Peace Disruptors–The Conversion and Repurposing of Places of Worship (Part 2): The Ayodhya Temple, from Hinduism to Islam and back to Hinduism

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 21 Nov 2022

Prof Hoosen Vawda – TRANSCEND Media Service

“Hinduism and Islam both propagate peace and tolerance; yet the inter religious conflict continues for centuries.”[1]

The Destruction and Demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 by Hindu Nationalists ignoring a Court Order[2]

19 Nov 2022 – This part 2 in the series on conversions of existing places of worship into buildings for the remembrance and supplication of a God of another religion highlights the saga of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India.  In the Hindu religious epic, Ramayana, it is narrated that this site in Ayodhya is established as been the birthplace of the Hindu deity, Lord Ramachandra .  Ramjanma Bhoomi, the Hindi name of this temple or Mandir, is translated as Lord Ram’s Birthplace.[3]  Furthermore, as narrated in the Ramayana[4], Lord Ramachandra is stated as Lord Vishnu’s seventh reincarnation, as a fundamental tenet of Hinduism, is said to have grown up along Ayodhya’s, Sarayu River[5]. In fact Lord Rama used to take bath in this river, daily.[6] The Ram Janmabhoomi is a highly revered site for Hindu devotees, both in India and globally.

Is it appropriate to briefly highlight The Rāmāyana, which is a Sanskrit epic composed in India over a period of nearly a millennium, with scholars’ estimates for the earliest stage of the text ranging from the 7th  to 4th  centuries BCE,[7],[8] and later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE.[9] Ramayana is one of the two important epics of Hinduism, the other being the Mahābhārata.[10]

The epic, traditionally ascribed to the Maharishi Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, a legendary prince of Ayodhya city in the kingdom of Kosala. The epic follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest urged by his father King Dasharatha, on the request of Rama’s stepmother Kaikeyi; his travels across forests in the Indian subcontinent with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana, the king of Lanka, that resulted in war; and Rama’s eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king amidst jubilation and celebration, symbolically represented globally as the “Festival of Lights” called Deepavali in south India[11] and Diwali[12], in the north of the peninsula. The primary distinction between Deepavali and Diwali would be that Diwali is a five-day celebration celebrated primarily in northern India, whilst Deepavali is a four-day festival, celebrated primarily in southern India.

The Ramayana is one of the largest, ancient epics and religious scripture, in world literature and Hinduism. It consists of nearly 24,000 verses, mostly set in the Shloka/Anustubh meter, divided into seven Khanda or parts, the first and the seventh being later additions.[13] It belongs to the genre of Itihasa, narratives of past events or purāvṛtta, interspersed with teachings on the goals of human life.  There are numerous versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist, Sikh and Jain adaptations. There are also Cambodian (Reamker), Indonesian, Filipino, Thai (Ramakien), Lao, Burmese and Malay versions of the holy scripture in Hinduism.

The word “Ayodhya” is a regularly formed derivation of the Sanskrit verb yudh, “to fight, to wage war”. Yodhya is the future passive participle, meaning “to be fought”; the initial “A” is the negative prefix, therefore, word means “not to be fought” or, more idiomatically in English, “invincible”[14]  Ayodhya was stated to be the capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom in the Ramayana. Hence it was also referred to as “Kosala”. The Adi Purana states that Ayodhya is famous as su-kośala “because of its prosperity and good skill”.[15] The cities of Ayutthaya (Thailand), and Yogyakarta (Indonesia), are named after Ayodhya.  Since 1949  and up to 2019, there has been a legal battle for Ayodhya as reported[16] in 2019.

The Bābarī Masjid; meaning Mosque of Babur was a mosque in Ayodhya, India, at a site believed by many Hindus to be the birthplace of Hindu deity Rama. According to the mosque’s inscriptions, it was built in 1528–29 (935 AH) by Mir Baqi, a general of the Mughal emperor Babur. The mosque was attacked and demolished by a Hindu nationalist mob in 1992, which ignited communal violence across the Indian subcontinent.  The mosque was located on a hill known as Ramkot (“Rama’s fort”). According to Hindus, Baqi destroyed a pre-existing temple of Rama at the site. The existence of this temple is a matter of controversy.[17] There is also the Fable of Musa Ashiqan.  According to an early 20th century text by Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar and the surrounding historical sources examined by historian Harsh Narain,[ the young King Babur came from Kabul to Awadh (Ayodhya) in disguise, dressed as a Qalandar (Sufi ascetic), probably as part of a fact-finding mission. Here he met the Sufi saints Shah Jalal and Sayyid Musa Ashiqan and took a pledge in return for their blessings for conquering Hindustan. The pledge is not spelled out in the 1981 edition of Ghaffar’s book.[18] Lala Sita Ram, who had access to the older edition in 1932 wrote, “The faqirs answered that they would bless him if he promised to build a mosque after demolishing the Janmasthan temple. Babur accepted the faqirs’ offer and returned to his homeland.”[19]

