region, of the Hindu samaj that does not exhibit a deep attachment to Shri Rama. This empathy is also strongly exhibited not only in other lands where Hindus have settled, but also where the indigenous people accepted the Hindu culture, as in Indonesia.

The rationale keeps varying as per the needs of the situation. It seems that the ultimate objective is to create and maintain a level of confusion.

First, the historicity of Shri Rama is denied. When that is accepted, the concept of maryada purushottam as applicable to Shri Rama is denied. In effect, it is said that he was an ordinary person, without attributing any special importance to him. When that is accepted, it is denied that he was born in Ayodhya. When that is accepted, it is denied that the Ayodhya where he was born is not where the present day Ayodhya is. When that is accepted, it is denied he was born at the spot where the Hindus have a continuous tradition of more than 3000 years. And so on.

In essence, the strategy is one of negation of the site of Shri Rama Janmabhoomi. A further element of this strategy is to negate that a discussion took place at the time of the Prime Ministership of Chandrashekar, where the VHP gave the totality of evidence to establish that a temple was destroyed in 1528 and the Babri structure was erected in its place. The media has kept under wraps the various attempts made for a negotiated solution, because they would then have to also mention that these efforts were frustrated by those opposed to the construction of the temple.

No. For the Hindus, a temple at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi is not an issue of mere bricks and mortar. It is an issue of our cultural resurgence and identity, where Shri Rama, as maryada purushottam, has a prime place of importance. The movement is an expression of the collective consciousness of the Hindu ethos which was also articulated by Shri K M Munshi in case of the Mandir at Somnath: “The Hindu sentiment in regard to this temple is both strong and widespread. In the present conditions, it is unlikely that, that sentiment will be satisfied by mere restoration of the temple or by prolonging its life. The restoration of the idol would be a point of honour and sentiment with the Hindu public.” Hence, for the Hindus Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is not political.

The ones who are politicising the issue are the ones who are negating this importance of Shri Rama. By giving the Babri structure a significance other than that of monument of slavery, the issue becomes politicised. Not accepting a legitimate claim of the Hindus on their holy sites is what causes politicisation.

What Atalji has said reflects what the Hindu samaj, all over the world, has been saying for many years. The Hindus have deep attachment to the site where Shri Rama was born, and the Babri structure was a monument of thier slavery. No self-respecting independent nation, which seeks to regain its past glory, can tolerate such a structure on its land. Moreover, when he spoke in the Parliament in his strong defence of the events leading up to the December 6, 1992, he exhibited the same sentiments. What Atalji has said recently is what he has said in the past.

Correcting a medieval wrong cannot necessarily be considered wrong. The people of India fought for their independence, often being forced to resort to violence, to get rid of the foreign rulers who were entrenched for two centuries. If this wrong was not to be corrected, then we should not have initiated and fought for our country’s independence.

The manner in which the medieval wrong is sought to be corrected is also important. Hindus have not followed the example of Christians in Spain, when in the 16th century they drove out the Moors who had conquered the country some 400 years earlier. The Moors had forcibly Islamised Spain in the process of their conquest. The Christians, also by force, re-Christianised Spain when the Moors were defeated.

The Hindus, whenever they defeated the Islamic rulers in India, took a benign stand towards those who had converted to Islam, either by force or inducements. Shivaji and the Marathas stand out as a shining example of this tolerance of the Hindus.

In case of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi, Hindus have made serious attempts to get the site back peacefully – through negotiations and the judiciary. These attempts were frustrated for no fault of the Hindus.

Finally, if the barbaric behaviour during the medieval period was a norm of the time, correcting the medieval wrongs becomes even more important. This is the best way to tell the future generations that such behaviour is not accepted and should not be repeated.

The concept of ‘two wrongs’ is applicable only when the wrongs are not related. For example, in reaction to the destruction of a Hindu religious place, if a Muslim religious place at another site was destroyed, the concept of ‘two wrongs’ is applicable. Similarly, if a wrong was corrected in an uncivilised manner, then the concept is applicable. The peaceful attempts of Hindus to recover the three holy sites of Ram Janmabhoomi, Krishna Janmabhoomi and Kashi Vishwanath clearly establishes that either of these criteria does not apply in the case in question.

In 1528 AD an existing temple in honour of Shri Rama was destroyed. What is, therefore, sought to be done is to undo a historical wrong, one which has caused deep hurt to the Hindu sentiments. In the true spirit of Hindu dharma, efforts were first made to find a negotiated solution. It was also clearly stated that the Hindus are asking for the return of only three holy sites, and not the thousands that have been vandalised or destroyed. It is only because the efforts were frustrated, for no fault of the Hindus, that the events of December 6, 1992, took place.

If this is considered to be wrong, then we have to consider that it was wrong on part of Shri Krishna to advise Arjun to fight a just fight, even if it means that he has to kill not only his cousins, the Kauravas, but also his elders, teachers, and others who took care of him during his childhood.

The real issue is how the present day Muslims view the Babri structure. Do they consider it as their holy place? If the answer is yes, then they end up owning the barbarism of Babur and others like him. The right way for Muslims to act is to distance themselves away from such vandalism of the past. When the Germans are asked to apologise for the crimes of Hitler, they do not hesitate to do so, clearly indicating that they do not own Nazism.

Hindus have asked for a peaceful return, through judiciary and negotiations, of only three of their holy sites that were vandalised. Hindus are not asking for the thousand other sites that have received similar treatment. Hindus are not asking for any sort of compensation or restitution. Having established that the Hindus are not seeking revenge, there is no question of the present day Muslims being asked to pay a price for the mistakes of those who indulged in vandalism.

The disturbance of the communal atmosphere in our country has a long and unhappy history, which has nothing to do with the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement. In case of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement, the problem is blown up because the Muslims are told that the Babri structure is their religious place. They are not told the truth of the history of the site. They do not recognise that the monument was a political one, and that it was a symbol of the slavery of the Hindus. This programme of misleading the Muslims is not only confined to their obscurantist leadership but also to those who authenticate this leadership. The latter try to project themselves as protectors and benefactors of the Muslims, while in truth all that they are interested in is to keep them in a continual state of disenchantment. The cause for the communal atmosphere in the country being disturbed has to be correctly identified, if the problem is to be solved.

One has to first determine how one views the Babri structure. Some of those opposed to the construction of the mandir at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi say that the Babri structure was a place of worship for the Muslims. Some others argue that it was a monument of our secular tradition. Any interpretation of the Babri structure, other than that it was a monument of our slavery, would clearly indicate that the Hindus are being asked to persist with the feeling of humiliation that Babur wanted to inflict on them, as conquered people.

