Was there a temple in Janmabhumi area preceding Babri Masjid?
by B B Lal on 24 Sep 2010 23 Comments

[Suddenly on Thursday, 23 Sept., hours before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court was to deliver the long-awaited judgment on the Ayodhya title suit, the Supreme Court deferred the verdict till September 28; further delays are now inevitable. We are of the view that the sudden intervention by the apex Court was unwarranted in law, and will vitiate the atmosphere for the disposal of politically or communally sensitive cases in future.


[Prof B.B. Lal excavated the Janmabhumi area at Ayodhya as a part of a project titled ‘Archaeology of the Ramayana Sites.’ One trench was immediately to the south of and almost parallel to the boundary wall of the Babari Masjid, the intermediary space being hardly four metres. The lowest levels in this trench was characterized by early Northern Black Polished Ware, and on the basis of Carbon-14 dates provided by the Birbal Sahni Research Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, the beginning of settlement at Ayodhya goes back to the last quarter of the 2nd millennium BCE. We publish excerpts – Editor]


In the uppermost levels of this trench, hardly 50 centimetres below the surface, were encountered rows of pillar-bases, squarish on plan and made of brick-bats sometimes intermixed with a few stones. While most of these bases were well within the trench, a few of them lay underneath the edge of the trench towards the boundary wall of the Masjid. Associated with the pillar-base-complex there were successive floors made of lime mixed with brick jelly. No coin or inscription was found on these floors but on the basis of the associated pottery and other antiquities the entire complex could be dated from the twelfth to fifteenth century CE.


Attached to the piers of the Babari Masjid there were twelve stone pillars which carried not only typical Hindu motifs and mouldings but also figures of Hindu deities. It was self-evident that these pillars were not an integral part of the Masjid but were foreign to it. Since, as already stated, the pillar-bases were penetrating into the Masjid-complex, a question naturally arose whether these bases had anything to do with the above-mentioned pillars affixed to the piers of the Masjid.


A summary report on the essentials of the excavations at Ayodhya was published in Indian Archaeology 1976-77 – A Review, pp. 52-53. Since the main objective of the excavation was to ascertain the antiquity of the settlement, the brief report in the Review did not make any mention of these pillar-bases. In fact, these had nothing to do with the main enquiry.


However, since these pillar-bases raised a question about their relationship with the pillars affixed to the piers of the Masjid, which evidently had originally belonged to a Hindu temple, these did draw public attention. The first reaction that came up from a certain category of historians was to deny the very existence of these pillar-bases. Their approach was simple: if there were no pillar-bases, the question of their relationship with the pillars affixed to the piers of the Babari Masjid became automatically redundant. These historians took recourse to publishing all sorts of unsavoury comments in the newspapers. However, when they were told that the pillar-bases were not someone’s fantasy but their photographs (along with the negatives), taken at the time of the excavation, did exist in the photo-archives of the Excavations Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, they gave up their first exercise in denial…


In this context it needs to be added that, after a recent order of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, the Archaeological Survey of India carried out excavation in the area which earlier lay underneath the Babari Masjid and has discovered that the series of pillar-bases continues all over the area…

On December 6, 1992, the Masjid was demolished by the Kar Sevaks who had assembled in a large number at the site. The demolition, though regrettable, brought to light a great deal of archaeological material from within the thick walls of the Masjid. From the published reports it is gathered that there were more than 200 specimens which included many sculptured panels and architectural components which must have once constituted parts of the demolished temple. Besides, there were three inscriptions…  


…the largest one is engraved on a stone slab, measuring 1.10 x .56 metres, and consists of 20 lines. It has since been published by Professor Ajaya Mitra Shastri of Nagpur University in the Puratattva, No. 23 (1992-93), pp. 35 ff. (Professor Shastri, who unfortunately is no more, was a distinguished historian and a specialist in Epigraphy and Numismatics.) The relevant part of his paper reads as 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 has yet to be fully deciphered, but the portions which have been fully deciphered and read are of great historical significance for our purpose here. 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, for example, clearly tells us that a beautiful temple of Vishnu-Hari, built with heaps of stone (sila-samhati-grahais) and beautified with a golden spire (hiranya-kalasa-srisundaram) unparalleled by any other temple built by earlier kings (purvvair-apy-akritam nripatibhir) was constructed. This wonderful temple (aty-adbhutam) was built in the temple-city (vibudh-alayani) 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).


The inscription makes it abundantly clear that there did exist at the site a temple datable to circa 11th-12th century CE. The sculptures and inscribed slab that came out from within the walls of the Masjid belonged to this very temple. It has been contented by certain historians that these images, architectural parts and the inscribed slab were brought by the Kar Sevaks from somewhere else and surreptitiously placed there at the time of the demolition of the Masjid. This contention is absolutely baseless. Transportation of the above-mentioned material from elsewhere would have required the use of many trucks, an act which would have certainly been noticed by the innumerable representatives of the print and electronic media present on the spot to cover the event. On the other hand, a reputed journal, India Today, published in its issue dated December 31, 1992 a photograph which shows the Kar Sevaks carrying on their shoulders a huge stone-slab sculpted with a long frieze, after having picked it up from the debris.


The above-mentioned historians have also alleged that the inscription has been forged. … So many eminent epigraphists of the country have examined the inscribed slab and not even one of them is of the view that the inscription is forged. Anyway, to allay any misgivings, I append here a Note from the highest authority on epigraphical matters in the country, namely the Director of Epigraphy, Archaeological Survey of India, Dr. K.V. Ramesh.


… according to [Ramesh] this temple was built by Meghasuta who obtained the lordship of Saketamandala [i.e. the Ayodhya region] through the grace of a senior Lord of the earth, viz. Govinda Chandra of the Gahadavala dynasty, who ruled over a vast empire, from 1114 to 1155 CE.


… The evidence presented in the foregoing paragraphs in respect of the existence of a Hindu temple in the Janma Bhumi area at Ayodhya preceding the construction of the Babari Masjid is so eloquent that no further comments are necessary. Unfortunately, the basic problem with a ceratin category of historians and archaeologists - and others of the same ilk - is that seeing they see not or knowingly they ignore. Anyway, in spite of them the truth has revealed itself.


[Reprinted with permission from:-

Rama: His Historicity, Mandir and Setu. Evidence of Literature, Archaeology and other Sciences; B.B. Lal; Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2008.

Email: aryanbooks@vsnl.com]

User Comments Post a Comment
Comments are free. However, comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate material will be removed from the site. Readers may report abuse at  editorvijayvaani@gmail.com
Post a Comment

Back to Top