However, Archaeological Survey of India conducted an excavation of the disputed site on the orders of the Allahabad High Court. Various materials have been found during excavation which suggest the presence of a Hindu structure beneath. Also, The High Court noted that the Babri Masjid was not built on vacant land and the excavated underneath structure was not Islamic in nature

The city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, where the Original Mandir marked the Birthplace of Lord Ramachandra according to the Ramayana[20]
Inset: The excavations beneath the demolished Babri Mosque[21]

A detailed list of the events reported from antiquity.

In 1528: According to the inscription on its walls, the Babri Masjid constructed on the orders of Emperor Babur after demolishing the ruins of a Hindu temple at the birthplace of Lord Rama.

1853: Hindus resisted for the right of worship in their holy shrine as temple was demolished to build the mosque.

1859: The possession of site led to the community clashes. Hence, to appease the then Muslim ruler and a section of society Britishers built a fence that separates the places of worships which means the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus.

1885 (Suit No. 61/280) in court of Faizabad Sub-Judge against Secretary of State, India: It was the first legal representation made by any the Hindu side. Mahant Raghubar Das filed a suit to gain legal title to the land and for permission to construct a temple on the ‘chabutra’ (raised platform) in the eastern courtyard. The mahant Das was the mahant of the ‘janamsthan’, birthplace of Lord Ram and said the ‘chabutra’ was the Lord’s birthplace.

1886: Mahant Raghubar Das appeals against the order in court of Faizabad, District Judge. Although District Judge Col FEA Chamier dismisses suit filed by Raghubar Das on March 18, 1886 said: “It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land held sacred by Hindus.”

1870-1923: As the controversy spread further, several official publications of the time started taking note of it. It was even mentioned in some of the gazettes published at the time. Legal battle started to put its impact socially also. A stone marker reading “No 1 Ram Janam Bhoomi” was placed at the main entrance of the mosque.

December 22-23, 1949: On the night between the 22nd 23rd December, 1949 the deity of Bhagwan Sri Rama was installed with due ceremony under the central dome of the building. Jawaharlal Nehru the then Prime Minister took a stand on the installation of the idols and insisted that the Idol should be removed but the local official K.K.K. Nair, refused to carry out orders.

1950: First Suit No.1 was filed by Sh. Gopal Singh Visharad as a devotee of Lord Rama seeking permission to do worship and asked the court to remove all barriers, problems in his worship being a citizen. In this continuation several suits were filed. Suit No.2 bearing No. 25 of 1950 was filed by Paramhans Ram Chandra Das in 1950; Suit No. 3 was filed on 17.12.1959 by Nirmohi Akhara; Suit No. 4 was filed on 18.12.1961 by Sunni Wakf Board, and the last Suit being Suit No. 5 was filed on 1.7.1989 by Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman at Sri Rama Janam Bhumi, Ayodhya Through his Next Friend.

1959: Nirmohi Akhara emerges as a new contender and suit for the possession of the site who also claimed themselves as the custodian of the spot at where Lord Rama was born.

1986: Based on Hari Shankar Dubey’s plea, a district court directed to unlock the gate for ‘Darshan’ to the Hindu community. Some Maulvies did not understand the decision to open the gate for worship. The intention behind the decision to open the gate was because Lord Rama can’t be locked up and it should be worshiped as per rituals. But Muslims set up Babri Masjid Action Committee. As a result, the gate was opened for less than an hour and again remains locked.

1989: The former VHP vice-president Deoki Nandan Agarwala suit file for the title and possession at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.

August 14, 1989: Allahabad High Court ordered maintenance of status quo in respect of the Ram Mandir.

December 6, 1992: Disputed structure demolished. Demolition caused nationwide riots and protests.

