Joy and jubilation as Ram returns to Ayodhya

22 January 2024

There was an unprecedented outpouring of joy and jubilation by Hindus throughout the world as the pran pratishtha of Ram Lalla took place today at Ayodhya Ram Mandir.

The scale and breadth of the celebrations were unprecedented as Hindus globally celebrated their Deepavali of this millennium.

Some 500 years after an existing temple at Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi was destroyed by Islamic invaders, Hindus will finally be able to worship freely at Ram Janmabhoomi.

20 generations of Hindus were denied this right, but they never surrendered the site at any time. Hindus believe that the Ayodhya temple site is the birthplace of Shree Ram.

Thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed during the Islamic invasions of India.

In its judgement in Siddiq v Mahant Suresh Das on 9 November 2019, a five-judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court gave exclusive possession of the site to Hindus, finding that Hindus had continuous possessory title to the site.

The reclamation of Ayodhya by Hindus heralds the beginning of a Hindu renaissance. It is the first substantive step in healing the wounds inflicted on Hindus after a thousand years of killings, violence, loot, plunder and desecration by Islamic invaders.

Indian courts are yet to hear suits by Hindus seeking re-possession of Mathura (birthplace of Krishna) and Kashi Vishwanath (abode of Shiva).

Celebrations in Australia

The event was celebrated in more than 25 venues in Melbourne.

Durga Temple, Melbourne

In Sydney, at least 20 venues honoured the event.

In the Little India precinct of Sydney’s Harris Park, Hindus watched the ceremony on a large screen on the road.

Over 15 venues honoured the event in Queensland.

Western Australian Hindus gathered at several venues including Balcatta to celebrate the event.

The event was celebrated in all major Australian cities, including Adelaide, Canberra and the Gold Coast.

Hindus watch a live stream of the event in Toowoomba, Queensland 

Even before the event, Australian Hindus had been adorning their homes and cars with bhagwa flags in anticipation of the event.

What is pran pratishtha?

Pran Pratishtha is a ceremony where mantras are chanted to invoke a deity’s energy.  In the case of Ayodhya, the ceremony was performed with a murti of Ram Lalla (the infant Ram).

The ceremony coincided with the opening of one floor of the temple. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were amongst those attending the event.

On 8 January 2024, the Australian Hindu Association released this video on the Ram Janmabhoomi struggle based on legal, historical and archaeological sources.

AHA had also issued a press release on the subject on 5 January 2024

Did a temple exist at Ayodhya?

Long before Valmiki wrote the Ramayan, Ram Katha was recited orally by specially trained people from village to village in Bharat. It was this oral history that Valmiki documented in the Ramayana.

A terracotta sculptor from the second century BCE has been recovered showing Ravan carrying away Sita and Sita throwing away her ornaments.

Representative image

A photograph of Ram holding a bow and arrow dated the first century AD has also been found.

Archaeological excavations

Pursuant to court orders, two excavations were carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India – the first in 1996-1997 and the second in 2003.

The first excavation :

  • concluded that the 12 pillars used for the Babri structure erected around 1528 were actually temple pillars from the 11th to 12th centuruies; and
  • found a defaced Hindu sculpture embedded on a wall on the structure.

Following its excavations, ASI reported that there was ‘continuous occupation’ of Ram Janmasthan ‘from the second millennium BC.’

ASI found evidence that a temple had existed on the site in the 10th century, which had been destroyed.

Source: Anand, Arun & Nalwa Vinay: Ramjanmabhoomi

Archaeologist KK Muhammed revealed that the excavations had found a huge temple beneath the Islamic structure. It had more than 50 pillar bases in 17 rows.

A temple had been built on the site in the 12th century. This was the structure destroyed around 1528, ASI found.

During the demolition of the Babri structure in 1992, a five feet by two feet Hari-Vishnu inscription fell from the wall of Babri Masjid.

Verse 21 of the inscription refers to a beautiful temple of Vishnu-Hari being erected.

Verse 27 refers to the four avatars of Vishnu, including:

  • the one who suppressed the arms of the demon Bali; and
  • the one who performed many valorous deeds and killed the evil ten-headed demon

The spread of the Ramayan outside India

Historian Dr Meenakshi Jain (pictured) has done path-breaking research on the subject of Ram Mandir. Her extensive and meticulous research based on original sources is unparalleled.