The Babri structure was built after destroying a temple in honour of Shri Rama. Thus those who oppose the restoration of the temple wish to hold the memory of Babur, an invader from a foreign land, and one who caused much devastation, over that of Shri Rama, the maryada purushottam. It is in this sense that the opponents of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi are called “Babur ke aulad”.

The merit of the demand for the construction of a temple in honour of Shri Rama is the one that has to be decided first. The justification for the construction has been made on the basis of historical, literary, legal, revenue and archaeological records. This has been presented to all the sections of the society, including the Government of India and those opposed to the construction of the temple. Time and again, the Hindus have made sincere efforts to find a negotiated solution. These were frustrated for no fault of the Hindus. All the relevant information is in public domain.

Therefore, under the circumstances, and given the just merit of the demand for the construction, we do not see any reason why there should be any kind of confrontation with any party. The people who are seeking a confrontation are those who do not wish to recognise the strong sentiments of the Hindus for their holy sites. Hence, the fault will not lie with the Hindus in this case too.

Hindu temples in Pakistan, Bangladesh and even India have been destroyed prior to the coming of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement at the centre stage. The novel, Lajja, describes the atrocities against the Hindus in Bangladesh right from the time of independence. In 1986 in Kashmir, many Hindu temples were attacked, and some destroyed, during the initial stages of terrorism in the state.

Where the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is concerned, what should be considered is whether the Hindus have a legitimate claim on the site. Since the legitimacy has been established, it becomes incumbent not only for the Hindus to explain their position, but also for the others to view it in the same perspective. It should also be stated that Hindus have made sincere efforts to resolve the issue through negotiations, and these efforts were frustrated at the altar of vote-bank politics.

The issue is whether the Hindus have a legitimate claim on the site or not. It is necessary for the society as a whole, and not only the Hindus, to undertake this exercise of explaining to the whole world about the case. Given the righteousness of the position of the Hindus, there is really no reason to expect an adverse reaction from any part of the world

These two issues have no link with each other. The problem of Kashmir is the result of the two-nation theory on the basis of which our country was divided. It, therefore, predates the coming of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement to the centre stage.

The Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is not one against the Muslims of the country but one which seeks for a rejuvenated Hinduism, which tradition belongs to all the citizens of India. The ancestors of the Muslims who were converted by force or inducement worshiped Shri Rama with as much fervour as those who did not convert.

The charge of fundamentalist in the crude sense has a political agenda behind it, and is not based on truth. Given its ethos of tolerance and other norms, Hindus can never be charged with being fundamentalist. The Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is one to rejuvenate Hindu culture, and is not directed against anyone. So, just as the present charge against any Hindu organisations of being fundamentalist is wrong, so any effort to colour them with the same charge on the basis of Shri Rama Janmabhoomi will be equally wrong.

No. The Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is not targeted against any segment of the society. Its objective is to revitalise the Hindu samaj and look at the glorious past to give a beacon for what can be achieved in the future. Being pro-Hindu does not mean that one is anti anyone else.

However, it is a practice of secularism in India that the history of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site is hidden from the people at large, and Muslims in particular. In this practice the ones who are getting appeased are the obscurantist leadership of the Muslim community, in the game of vote-bank politics. This practice has a history prior to the coming of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement at the centre stage. To repair the secular fabric of the nation, one has to understand the problem in its right perspective.

No. First, the site belongs to the Hindus. Second, the Babri structure that stood there cannot be considered to be a place of worship. It was a political monument to remind the Hindus that they were slaves. Third, Hindus have made many sincere efforts to find a peaceful solution to the problem, through negotiations. Finally, since independence it is functioning as a temple. What happened on December 6, 1992, was an expression of the Hindu frustration at being denied what legitimately belongs to them.

Furthermore, in answering this question, one has also to look at what tolerance really means. It means that one accepts that another has a way of moksha or salvation which is unique to him. It does not mean that if someone tries to harm a person, the latter should meekly submit. That would be cowardice.

Hindu have always lived in peace with their neighbours, irrespective of whether they were in majority or minority. Throughout the history, Hindus have not created problems in any country in the world where they reside. In Indonesia, the Hindus of Bali have never asked for independence or any special privileges, as the Christians of East Timor have done.

Given the righteousness of the Hindu case for the return of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi, there is no reason why Hindus should be persecuted in other countries where they are in minority. Where they are persecuted, like in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the reasons have nothing to do with the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement. The persecution has existed prior to the coming of the movement to the centre stage.

No. It should be noted that as far back as January 1991 the VHP had given a written submission asking for the return of only three of their holy sites which have been vandalised. They are not asking for the return of the thousands of similarly vandalised sites, either in the name of Islam or Christianity. For example, in Goa, many temples were destroyed and churches have been built on them. The Hindus have never asked for the return of these sites. Hence, there is no reason why Christians should feel insecure because of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement.

The answer to this issue has to be determined on the basis of what the Muslim clergy has to say. Even a cursory reading of the history of 1400 years of Islam clearly indicate a pattern of destruction of holy sites and denigration of the culture of the conquered people. This has happened wherever Islam has gone by force. In Mecca, Mohammad himself ordered the wholesale destruction of idols except one – the well known Black Stone of Kaabah. He rejected the goddesses the Arabs worshipped. The Prophet declared that true belief demands iklas, the giving of one’s whole and unmixed allegiance to God, and its opposite is shirk, the ascribing of partners to God and the worship of any creature.

One has also to see the way the destroyers of the temple viewed their action. Sir Vidiadhar Naipaul has put it most appropriately when he says: “The Muslim view of their conquest of India is a truer one. They speak of the triumph of the faith, the destruction of idols and temples, the loot, the carting away of the local people as slaves.”

If it is to be accepted that Islam truly does not sanction destruction of temples, then that is more the reason for NOT considering the Babri structure as a place of worship. This reinforces the argument that it was a political monument.

Yes. In both the cases, the temples were deliberately destroyed in the name of Islam. In both the cases, the destruction was carried out by the invading forces who came from outside the country, Hindus made enormous personal sacrifices in protecting their sacred monuments, Hindus demonstrated great attachment not only to the temples but also to the site, and Hindus made continuous efforts for recovery of the site even when Islam ruled the areas. Such similarities abound.

Perhaps the only difference can find is that in case of Somnath, no religious place was built over the ruins of the vandalised temple. However, next to the ruins of the ancient Hindu place of worship, a small mosque was built within the temple precincts. Even this small structure was built not with any religious objective, but to give the same political message as in the case of the Babri structure at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi – namely that Hindus were now slaves of Islam. After all, if there was a need for the Muslims for a place of worship, it could have been built some distance away.