1992: Librahan Commission (Librahan Ayodhya Commission for Inquiry) was set up to investigate the destruction of the disputed structure of under retired High Court Judge M. S. Liberhan by an order of the Indian Home Union Ministry.

April 3, 1993: ‘Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act’ passed for acquisition of land by Centre in the disputed area. Various writ petitions, including one by Ismail Faruqui, filed in Allahabad HC challenging various aspects of the Act.  Supreme Court exercising its jurisdiction under Article 139A transferred the writ petitions, which were pending in the High Court.

October 24, 1994: Supreme Court says in the historic Ismail Faruqui case that mosque was not integral to Islam.

July 1996: During this year, Allahabad High Court clubs all civil suits under the single table.

April 2002: Allahabad High Court begins hearing on determining who owns the disputed site.

2002: The High Court passes an order to the Archaeological Survey of India to find out if there would be evidence of the temple beneath the disputed structure.

January 2003: The Archaeological Survey of India started excavation to find out the evidence of temple beneath of the disputed structure. ASI excavation revealed pre-existence of ‘massive structure’ underneath Disputed Structure. The Muslim Parties did not amend their Pleadings to take any alternative plea to meet the discovery of the massive structure beneath Disputed Structure. Further, The ASI Report clearly mentions that the Western Wall (W5) of Disputed Structure stands directly over Western Wall (W16) of the Temple without any layer of earth or other strata between the two walls which should have existed at the top if there was no structure on spot when construction of Babri Masjid commenced. Wall W5 standing directly over Wall W156, proves that Babri Masjid was erected over and with full knowledge of pre-existence of a structure.

March 13, 2003: Supreme Court says, in the Aslam alias Bhure case, no religious activity of any nature is allowed at the acquired land.

June 2009: The Liberhan commission investigating events leading up to the mosque’s demolition submits its report, 17 years after it began its inquiry.

September 30, 2010: Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority, rules three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

May 9, 2011: Supreme Court stays Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya land dispute.

2010-2011 Appeals were preferred before Hon’ble Supreme Court challenging the judgment of the High Court.

Feb 26, 2016: Subramanian Swamy files plea in SC seeking construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site.

March 21, 2017: Chief Justice of India (CHI) JS Khehar suggests out-of-court settlement among rival parties.

August 7, 2017: Supreme Court constitutes three-judge bench to hear pleas challenging the 1994 verdict of the Allahabad High Court.

August 8, 2017: UP Shia Central Waqf Board tells SC mosque could be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the disputed site.

November 20, 2017: UP Shia Central Waqf Board tells SC temple can be built in Ayodhya and mosque in Lucknow.

December 1, 2017: Thirty-two civil rights activists file plea challenging the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad HC.

September 27, 2018: Supreme Court declines to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution bench. Case to be heard by a newly constituted three- judge bench on October 29.

January 8, 2019: Supreme Court sets up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the case headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, U. U Lalit and D.Y. Chanrachud

January 29, 2019: Centre moves Supreme Court seeking permission to return the 67-acre acquired land around the disputed site to original owners.

February 26, 2019: Supreme Court favours mediation, fixes March 5 for order on whether to refer matter to court-appointed mediator.

October 16, 2019: Supreme Court concluded its proceedings in all the appeals after an elaborate hearing which continued on daily basis from 6th August 2019

A Window Grill of The Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, Destroyed by 150,000 volunteers

At the direction and supervision of court-appointed observers of Allahabad Bench of the Uttar Pradesh High Court, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated the disputed “Ayodhya Temple – Babri Mosque” site. The archaeologists reported evidence of a large structure similar to a Hindu temple having pre-existed the Babri Masjid. A team of 131 workers including 29 Muslims was engaged in the excavations.

ASI, which oversees and maintains the ancient monuments and archaeological sites under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act – 1958, and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972 examined the site, and in June 2003 issued a report of the findings. Later in August 2003 the ASI handed a 574-page report to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.

The ASI report stated: “Among the structures listed in the report are several brick walls ‘in east-west orientation’, several ‘in north-south orientation’, ‘decorated coloured floor’, several ‘pillar bases’, and a ‘1.64-metre high decorated black stone pillar (broken) with vaksha figurines on four corners’ as well as “Sanskrit inscription of holy verses on stone”. It also mention among other things a staircase and two black basalt columns ‘bearing fine decorative carvings with two cross legged figures in bas-relief on a bloomed lotus with a peacock whose feathers are raised upwards’.

