The Evidence

The disputed structure

For all the sound and fury in the media about Ayodhya, the historical question is surprisingly simple: was there or was there not a Hindu temple at the spot known as Ram Janmabhumi that was destroyed to build a mosque? The answer is also equally simple — 'yes'. There are two parts to the question: was there a Hindu temple, and was it destroyed and a mosque known as Babri Masjid built in its place. Again the answer is — 'yes' to both questions. It is as simple as that.

This is what I shall try and make clear in this section, by presenting the latest and the bare minimum amount of details necessary. A great deal has been written about all this, most of which is unnecessary while some of it is meant intentionally to confuse. The reader will see that when properly presented, there is little room for confusion.

There are basically two sources for studying the history: literary sources and the archaeological record. Following the demolition on December 6, 1992, a great deal of archeological and historical information has come to light. Thus, much of the published material, as well as the controversy about previous temples at the site has been rendered moot by new discoveries following the demolition. What is presented here is a summary of the latest evidence — literary as well as archaeological.

Literary evidence

The latest (fifteenth) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, in its article on Ayodhya tells us:

Rama's birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babur in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple. (Article on Ayodhya, Encyclopaedia Britannica volume 1, 1985: Fifteenth Edition.)

The Britannica, though generally regarded as an authoritative reference work is not a primary source. When we turn to the primary sources, the material available on the topic is so voluminous that one despairs of ever obtaining a simple, easily comprehensible account. One recent author (Harsh Narain, below) cites more than a hundred and thirty references in English, French, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian and Arabic. And I have identified several not found in his work. So the problem one is faced with is not a lack of material, but one of selection.

Fortunately, Sita Ram Goel has compiled a two-volume magnum opus under the heading Hindu Temples: What happened to them? The second volume is particularly valuable in that it presents a comprehensive summary of the Islamic record, quoting chapter and verse from the primary sources. Even a cursory glance through these volumes leaves little doubt regarding either the destructive record of Islam in India, or the record of dishonesty and venality of the Secularists.

The two volumes by Goel are an invaluable source for researchers, though, typically enough they are studiously ignored by Secularist historians and their allies in the media. For the lay reader, Goel has provided also a highly readable summary of the two volumes in his book Islam vis-a-vis Hindu Temples. It is recommended reading for every serious student of Islam in India.

As far as Ayodhya itself is concerned, the most comprehensive discussion of the primary material available is probably the book The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on the Muslim Sources by Harsh Narain. We next go on to examine several of these sources provided by Harsh Narain.

These sources are so numerous that we can only survey a few. But even this survey will suffice to show that until recently, until the Secularists created the so-called 'controversey', no author — Hindu, Muslim, European or British official — had questioned that a temple existed on the spot which had been destroyed to erect the mosque. We may begin with a few references from European writers provided by Harsh Narain. These are from published sources that are widely available.

A. Führer in his The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Archaeological Survey of India Report, 1891, pp 296-297 records: 'Mir Khan built a masjid in A.H. 930 during the reign of Babar, which still bears his name. This old temple must have been a fine one, for many of its columns have been utilized by the Musalmans in the construction of Babar's Masjid.' [This is supported by archaeology, as we shall soon see.]

H.R. Neville in the Barabanki District Gazetteer, Lucknow, 1905, pp 168-169, writes that the Janmasthan temple 'was destroyed by Babar and replaced by a mosque.' Neville, in his Fyzabad District Gazetteer, Lucknow, 1905, pp 172-177 further tells us; 'The Janmasthan was in Ramkot and marked the birthplace of Rama. In 1528 A.D. Babar came to Ayodhya and halted here for a week. He destroyed the ancient temple and on its site built a mosque, still known as Babar's mosque. The materials of the old structure [i.e., the temple] were largely employed, and many of the columns were in good preservation.' [Again supported by archaeological finds.]