Yes. Around the 12th century, Spain was conquered by the Moors and the people were forcibly converted from Christianity to Islam. In the 16th century, the Christians recovered the whole of Spain from the Moors. The Muslims in the country were given three choices – reconvert to Christianity, leave the country along with the Moors, or be killed. All the Muslim places of worship were converted back to Christian churches. This re-Christianisation was also done with force.

In Warsaw, at the end of the first Russian occupation of Poland (1614-1915), one of the first things that the Polish people did was to bring down the Russian Orthodox Christian Cathedral that was built by the occupiers in the centre of the town. This was done despite the fact that Christ, whom the Poles worshipped, was being honoured in the destroyed Cathedral. The Poles took this action because they considered the cathedral not to be a religious monument, but a political one.

Recovery of vandalised sites, particular where political monuments were erected, is a common feature for a newly independent state.

The Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is not an issue related to electoral politics. It should be viewed on its own merit, and not on the basis of political fallout, favouring the BJP, or any other party. Unfortunately, the movement has come into the realm of electoral politics due to those who oppose the construction of the temple. This has happened at the altar of vote-bank politics.

Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has rightly said that the construction of a temple at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi is part of our national sentiments. Hence, the programme of construction should be part of the agenda of all political parties, and not only the BJP. In this way, the movement will be kept out of the political arena.

The Hindus accepted to offer worship at the Ram Chabootar as a second best option. The temples at Mathura and Varanasi have a similar significance. They were built at the time when Hindus were not their own masters. In all the three cases, the intention of the Hindus was to re-establish their claim to the sites, because of their cultural attachment to these locations.

Where the sites in question have a special holy significance for Hindus, they should not be asked to keep on being contented with the second-best option. The manner of offering of prayers at these sites being unsatisfactory, the ill will against Islam is perpetuated. The structures by the invaders at the above three sites keep on reinforcing this feeling, since their only objective have always been one of making political statements rather than being places of worship. The return of these three sites to the Hindus will go a long way towards improving religious harmony.

Society always deals with many issues of varying importance at any one time. An effort to tackle the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi issue does not mean that the effort to educate the masses, for example, is kept in the background.

Also, this question has validity only if it is contended that it is because of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement that the country’s economic and social progress has been held back. The movement came to the centre stage only in the mid-80s. All the data show that that up to this time the country was in a poor state as measured by any parameter. The data also show that since then the country has progressed forward, at accelerated pace. Thus it is clear indication that even while the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement has come to the centre stage, the people of this country did not ignore the other issues.

The site at Ayodhya is important for the Hindus all over the world, since that is where they believe that Shri Rama was born – a belief that has a continuous tradition of more than 3000 years. For the Hindus, the issue is not one of mere bricks and mortar, but to rejuvenate a pride in our culture and civilisation. In addition, the Hindus have made numerous efforts of getting back the site in a peaceful manner.

A Shri Rama Janmabhoomi temple can only be built at the Janmabhoomi, and nowhere else. A library, or any other similar structure, can be built anywhere else, even next to the temple. In the Hindu tradition, places of worship have co-existed with places of learning.

The reasons for having communal disharmony has an unfortunate history going back to prior to the coming of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement to the centre stage. The cause for the disharmony has nothing to do with the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement. Communal harmony can be improved by addressing the real causes of the problem, and not by constructing a library, or any other similar structure, at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi.

Records show that since the mid-1930s, Muslims stopped offering namaz at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site. At the same time, Hindu worship at Ram Chabootar and Sita-ki-Rasoi, which existed within the Babri structure compound, has been continuously going on from the late 16th century. Since December 1949, Hindus started to offer pujas to Ram Lalla (infant Shri Rama) within the structure. This worship at the spot continues even to this day, with the full sanction of the judiciary. In effect it became a functioning temple. What is now sought to be done is to undertake a renovation programme (Jeernoddhar) to fully reflect the glory of the maryada purushottam.

When the then Prime Minister, Shri V P Singh, in July 1990, was attempting to have a negotiated solution, he said to the leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: “Arey Bhai, Masjid hai hi kahan? Where is the mosque, my friends, when namaz is not being performed? When for forty years idol worship is going on there, what kind of a mosque is it? That is just the temple of our dear Ram.”

As the home minister during the prime ministership of Shri P V Narsimha Rao, Shri Shankarao Chavan visited the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site. He offered prayers to Ram Lalla and received his blessings. After these ceremonies, he expressed his intention to see the mosque built in honour of Babur. When he was told that he is already standing in the structure he expressed complete surprise.

The Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is not one of bricks and mortar, but as one that will restore the honour of the nation and its culture. People take great pride in, and receive inspiration from, temples which signify their glorious past. This can be done only when we have a proper and full-fledged temple at the site.

Swami Vivekanand said: “Your forefathers underwent everything boldly, even death itself, but preserved their religion. Temple after temple was broken down by the foreign conqueror, but no sooner had the wave passed than the spire of the temple rose up again. Some of these old temples of Southern India, and those like Somnath of Gujarat, will teach you volumes of wisdom, will give you keener insight into the history of the race than any amounts of books. Mark how these temples bear the marks of a hundred attacks and a hundred regenerations, continually destroyed and continually springing up out of the ruins, rejuvenated and strong as ever! That is the national mind, that is the national life-current. Follow it and it leads to glory. Give it up and you die; death will be the only result, annihilation the only effect, the moment you step beyond the life-current.”

Yes. The Dharmagurus selected Shri Kameshwar Chaupal of Bihar to do the honour of laying the foundation stone on November 10, 1989. This was a deliberate act to show that the essential unity of Hinduism is blessed not only by the words of the Dharmagurus but also by their action. It is also a clear sign of the immense unifying power of Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement.

The structure that stood at the site prior to December 6, 1992, was a monument of slavery of the Hindus, and was a reminder that Islam ruled even over holy Hindu sites. In this context, any sign of Islam at the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi will convey the same meaning, and suggest that there is some right of Islam over the site. This will mean that the insult for the Hindus will be carried forward. This is no way to achieve communal harmony.

There are sufficient Islamic Centres in India. In addition, there is the Aligarh Muslim University, for which additional campuses in different parts of the country have been sanctioned. Various universities have departments for Islamic studies. What exactly will any form of Islamic Centres near the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi site achieve? Furthermore, the idea of such a centre has come about only because of the Babri structure that stood at the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi site. It is not as if there is a huge Muslim population in the area that needs the service of such a centre.

