Ayodhya is one of the seven Mokshadayini Puris (cities granting liberation) of Bharat. This is a most ancient city. It is said that Vaivaswat Manu had founded this city. This has been the capital city of the Suryavamshi Rajas (Kings of solar dynasty). Great kings and emperors like Sagar, Bhagirath, Harishchandra etc. all belong to this dynasty only. Five Tirthankaras of Jain Dharma are born in Ayodhya. The Dantdhawan Kund is considered to be the Tapasthali (place of penance) of Goutam Buddha. Founder, ninth Guru and tenth Guru of Sikh Panth viz. Guru Nanak Dev, Guru-Tegbahadur and Guru-Govind Sing have visited Ayodhya. It is learnt that Maharshi Dayanand also had come to Ayodhya and he had established an idol of Lord Shrikrishna, the de-facto leader of Mahabharat war. This township has been the principal centre of Ramanand Sampradaya. Virtually the history of Ayodhya has been the history of Bharat.
Hindu Temple that has fallen prey to Islamic Jehad
It is a historic fact that after its birth, Islam spread not through the basis of intellectualism; but through the mental aberration sen in them on account of their victories. Islam entered Bharat as the aggressor. Islami aggressors had spread their Majhab after defeating Hindu armies, looting their properties and massacring innocent people. They also displayed their bestiality by targetting Hindu temples and destroying idols of Hindu deities. The power-drunk Muslims destroyed at least some places of worship totally and erected mosques at thousands of places. It has become very difficult to search for their history also. But Hindu society is unable to erase the memory of history, their glorious chapters and their recognition of the temples at Ayodhya, Mathura, Kashi and Somanath, in spite of the fact that they were demolished and mosques were built upon those very spots. Muslim rulers had destroyed Shriram Mandir, Treta Ka Thakur Mandir and Swarga-Dwar Mandir in Ayodhya. The latter two temples were forgotten by Hindu society and Ramanand Sampradaya. But Hindu Samaj could not forget the fact of destruction of Shriram Janmabhumi Temple.
Unceasing Struggle for Retrieval of Shriram Janmabhumi
The Mandir constructed on Shriram Janmabhumi in Ayodhya was demolished by the commander Mir Banki on the orders of aggressor Babar in 1528. Hindu society has been continuously waging a war to get back the Mandir and sacrificing their lives for that. Very fierce battles were fought for that. One can listen to the stories of the 76 battles fought in the lanes and bye-lanes of Ayodhya over all these years. Most certainly, lakhs of Hindus might have laid down their lives in these battles and sent an equal number of their enemies, if not more, to another world in the process naturally. No doubt, Hindu society could not secure the place; but it did not allow the Muslims also to sit quite. After the British rule got hold over the Avadh (Ayodhya), they built a wall between the structure with three domes and Shriram Chabutara (platform). Hence the Hindus were forced to restrict themselves to outer limits for their regular Puja-Archa. But the Puja-Archa went on as usual. Bitterness developed between Hindus and Muslims. Riots were taking place.
When the people entrusted their leadership to Bahadur Shah Jaffar to fight the British, the then leader of the Muslim community Amir Ali had decided to hand over the place to Hindus. But coincidentally the battle against the British was lost. Taking the disadvantage of the situation, they sent both Amir Ali and Baba Ramcharan Das to gallows publicly on a tamarind tree; and thus this place could not come to a lot of Hindus then also.
Mahant Raghuvar Das filed a civil case in the Court of Faizabad in 1885, wherein he demanded permission to build a pucca structure in place of the then existing cottage on Ram Chabutara. But was dismissed. An appeal was filed in the Court of Col. Chaimier, the British Justice. Col. Chamier inspected the site personally and agreed that the construction of a mosque by demolishing a temple was unfortunate. But he did not think it proper to do something after a lapse of 356 years.
