By Dr S.P. Gupta
Muslim tomb or Buddhist stupa? Ridiculous claims.
Of late, some of our historian friends have come out with a new theory?that if the circular structure was not a tomb, it may have been a Buddhist stupa. However, it appears that they do not know that a stupa is a solid structure and it has absolutely no chamber in the centre, much less an entrance from any direction to reach the core area on regular basis. India has no example of this kind.
Apparently, we suspect that these scholars have some axe to grind.
The communal compulsion of communist Irfan Habib: The ´two mosques´ theory is a bundle of lies?the inside story
The image of dvarapala with Kinta mukta on the head and vanamala in the nec; carved on a door-jamb decorated with heavenly damsels, devakanya and ganas. It is a Vaishnavite deity in black stone. Blow up of a panel from the dvarashakha.
The question is as to why Irfan Habib is trying his level best to identify the circular Hindu shrine as a Muslim ´tomb´? It is very simple.
Habib wants to prove that the Babri mosque was built on plain grassy ground where at best cattle used to graze, and not on the debris of a temple. This is exactly the Muslim stand and pleading in the present-day litigation. Now, how can this be proved archaeologically? Therefore, first he made a theory, the theory that the ´massive wall´ along with its ´attached´ wall represents not a temple, but a mosque. Then he dated it to the Sultanate period. Since there are absolutely no remains of a regular mosque of this period at the site, no dome, no kiblah, etc., he had no other option but to call it a qanati mosque in which one needs only a wall with, of course, mihrabs; not one, but three or five or seven or even more of them. So, this is the compulsion of Irfan Habib. He is falsifying all kinds of histories, including the history of Muslim architecture in India, the ´Muslim´ glazed ware in India, the lime mortar and plaster used in Indian art and architecture, the presence of animal bones in temple debris and the presence of 50 pillar-bases at Ramjanmabhoomi.
This is the most dirty trick that a motivated historian can play for short-term publicity. In any case, this is the inside story of imagining two mosques at Ramjanmabhoomi, one belonging to the Sultanate period (Habib has not dated this mosque precisely anywhere in his write-up, he only talks of the Sultanate period), which covers a period of at least 300 years (ad 1206-1526) on his own admission but imposed on a 12th century ´massive structure´ of a temple, and the other of the Mughal period of 16th century. However, for the last 400 years the world knew only of the 16th century so-called Babri mosque at Ramjanmabhoomi, but now Habib has taken out of his hat a Sultanate period mosque also which, however, never existed.
Irfan Habib”s present write-up has thus completely discredited his own scholarship which, of course, was never there in the field of archaeology.
The right approach
Archaeology is a multi-disciplinary science. Its sources are in the explored and excavated remains and materials which are verifiable again and again by one and all. It employs several scientific methods of dating, including the well-known radiocarbon method. The data-recording method is three dimensional, hence accurate. It also employs the historical method to date sculptures and structures. It is, therefore, surprising as to why Marxist and communal historians are making a big hue and cry over the ASI Report (2002-2003) on Ayodhya. After all, the site was subjected to excavations even previously. It was dug by Prof. A.K. Narain in 1970, by Prof. B.B. Lal from 1975 through 1980, by PWD in June 1992, by S.P. Gupta and K.M. Srivastava in July-August 1992. These were physically examined by 40 scholars from all over the country who had assembled at Ayodhya in October 1992, to attend a three-day conference on the history and archaeology of Ayodhya under the banner of Indian History and Culture Society. Even on December 6, 1992 a lot of material of antiquarian value came to light. In January 1993, an amalaka was found buried in a pit by the labour engaged in erecting a barricade in the presence of high-ranking officers of the civil and police administration.
Much of these material items unearthed at Ramajanma-bhoomi have been published variously in several volumes of Indian Archaeology?A Review, a Government of India (ASI) annual publication besides the highly-illustrated book in Hindi, entitled Ayodhya ka Itihasa aivam Puratattva by T.P. Verma and S.P. Gupta.
The archaeological, art, architectural and epigraphical remains are housed in the Department of History, Culture and Archaeology, Banaras Hindu University; Archaeological Survey of India, Purana Qila, New Delhi; Ramayana Research Institute and Museum, Ayodhya; and the New Police Building, Ayodhya (under the charge of the Commissioner, Faizabad).
The main findings include:
- A 20-line Sanskrit inscription written in 11th-12th century-script called ´Nagari´.
- Two fragmentary inscriptions on a part of a stone pillar in the same language and script.
- A fragmentary inscrip-tion in Arabic script of 16th century.
- Black stone pillars decorated with Hindu motifs, such as lotus, dancing figurines, peacock, sacred water-pitchers, yakshas, etc.
- Architectural pieces of a temple decorated with Hindu motifs, such as the amalaka, chhadya, door-jamb, capitals, etc.
- Two diamond-shaped motifs, mani-ratna found carved on architectural pieces.
In them the 20-line inscription is most important because of the following reasons:
- It is a contemporary written record, hence it is the most reliable and clinching evidence, notwithstanding the accusing fingers of some motivated scholars.
- It can be precisely dated because it was engraved during the reign of Emperor Govinda Chandra of the Ghadvala dynasty whose period of rule is well known in history: ad 1114-1154.
- It mentions the erection of a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu Hari.
- The identification of Lord Visnu Hari is also given in the same text: ´He was the one who had humbled the pride of Raja Bali and killed Dashanana´, i.e. Ravana. Clear enough, he could be none else than Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
7. The second most important find is amalaka since it is found exclusively on thetop of the shikharas on the north Indian temples.
8. The third important excavated item was the discovery of as many as six ´pillar-bases´ in the southern trenches on Ramajanmabhoomi dug by B.B. Lal in 1975-80.
9. The fourth significant find includes several sacred motifs carved on stone pieces used in temples, such as the yaksha, kalasa or purna-ghata, and padma.
The ASI Report makes mention of the following finds:
- A fragmentary inscription in Nagari script of 12th century.
- Two fragmentary inscriptions in Arabic script of the 16th century.
- An amalaka.
- A lotus-bearing carved stone.
- A meandering creeper or vallari carved on stone.
- Two diamond shaped motifs with carved flowers inside.
- If we, therefore, look at the findings mentioned in the ASI Report 2002-2003, it will become quite clear that except for a few new discoveries such as the circular Shiva temple and a few sacred motifs on stone pieces, such as the makara, nothing is new; all others were discovered earlier also.
If so, then what is the value of this ASI Report?
The ASI Report of 2003 has the supreme value in corroborating the archaeological and art-historical findings of the earlier regular excavations and casual diggings mentioned above. For example, the fragmentary Nagari inscription of the Report corroborates the inscriptions found earlier. The amalakas found earlier are exactly of the same type as has been found in the present excavations. The lotus symbol is also found depicted in identical style. The vallari or meandering creeper is also exactly the same as was found earlier.
Thus, as noted above, the supreme value of the ASI Report 2002-2003 lies not so much in digging out new things as in corroborating the old findings made by several scholars in the past. It has, therefore, stamped the final seal of approval on the so far held views that at Ramjanmaboomi there did exist a temple of the 12th century ad, which was destroyed in order to build the disputed structure of the so-called Babri mosque directly on the ruins of the temple.
(The writer is a renowned archaeologist and former Director of Allahabad National Museum.)