One could cite many more in similar vein, but these examples should suffice for recent European records. When we reach back in time, what we find particularly interesting are the accounts attributed to Guru Nanak. He was a contemporary of Babar, and an eyewitness to his vandalism. Nanak condemned him in the strongest terms. Harsh Narain writes (pp 14-15):

Guru Nanak, according to Bhai Man Singh's Pothi Janam Sakhi, said to have been composed in 1787 Anno Vikrami/1730 A.D., visited Ayodhya and said to his Muslim disciple Mardana: 'Mardania! eh Ajudhia nagari Sri Ramachandraji Ji ki hai. So, chal, iska darsan kari'e. Translation: 'Mardana! this Ayodhya city belongs to Sri Ramachandra Ji. So let us have its darsana.'

This indicates that Nanak visited Ayodhya shortly before the destruction of the Rama temple by Babar. Man Singh's book was written two hundred years later, which means that he was drawing upon existing traditions or some other source relating to Nanak's visit to Ayodhya. But another work by Baba Sukhbasi Ram gives a similar account, again suggesting that Nanak visited Ayodyha before the temple was destroyed by his contemporary, the invader Babar whose atrocities he condemned. 'These kings are nothing but butchers' said Nanak, refering to the Moghuls and others in his time.

Before I get to the Islamic evidence, it is worth looking at an Indian account from the twelfth-thirteenth century period attesting to the atrocities of the Islamic invaders. It is preserved in the 'Bhuvana-kosha' section of the Garuda Purana, which throws light on the invasions of the Mlecchas and the Saindhavas (Arab occupiers of Sindh). The 'Kumarika-khanda' of the Skanda Purana speaks of invaders based in Mulasthana or the modern Multan. So does the Kurma Purana.

Returning to the Bhuvana-Kosha of the Garuda Purana, the Mlecchas of the Himalayas and the Turushkas (Turks) of the north were the Ghaznavids and the Ghurids. In the Introduction to the Garuda Purana, the well known Puranic scholar A.B.L. Awasthi points out:

The Mlechchhas of the Himalaya region and the Turushkas of the North mentioned in the Bhuvana Kosha section [of the Garuda Purana] also reflect upon the Turkish conquest of Northwestern India by the Ghaznavids. The passage found in the Garuda Purana that the country was threatened by the Dasyus (dasyutkrishta janapadah) is also very significant and it reflects upon the age of terror and turmoil caused by the Turkish invasions.

The alien invasions of such people, who destroyed the shrines and the roots of religion, viz, Deities, Brahmanas and cows, and also carried away the ladies. They defiled the tirthas, which also caused great terror.

The Pauranikas accepted the challenge and exhorted the Kshatriyas of accepting the svadharma of giving protection to country and culture. ...

The freedom of the country was also imperilled after the fall of Prithviraja III at the hands of Muhammad Ghori after the second battle of Terain (1192 A.D.). The Pauranika points to the political blunder of the Chahamana ruler who was succumbed in [Sic] sensuous slumber in the company of his newly acquired wife Samyogita [or Samyukta].

We shall soon see that this is not very different from what Muslim chroniclers themselves tell us. But the Secularists would have us believe that there was no persecution and no mass destruction of temples. Going by their logic, both the victims and the perpetrators were subject to identical fantasies!

Another point frequently made by the Secularists and their allies is that during the Islamic period, there was little animosity between Hindus and Muslims, that is to say, the two communities lived harmoniously together. The animosities that led eventually to the Partition of India, according to the Secularists, was the result of the British policy of 'divide and rule'. Well, here is what Alberuni, who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazna on his numerous campaigns into India had to say nearly a thousand years ago:

Yamin-addaula Mahmud [Ghaznavi] marched into India during a period of thirty years and more. ... Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions. ... Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion of all the Muslims. (Emphasis added.)


So it was not just the wealth that was looted; Mahmud was responsible for uprooting Hindu learning from the places he invaded. This is not very different from the account given in the Bhuvana-Kosha of the Garuda Purana and other Hindu chronicles. From this we can see that the hostility between the Hindus and the Muslims has a thousand year history that surely cannot be blamed on the British!

It is unnecessary to dwell too much on the documentary evidence since all questions about the pre-existence of the temple at the site of the Babri Masjid have been settled by archaeology, especially following its domolition on December 6, 1992. Actually the primary interest relating to the Muslim records is not so much in what they have to say, but in how there have been systematic attempts by Islamic and Secularist interests in recent years to distort and conceal them. This is what Arun Shourie has called 'Hideaway Communalism'. We shall be looking at this phenomenon in the next chapter, but here are a few excerpts beginning with Harsh Narain's observations on recent negationist efforts.