The Hindu society was outraged by the killing of a cow in Ayodhya by Muslims in 1934. Many killers of cows were killed. Some Hindus also might have been killed in the process. They did not stop at that; some of the agitated Hindu youths climbed the so-called Babari mosque and caused a lot of damage to its three domes. However, they could not take possession of the site; but one thing became certain that Muslims could never gather the necessary courage to enter the premises of Shriram Janmabhumi ever after that. All three domes were got repaired by the British and the expenses thereof were recovered from Hindus in the form of tax. This place is fully under the possession of Hindu society for all practical purposes since 1934. Hindus used to worship the idols on the Chabutara outside the structure and offer flowers on the place inside under the domes and pay their obeisance.
After the Independence
People of Ayodhya re-started their struggle under the leadership of Baba Abhiramdas and Paramhans Ramchandradas Maharaj, the Naga Sadhus of Hanuman Garhi in Ayodhya. Early in the morning of 23 December 1949, Lord Shriram Lalla manifested with bright splendour all over under the central dome. All of a sudden, thousands of people rushed to Janmabhumi. Bhajan-Pujan of the Lord began with great enthusiasm. Sadhu-Sants began their 24-hour Akhand Nam Sankirtan, that went on ceaselessly till the collapse of the structure on 06 December 1992. In the year 1949, Shri. Govind Vallabh Pant was the state Chief Minister, Shri. K. K. Nayyar was the Dist. Magistrate of Faizabad and Thakur Gurudatt Sing was the honorary City Magistrate.
The City Magistrate confiscated the inner premises of the structure under section-145 of the Indian Penal Code on 29 December 1949 and appointed President of Ayodhya Municipality Babu Priyadatt Ram as its receiver for conduction of regular Puja-Archa that is going on inside it and he ordained the duties of the receiver as ensuring the regular Puja and Bhog of the idols of Lord Shriram Lalla seated under the central dome of the structure. The central main gate was closed with sliding iron shutters and put a lock on it. Priests used to enter the sanctum only through a small side door for arranging the Puja-Archa and Bhog. The public was having Darshan of Shriram Lalla from outside these shutters only. This routine sequel of the Darshan-Pujan-Archan and Bhog of Lord Shriram Lalla went on till the lock was opened on 01 February 1986 by the orders of the District Magistrate of Faizabad.
Beginning of the Present Andolan
The idea of liberating Shriram Janmabhumi at Ayodhya, Shrikrishna Janmabhumi at Mathura and Kashi Vishwanath Mandir took possession of the psyche of Shri. Dau Dayal Khanna, who was the legislator from M Shri Dau Dayal Khanna was a Health Minister in the Ministry of senior Congress leader Shri. Chandrabhan Gupta. He made the issue of liberating these temples as the main topic of his address in the Hindu Sammelan at Kashipur (in Nainital of Uttaranchal state). Thereafter, he personally presented a resolution for these three temples in the Hindu Sammelan held at Muzaffarnagar in 1983. These Sammelans were organised on behalf of Hindu Jagaran Manch. He appealed to the then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi to find out a satisfactory solution of this problem by writing a long, well-argued letter to her.
Saints adopted the Andolan
Shri. Dau Dayal Khanna once again introduced the Resolution to liberate these three religious places in the Dharma Sansad convened in Vijnan Bhavan on behalf of the VHP during April 1964. The resolution was Sants adopted these topics unanimously. Shriram Janmabhumi Mukti Yajna Samiti was formed under the Chairmanship of Goraksha Peethadhishwar Mahant Shri. Avaidyanath Maharaj. Shri. Dau Dayal Khanna was declared as its General Secretary and S/Shri. Omkar Bhave, Mahesh Narayan Sing and Dinesh Tyagi (who are presently the office-bearers of the VHP) as its members. It was decided to undertake a public awakening programme to get the lock on Shriram Janmabhumi removed. Accordingly, a Shriram-Janaki Rath Yatra was taken out from Sitamarhi (Bihar) to Delhi on 25 September 1984. Later on, six Shriram-Janaki Rath Yatras were taken out throughout the Uttar Pradesh from Vijaya Dashami in 1985. Unprecedented public awakening was created as a result of these Yatras.
