The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya

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For over two decades, a handful of Left historians have strenuously endeavoured to stymie the Ramjanmabhumi movement. From questioning the antiquity of Rama worship and the identity of ancient Ayodhya, they have also challenged the widely held belief that Babri Masjid was built on the site of the Janmabhumi temple.

Scholars have, however, traced the antiquity of the Rama Katha as far back as sixth-fifth century bce, when ancient ballads (akhyanas) transmitted Rama’s story orally. Valmiki’s Ramayana itself has been dated to the fourth-third century bce. Over the centuries, Rama’s story has been re-told in many vernaculars of the country. Rama is the exemplar of moral values for Hindu society and epitomises its aspirations of artha, kama, and above all, dharma.

The proceedings of the Allahabad High Court have exposed the vulnerabilities of Left historians. They could proffer no evidence of continued Muslim presence at Babri Masjid, while the unwavering commitment of Hindu devotees to the site has been attested by several sources. Babri Masjid was not mentioned in the revenue records of the Nawabi and British periods, nor was any Waqf ever created for its upkeep. No Muslim filed an FIR or complained of dispossession or obstruction in his alleged use of the Masjid when the image of Sri Rama was placed under the central dome on 23rd December 1949. The Sunni Central Waqf Board entered litigation on 18th December 1961, just five days before the twelfth anniversary of the placement of the image in the Masjid, on which date any claim would have become time-barred. The Board did not file a suit for possession; instead it sought a declaration on the status of the property.

Further, excavations of the ASI revealed uninterrupted occupation of the site since the 13th century bce. They also exposed remnants of the temple on which Babri Masjid was erected. The assertions of Left historians on Babri Masjid have all been found to be erroneous; yet there has been no public retraction. Indeed, they continue to peddle their discredited theories despite the mounting evidence against them.


Meenakshi Jain is former Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and currently Associate Professor in History at Gargi College, University of Delhi. Her recent publications include Parallel Pathways: Essays on Hindu-Muslim Relations (1707-1857) and The India They Saw: Foreign Accounts of India from the 8th to mid-19th Century (3 vols.). She is the co-author of The Rajah-Moonje Pact: Documents on a Forgotten Chapter of Indian History.


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Bibliographic information

The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya
1st. ed.
x+160p., Illus; Colour 46; Black and White 15; 15cm x 22cm.