There are some rumours about such a linkage, but we do not know how far they are true. It should be recognised that the reconstruction of a temple at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi is not a negotiable one. The Hindus have a right over it, and this right should be respected for what it is. The revival of Ganga is also not a negotiable issue – it is the duty of the government to clean up the river. These are not either/or issues. Both have to be done for their own merit.

his aggressiveness is nothing new, and is part of a strategy of winning elections by hook or crook. The tragedy is that the intention of these political parties is not that something positive to be done for the Muslim community. They want to keep the leaders of the community happy, with an expectation that these leaders will mobilise the votes. Instead of working for constructive programmes which will benefit the Muslims in social and economic terms, they look at the community only from a vote-bank perspective.

In these places, constructing of places of worship for other religions is not even to be considered. The religious leaders would like to have these places as exclusively for themselves. At the same time, they will demand that they be given rights which they will never give to others

It is linked because the consideration for such supposed gestures has come about only because of the existence of Babri structure prior to December 6, 1992. The Hindus are asking for the return of their holy site, nothing else. These supposed gestures are put forward only as a bargaining point, and not because they have any intrinsic merit. The linkage is thrust on the Hindus.

After a long deliberation, and after detailed analysis of archaeological, historical, literary, and legal data, the Allahabad High Court concluded that a Hindu temple was destroyed and the Babri structure built in its place. The judgement also accepted the Hindu claim that the site was holy and that there is a long and continuous tradition that it is the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi. Despite this unequivocal status, under the guise of secularism, the Janmabhoomi was divided. This was not the issue before the High Court, and so the Hindu side has contested the division in the Supreme Court. The Hindus have a right over the whole area, and this right needs to be respected.

In the programme of vote-bank politics, legal and moral considerations do not come into play. Such politicians have least consideration for the legality of the case, so long as they think that any gesture on their part will win them Muslim votes. It is most unfortunate that the intellectuals, who like to think themselves as secularists, are more than willing to authenticate these methods of winning votes as being good strategies. The intellectuals do not expose the politicians that they do not have anything positive to offer to the Muslim community.


This Annexure gives the summary of the evidence provided by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in December 1990 to the government of India. This evidence was compiled in context of the discussions organised by the Chandrashekar government, and the moot point then was: Is there proof that an old and persistent tradition among Shri Rama devotees has considered the site as the sacred Shri Rama Janmabhoomi, and that Shri Rama worship ttok place there in a temple, before and until the Babri structure was built? It has also been published by the VHP, and many have written about the points made therein. The evidence establishes the vandalism at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site in 1528 AD.

The full evidence is available at the following websites:

As a response to a White Paper prepared by the Narsimha Rao government in February 1993, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brought out its own document in April 1993. The section relating to the evidence of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi temple not only gives a summary of the evidence, but also includes comments made by the Government of India on the submissions made by the VHP. While the government comments have not been made public, the BJP’s White Paper is in the public domain. To the best of our knowledge the BJP’s reproduction of government notes have not been denied.

The relevant section is available at the following websites:

The full White Paper of the BJP is available at the following websites:

The evidence provided by the VHP was divided into five parts. The first part dealt with the Hindu testimony. The city of Ayodhya has undeniably been a city of great antiquity and a sacred spot to the Hindus for a long time.

Valmiki’s Ramayana gives the location as on the bank of river Saryu, and describes its area, prosperity and glory. Many puranas attest the fact that Ayodhya is considered as one of the six holy cities, the other five being Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchi and Ujjain. In all the Hindu scriptures, Ayodhya figures prominently and Shri Rama is referred to as an avatar of Vishnu.

Kalidasa, the greatest classical poet and dramatist, gives a narrative of Vishnu’s incarnation on earth as Shri Rama. There is not a single important poet or writer in classical Sanskrit literature who has not paid his best obeisance to Shri Rama in one form or another.

For the last two millennia, the tradition of veneration to Shri Rama has existed in the Hindu society in one form or another. The earliest known inscription to testify to this is found in the Nashik cave inscription dating back to 150 AD. The evolution of the tradition of Shri Rama worship at least from 300 AD is established by the early shrines surviving at ancient Ramgiri hills, 30 kms from Nagpur. Paintings depicting episodes of Shri Rama’s life have adorned the walls of numerous temples in India and outside – from the famous Deogarh temple in Madhya Pradesh to Angkor Vat in Cambodia. The Grand Palace in Bangkok has a pictorial depiction of the complete Ramayan along the inner part of the compound wall.

The merits of a devote observing the vow on Ramnavami (the day Shri Rama was born) has been described in Ayodhya-Mahatmya in the following words: “A man who has seen the Janmasthana will not be born again even if he does not offer gifts, practise asceticism, goes on pilgrimages or make sacrifice-offerings. A man observing the vow world will be liberated from the bondages of rebirth on arrival of the Navami day because of the miraculous power of a bath and a gift. By seeing the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi he shall obtain the result that occurs to one who gives away a thousand red cows day after day.”

The second part dealt with the Muslim testimony. Numerous Muslim writers have written detailed accounts of the regional history of Awadh since the 17th century. Based on older authentic contemporary sources of various nature, they aver to the fact that the temple at the Ram Janmabhoomi was demolished and a mosque constructed in its place. Some of these writers were residents of Awadh. We give below five the twelve Muslim testimonies that were given as part of the evidence in December 1990.

In Safiha-i Chahal Nasaih Bahadur Shahi, written during the late 17th and early 18th century by the daughter of Bahadur Shah Alamgir, it is stated as follows: “The places of worship of the Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras and Awadh, etc., in which the Hindus have great faith – the place of the birthplace of Kanhaiya, the place of Rasoi Sita, the place of Hanuman, who, according to the Hindus, was seated by Ram Chandra over there after the conquest of Lanka – were all demolished for the strength of Islam, and at all these places mosques have been constructed.”

Mirza Jan, in Hadiqa-i-Shahada (1856), says, “The past Sultans encouraged the propagation and glorification of Islam and crushed the forces of the unbelievers, the Hindus. Similarly, Faizabad and Awadh were also purged of this mean practice of kufr. (Awadh) was a great worshipping centre and the capital of (the kingdom of) Rama’s father…. The temple of Janmasthan was the original birthplace of Ram, adjacent to which is Sita ki Rasoi….. Hence at that site, a lofty mosque has been built by Babar Badshah under the guidance of Musa Ashikan.”

The Urdu novelist Mirza Rajab Ali Beg Surur (1787-1867), in Fasana-i Ibrat, says, “During the reign of Babar Badshah, a magnificent mosque was constructed in Awadh at a place which is associated with Sita ki Rasoi. This was the Babri mosque.”