Ancient perimeters from East to West and North to South have been found beneath the Babri fabrication. The bricks used in these perimeters predate the time of Babur. Beautiful stone pieces bearing carved Hindu ornamentations like lotus, Kaustubh jewel, alligator facade, etc., have been used in these walls. These decorated architectural pieces have been anchored with precision at varied places in the walls. A tiny portion of a stone slab is sticking out at a place below 20 feet in one of the pits. The rest of the slab lies covered in the wall. A tiny portion of a stone slab is sticking out at a place below 20 feet in one of the pits. The rest of the slab lies covered in the wall. The projecting portion bears a five-letter Dev Nagari inscription that turns out to be a Hindu name. The items found below 20 feet should be at least 1,500 years old. According to archaeologists about a foot of loam layer gathers on topsoil every hundred years. Primary clay was not found even up to a depth of 30 feet. It provides the clue to the existence of some structure or the other at that place during the last 2,500 years.

More than 30 pillar bases have been found at equal spans. The pillar-bases are in two rows and the rows are parallel. The pillar-base rows are in North-South direction. A wall is superimposed upon another wall. At least three layers of the floor are visible.  An octagonal holy fireplace (Yagna Kund) has been found.  Many ornate pieces of touchstone (Kasauti stone) pillars have been found in the excavation. Terracotta idols of divine fugurines, serpent, elephant, horse-rider, saints, etc., have been found.  The Gupta and the Kushan period bricks have been found.

Brick walls of the Gahadwal period (12th Century CE) have been found in excavations.

Nothing has been found to prove the existence of residential habitation there. The excavation gives out the picture of a vast compound housing a sole distinguished and greatly celebrated structure used for divine purposes and not that of a colony or Mohalla consisting of small houses. That was an uncommon and highly celebrated place and not a place of habitation for the common people. Hindu pilgrims have always been visiting that place for hundreds of years. The items found in the excavations point to the existence of a holy structure of North Indian architectural style at that place

The court as part of the hearing, said that the ASI report contains all the details including details of straigraphy, artifacts, periodisation as well as details of structures and walls. The pillar bases mentioned in the report establishes beyond all doubt the existence of a huge structure.

Additionally, the judges have mentioned the existence of circular shrine, stone slabs in walls with Hindu motifs and more particularly sign of Makar Pranal in wall No. 5 (the wall of disputed structure), divine couple and other temple materials – conclusively proves the existence of a hindu religious structure.

The findings suggest that a Northern Black Polished Ware culture existed at the mosque site between 1000BC and 300BC. A round signet with a legend in Asokan Brahmi, terracotta figurines of female deities with archaic features, beads and terracotta and glass, wheels and fragments of votive tanks have been found.

Typical terracotta mother goddess, human and animal figurines, beads, hairpins, pottery (includes black slipped, red and grey wares), and stone and brick structures of the Shunga period have been found.

Terracotta human and animal figurines, fragments and votive tanks, beads, bangle fragments, ceramics with red ware and large-sized structures running into twenty-two courses have been found from this level

Typical terracotta figures, copper coin with the legend Sri Chandra (Gupta), and illustrative potshreds of the Gupta period have been found. A circular brick shrine with an entrance from the east and a provision for a water-chute on the northern wall have also been found

A huge structure of almost fifty meters in north-south orientation have been found on this level. Only four of the fifty pillar bases belong to this level. Above this lay a structure with at least three structural phases which had a huge pillared hall.

In the January 2003, Canadian geophysicist Claude Robillard performed a search with a ground-penetrating radar. The survey concluded the following: “There is some structure under the mosque. The structures were ranging from 0.5 to 5.5 meters in depth that could be associated with ancient and contemporaneous structures such as pillars, foundation walls, slab flooring, extending over a large portion of the site”.  Claude Robillard, the chief geophysicist stated the following: “There are some anomalies found underneath the site relating to some archaeological features. You might associate the anomalies with pillars, or floors, or concrete floors, wall foundation or something. These anomalies could be associated with archaeological features but until we dig, I can’t say for sure what the construction is, under the mosque.”  The final ASI report of August 25, 2003 stated that there was evidence of a large Hindu temple having pre‐existed the Babri mosque. Midway into the excavations the courts ordered the removal of the head of the ASI excavations, for not following the excavation norms.