According to her:

  • As early as AD 251, K’ang-seng-hui rendered the Jataka form of the Ramayana into Chinese.
  • In AD 472, another  Chinese translation was prepared of the nidana of Dashratha Jataka from a lost Sanskrit text, by Kekaya.
  • The Simhala poet-king, Kumaradasa, composed the Janakiharana, the earliest Sanskrit work of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) in the sixth century.
  • A seventh century Cambodia, Khmer citation attested to the popularity  of the Ramayana. An inscription declared that a certain Somasharman presented ‘the Ramayana, the Purana and the complete Bharata’ to a temple.
  • Towards the close of the ninth century, an east Iranian version of the Ramayan appeared in Khotanese, an Iranian dialect.
  • The story of Ram spread in the  northernmost lands of Asia from Tibet, where it was found in two versions in manuscripts of the seventh to ninth centuries.
  • The oldest manuscript of the Ramayan of Valmiki, dated AD 1075, is preserved in Nepal.

Destruction of Hindu temple and erection of Islamic structure

The commonly held view is that the Hindu temple that existed in Ayodhya was destroyed in 1528 on the orders of Babur by his General Mir Baqi.

Researcher and architect, Aabhas Maldahiyar points out that Babur made no mention of demolishing a temple in Baburnama.

William Finch

English merchant William Finch, who visited India between 1608 and 1611 recorded in his travelogue of seeing the ruins of the fort of Ram at Ayodhya. He found Brahmin priests in the ruins of the castle recording the names of pilgrims. He did not observe any mosque.

Referring to Finch’s account, Maldahiyar opines that the Babri Islamic structure must have been built much later. Maldahiyar also states that the Islamic structure did not have the architecture of a mosque.

Montgomery Martin

The British Surveyor Montgomery Martin recorded in 1838 that a mosque was built on the ruins of Ramkot with pillars taken from Rama’s palace and that the figures thereon had been damaged by the bigot (referring to Babur).

The 1946 agitation

In 1946, the Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha (a wing of the Hindu Mahasabha) started an agitation for possession of Ram Janmabhoomi.

Murti of Ram found inside Islamic structure

In 1949, an idol of Ram was found inside the Islamic structure. This led to a protest from Muslims, following which both Hindus and Muslims filed civil suits. The state government then declared the entire area as ‘disputed’ and locked the gates until further orders.

Litigation continues

  • In 1950, two Hindus filed suits in the Faizabad civil court seeking permission to worship the murtis of Ram Lalla.
  • In 1959, Nirmohi Akhara filed a third suit claiming the site.
  • In 1961, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board moved the court demanding the removal of deities and possession of the site.
  • In 1986, at the direction of the District Court, the lock on the gates was removed and the site was opened for the Hindus to worship.

Last and largest agitation for Ram Janmbhoomi commences

In this interview, veteran journalist Swapan Dasgupta, identifies the call for Ramshila around 1988-1989 as the catalyst for catapulting the Ram Janmabhoomi struggle into a national movement. Ramshila was the call for bricks with ‘Ram’ written on them to be sent to Ayodhya.  The call was answered by over 100,000  ordinary Indians from villages, towns and cities throughout Bharat. It touched the hearts of Hindus.

In 1989, BJP leader LK Advani told Parliament, ‘We are going to start the biggest mass movement in history.

The first kar seva was on 7 November 1989, when a foundation stone was laid by a Dalit leader. It was a pan-Hindu movement in which all castes passionately participated.

The Ram Janmabhoomi Rath Yatra started at Somnath in Gujarat.

JNU ‘historians’ jump into fray

With evidence of a temple under the Islamic structure mounting coupled with increasing Hindu assertiveness, there were reports of the Muslim side being prepared to surrender the site. There was a proposal that the Muslims would be given another site in exchange for returning Ram Janmabhoomi to the Hindus; and a settlement looked likely.

But a cabal of JNU-based brown ‘historians’ jumped into the fray and convinced the Muslim side that no temple ever existed below the Islamic structure.

The cabal was led by Professors Romila Thappar, Sarvepalli Gopal and Bipan Chandra. Based on an article they authored in 1990 , they produced a booklet titled The Political Abuse of History: Babri Masjid-Rama Janmabhumi Dispute 

In it they:

  • Described Ram as part of a ‘cult’;
  • Suggested that the Ramayan could be a work of fiction;
  • Stated that Ayodhya was a major centre for Buddhism; and
  • Claimed that there was no historical evidence that the Islamic structure had been constructed on land earlier occupied by a temple.

Balidaan of Kothari brothers

In 1990, brothers Ram Kothari (23) and Sharad Kothari (20) went to Ayodhya from Kolkata for kar seva . They walked many miles as the trains and bus services to Ayodhya had stopped; and police was arresting and expelling people trying to enter the town.

On the morning of 30 October 1990, the duo reached Ayodhya. The agitation was in full swing there and it is reported that the brothers climbed on top of the Islamic structure and hoisted a saffron flag on one of its domes.

Police  hurled tear gas at, lathi charged and then shot at kar sevaks. The brothers either got away on their own or were taken by police to Faizabad and released from there.

The brothers and other kar sevaks returned to Ayodhya on  2 November 1990.

