Ayodhya: The Need To Preserve History While We Build The Temple

by Vikas Saraswat - May 29, 2020 02:42 PM +05:30 IST
Ayodhya: The Need To Preserve History While We Build The TempleBricks with Shri Ram written on them in Ayodhya. (Representative Image) (Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)
  • It is important that before the construction of the Ram temple, a thorough excavation takes place at the site, and the remains are preserved in a museum at Ayodhya.

    This will remind our future generations of Islamic fundamentalism and Marxist distortion of history to whitewash the former’s bigotry.

If there is one episode which has delivered the biggest and most comprehensive blow to appeasement politics, intellectual fraud and deceit in historiography, it is the movement for the Ram Janmabhoomi.

Not only the Leftist historians backing the Babri Masjid Action Committee had to run away from the negotiation table, the 'eminences' had to suffer severe humiliation in courts.

Their reputations lay in tatters by the time Allahabad High Court had pronounced its judgement.

But the cunning and deceit of the anti-temple party was decisively exposed by the remains found in the archaeological excavations around the janmasthan.

After the court ordered excavations in 2003, remains of an archaic temple, or possibly temples, have begun to tumble out once again in Ayodhya while levelling the ground for temple construction.

General Secretary of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra, Shri Champat Rai, has said that in addition to seven black touch-stone pillars and six red sandstone pillars, a carved shivalinga, amalak, a door jamb and broken sculptures have been found during the levelling.

While there is enthusiasm among archaeologists and historians at these discoveries, there is curiosity among the general public too.

These relics have once again exposed the obstinacy of Muslim parties and the crookedness of Marxist historians. Suffering decades of wickedness disguised as secularism, and bearing institutional discrimination at every step of their existence, a large section of Hindu society has legitimate fears that these discoveries might become a ruse for further delay in temple construction.

While it is true that construction of the Ram temple should be expedited to give relief to Hindus already waiting for centuries, the social and historical significance of the remains found cannot be overlooked either.

With an amazing legacy of rich cultural past, and despite being the only surviving and continuous civilisation in the world, India has a terribly poor record of archaeological conservation.

Except for some Saraswati-Indus civilisation sites, excavations and surveys at other places, deemed contentious, have been almost barred.

It is an irony that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been prevented from archaeological investigations at several places just to conceal the massive record of temple destruction and iconoclasm by Muslim invaders and fanatic medieval rulers.

In 1983, four years of archaeological work at Rudramahalaya in Siddhpur, Gujarat, was abruptly called off after a complaint by the National Commission for Minorities.

Several Muslim leaders, including legislator Begum Ayesha and the then adviser to the Governor of Gujarat, K T Satarwala, feared that if ASI's work continued, seven of the ekadasha, that is 11, rudras in the complex would finally emerge from the adjoining Dawoodi Mosque.

Similarly, in another instance, due to heavy rains in 1991, the facade of Vidisha's Bijamandal mosque collapsed and many sculptures of the erstwhile Vijay Mandir were revealed. The archaeology department had no option left but to excavate further.

But here again, after pressure from the then Union minister Arjun Singh, the department had to drop the excavation work and get the damaged wall repaired.

There are several such examples where historians who are supposed to unearth the past for the benefit of society have themselves stifled archaeological excavations. In one such instance, in the year 2000, excavations at Fatehpur Sikri were stopped when several damaged Jain murtis of the eighth to tenth century period began to surface.

The discovery was deeply resented by historians at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) who had earlier collaborated with the ASI on another project at the site. AMU historians were furious to note the history of Fatehpur Sikri preceding the Mughal period.

Archaeologist D V Sharma was accused of attempting to turn Fatehpur Sikri into another Ayodhya. Demands were put across by the influential AMU lobby through various fora to stop any future excavation in Fatehpur Sikri.

Coming back to Ayodhya, we have seen how Marxist historians opposed excavations at the janmabhoomi also. They kept obstructing the efforts of the ASI and continuously raised questions over the credibility of the institution.

Under such a scenario, where all attempts have been made to conceal the Indian past, the temple construction offers a golden opportunity to excavate and preserve.

Renowned archaeologist K K Mohammed, who has been associated with excavations in Ayodhya, after observing the pictures has speculated about the possibility of the remains belonging to an eighth-century temple. This possibility holds great importance in terms of Ayodhya's history and contemporary temple architecture.

Noted historian Meenakshi Jain contends in her book Ram and Ayodhya, that like other important pilgrimages, temples at Ayodhya were also subject to several rounds of destruction by Muslim invaders, and their continuing repatriation and reconstruction by Hindu society.

Recounting the series of such demolitions at Ayodhya, Jain, who has provided many other examples in her latest book The Flight of Dieties, mentions that between eleventh century attacks by Mahmud Ghazni's forces to the final sixteenth century demolition by Mir Baqi, Ayodhya suffered iconoclastic fury many a time.

At the same time, Ayodhya being an important pilgrimage site, temple building was also undertaken by several rulers during the Gupta, Pratihara and Gahadwala reigns.

Excavations by ASI thus become important in ascertaining the history of Ayodhya. From the point of temple architecture also, the possibility of a Panchayatan style temple in the eighth century, which archaeologists are now speculating about the pre-Babri demolished structure, becomes significant.

It is to be noted that seventh and eighth centuries also mark the advent of elaborate structural temples. Prior to that, upto the fifth century, the architecture of structural temples was limited to stand-alone constructions.

In the 1975 Ayodhya excavations led by B B Lal, the material evidence dating back to Northern Black Polished Ware was discovered. As such, history at the birthplace of Ram was confirmed upto 700-800 BC.

Thus, Ayodhya, other than being an important pilgrimage site, also becomes a place of historical significance which was, and is, witness to the flowering of Indian civilisation, the barbaric attacks on it and the heroic Hindu resistance to those invasions.

The turn of events at Ayodhya, though painful and tragic for Hindus, has finally provided an excavation opportunity which is denied at other places due to political correctness.

Given such an opportunity, it is important that before the construction of the temple, a thorough excavation takes place and the remains are collected in a museum at Ayodhya. This would ensure that Ayodhya also becomes a centre of cultural and historical importance, serving as a reminder, to our coming generations, of Islamic fundamentalism and Marxist distortion of history to whitewash the former's bigotry.

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