Stone inscriptions dated to CA 1140 were retained after the December 1992 event of Babri Mosque demolition. The Vishnu-Hari inscription inscribed on a 1.10 x .56 metre slab with 20 lines mentioned the temple was dedicated to “Vishnu, slayer of Bali and the ten-headed one” Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu who is said to have defeated Bali and Ravana. The inscription written in Sanskrit script “Nagari Lipi” of the 11th and 12th century was verified by the epigraphists and Sanskrit scholars

In the 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), belonging to the Hindu nationalist family Sangh Parivar, launched a new movement to reclaim the site for Hindus and to erect a temple dedicated to the infant Rama (Ram Lalla) at this spot. In November 1989, the VHP laid the foundations of a temple on land adjacent to the disputed mosque. On 6th December 1992, the VHP and the Bharatiya Janata Party organised a rally at the site involving 150,000 volunteers, known as kar sevaks. The rally turned violent, and the crowd overwhelmed the security forces and tore down the mosque.

The demolition resulted in several months of intercommunal rioting between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people, and triggering riots all over the Indian subcontinent.[22] A day after the demolition of the mosque, on 7th December 1992, The New York Times reported that over 30 Hindu temples across Pakistan were attacked, some set on fire, and one demolished. The government of Pakistan closed school and offices in a day of protest.[23] Hindu temples in Bangladesh were also attacked.[24] Some of these Hindu temples that were partially destroyed during the retaliation of Babri Masjid have since remained that way.[25]

On 5th July 2005, five activists attacked the makeshift Ram temple at the site of destroyed Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India. All five were shot dead in the ensuing gunfight with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), while one civilian died in the grenade attack that the attackers launched in order to breach the cordoned wall. The CRPF suffered three casualties, two of whom were seriously injured with multiple gunshot wounds.[26]

A 1978 and 2003 archaeological excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) found evidence indicating that Hindu temple remains had existed on the site.[27] Archeologist KK Muhammad accused several historians of undermining the findings. Over the years, various title and legal disputes also took place, such as the passage of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Ordinance, 1993. It was only after the 2019 Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute that it was decided the disputed land be handed over to a trust formed by the Indian government for the construction of a Ram temple. The trust was eventually formed under the name Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. Five acres of land was allocated for the mosque 22 km away in the city in Dhannipur village.[28] On 5 February 2020, it was announced in the Parliament that the Narendra Modi government had accepted a plan to construct the temple.

There were reactions to the ground-breaking ceremony. Some Hindu priests and religious leaders complained that the ceremony did not follow proper ritual procedures, claiming, among others, that 5th August was not a ritually auspicious date and that the function did not include a havan.[29] In this respect, writer Arundhati Roy, a noted critic of Modi, pointed out that the chosen date marked one year since the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, arguing that the decision to schedule the ceremony for 5th August, which she claimed was an inauspicious date with no significance in the Hindu calendar, symbolized the conclusion of a period “in which India under Modi has formally declared itself a Hindu Nation, the dawning of a new era.”[30] Among the international community, Pakistan made an official statement through its Pakistan Foreign Office related to the temple.[31] The Times of India also reported that post Ram Mandir ground-breaking, Pakistani Hindus fear violence in the same way as what happened in 1992.[32]

Various Indian political leaders hailed the ground-breaking ceremony. While some openly celebrated it, others worded their statements carefully[33] Many expressed hope in furthering the country’s progress by following the ideals of Ram.[34] Soon after the ground-breaking ceremony, residents of Ayodhya expressed hope in improvements of job opportunities and development of the city, through tourism generated by the temple.[35]

The Babri Mosque as built by Mughal Emperor Babur in 1528-1529 and Demolished by Nationalist Hindus in 1992.

The Bottom Line, is that after being a topic of gigantic religious controversy, peace disruption and a site of great sectarian conflict and systemic violence, for millenia, between the Hindus and Muslims in India,  the Ram Janmabhoomi land was handed over to a trust by the Supreme Court of India to build the Ram Temple. Ram Mandir is a Hindu temple that is being built in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi, according to the Ramayana. The groundbreaking ceremony for laying of the foundation stone for the Ram Temple of Ayodhya was performed on 5th August 2020 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The proposed design of the temple is grand and magnificent.