On the orders of Samajwadi Party Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Malayam Yadav, police opened fire on kar sevaks.

In this video Santosh Dubey, who was with the Kothari brothers on that fateful day, describes the tragedy that unfolded in graphic detail.

Dubey saw police shooting at and injuring Ramesh Pandey, Rajendra Dhankar (17), Basdeo Gupta, Mahendra Nath Arora and a youth from Rajasthan. They shot so many bullets that they did not have any left in their magazines. Police then started hitting kar sevaks with rifle butts.

Police shot Sharad Kothari. On seeing his younger brother falling, Ram Kothari and Dubey rushed towards Sharad, but by this time police shot Sharad too. Dubey was also seriously injured by police firing.

Ravi Shankar Pandey, Amar Nath Pandey and some ladies tried to take Dubey to hospital, but police started hitting them with butts as well.

Rajendra Dhankar fell into a well after being shot by police. His body was later recovered by kar sevaks.

In one of the darkest chapters of the Uttar Pradesh’s history, hundreds of kar sevaks were shot dead that day. Witnesses described the Saryu river as having turned red with the blood of the slain kar sevaks. Police dumped hundreds of sand-bagged bodies of kar sevaks in the holy river.

The death of the Kothari brothers and other kar sevaks on 2 November is observed as Shaurya Divas.

The Islamic structure is brought down

On 5 December 1992 a meeting took place at Lucknow.  Several BJP leaders there were not keen to go to Ayodhya. But Murli Manohar Joshi  said, ‘Kal chhalo Ayodhya.‘ Many kar sevaks then left for Ayodhya.

The patience of Hindus finally ran out on 6 December 1992. Several hundred thousand kar sevaks reached Ayodhya. Emotions were high.

There was feeling amongst them that it was ‘now or never.’

A handful of kar sevaks climbed onto a dome of the Islamic structure and started hitting it with hand-held implements. More and more joined them.

Between about 12 to 12:30pm, the first dome came down.

At about 2pm, a bleeding and dishevelled sadhu emerged from the structure with a small Ram Lalla murti and gave it to a shocked LK Advani. It was the murti that had been placed there around 1949.

According to Dasgupta, at about 3:15pm Sadhvi Ritambhara took the mike. She was a cult figure then. She implored, ‘Ek dhakka aur do, ek dhakka aur do.‘ The crowd, swaying, responded with, ‘Babri Masjid todh do.’ It was an amazing scene, said Dasgupta.

The chants continued without a break until about 3:45pm when the remaining domes, exuding red dust, came crashing down.

On 8 December 1992 LK Advani and others were arrested.

Brown ‘historians’

The brown ‘historians’ led by Professors RS Sharma, DN Jha, Romila Thappar and Irfan Habib continued to run a very public and persistent campaign against Ram Janmabhoomi.

When the 2003 excavations revealed pilllars under the Islamic structure, the brown historians created a fiction that they were from a mosque or were Buddhist stupas.

As to the Vishnu Hari inscription that had been found in the Islamic structure, Prof Habi created a story that it was was the Treta-ka-thakur inscription and had been stolen from Lucknow museum.

Habib’s  duplicity was laid bare by IPS officer Kishore Kunal who produced the Treta-ka-thakur inscription from Lucknow museum and published photos of both inscriptions side by side.

Allahabad High Court judgement

On 30 September 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled, by a 2:1 majority, that there be a three-way division of the disputed area between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

The majority judgement of Justice Agrawal was particularly scathing of the ‘experts’ called by the Sunni Waqf Board in support of their case.

Supreme Court rules entirely in favour of Hindus

In its judgement in Siddiq v Mahant Suresh Das on 9 November 2019, the Indian Supreme Court granted possession of the entire Ayodhya Ram Mandir site to Hindus.

The Muslim side could not produce a shred of evidence in court to show that they had occupied the site from 1528 to 1858.

Bhumi pujan

On 5 August 2020, PM Modi conducted a bhumi pujan at Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi laying the foundation stone for the initiation of the construction of a Bhavya Ram Mandir.

Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh government announced in 2021 that a new road in Ayodhya will be named after Ram Kothari and Sharad Kothari in recognition of their sacrifice for the Ram Mandir movement.

In this video, media personality Ajeet Bharti eloquently articulates the emotions of millions of Hindus about the killing of kar sevaks and the building of Ram Mandir.

Jay Shree Ram

Written sources:

Anand, Arun & Nakwa, Vinay, Ramjanmabhoomi: Truth: Evidence: Faith, 2020 Prabhat Prakashan

Jain, Meenakshi, The Battle for Rama – Case of the Temple at Ayodhya, 2017 Aryan Books International

Jain, Meenakshi, Rama andt Ayodhya, 2013 Aryan Books International