All relevant British government records followed by District Gazetteer of Faizabad compiled and published by the Congress government in 1960 declare with one voice that the so-called Babri mosque at Ayodhya is standing on the debris of a Ramajanmasthan temple demolished by the order of Babar in 1528. Syed Shahabuddin, JNU historians, and self-styled 'secular' scholars and leaders are hotly contesting the proposition, contending that the existence and demolition of a temple is a myth floated by the British in pursuance of their policy of divide and rule. ... (p 102)

Now I proceed to cite certain purely Muslim sources beyond the sphere of British influence to show that the Babri mosque has displaced a Hindu temple ... (pp 103-4)

Then Harsh Narain goes on to cite a few significant examples. I will refer to a few — and a few others will be noted later. The interested reader on the Ayodhya dispute can refer to Narain's book. Sita Ram Goel's two-volume magnum opus gives a more comprehensive summary of the record of the Islamic vandalism in India. We shall be concerned, however, mainly with Ayodhya. (JNU is the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi which is considered the Meccah of Secularists with AMU, the Aligarh Muslim University a close second.)

In 1855, Amir Ali Amethawi led a Jihad (Islamic religious war) for the recapture of Hanuman Garhi, situated a few hundred yards from the Babri Masjid which at that time was in the possession of Hindus. This Jihad took place during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. It ended in failure. A Muslim writer, one Mirza Jan, was a participant in that failed Jihad. His book Hadiqah-i-Shuhada was published in 1856, i.e. the year following the attempted Jihad. Miza Jan tells us:

... wherever they found magnificent temples of the Hindus ever since the establishment of Sayyid Salar Mas'ud Ghazi's rule, the Muslim rulers in India built mosques, monasteries, and inns, appointed mu'azzins, teachers and store-stewards, spread Islam vigorously, and vanquished the Kafirs. Likewise they cleared up Faizabad and Avadh, too from the filth of reprobation (infidelity), because it was a great centre of worship and capital of Rama's father. Where there stood a great temple (of Ramajanmasthan), there they built a big mosque, ... Hence what a lofty mosque was built there by king Babar in 923 A.H. (1528 A.D.), under the patronage of Musa Ashiqqan! (Harsh Narain: p 105)

Harsh Narain goes on to add: "It must be borne in mind that Mirza Jan claims to write all this on the basis of older records (kutub-i sabigah) and contemporary accounts." Except for its tone of triumph the account is not very different from what the Garuda Purana has to say. Similar accounts are found in a few other Puranas as already noted.

Another interesting piece of evidence unearthed by Harsh Narain is a chapter in the book Muraqqah-i-Khusravi, known also as the Tarikh-i-Avadh. Its author is one Shaikh Azmat Ali Kakorwi Nami (1811-1893). He was a contemporary of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and an eyewitness to the events of the era, including the failed Jihad to recover Hanuman Garhi from the Hindus. His work was completed in 1869, but languished in manuscript form for over a century in the Tagore Library in Lucknow. It saw the light of day only in 1986 when it was published by Dr. Zaki Kakorawi. But this was a censored version in which the F.A. Ahmad Memorial Committee which funded it removed crucial parts. The reason given for this extraordinary action was that Kakorawi's edition contained accounts pertaining to the Jihad against Hanuman Garhi. This, the Committee found politically unacceptable.

Fortunately, a year later (1987), Kakorawi published the missing portion at his own expense under the title Amir Ali Shahid aur Ma'rakah-i-Hanuman Garhi. The author pointedly observed that "suppression of any part of any old composition or compilation like this can create difficulties and misunderstandings for future historians." (Harsh Narain: p 106) May our Secularists heed his words! What is there in the work that made the F.A. Ahmad Committee so sensitive? Well, here is the passage for the reader to judge.