Taking cognisance of a representation filed by an advocate Shri. Umesh Chandra Pandey, the then-District Magistrate ordered the opening of the lock on Shriram Janmabhumi on 01 February 1986. The High Court dismissed in October 1989 all appeals filed by many Muslims against this order of opening the lock.
Process of Constructing a Magnificent Temple begins
Thereafter began the process of thinking about constructing a grand temple at the place of the old and battered three-domed structure standing at Shriram Janmabhumi. A search for a Temple Architect began, that ended with Shri. Chandrakant Bhai Somapura from Karnavati (Ahmedabad); several draft plans /designs were prepared and finally, one was accepted. According to the draft design, the temple was to be 270 feet in length, 135 in breadth and its Shikhar (spire) was to be 125 feet in height; two-storied temple; Shriram Lalla on the ground floor and the Ram Darbar in the Garbh Gruh. Sandstone with a light pink tinge from Bansi Pahadpur of Bharatpur district in Rajasthan was selected for the temple construction. No iron would be used in the construction of the temple. Every storey would have 106 pillars; with a height of16.5 feet tall in the ground floor and of 14.5 feet tall on the first floor. Every storey would have 185 beams, they also would be made up of stone and a maximum length of the beam would be 16 feet. The temple would have a marble frame with wooden doors fitted for its main entrance.
Collection of funds for the construction of the temple
An unprecedented plan was prepared to reach out to a maximum number of people with a view to raising funds required for the temple construction. According to this plan, a small pictorial coupon with a coloured picture of the proposed Temple at Shriram Janmabhumi as a token of his contribution of Re.1-25 towards the expenses of construction of the temple in Ayodhya for individual and collective worshipping Shriram Shila (worshipped brick) at every Mohalla of cities and towns and in every village and hamlet. About six crore people were contacted. All the amount thus collected was deposited in a Bank in the name of œShriram Janmabhomi Nyas. Shilas worshipped in 2.75 lakhs villages and hamlets as also in the Mohallas of the cities and towns reached Ayodhya.
A cheque of Rs.1,00,000/- was received along with a worshipped Shila from a foreign country, but the then Govt. of Bharat did not give permission to accept the donation. Hence the donation amount was returned thanks to the donor.
A place was selected for Shilannyas near the left pole of Singhdwar (main door) of the proposed Mandir as determined from the site of the existing place where Lord Shriram Lalla is seated as per the draft design of the temple. The Shilannyas Pujan programme was consummated by Shri. Kameshwar Choupal, the then provincial Organising Secretary of Bihar at the selected spot on 10 November 1989 with the consent of both Central and State Govts.
The decision of starting Karsewa for construction of the temple was taken in a meeting of the Margadarshak Mandal held at Haridwar on 23-24 June 1990. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh boasted that œnot even a tiny bird also would be allowed to stretch its wings in Ayodhya. In spite of the obstacles purposefully created by the Uttar Pradesh, thousands of Karsewaks reached Ayodhya and they set out towards Janmabhumi on Devotthan Ekadashi as per the scheduled programme. Someone, as though, from nowhere came and drove the police bus dashing it to Janmabhumi and thereby breaking the barricades erected by the police. Karsewaks climbed up the domes and succeeded in unfurling saffron flags atop the three domes.
An announcement was made in a meeting of the Karsewaks held on the grounds of Char Dham Mandir of Shri. Maniramdas Chhavani on 01 November 1990 that they would proceed towards the Janmabhumi on 02 November also. The administration was hurt with a sense of insult by the happenings on 30 October. With that feeling of insult, the Govt. opened fire and massacred Karsewaks in the narrow lanes and bye-lanes of Ayodhya leading to Hanuman Garhi from Digambar Akhada on 02 November 1990. The V.P. Sing Govt.at Centre collapsed. Karsewaks returned only after having Darshan of Lord Shri. Shriram Lalla. A spate of Satyagraha went on in Ayodhya for 40 days thereafter. Asthi Kalashas (Pitchers containing bones of Martyrs at Ayodhya) moved all over the country. They were immersed by Sants in the Triveni Sangam at Prayag during Magh Mela in January 1991.