The Tarikh-i Awadh by Sheikh Mohammed Azmat Ali Kakorwai Nami (1869) states, “Awadh was the capital of the father of Laxman and Ram. There, under the guidance of Musa Ashikan, a magnificent Babri mosque was constructed at the site of the temple within the premises of Janmasthan.” In another book by the same title, but written by Alama Muhammad Najamulghani Khan Rampuri (1909), it is stated, “Babar built a magnificent mosque at the spot where the temple of Janmasthan of Ramchandra was situated at Ayodhya.”

In 1977, an English translation of Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein by Maulana Hakim Sayid Abdul Hai (d. 1923), was published by his son, Maulana Abdul Hasan Nadwi, alias Ali Mian. The book contains a chapter “The Mosques of Hindusthan”, giving at least six instances of construction of the mosques on the very sites of the Hindu temples demolished by the Muslim rulers during the 12th-17th centuries. As regards, the Babri structure, he writes, “This mosque was constructed by Babar at Ayodhya which the Hindus call the birthplace of Ram Chanderji.”

In the third part, European records were produced which attest to the holiness of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site and the destruction of a temple in 1528 AD. William finch, a European traveller (1608-11), confirms the existence of the ruins of Ramkot, the castle of Shri Rama, where Hindus believe he was born. Joseph Tieffenthaler, the Austrian Jesuit priest (1766-71), reports that Babur destroyed the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi temple and constructed a mosque using some of its pillars. He also wrote that Hindus refused to give up worship at the place, in spite of the Muslim efforts to prevent them. He noted the existence of the Ram Chabootra in the courtyard of the Babri structure, and celebration of Ram Navmi with great gatherings of people from all over India.

All the British official records have accepted the ancient Hindu belief of the holiness of Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site and the destruction of a temple there. These records also mention that the Babri structure was built after the destruction, and many specifically mention the use of the pillars from the destroyed temple.

The Archaeological Survey of India (1934) identified all the holy sites of Ayodhya with reference to the ancient texts, numbered them and put up sign posts in stone to mark the sites. The Babri structure was identified as the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi and a signpost was embedded there saying: “Site no. 1: Janmabhoomi”.

The court verdict of 1886 has been discussed in details as answer to question number fourteen, and what is said in Babur Nama (from the English translation by Annette Beveridge) has been discussed in question numbers seven and eight. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1978, 15th edition, Vol 1) records that a mosque erected by Babur in 1528, on the site of an earlier temple, marks Shri Rama’s birthplace.

Hans Bakker, the Dutch scholar, in his comprehensive study entitled “Ayodhya” (1984) has categorically accepted that an old Vaishnava temple was situated on the holy spot where Hindus believe Shri Rama was born. Bakker also says that this Janmabhoomi temple was destroyed by Babur in 1528 AD and replaced with the Babri structure. Fourteen black-stone pillars from the temple were utilised by Mir Baqi in the construction of the mosque.

In the fourth part, the revenue records, Kot Ram Chandra, the residential headquarters of Shri Rama has been shown quite distinct from the city of Ayodhya. In the records, Janmasthan, a large complex serves as a land mark in Kot Ram Chandra.

In the final part, the evidence with respect to archaeological records is presented. In the period 1975-80, the Archaeological Survey of India undertook a project to study the various sites mentioned in the Ramayana. The combined evidence shows that there did exist a historical basis for the Ramayana. Excavations were also done at two places around the Babri structure. They established the existence of pillar bases outside the structure, which were aligned in the same direction as the pillars in the structure, and the distance between the bases outside and the pillars inside were the same. These excavations also showed that the site was occupied prior to 7th century BC, that is for nearly 3000 years. The pillars that were present in the Babri structure had distinctive Hindu features, establishing the existence of a temple prior to the construction of the Babri structure.

Two Hindu structures of importance that existed within the Babri structure were the Ram Chabootra and Sita-ki-Rasoi. The former was a small raised platform, with a canopy, where constant prayers for Lord Ram were being conducted. Joseph Tiffenthaler, the Austrian Jesuit priest, who stayed in Awadh in 1766-71 reported that the Hindus had constructed the Ram Chabootra in the Babri structure’s courtyard. He also reported that the Hindus practised their devotion at the Chabootra, and continued to celebrate Ram Navami with great gatherings of people from all over India. This clearly shows the importance of the site to the Hindus, and they were willing to take huge risks to establish their presence. Please also see the answer to question number ten.

The demolition of the Babri structure on December 6, 1992, brought to light a great deal of archaeological material from within the thick walls of the Babri structure. Besides sculptured panels and images, architectural components such as amalaka, sikharas, doorjambs, etc., it included three inscriptions on stone. The largest one, inscribed on a 1.10x.56 meter slab and consisting of 20 engraved lines, has been published by Professor Ajaya Mitra Shastri of Nagpur University in the Puratattva (a reputed scholarly journal of the Indian Archaeological Society), No. 23 (1992-93), pp. 35 ff. (Professor Shastri is a distinguished historian and a specialist in epigraphy and numismatics.) The relevant part of his paper reads its follows:

“The inscription is composed in high-flown Sanskrit verse, except for a small portion in prose, and is engraved in the chaste and classical Nagari script of the eleventh-twelfth century AD. It was evidently put up on the wall of the temple, the construction of which is recorded in the text inscribed on it. Line 15 of this inscription clearly tells us that a beautiful temple of Vishnu-Hari, built with heaps of stone (sila-sam hati-grahais) and beautified with a golden spire (hiranya-kalasa-srisundaram) unparalleled by any other temple built by earlier kings (purvvuirapyakritam kritam nripatibhir) was constructed. This wonderful temple (aty-adhutam) was built in the temple-city (vibudh- alayni) of Ayodhya situated in the Saketamandala (district, line 17) showing that Ayodhya and Saketa were closely connected. Saketa being the district of which Ayodhya was a part. Line 19 describes god Vishnu as destroying king Bali (apparently in the Vamana manifestation) and the ten-headed personage (Dasanana i.e. Ravana).”

We reproduce excerpts of three interviews given by Sir Vidiadhar on his interpretation of the ethos of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement. Sir Vidiadhar is a Trinidad-born person of Indian ancestry. He now resides in the United Kingdom, and is a recognised author in the English language. He has won all the major awards in literature except the Nobel Prize. He has also written a number of best-selling books on India.

In one of his interviews (not included here), Sir Vidiadhar said: “The (second) millennium began with the Muslim invasions and the grinding down of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the north. This is such a big and bad event that people still have to find polite, destiny-defying ways of speaking about it. In art books and history books, people write of the Muslims ‘arriving’ in India, as though the Muslims came on a tourist bus and went away again. The Muslim view of their conquest of India is a truer one. They speak of the triumph of the faith, the destruction of idols and temples, the loot, the carting away of the local people as slaves, so cheap and numerous that they were being sold for a few rupees. The architectural evidence – the absence of Hindu monuments in the north – is convincing enough.”

