By Dr S.P. Gupta
IT may be seen from several photographs published by the excavators in Vol. II of the Report (Plates XXXVII, No. 37; XXXVIII, No. XXXIX, No. 39) that the brick pillar-bases, unless disturbed and robbed, were either fully encased from all the sides, including the top surface, by stone slabs or orthostats, or else topped by a single piece of carved stone.
Therefore, let it be clearly understood that there was absolutely no question of their inherent weakness; they were quite capable of carrying weight of the black stone (kasuati) pillars of not more than six feet (1 metre) in height, one of which was found in the excavations and published with the details of a kalasa or purna-ghata floral design, dancing figures, lotus flowers and yaksha images, etc., all Hindu sacred motifs (Vol. II, Plate LXXVI, No. 82).
Let us look at his still further observations in this context: “Not only are they badly aligned, if aligned at all, these pillars are sealed by, they themselves pierce, either Floor 3 or Floor 2 of the mosque.” So the cat is out of the bag. The poor man, after all Irfan Habib, who is only a historian, is unable to distinguish the archaeological feature of ?sealed by? from the archaeological feature of ?piercing floors? (Floor 3 or Floor 2 of the so-called mosque). Which ?mosque?-the ?concocted one? of the 11th-12th century (dated by him to Sultanate period) or the so-called ?Babri mosque? of the 16th century? He has cleverly avoided this. If it was the so-called ?Babri mosque?, then it may be noted that it had three floors, viz. IA, IB and IC. But if it was the ?imagined? one, it was Floor 3. Since he talks of Floor 2 and Floor 3, it is presumed that he talks of the ?imagined mosque?, which was in fact a temple.
Since we firmly assert that there has never been any literary or traditional account in favour of the existence of two mosques at the site of Ramjanmabhoomi, and there is also no archaeological evidence of the ?imagined mosque? of the Sultanate period either, no fragment of any Persian or Arabic inscription, no remains of qiblah, no remains of minarets, no remains of domes, no remains of mihrab, no remains of piers, in fact no remains of any architectural member of a mosque, let it be made absolutely clear that the Floors 2 and 3 were laid against the structures of the temples with pillars.
Trouble with most of the historians in India, particularly those dealing with medieval history, is that hardly any one has proper training in field-archaeology.
Our answer to his still further observation that “the fact is that these are neither ?pillar-bases? nor ?structural bases? ” is that this kind of negationism does not apply to archaeologically excavated remains since they still exist at the site and can be verified again and again; their photographs, published in the Report, can also been seen. Archaeology is not history, it is a science; archaeological remains are material remains, hence they have plastic quality, thus constantly verifiable by seeing and touching.
The trouble with most of the historians in India, particularly those dealing with medieval history, is that hardly anyone has proper training in field-archaeology.
An anthropologist projected as an ?experienced archaeologist?: the propounder of ?hollow theory: and hollow claims: Look here what great authority Irfan Habib is quoting in favour of his wild charges against the ASI excavations and in favour of his imagined pre-Babri Sultanate period mosque. He starts the paragraph with, “To my friend Dr Ashok Dutta of Kolkata, an experienced archaeologist, I owe the most satisfactory explanation.” Datta has been quoted as saying “They (pillar-bases) are remains of brickbats put into hollows of ground in order to make it level.” Which ?hollows?? Who had made them? How were they formed? What was their shape? How deep were they? Why are they jutting out? Why were they arranged in rows? And 46 of them placed at almost equidistance of around 3.5 metres. What a great coincidence! You call them non-aligned! In fact it is outright fraud played on unsuspected mass media! They are pillar-bases and they were arranged according to well-laid plans of the temples with halls or mandapas. Use the compass and you will find them neatly arranged in cardinal directions.
The calcrete and sandstone slabs on top of the pillar-bases: Look what he writes further: “Calcrete stones were put at the top to press them into place, and then the floor was laid out.” It implies the presence of stone slabs on the top of all the pillar-bases. The pillar-bases were not only generally topped by sandstone slabs but the four sides were also veneered by similar slabs or orthostats of sandstone as may be clearly seen in the photographs published in Vol. II of the Report (Plates XXXVII; XXXVIII), already mentioned. The orthostats were made of both kinds of stone, calcrete as well as sandstone. Thus, it is more than clear that the pillar-bases were very strong and could easily carry the weight of the pillars. No archaeologist in the world has ever reported 46 hollows in a floor filled with bricks bonded with clay.
