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Ayodhya: Why are some historians angry?

The Allahabad High Court verdict in the “The Sunni Central Board of Waqfs UP Lucknow & Others Versus Gopal Singh Visharad and Others” lawsuit has upset some historians and they have started questioning the credibility of the Archaeological Survey of India report. According to Romila Thapar, few archaeologists and historians had quesioned the ASI report and hence it was not fair to accept it in a simplistic manner. She then lamented about the mention of destruction of the “supposed temple” without balancing it with the mention of the destruction of the not-so-supposed mosque. Dr. Omar Khaladi went one step furthur and accused the ASI — an institution controlled by a non-Hindutva party — of being a handmaiden of Hindutva.

This anger against the ASI can be understood if we examine the narrative perpetuated by these historians. In 1989 many historians issued a statement that there was no temple.But a decade back, under a project titled, “Archaeology of Ramayana Sites”, the ASI had conducted surveys around Babri Masjid. The goal was to determine the antiquity of the site; settlements existed in Ayodhya as far back as the second millennium BCE. Archaeologists also found twelve stone pillars with Hindu motifs and deities, but the report published in 1976 did not mention these.

Some eminent historians tried to explain these pillar bases away by suggesting that these were part of a wall or a cowshed. But the court ordered excavations conducted by the ASI from March 12 to August 7, 2003 found pillar bases all over the area. Based on this, the ASI summarized the following for the court.

“Subsequently, during the early medieval period (11th–12th century AD) a huge structure was constructed, which seems to have been short-lived. On the remains of the above structure was constructed a massive structure with at least three structural phases and three successive floors attached to it. It is over the top of this construction during the early sixteenth century, the disputed structure was constructed directly resting over it.[Massive shrine was under disputed site]

Second, following the demolition of the Babri Masjid, a large stone block with a Sanskrit inscription was found. This inscription clearly indicated that a temple dating to 11-12th century existed at that location. Some historians argued that the inscription was forged but many epigraphists who examined the slab disagreed. Finally, as B.B.Lal (Director General of ASI) wrote in Rama: His Historicity, Mandir and Setu, Evidence of Literature, Archaeology and other Sciences

Anyway, to allay misgivings, I append here a note from the highest authority on epigraphical matters in the country, namely the Director of Epigraphy, ASI, Dr KV Ramesh (Appendix II). In it he first gives a summary of the inscription, then an actual reading of the text and finally an English translation thereof. While many scholars may like to go through the Note, it maybe straightaway here that according to it this temple was built by Meghasuta who obtained the lordship of Saketamandala (i.e. Ayodhya) through the grace of the senior Lord of the earth viz Govinda Chandra, of the Gahadavala dynasty who ruled over a vast empire, from 1114 to 1155 CE.

What ASI proved was that Romila Thapar’s “supposed temple” did exist. Taking note of the criticism against the ASI, the judges have mentioned the ASI excavations were transparent and it proved beyond doubt, the existence of the temple and “even Muslim members have also signed the report of ASI.” Finally, dismissing the argument by some historians that the structure beneath the mosque could not be a temple because of the discovery of animal bones, “HC was also surprised to note the “zeal” in some of the archaeologists and historians appearing as witnesses on behalf of the Sunni Waqf Board who made statements much beyond reliefs demanded by the Waqf.”

6 Responses to Ayodhya: Why are some historians angry?

  1. Mohanakumar October 5, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    Make the cot first. Then size the man to suit the cot. The left historians want to make the history according to their views, not on the findings. ASI done a good thing by digging the disputed site and coming to the conclusion with the findings. It became clear that there was a massive Hindu temple under the disputed structure. All the three Judges agreed with this.

  2. Shyam Godbole October 5, 2010 at 3:07 am #

    I came across this article that catalogues muslim accounts of the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple. Thought your readers might like to see what the muslims themselves wrote, when they were in power.
    http://dharmaveer.blogspot.com/2009/02/muslim-accounts-gloating-over.html

    Now, they claim there was no temple and act like victims after having demolished almost every single temple in north India over a period of 1000 years. Amazing.

  3. Chandra October 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    So why are some historians so angry? :)

  4. Kaffir October 7, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    Why are they angry? Very simple answer: because these “historians” built their careers and reputations on a foundation of lies and ideology instead of truth and facts, and now that those lies have been exposed and the foundation is shaking, these “historians” are understandably angry and lashing out – because their meticulously constructed and maintained narratives are coming tumbling down.

  5. Chandra October 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    Kaffir,

    And also their anti-Ayodhya judge pronouncement fits the pattern. They denounce it as “feudal” which the most bizarre characterization of the judgment. Apparently if the Ram Janma Bhoomi went to Sunni board then it would be democratic – that is the upside down, but perfectly natural, world of Marxists and their historians.

  6. seema October 22, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    recently in a seminar just before the verdict i heard Prof. Irfan Habib saying that he is not a religious man but instantly after the verdict u can very well see him standing in favour of one group they are not real historians they are simply activists n they have damaged indian history immensely

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