“An area of awakening”, interview by Dileep Padgaonkar, The Times of India, July 18, 1993

Padgaonkar: The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rise of Islamic nations in Central Asia, the Salman Rushdie affair, similar harassment by fundamentalists of liberal Muslim intellectuals in India: all these factors taken together persuaded some forces to argue that a divided Hindu society cannot counteract Islamic fundamentalism.

Naipaul: I don’t see it quite in that way. The things you mentioned are quite superficial. What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening. Gandhi used religion in a way as to marshal people for the independence cause. People who entered the independence movement did it because they felt they would earn individual merit.

Today, it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history. Romila Thapar’s book on Indian history is a Marxist attitude to history which in substance says: there is a higher truth behind the invasions, feudalism and all that. The correct truth is the way the invaders looked at their actions. They were conquering, they were subjugating. And they were in a country where people never understood this.

Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalising of India. Because of the nature of the conquest and the nature of Hindu society such understanding had eluded Indians before.

What is happening in India is a mighty creative process. Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on, especially if these intellectuals happen to be in the United States. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

However, we are aware of one of the more cynical forms of liberalism: it admits that one fundamentalism is all right in the world. This is the fundamentalism they are really frightened of: Islamic fundamentalism. Its source is Arab money. It is not intellectually to be taken seriously etc. I don’t see the Hindu reaction purely in terms of one fundamentalism pitted against another. The reaction is a much larger response… Mohamedan fundamentalism is essentially negative, a protection against a world it desperately wishes to join. It is a last ditch fight against the world.

But the sense of history that the Hindus are now developing is a new thing. Some Indians speak about a synthetic culture: this is what a defeated people always speak about. The synthesis may be culturally true. But to stress it could also be a form of response to intense persecution.

P: This new sense of history as you call it is being used in India in very many different ways. My worry is that somewhere down the line this search for a sense of history might yet again turn into hostility toward something precious which came to use from the West: the notion of the individual……

N: This is where the intellectuals have a duty to perform. The duty is the use of the mind. It is not enough for intellectuals to chant their liberal views or to abuse what is happening. To use the mind is to reject the grosser aspects of this vast emotional upsurge.

P: How did you react to the Ayodhya incident?

N: Not as badly, as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country.

In Turkey, they turned the Church of Santa Sophia into a mosque. In Nicosia churches were converted into mosques too. The Spaniards spent many centuries re-conquering their land from Muslim invaders. So these things have happened before and elsewhere.

In Ayodhya the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old.

P: The people who climbed on top of these domes and broke them were not bearded people wearing saffron robes and with ash on their foreheads. They were young people clad in jeans and tee-shirts.

N: One needs to understand the passion that took them on top of the domes. The jeans and the tee-shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real. You can’t dismiss it. You have to try to harness it.

Hitherto in India the thinking has come from the top. I spoke earlier about the state of the country: destitute, trampled upon, crushed. You then had the Bengali renaissance, the thinkers of the 19th century. But all this came from the top. What is happening now is different. The movement is now from below.

P: My colleague, the cartoonist, Mr R K Laxman, and I recently travelled thousands of miles in Maharashtra. In many places we found that noses and breasts had been chopped off from the statues of female deities. Quite evidently this was a sign of conquest. The Hindutva forces point to this too to stir up emotions. The problem is: how do you prevent these stirred-up emotions from spilling over and creating fresh tensions?

N: I understand. But it is not enough to abuse them or to use that fashionable word from Europe: fascism. There is a big, historical development going on in India. Wise men should understand it and ensure that it does not remain in the hands of fanatics. Rather they should use it for the intellectual transformation of India.

‘Hindus, Muslims have lived together without understanding each other’s faiths’, interview by Rahul Singh, The Times of India, Jan 23, 1998.

Q: You gave an interview to The Times of India, which was interpreted by the BJP as supporting them in the destruction (of the Babri structure). Do you think you were misunderstood?

A: I can see how what I said then could be misinterpreted. I was talking about history, I was talking about a historical process that had to come. I think India has lived with one major extended event, that began about 1000 AD, the Muslim invasion. It meant the cracking open and partial wrecking of what was a complete cultural, religious world until that invasion. I don’t think the people of India have been able to come to terms with that wrecking. I don’t think they understand what really happened. It’s too painful. And I think this BJP movement and that masjid business is part of a new sense of history, a new idea of what happened. It might be misguided, it might be wrong to misuse it politically, but I think it is part of a historical process. And to simply abuse it as Fascist is to fail to understand why it finds an answer in so many hearts in India.

Q: Couldn’t it just be communal prejudice?

A: It could become that. And that has to be dealt with. But it can only be dealt with if both sides understand very clearly the history of the country. I don’t think Hindus understand what Islam means and I don’t think the people of Islam have tried to understand Hinduism. The two enormous groups have lived together in the sub-continent without understanding one another’s faiths.

“The truth governs writing”, an interview by Sadanand Menon, The Hindu, July 5, 1998

Q: You have been rather vehement about Marxist, leftist interpretations of History. What did you see as a major flaw in their arguments?

A: Probably not so much the Marxist interpretation of history as Marxist politics which, of course, is entirely criminal. Such disrespect for men. I think that is enough; that is condemnation enough. This lack of regard for human beings.

Q: Well, that is not specific to Marxists politics alone. All brands of organised politics, all parties mirror each other in their behaviour and have discredited themselves. But what about Marxism as a tool for analysing history?

A: You see, Sadanand, I have not lived like that. I never looked for unifying theories. I think everything is particular to a country, a culture, a period. In another context, I do not like people taking ancient myths, shall we say, and applying them to their own period. I think the ancient myths come from an ancient world. Sometimes very many ancient worlds come together in an epic work and to apply that narrative to modern life is absurd. Something like that I feel about these unifying interpretations of history. It is better just to face what there is. It is better not to know the answers to every problem, before you even know what the problems are. The Marxists, they know the answers long before they know anything. And, of course, it is not a science. It deals with human beings.

Q: You have given some signals during your visit here this time about your – it may be a wrong word – your “happiness” with the emergence and consolidation of some kind of parasitic Hindu political order here. How do you sustain such a thesis?

A: No. I have not done that actually. I have talked about history. And I have talked about this movement. I have not gone on to say I would like Hindu religious rule here. All that I have said is that Islam is here in a big way. There is a reason for that and we cannot hide from what the reasons were. The great invasions spread very far South, spreading to, you know, even Mysore. I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th Century or earlier time disfigured, defaced, you know that they were not just defaced for fun: that something terrible happened. I feel that the civilisation of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions. And I would like people, as it were, to be more reverential towards the past, to try to understand it; to preserve it; instead of living in its ruins. The old world is destroyed. That has to be understood. The ancient Hindu India was destroyed.