Flooring and reflooring: sure sign of the existence of two temples: Habib observes: “As time passed and the mosque (presumably the imagined one of the Sultanate period) had to be refloored, brickbats were again put in to close holes and depressions in the old floor in order to lay out a new one, presumably Floor 2, which was found directly below the lowest floor (IC) of the so-called Babri mosque. That is why they are all over the place and under practically all the floors, and so at different levels.”
In this context it may be noted that the Floor 3 was laid against the four pillar-bases of the 10th century temple. Pillar-bases, let it be clearly understood, are structures which partially jut out their floors and are partly sunk in specially made pits; the pits are made first, then the bases are made and finally the floors are laid against them. After nearly 150 to 200 years, in the 12th century a new temple was built here, 84 pillar-bases were erected of which 46 have been excavated, and a new floor was laid against them. Thus, floors were laid against the pillar-bases each time a new temple was made. However, when a new temple was to be built, and for this purpose a new floor was laid, the entire area was levelled with brickbats, etc., filling the spaces between the two pillar-bases which were jutting out. There is nothing surprising in it. But will this normal practice make it a mosque?
There is also no archaeological evidence of the ?imagined mosque? of the Sultanate period either, no fragment of any Persian or Arabic inscription, no remains of qiblah, no remains of minarets, no remains of domes, no remains of mihrab and no remains of piers.
The non-existence of ?heaps? of brickbats: To quote one other uncharitable observation. “The ASI simply ignored those heaps which its team considered too far out of ?alignment? for such heaps.” This is simply an uncalled for allegation against a team of 25 practicing field-archaeologists of the country by an anthropologist Ashok Dutta and a historian Irfan Habib. To say that the 50 pillar-bases could not ?sustain? pillars, “they only provided level ground for mosque flooring” is the height of ignorance. ?Hollows?, ?brickbats?, ?all over?, ?heaps of brickbats?, pressed by ?calcrete stones?, ?brickbats put to close holes and depressions? are the products of wild imaginations; neither the published ?plans? of different excavated levels in as many as 90 trenches, nor ?sections? running through them and published in the Report even remotely suggest what the observer will like us to believe. It is not only unsound archaeology, it is totally bogus archaeology.
A 10th-century circular structure: Hindu shrine fancifully inter-preted as a Muslim tomb with falsehood as the only justification: And finally the tail end of the write-up of Irfan Habib:
“I end with another absurdity,” presumably of the ASI Report. “Much is made out of the ?circular shrine? (Report, pp 70-71) with fanciful drawings (Figs. 24 and 24A). Comparisons with other circular Hindu shrines are made (Fig. 18) though not, of course, with any circular domed buildings! When a careful reader looks at the plan of the circular shrine on Fig. 17, thankfully drawn to scale, its total diameter (inclusive of the thick wall) is found to be just 180 cms or less than 6 feet! Moreover, the wall does not even make quarter of a circle, so that even this smallest of the ?circular shrines? is just a piece of the ASI”s own imagination.”
Is this academics? The facts are as follows:
There is, on the southern side of the site, a circular structure of burnt bricks (sizes: 28 x 21 x 5.5 cm, and 22 x 18 x 5.5 cm.) laid in several courses, as many as thirteen of them found in situ. From inside, it is square. The outer diameter is less than 6 ft (108 cm). The inside square space is around 4.4 ft (79 cm) in length and breadth. The entrance to this structure is from the east. For this purpose a rectangular projection was made. The door-still was laid with a calcrete stone slab. On the north side there is a water-chute or pranala for the removal of water from inside the shrine.
The excavators feel that it was a small shrine. Abhisheka of the deity was done with water and milk because of the water-chute (pranala) on the north; which can clearly be seen in Plate LX, No. 60 of Vol. II of the Report. With the Muslim agenda in hand, Irfan Habib declares this shrine as a ?tomb?. The question is whose tomb it was? Then, could such a small structure of around 4.4 ft (79 cm) from inside contain the dead body of a man laid in extended position? Where is the dead body? And on top of all this, is there any example in northern India, of the Sultanate and the Mughal periods, i.e. the entire Muslim period, in which a tomb is built of burnt bricks and whose roundedness starts from the ground level itself? How will a dome then be raised over this structure? Where are the piers? Let me categorically state that it could never be a tomb. The historian Irfan Habib seems to know nothing of the tomb architecture.
(The writer is a renowned archaeologist and former Director of Allahabad National Museum.)
(To be concluded)
When a new temple was to be built, and for this purpose a new floor was laid, the entire area was levelled with brickbats, etc. filling the spaces between the two pillar-bases which were jutting out.