According to old records, it has been a rule with the Muslim rulers from the first to build mosques, monastaries, and inns, spread Islam, and (put a stop) to non-Islamic practices, wherever they found prominence of (kufr). Accordingly, even as they cleared up Mathura, Brindaban, etc. from the rubbish of non-Islamic practices, the Babari Mosque was built up in 923 (?) A.H. under the patronage of Sayyid Musa Ashiqan in the Janmasthan temple (butkhane Janmasthan mein) in Faizabad-Avadh, which was a great place of (worship) and capital of Rama's father. (Harsh Narain: p 106)

In another work also known as Tarikh-i-Avadhi, by one Alama Muhammad Najamulghani Khan Rampuri (1909) tells us:

Babar built a magnificent mosque at the spot where the temple of Janmasthan of Ramachandra was situated in Ayodhya, under the patronage of Saiyad Ashikhan, and Sita-ki-Rasoi is situated adjascent to it. The date of construction of the mosque is Khair Baqi (923 AH) [or 1528 AD with the correction]. Till date, it is known as Sita ki Rasoi. By its side stands that temple. It is said at the time of the conquest of Islam there were three temples, viz. Janmasthan, which was the birthplace of Ram Chanderji, Swargadwar alias Ram Darbar, and Treta ka Thakur. Babar built the mosque having demolished Janmasthan. (History versus Casuistry, p 17; emphasis added.)

The translation is again by the redoubtable Zaki Kakorawi. It is important to note that the conscientious author of Tarikh-i-Avadhi used as many as eighty one books and manuscripts. The fact they were available to him in 1909 suggests that a few of them might lie concealed in some libraries and archives. In fact, as late as 1923, the book Asrar-i-Haqiqat written by the Hindu scholar Lachmi Narain Qunango assisted by Maulvi Hashmi confirms all of the above details. The book leaves one with the impression that many sources were still available to them, especially to the Maulvi who served as Pandit Lachmi Narain's munshi. It is to be hoped that they are not being destroyed in the interests of 'Secularism'.

The Imperial Gazetteer of Faizabad (1881) confirms the construction of three Moghul mosques at Ayodhya on the site of three celebrated shrines: Janmasthan, Swargadwar and Treta-ka-Thakur. Archaeological Survey of India tells us that Mir Khan (on Babar's orders) built the mosque at Janmasthan using many of its columns. Aurangazeb had the other two mosques built. We see therefore that demolition of temples and replacing them with mosques was a systematic practice under Moghuls. It was simply a continuation of earlier policies of all Muslim rulers as both Hindu and Muslim records testify.

This brings us to a Persian text known as Sahifah-i-Chihal Nasa'ih Bahadurshahi written in 1707 by a grand-daughter of the Moghul emperor Aurangazeb, and noted by Mirza Jan in his Urdu work Hadiqah-i Shuhada previously cited. Mirza Jan quotes several lines from it which tell us:

... keeping the triumph of Islam in view, devout Muslim rulers should keep all idolaters in subjection to Islam, brook no laxity in realization of Jizyah, grant no exceptions to Hindu Rajahs from dancing attendance on 'Id days and waiting on foot outside mosques till end of prayer ... and 'keep in constant use for Friday and congregational prayer the mosques built up after demolishing the temples of the idolatrous Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras and Avadh ... (Harsh Narain: pp 23-24; emphasis added.)

Spoken like a true child of Aurangazeb!

Mirza Jan is not the only writer to cite this work. Mirza Rajab 'Ali Beg Surur in his work describing the destruction of the Rama temple at Ayodhya states that in the Sahifah-i Bahadurshahi (as the work was also known) "it has come to be described in detail with reference to year and date. Whoever may choose may look into it." (Harsh Narain: pp 25-26) This last remark suggests that the work was widely available in the nineteenth century, possibly even in print. It evidently contained details concerning the destruction of the temple and the building of the Babri mosque at Janmabhumi.

Then there is the evidence of the three inscriptions at the site of the mosque itself, at least two of which mention its construction by Mir Baqi (or Mir Khan) on the orders of Babar. Babar's Memoir mentions Mir Baqi as his governor of Ayodhya. Some parts of the inscription were damaged during a riot in 1934, but later pieced together with minor loss. In any event, it was well known long before that, recorded for instance in Mrs. Beveridge's translation of Babur-Nama published in 1926.

Overwhelming as all this evidence is, the archaeological evidence is even stronger