Q: Many things changed and many things overlapped in Indian history due to many diverse interventions. But do such processes over time justify the line of “historic revenge” with retrospective effect? Does it make that inevitable? What do you see unfolding before your eyes here today?

A: No. I do not think so. It need not happen. If people just acknowledged history, certain deep emotions of shame and defeat would not be driven underground and would not find this rather nasty and violent expression. As people become more secure in India, as a middle and lower middle class begins to grow, they will feel this emotion more and more. And it is in these people that deep things are stirred by what was, clearly, a very bad defeat. The guides who take people around the temples of Belur and Halebid are talking about this all the time. I do not think they were talking about it like that when I was there last, which is about 20 something years ago. So new people come up and they begin to look at their world and from being great acceptors, they have become questioners. And I think we should simply try to understand this passion. It is not an ignoble passion at all. It is men trying to understand themselves. Do not dismiss them. Treat them seriously. Talk to them.

Q: But don’t you think this tendency is only going to increase – this tendency to whimsically and freely interpret religion or history at the street level?

A: I think it will keep on increasing as long as you keep on saying it is wicked and that they are wicked people. And if we wish to draw the battleline, then of course, you get to battle. If you try to understand what they are saying, things will calm down.

A. Summary of the Legal Findings Before India’s Independence

* Hindus never relinquished the legal claim to the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi area, including the temple site and all land around the temple site.

* In 1859 the British divided the area into two parts: one consisting of the Babri structure and the other comprising of the Rama Chabootra, and the Sita-ki-Rasoi and the entire courtyard to Hindus. Hindus continued continuous Pooja (i.e. Worship) and Bhajan (i.e. Prayers and Singing) in that area.

* In 1885, Mahanta Raghuvar Das filed a case in the Faizabad Court to renovate the temple near Chabutra area. That case was rejected. But on appeal the British Judge Col. F.E.A. Cowmiyar wrote in his judgement that what happened to the Hindus was extremely sad about the fact that a Masjid was built over one of their most sacred site some 356 years ago and now it is late to rectify that.

* During 1934 the domes were at least partially damaged by the Sants of Ayodhya. After this incident the whole are was declared off-limit to the Muslims.

B. Summary of the Legal Findings After India’s Independence:

* The Revenue Records as recorded in the village of Ramkot (or Kot-Ramachander) shows that Shri Rama Janmabhoomi site area as Janmastan.

* On 23 December 1949, the idols of Ram Lalla appeared (Virajman) in the middle of the floor space under the central dome and soon after thousands of devotes assembled there to worship and the practice of continuous Pooja and Bhajan started, in front of the idols.

* On 29 December 1949, the city Magistrate exercised control over the whole area. However, the Poojaris (i.e. Priests) continued their prayers to Ram Lalla.

* On 16 January 1950 one Shri Gopal Simha Visharad filed a suit in the Faizabad civil court for the exclusive rights of performing Pooja for Ram Lalla and asked the judge to issue orders to stop anyone moving the idols. A temporary injection was issued preventing the removal of the idols of Ram Lalla. The civil judge on 3 March 1951, and later the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court maintained that order and dismissed the an appeal. It is interesting to note that 13 Muslims residents of Ayodhya had filed affidavits in the proceeding under Section 145 Cr. P.C. before the magistrate. They provided the affidavits to the effect that the disputed structure was constructed after demolishing the temple of Janmabhoomi at that site and that they have no objection if the place remains with the Hindus. The city magistrate closed the file consigned by his order 30 July 1953, on the ground that there was no longer any apprehension of breach of peace.

* On 5 December 1950, Paramahansa Ramachandradasji also filed a suit asking for the continuation of the pooja and keeping the idols in the Babri structure. During August 1990 out of shear frustration with the justice system, the Plaintiff Paramahans Ramachandra Das withdrew the case.

* A Muslim filed a suit against the status quo order (i.e. of not allowing the Muslims to enter any of the area and the continuation of Pooja and Bhajan in front of Ram Lalla). On 26 April 1955 the case was dismissed.

* Just as the Statute of limitation was about to end, after 11 years, 11 months and 26 days after the day when the idols of Ram Lalla idols emerged in 1949, a fourth suit was filed by the Sunni Central Board of Waqf of U.P. to reclaim the Janmabhoomi area for the Muslims.

* On 16 December 1964 the Faizabad civil judge consolidated all the suits. After hearing the parties on all the issues the judge in his 21 April 1966 order said that “no valid notification so far relenting to the specific disputed property of the present suits at hand.” This finding has become final. This means the court took the bottom of the Waqf Board’s right to suit.

* On April 1984, the VHP organized the first Dharma Sansad in New Delhi and Shri Rama Janmabhoomi Mukti Yagna was initiated. In Uttar Pradesh, the Sants started a Rama-Janaki Ratha Yatra to create nation-wide awareness and to bring to the notice the earlier 77 encounter to free the Rama Janmastan.

* On 21 January 1986, Shri Umeshchandra Pandey filed a suit in the Munsif Magistrate of Faizabad and requested the court to order the opening of the locks on the gates of the Janmastan property. On 1 February 1986 the District Magistrate Shri K.M. Pandey ordered that the locks be opened and further ordered the government of U.P. not to come in the way of the Pooja and Bhajan or create any types of obstructions.

* On 1 February 1986, a Muslim from Ayodhya filed a suit in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court against the opening of the locks. The Sunni Waqf also filed a suit for the same purpose.

* During January 1989, the 3rd Dharma Sansad met at the Mahakhumba in Prayag, and decided to perform Shilanyas on 9 November 1989.

* On 1 July 1989, Retired Justice of the High Court, Shri Devakinanda Aggarwal, joined the suit as a friend of the court on behalf of Ram Lalla and the Janmabhoomi.

* On 18 October 1989 the Sunni Waqf Board filed a suit for not allowing any people to the Janmabhoomi area and not to allow any Shilanyasa within 200 yards from the site. On 23 October 1989 the full Bench rejected the Waqf Board’s request.

* Muslim parties continued their effort of stopping the Shilanyas by filing two more suits/petitions in the Supreme Court. On 27 October 1989 the Supreme Court dismissed both cases and the path for Shilanyas was cleared.

* On 10 October 1991, the then U.P. government purchased the 2.77-acre of land, around the disputed Dancha, for the convenience of the devotees who attend the Ram Lalla darshan etc.

* At this point the Muslim representatives filed a writ petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court. On 25 October 1991, the court after hearing all the parties issued an interm order stating that U.P. government has every right to do so. The High Court also said that they would issue a permanent decision by 4 November 1992.