The Ram Janmabhoomi site is where the famous Babri Masjid once stood. It is believed that the Mughals demolished a Hindu shrine to build this mosque at the birthplace of Lord Rama. In 1992, a group of Hindu nationalists tore down the Babri Masjid which led to a series of violent riots across India. In October 2019, a bench of five judges of the Supreme Court ordered the land to be handed over to a trust to build the Ram Temple. An alternate 5 acres of land was also given to the Sunni Waqf Board to build a mosque.[36]

According to a report in the New India Express of 25th October 2022, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, will be open to devotees in January 2024, after the installation of the murthies of Ram Lalla, said a member of the trust set up to oversee the construction of the shrine.

Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Khestra said in the report that 50 per cent of the construction work of the temple has been completed and the overall progress is satisfactory. “The temple will be opened to devotees in January 2024 after the installation of idols of Ram Lalla in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine on the festival of Makar Sankranti,” said trust general secretary Champat Rai.  He said the ground floor of the temple will be ready by December next year and around January 14, 2024, idols of Lord Ram will be installed. “An estimated Rs 1,800 crore will be spent on building the Ram temple,” Rai said, adding that space will be made for idols of prominent Hindu seers.  A group of journalists were on Tuesday taken to the elevated place from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday, had inspected the construction work of the temple.  The prime minister had performed the “Bhoomi pujan” for the construction of the temple on 5th August, 2020. The Supreme Court verdict of 09th November, 2019, had paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.  According to the plan, temples of Valmiki, Kewat, Shabari, Jatayu, Sita, Vighneshwar (Ganesh) and Sheshavatar (Lakshman) will also be constructed within a 70-acre area in the vicinity of the Ram temple.  A rectangular, two-story ‘Parikrama’ road is also being constructed, enclosing a total of eight acres of land including the area of the temple and its courtyard. In its eastern part, there will be an entrance made of sandstone. White marble from the Makrana hills in Rajasthan will be used inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ayodhya on 23rd October  was the first, after he laid the foundation stone two years back. After offering prayers to Ram Lalla at the makeshift temple, the prime minister had reviewed the progress of the construction work.   The opening of the temple for devotees at the beginning of 2024 is seen as politically important, as the Lok Sabha elections are scheduled for later in 2024. The BJP has been highlighting the Ayodhya issue for a long and the opening of the temple for the devotees is expected to generate enthusiasm among Hindus. and fervor for Hinduism, as well as a nationalistic pride.[37]

The disturbing aspect of the entire saga, is that while Emperor Babur erred in demolishing a temple and building a mosque in its location, as the Islamic ruler, we find that peace disruption continues in the 21st century and sows  further discord between the two major religious groups in India.  There will be further aggravation, of peace disruption, when the temple opens to devotees in 2024, for prayers to a Lord, who has seen peace disruption and death of His creation, whether Hindus or Muslims.

 

An Artist’s drawing of the proposed design of the new Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, at the site of the vandalised Babri Mosque in 1992, by a riotous Hindu mob. Note that in antiquity, the Babri Mosque itself, was built at the site of an earlier temple, by the locals to mark the birthplace of Lord Ramachandra as narrated in the Ramayana.[38]

References:

[1] Personal quote by the author, November 2022.

[2]https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=Ra3v500L&id=D224D165519CD458DC00DBA355F7F83F98D834EC&thid=OIP.Ra3v500LudqUSbQ4sH8xrAHaEK&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2fi.ytimg.com%2fvi%2ffEBM6TRQycg%2fmaxresdefault.jpg&cdnurl=https%3a%2f%2fth.bing.com%2fth%2fid%2fR.45adefe74d0bb9da9449b438b07f31ac%3frik%3d7DTYmD%252f491Wj2w%26pid%3dImgRaw%26r%3d0&exph=720&expw=1280&q=Destruction+of+Babri+Masjid&simid=608023874789593575&FORM=IRPRST&ck=EC279616927C8D8BA682A2F11B0405A2&selectedIndex=3

[3] https://www.holidify.com/places/ayodhya/ramjanma-bhoomi-sightseeing-1253.html

[4] https://www.bing.com/ck/a?!&&p=d3fccefd7bc45a72JmltdHM9MTY2ODY0MzIwMCZpZ3VpZD0zOWJhOTNjNy03Mjc4LTYwNTctMmY5Mi05OGMyNzM1MjYxM2YmaW5zaWQ9NTIwMw&ptn=3&hsh=3&fclid=39ba93c7-7278-6057-2f92-98c27352613f&psq=ramayana+story&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly9lbi53aWtpcGVkaWEub3JnL3dpa2kvUmFtYXlhbmE&ntb=1