A mega-rally was organised on Boat Club New Delhi on 04 April 1991. Over 25 Lakh people assembled there from all parts of the country. Being the largest rally after the independence of the country, it proved to be a historic one. Thereafter, rallies were totally banned on the Boat Club. As the speeches of Sants were just going on in the rally, news came that Shri. Mulayam Singh has resigned from his post of Chief Ministership. Naturally, it sent strong waves of joyous delight throughout the rally.
Rounds of Talks
During the Prime Ministership of late Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, his Home Minister Shri. Buta Singh used to arrange talks between representatives of Hindus and Muslims. On one occasion, Muslim representatives asked Pujya Sants what’s the guarantee that you would not ask for a fourth-place if the religious places at Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi were handed over to you? Even before the Sants replied to this question, Sayyad Shahabuddin furiously questioned the authority of his own representatives as to who were they to hand over these places so liberally?
During the period of V. P. Singhs Prime Ministership, once the religious and social leaders under the leadership of late Alimiya Nadwi ( Lucknow) and Pujya Sant-Mahatmas were sitting together in Andhra Bhavan on one Friday. At noon, the Muslim side went for praying Namaz. When they all returned from the Namaz, Pujya Swami Shri. Satyamitranand Maharaj stood and said while spreading the upper piece of cloth on his persona, œIt is customary to pay Zakat (donating something) after the Namaz. I beg from you Shriram Janmabhumi. The reply of the Muslim representatives was that it was not some œbox of sweets that could be picked up and handed over.
Once, Shri. Sayyad Shahabuddin on his own said that if it is proved that this Mosque has been built by destroying some temple, so the Muslims would leave (their claim over) this place. In response to this, when he was told that very clear evidence is there in Kashi Vishwanath Mandir; he ate his own words and turned his own statement down.
On becoming the Prime Minister, Shri. Chandrashekhar also tried to arrange talks. On his initiative, the representatives of the VHP and Babari Masjid Action Committee began talks in the presence of Govt. representatives. The main theme of the talks was: œIf it is proved that the disputed structure has been constructed on Shriram Janmabhumi by demolishing a temple, so the Muslims would give up their claim over it. It was decided in the meeting held on 04 December 1990 that both the parties would submit their respective evidence in writing to the Minister of State for Home Affairs by 22 December 1990, who would, in turn, exchange the same between the concerned parties by 25 December 1990. Both the parties would then review those evidence and submit their comments to the Minister of State for Home Affairs by 06 January 1991, who would then prepare the points of agreement and disagreement on the basis of these comments and send them to the concerned parties by 09 January 1991. They would meet again on 10 January 1991. They held discussions in Gujarat Bhavan. It was seen that four types of experts (historical, archaeological, revenue and legal) would analyse the available evidence. It was also decided that the lists of experts would be sent to the Govt. by 17 January 1991 and the meeting of experts would be held on 24 January 1991. And the conclusions of the experts would be presented before both the parties for their consideration. It was also decided that the Muslims would not raise the question of the historicity of Lord Shriram and the identity of Ayodhya, and hence there would not be any discussions on these topics. The experts met in two groups to study the evidence on 24 January 1991. The experts of history and archaeology had come from the Muslim side. They submitted in writing a request for granting them the time of 6 weeks to study the facts; whereas the experts of the Hindu side went on saying that the work could be finished before 05 February 1991. The Revenue and Legal Experts from the Muslim side did not attend the meeting. A meeting was held again on 25 January 199. The experts of Hindu side reached Gujarat Bhavan at the scheduled time viz.11.00 hours in the morning. None of the experts from the Muslim side reached the venue of the meeting viz. Gujarat Bhavan up to 12.45 hours; nor did they give any intimation of the same. From this, it was concluded that the Muslim side is running away from the talks. Absence of the Muslim sides was considered as contemptuous and talks ended there itself.
It was an experience during the course of talks with the Muslims side that they were shifting their stand during every talk. When the matter of solving the issue through dialogue is raised today, a question does come in mind, whence the talks should begin now?