* On 30 October 1992 the fifth Dharma Sansad met in New Delhi and decided to start the Kar Seva on 6 December 1992.

* On the morning of 8 December 1992 the Central Government took over the complete Shri Rama Janmabhoomi Parisar area under its control. The Pooja for Ras Lalla did continue.

* On 7 January 1993 the Government of India, with the concept of the Parliament, took over some 67 acres of land all around the disputed area. But the Muslims took a tough stand stating that once a place become a Masjid, it does not matter what the new circumstances will become.

* On 7 January 1993, the President of India, per rule 143 (1) of the Parliament, requested the Supreme Court for its opinion on the subject matter and find out whether there existed a Hindu place of worship before the disputed Dancha was constructed over it. The Supreme Court declined.

* After 21 months of deliberations, on 24 October 1994, the Supreme Court gave its majority decision in favour of the action taken by the Government under rule 4 (3) and turned the case back to the Lucknow Bench of the High Court of U.P. Also it rejected the arguments of the Muslims that once a Masjid it always remains a Masjid. It further ordered that the Pooja to Ram Lalla can continue under the central dome and no action should be taken to change the situation. While turning down the claims of the Muslims the Supreme Court cited case under the Lahore High Court and the Privy Council.

* As of now, the High Court continues to take depositions from the parties concerned (i.e. Sunny Waqf Board, and Nirmohi Akhada). Since 1966, on behalf of the Muslims, 16 out of some 103 depositions have been completed. On behalf of Hindus Paramhans Ramachandradasji has provided his deposition. On behalf of Hindus some 100 depositions have been completed.

The issue is not one of bricks and mortar, i.e. it is not merely an issue of a temple. One more or one less temple does not give Ram bhakts any more or less opportunity to offer their prayers. The issue is related to our nationalism and our culture.

The Hindus believe that the place where the Babri structure stood is the birthplace of Shri Ram. This belief has a continuous tradition of more than 3000 years, as has been established by the archaeological investigation at the site. Such a long belief has to make it into a fact.

If the birthplace was somewhere else, there was no need for people to hold this place as sacred. After all, the Hindus of the time prior to 1000 BC did not imagine that in the 16th century AD the holy site would be vandalised.

In 1528 AD, the temple that stood at the site was deliberately destroyed with an objective of constructing the Babri structure in its place. The purpose of the structure was not religious but political, and the purpose had also been intentionally offensive. The intention was to give the Hindus a continuous ocular demonstration that Islam was reigning supreme, even over Hinduism’s holy places.

As a second best option, within 50 years of the destruction of the temple at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi, the Hindus constructed a Ram Chabootar within the compound of the Babri structure. This was with an intention of keeping their claim to the site alive. Continuous pooja were being undertaken at the Chabootar. Now it is happening where the Shri Ram deity exists.

Hindus have been making continuous effort, even going into battle, for the recovery of the site. In 1885, a judge of the British colonial regime accepted that the site was holy for the Hindus. In the post-independence period, too, legal cases have been continuing for the recovery of the site.

During the time of the Chandrashekar government, in December 1991 a major effort at a solution through dialogue was started. Hindus have given historical, literary, archaeological and revenue records to establish the antiquity of the belief of their tradition, and the destruction of the temple in 1528.

All these efforts were frustrated not so much by an obscurantist Muslim leadership, but by those in the intellectual community who wear the label of secularism on their sleeves.

The issue has become politicised not because of the demand for the return of the site, but because of the denial of the holy significance of the site for the Hindus, and of the deliberate destruction of the temple in 1528. It has been politicised due to the programme of vote-bank politics.

Shri Ram is epitomised as Maryada Purushottam (an ideal person) by the Hindus of the world, and many others. There has to be an appropriate monument at the site where it has been established that he was born. Otherwise, we will be denigrating his memory, and future generations will not have a source from where they can receive the necessary inspiration.

Elst Koenraad, Ram Janmabhoomi v/s Babri Masjid, by Voice of India, 1990.

Elst Koenraad, Ayodhya & After, by Voice of India, 1993.

Elst Koenraad, Negationism in India, Concealing the Record of Islam, Voice of India, 1993.

Dasgupta Swapan / Joshi M Rama / Elst Koneraad / Shourie Arun, The Ayodhya Reference (Supreme Court Judgement & commentaries), by Voice of India, 1995.

Ayodhya, Bombay Urban Industrial League, 1992

Bajaj Jitendra, Ayodhya and the future India, by Centre for Policy Studies, Madras, 1993.

Dubashi Jay, The Road to Ayodhya, by Voice of India, 1992.

Nath R, Architecture of the Baburi Masjid on Ayodhya, by The Historical Research Documentation Programme, 1991.

Sharma Y. D. / Srivastava K . M ., Ramjanmabhoomi Ayodhya (New Archeological Discoveries), by Published by K. S. Lal, President of the Historian Forum.

Mishra Vinay Chandra, Ram Janmabhoomi Babari Masjid (Historical documents legal opinions and judgements), by Bar Council of India trust, 1991.

Aggarwal J. C. / Chowdhary N. K., Ram Janmabhoomi through the Ages, by S. Chand & Co. Ltd., 1991.

Shourie Arun, Indian Controversies, by ASA, 1993. Shourie Arun, A secular Agenda, by ASA, 1993.

Advani Lalkrishna, Ramjanmabhoomi (Hindi), Published by BJP Central Office

Shrivastav Ramsharan, Eak Drushtikon Ram janmabhoomi Babri Masjid Vivad (Hindi), by Carefree Printer, 1997.

Shourie Arun, Narain Harsh, Dubashi Jay, Hindu temples what happened to them, Volume-1 & 2, by Voice of India, 1992.

Dasgupta Swapan, Jois M Rama, Jaitley Arun, The Ayodhya Reference (Supreme Court Judgement and Commentaries), by Voice of India, 1995.

* “Arey Bhai, Masjid Hai Hi Kahaan…?” by Arun Shourie, Indian Express, Oct. 25, 1990

* Ram over Babar: Is Narasimha Rao preparing to do a deal with militant Hindus?, By Aditi Phadnis, The Sunday, October 10, 1992.

* History and Politics of Ram Janmabhoomi, by Ashok Chowgule.

* Is the Ram Janmabhoomi movement Anti-Muslim?, by Ashok Chowgule, Mahanagar Vishwa Hindu Parishad, November 21, 1996.

* ‘It should have by now become clear that a mosque could not come up at Ayodhya’, (Interview – ‘Cho’s’ Ramasawamy), Rediff on Net, December 23, 1999.