[5] https://www.bing.com/ck/a?!&&p=5e3aff59a1ce90ecJmltdHM9MTY2ODcyOTYwMCZpZ3VpZD0zOWJhOTNjNy03Mjc4LTYwNTctMmY5Mi05OGMyNzM1MjYxM2YmaW5zaWQ9NTIwNg&ptn=3&hsh=3&fclid=39ba93c7-7278-6057-2f92-98c27352613f&psq=River+Sarayu&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly9lbi53aWtpcGVkaWEub3JnL3dpa2kvU2FyYXl1&ntb=1

[6] https://www.bing.com/ck/a?!&&p=bafe30c61eb79a0eJmltdHM9MTY2ODcyOTYwMCZpZ3VpZD0zOWJhOTNjNy03Mjc4LTYwNTctMmY5Mi05OGMyNzM1MjYxM2YmaW5zaWQ9NTg0MQ&ptn=3&hsh=3&fclid=39ba93c7-7278-6057-2f92-98c27352613f&psq=River+Sarayu&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cudGlydGhheWF0cmEub3JnL3NhcmF5dS1yaXZlci8jOn46dGV4dD1JbiUyMGZhY3QlMkMlMjBTYXJheXUlMjBpcyUyMGFub3RoZXIlMjBmb3Jt&ntb=1

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana#CITEREFGoldman1984

[8] https://web.archive.org/web/20200219022751/https://www.lexico.com/definition/ramayana

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana#:~:text=.%20L.%20Brockington%20(1998,February%202020.

[10] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ramayana-Indian-epic

[11] https://www.bing.com/search?q=Deepavali+in+South+India&FORM=AWRE

[12] https://www.bing.com/ck/a?!&&p=adcf05e0513b4bdcJmltdHM9MTY2ODcyOTYwMCZpZ3VpZD0zOWJhOTNjNy03Mjc4LTYwNTctMmY5Mi05OGMyNzM1MjYxM2YmaW5zaWQ9NTQ0Mg&ptn=3&hsh=3&fclid=39ba93c7-7278-6057-2f92-98c27352613f&psq=What+is+the+difference+between+Deepawalli+ad+Diwali+in++India&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly9kaWZmZXJlbmNlLWJldHdlZW4ubmV0L2RpZmZlcmVuY2UtYmV0d2Vlbi1kaXdhbGktYW5kLWRlZXBhdmFsaS8jOn46dGV4dD1UaGUlMjBwcmltYXJ5JTIwZGlzdGluY3Rpb24lMjBiZXR3ZWVuJTIwRGVlcGF2YWxpJTIwYW5kJTIwRGl3YWxpJTIwd291bGQsYSUyMGZvdXItZGF5JTIwZmVzdGl2YWwlMjBjZWxlYnJhdGVkJTIwcHJpbWFyaWx5JTIwaW4lMjBzb3V0aGVybiUyMEluZGlhLg&ntb=1

[13] https://valmikiramayan.net/

[14] https://www.ayodhyatemple.org/ayodhya/#:~:text=The%20word%20%E2%80%9CAyodhya,in%20English%2C%20%E2%80%9Cinvincible%E2%80%9D

[15] https://www.ayodhyatemple.org/ayodhya/#:~:text=Ayodhya%20was%20stated,named%20after%20Ayodhya.

[16] https://www.ayodhyatemple.org/1949-2019-legal-battle-for-ayodhya/#:~:text=MAIN%20STORIES-,1949%20%E2%80%93%202019%3A%20Legal%20battle%20for%20Ayodhya,-November%207%2C%202019

[17] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babri_Masjid#:~:text=Udayakumar%2C%20S.P.%20(August%201997).%20%22Historicizing%20Myth%20and%20Mythologizing%20History%3A%20The%20%27Ram%20Temple%27%20Drama%22.%20Social%20Scientist.%2025%20(7)%3A%2011%E2%80%9326.%20doi%3A10.2307/3517601.%20JSTOR%C2%A03517601.