Acquisition by the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
The then Chief Minister Shri. Kalyan Singh acquired 2.77 acres of land surrounding the disputed structure on 10 October 1991 barring the structure for developing facilities for the pilgrims. The acquisition was challenged by the Muslim side in the High Court. The High Court gave an interim order on 25 October 1991 that the Uttar Pradesh Govt. could take possession of the acquired land, but no pucca construction should be erected there till the appeals are finally disposed of. A final hearing on the appeals was completed on 04 November 1992 and the decision kept reserved.
Levelling of the Acquired Area
Tourism Department of Uttar Pradesh Govt. began the work of levelling the plot of 2.77 acres in April 1992. Apart from this, the work of constructing an eighty-feet road was also started alongside by the Public Works Department to join the Janmabhumi to the National High Way No. 8 ( Lucknow-Faizabad-Ayodhya-Gorakhpur High Way). During the course of levelling, suddenly they came across a huge treasure of carved stone pieces of different shapes, sizes and designs in the south-eastern corner of the structure under about 12 feet below the surface on 18 June 1992, which contained broken pieces of carved and designed stones. All those pieces are kept secure in Ayodhya museum now. Archaeologists inspected the site on 02 and 03 July 1992 and arrived at a conclusion that they are the remnants of a temple pertaining to a style that was prevalent during 12th century in north Bharat. Prominent among these remnants are the spire, emblic myrobalan, decorative mesh, head, portico, pillar bases, door segment, Shiva-Parvati etc. A wide and sturdy wall of burnt bricks was also found underneath the disputed structure.
The collapse of the Structure
The Dharma Sansad held in Delhi on 30 October 1992 announced 06 December as the Day for the beginning of fresh Karsewa. Groups of Karsewaks began to pour in Ayodhya by the last week of November. It was expected that the High Court would pronounce its decision before 06 December in respect the petitions filed against the acquisition of 2.77 acres of land that was kept reserved by it. The Uttar Pradesh Govt had also requested the Supreme Court on 25th November to issue orders to the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court to pronounce its judgement kept reserved by it. Accordingly, the Supreme Court had issued the directives too; but the High Court declared the date for pronouncement of the judgement as 11 December. The Uttar Pradesh Govt. also desired that only the operative part of the decision be pronounced before 06 December, so that the atmosphere of uncertainty could come to an end. But this argument also went in vain. The High Court decision came on 11 December, but by then the fury sheathing within Hindu hearts exploded. The three-domed structure symbolic of the black blot affixed on the forehead of Mother Bharati in 1528 disappeared into the tummy of time on 06 December 1992.
As the work of breaking the walls of the structure began, those old and worn out walls started crumbling like anything. The walls were practically hollow. The hollow walls were filled with the debris. Karsewaks were bringing the carved stones and storing them underneath the platform. In the meantime, a stone edict found was brought and kept there.
As a result of the valour of Smt. Sudha Mallya, understanding of Archeologist Dr Swaraj Prakash Gupta and efficiency of senior journalist Shri. Ramshankar Agnihotri and a young entrepreneur Ashok Chatterjee, that stone edict came before the people. In due course of time, experts of the Govt. of Bharat, under the orders of the Supreme Court took a photograph of the edict and its mould, which has been securely kept in the Lucknow bench of the High Court. This edict has been read by the experts and it has been proved that 30 slokas (stanzas) in 20 lines have been carved on this square-sized stone edict measuring 5 feet in length and 2.25 feet in breadth. Its language is Sanskrit and script is Nagari, that is found in the archaeological records of the Garhwal royal families of 12th Century. The edict begins with œ Om Namah Shivaya. The edict contains the description of Ayodhya, Temple with golden lotus Kalash in the Saket Mandal and the bewitching beauty of Ayodhya. The description relates to the valiant one, who had annihilated Bali and Ten-Headed Ravana.
Apart from this, about 250 other archaeological remnants have been found from that structure, which has been kept in the premises of Shriram Janmabhumi under the control of Govt. of Bharat. Many of these remnants are almost identical to those found during the course of levelling of the area on 18 June 1992.