[18] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babri_Masjid#CITEREFGhaffar1981

[19] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babri_Masjid#:~:text=van%20der%20Veer%2C%20Peter%20(1989).%20Gods%20on%20Earth%3A%20The%20Management%20of%20Religious%20Experience%20and%20Identity%20in%20a%20North%20Indian%20Pilgrimage%20Centre.%20Oxford%20University%20Press.%20pp.%C2%A020%E2%80%9321.%20ISBN%C2%A00485195100.

[20] https://qph.cf2.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-13f353434b0b9f479e2ebc5a583c7700

[21] https://www.ayodhyatemple.org/ayodhya-archaeological-evidence-remnants-of-temple-found-beneath-the-babri-mosque/

[22] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Kidangoor%2C%20Abhishyant%20(4,some%202%2C000%20deaths.

[23] https://time.com/5875380/modi-ram-temple-ayodhya-groundbreaking/?amp=true

[24] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Anderson%2C%20John%20Ward%3B%20Moore%2C%20Molly%20(8%20December%201992).%20%22200%20Indians%20killed%20in%20riots%20following%20mosque%20destruction%22.%20Washington%20Post.%20Retrieved%2029%20August%202020.

[25] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Khalid%2C%20Haroon%20(14%20November%202019).%20%22How%20the%20Babri%20Masjid%20Demolition%20Upended%20Tenuous%20Inter%2DReligious%20Ties%20in%20Pakistan%22.%20The%20Wire.%20Retrieved%2030%20May%202020.

[26] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=PTI%2C%20UNI%20(6%20July%202005).%20%22Front%20Page%3A%20Armed%20storm%20Ayodhya%20complex%22.%20The%20Hindu.%20Archived%20from%20the%20original%20on%208%20July%202005

[27] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Bhattacharya%2C%20Santwana%20(6%20March%202003).%20%22I%20found%20pillar%20bases%20back%20in%20mid%2Dseventies%3A%20Prof%20Lal%22.%20The%20Indian%20Express%20Archive.%20Retrieved%207%20October%202020.

[28] “Dhannipur near Ayodhya already has 15 mosques, local Muslims want hospital and college too”. 7 February 2020.

[29] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Pradhan%2C%20Sharat%20(7%20August%202020).%20%22At%20Ayodhya%20Bhoomi%20Pujan%2C%20Modi%20Became%20All%2Din%2DOne%3B%20Proper%20Rituals%20Not%20Followed%2C%20Allege%20Pundits%22.%20thewire.in.%20Retrieved%207%20August%202020.

[30] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Roy%2C%20Arundhati%20(5%20August%202020).%20%22India%27s%20Day%20of%20Shame%22.%20thewire.in.%20Retrieved%205%20August%202020.

[31] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=%22Pakistan%20criticises%20India%20for%20starting%20construction%20of%20Ram%20temple%20in%20Ayodhya%22.%20The%20Hindu.%20PTI.%2028%20May%202020.%20ISSN%C2%A00971%2D751X.%20Retrieved%2017%20November%202020.

[32] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Rana%2C%20Yudhvir%20(2,August%202020.

[33] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Mandir#:~:text=Menon%2C%20Aditya%20(5%20August%202020).%20%22Ram%20Mandir%3A%20Which%20Secular%20Leaders%20Hailed%20Bhoomi%20Pujan%20%26%20Who%20Didn%27t%22.%20TheQuint.%20Retrieved%2014%20August%202020

[34] https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-ayodhya-ram-mandir-ceremony-leaders-hope-development-would-pave-way-for-harmony/358021

[35] Pandey, Neelam (5 August 2020). “Ram Mandir is more than an emotive issue for Ayodhya’s youth — it means new opportunities”. The Print.

[36] https://www.holidify.com/places/ayodhya/ramjanma-bhoomi-sightseeing-1253.html#:~:text=After%20being%20a,built%20a%20mosque.

[37] https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/oct/25/ram-temple-to-open-to-devotees-in-january-2024-trust-member-2511615.html

[38] https://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2022/9/14/w900X450/Ram_Mandir_EPS1231.jpg?w=576&dpr=2.3

______________________________________________

READ: PART 1PART 3

Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.

Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All
Email: vawda@ukzn.ac.za


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Nov 2022.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Peace Disruptors–The Conversion and Repurposing of Places of Worship (Part 2): The Ayodhya Temple, from Hinduism to Islam and back to Hinduism, is included. Thank you.

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