Govt. recognises Right to Puja
The Central Reserve Force took over the entire premises of Shriram Janmabhumi under its control in the wee hours on 8 December 1992. Till that time, the Karsewaks toiled day and night and erected a temporary temple with cloth etc. for Shriram Lalla Virajman. On all the four sides of Shriram Lalla, bamboo poles were erected supporting the cloth ceiling was put up and as a support to these, a brick wall was erected on all the four sides. This is nowadays called a Makeshift Structure. The Puja-Archa of Shriram Lalla Virajman began right in the evening of 06 December itself.
Though the Puja-Archa continued in the protection of security forces, the public was prevented from going there. Shri. Harishankar Jain, an Advocate from Lucknow preferred an appeal (5314/1992) before the Lucknow bench of High Court on 21 December 1992 on behalf of the Hindu Advocates Association and prayed for the directives to the Govt. that — œIt should not cause any hurdles in the Darshan-Pujan-Arati-Bhog of Shriram Lalla Virajman; the priests be permitted to enter the Shriram Janmabhumi Mandir for performing Arati-Puja-Bhog etc.; no obstacles be created in the concerned rituals and the archaeological remnants of historic importance found in the debris of the structure be kept secured and well protected. The bench comprising of Justice Shri. Harinath Tilhari and Justice A.N. Gupta admitted the plaint of the petitioners and gave a decision in their favour. The public got the permission of Darshan once again.
Progress of Mandir Construction
Supply of stones and the work of carvings thereon according to the maps/plans/designs began in Ayodhya in September 1990. Work of stone carvings got momentum in April 1992. The carving work was given on contract to three workshops in the Pindwada area of Rajasthan on the day of Basant Panchami 1996. Two huge cutter machines were brought in Ayodhya to speed up the work further. The work of the marble door frame was given to a workshop in Makrana (Rajasthan) on contract.
Till this date, designing/carving of all the stones required to be laid on the floor of the Mandir, the carving work of all 106 pillars to be erected on the ground floor, the Rang Mandap and the walls of the sanctum sanctorum on the ground and first floor, and the beams at the ceiling of the ground floor is nearing completion. An entire lot of carved stones are neatly arranged and displayed in a Workshop on the Ramghat in Ayodhya. A wooden miniature model of the Mandir and 2.75 lakh Ramshilas (worshipped bricks) are kept in this workshop only. Hundreds of visitors come to have a look at these every day.
Shriram Janmabhumi Mukti Andolan is a Struggle for Cultural freedom.
Inspired by the act of wiping out the symbol of slavery after attaining independence in 1947, the first Home Minister had vowed to liberate Somnath Mandir; the Central Cabinet had passed a resolution; a trust was formed with the consent of Mahatma Gandhi; and in no time the structure erected in place of Somnath Mandir blown away on the waves of sea waters; entire lands were restored to the Trust; and a majestic mandir stood in its original place. If it is a sign of patriotism to remove the symbols of the British, then the personal presence of the first President of Bharat Shri. Rajendra Babu for the installation of Somnath Mandir is a sign of patriotism; then, Shriram Janmabhumi Mukti Andolan also is a symbol of patriotism only.
Shriram Janmabhumi Mukti Andolan is not merely a trifle struggle for securing any one Mandir. This has been the struggle of a never changeable Janmabhumi (birthplace) and the Janmabhumi belongs to such an epoch maker, who is worshipped by all Hindus as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and cherish a desire in their bosom to recite his name on their death beds. More than anything else, it is a struggle to wipe out a blot of an Islamic foreign aggressor. This struggle is a fight for cultural freedom for the Hindu society.
The only Path
There were several rounds of talks. During the Premiership of Shri. Chandrashekhar, evidence of Muslim and European Historians, those pertaining to revenue and also the evidence belonging to traditions of the Hindu society have already been submitted to the Govt. The archaeological remnants found in June 1992, December 1992 and February 1993 have all been under the govt. custody. The survey reports of the radar waves have been confirmed by the archaeological excavation. Hence it is incumbent upon the Govt. of Bharat to pass a law to remove the stigma of slavery and pave the way for the cultural freedom of Bharat by handing over the place to the Hindu society.