Ayodhya Evidence Debate
by Koenraad Elst
[The present article is adapted, with minor
modifications, from the chapter of the same name in the book "ELST,
Koenraad. 2002. Ayodhya, The Case Against the Temple, New Delhi:
Voice of India, pp. 146-188."
The article assumes importance in view of the
ongoing archaeological excavations at the disputed site, at the orders of
the Indian courts of law. The reader will note that the same set of
Marxist political scholars (Irfan Habib, D. N. Jha, R. S. Sharma, D.
Mandal, Suraj Bhan, Sushil Srivastava etc.) who had served as counsel to
the BMAC are now again siding with the Islamist party in their current
media blitzkrieg. The article serves to expose, in brief, the lack of
ethical behavior as well as the academic dishonesty exhibited by these
political scholars - Bharatvani Team, 9 July 2003].
This paper was written as an adaptation from an earlier
paper, "The Ayodhya Debate", published in the conference proceedings of
the 1991 International Ramayana Conference which had taken place in my
The present version represents my own text prepared for the October 1995
Annual South Asia Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A. A few notes
have been added.
The atmosphere at the conference was frankly hostile.
After the academic authorities, who may have been ignorant of my
controversial reputation, had allowed my paper to be read, the practical
organization of the panel session was entrusted to graduate students
belonging to the Indian Communist organization, Forum of Indian
Leftists (FOIL). They scheduled me as the last speaker in a panel of
four, chaired by an Indian female graduate student, a nice girl but
obviously unable to perform the most difficult duty of a panel
chairperson, viz. keeping the speakers to their allotted time. Moreover,
they arranged for our session to be held in a room where another panel was
scheduled at noon, making it impossible for the last speaker to read his
paper in excess of the panel session's allotted time. Two panel speakers
played along comfortably expounding and repeating the points they could
have easily have made in half a minute.
It was up to people from the audience to protest and
oblige the chairperson to allow me to read out my paper. When it was my
turn, I was heckled somewhat by the Leftist crowd, especially by a
well-known Indo-American Communist academic, who was rolling his eyes like
a madman and making obscene gestures until an elderly American lady
sitting next to him told him to behave. At the end, Biju Mathew came to
collect a copy of my text (the book version of which I had some author's
copies handy), called me a "liar", and told his buddies that they needed
to write a scholarly rebuttal. Which is still being awaited today.
One of the contenders in the Ayodhya history debate,
the "hypothesis" that the Babri Masjid had been built in forcible
replacement of a Hindu temple, had been a matter of universal consensus
until a few years ago. Even the Muslim participants in court cases in the
British period had not challenged it; on the contrary, Muslim authors
expressed pride in this monument of Islamic victory over infidelity. It is
only years after the Hindu take-over of the structure in 1949 that denials
started to be voiced.
And it is only in 1989 that a large-scale press campaign was launched to
deny what had earlier been a universally accepted fact.
In normal academic practice, the debate on an issue on
which such a consensus exists, would only have been opened after the
discovery of new facts which undermine the consensus view. The present
debate is between a tradition which numerous observers and scholars had
found coherent and well-founded, and an artificial hypothesis based on
political compulsions, instead of on newly discovered facts.
In an effort to move the debate forward, the Government
of India provided the contending parties with an official forum in which
experts could go through the evidence produced for both sides. This
scholarly exchange took place around the turn of 1991, and was briefly
revived in the autumn of 1992. Both rounds of the debate were unilaterally
broken off by the Babri Masjid party.
This paper is intended to fill the gap left by the
general media in the information on the debate about the historical claims
concerning the Rama-Janmabhoomi/Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. As the only
non-Indian scholar to have followed the dispute closely, I will argue that
the scholars' debate has ended in an unambiguous victory for one of the
2. The Object of the
As is well known by now, on Rama's supposed birthplace
in Ayodhya, there used to stand a disputed mosque structure. It was called
the Babri Masjid because according to an inscription on its front
wall it was built at the orders of the Moghul invader Babar in 1528, by
his lieutenant Mir Baqi. But until the beginning of this century, official
documents called it Masjid-i-Janmasthan, "Mosque of the
birthplace", and the hill on which it stands was designated as Ramkot
(Rama's fort) or Janmasthan (birthplace). Since 1949, the
building is effectively in use as a Hindu temple, but many Hindus, and
especially the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP),
want to explicate the Hindu function of the place with proper Hindu temple
architecture, which implied removing the existing structure. On the other
hand, the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) and its splinter,
the Babri Masjid Movement Coordination Committee (BMMCC), want the
building, and after its demolition at least the site, to be given back to
the Muslim community.
In December 1990 and January 1991, at the request of
the Chandra Shekhar Government, the BMAC and the VHP exchanged historical
evidence for their respective cases. It was broken off on 25 January 1991
when the BMAC representatives, without any explanation, failed to show up
at the meeting scheduled for that day. The debate was revived in October
1992 by the Narasimha Rao Government, with essentially the same teams, but
the next month, the BMAC withdrew in protest against VHP's announcement of
a Kar Seva (building activity) due to 6 December 1992.
It is strange (but perfectly explainable, as we shall
see) that this debate has not received more attention in scholarly and
journalistic writings. It was, after all, the only occasion where both
parties could not manipulate "evidence" without being subject to pointed
criticism from the opposing side. Many reporters on the Ayodhya conflict
have made tall claims about "concoction" of bogus evidence" (not to
mention "Goebbelsian propaganda"), and to substantiate these, there could
hardly be a better mine of information than this Government-sponsored
debate. Yet, most of them refuse to even mention it.
A report of this debate should distinguish between
three possible debating issues:
1) Is the present-day Ayodhya with all its Rama-related
sites, the Ayodhya described by Valmiki in his Sanskrit Ramayana? In the
course of this debate, no new facts have been added to Prof. B. B. Lal's
conclusion that Valmiki's Ayodhya and present-day Ayodhya are one and the
It is a different matter that his conclusions have beend isputed, without
any evidence, by the JNU historians among others. Of course, it is
nobody's case that the Valmiki connection has been established in an
unassailable manner, but at least, what much research is available, points
in that direction. However, even if B. B. Lal's assertion is correct, this
leaves open the possibility that the writer who styled himself Valmiki,
may have written his version of the Rama story long after it actually took
place, and that he relocated the scene of a tradition coming from
elsewhere into his own area. Therefore, the next, more fundamental
question might be:
2) Is the present-day Ayodhya, and more specifically
the disputed site, indeed the birthplace of a historical character called
Rama? The BMAC has argued that such a thing cannot be proven, assuming
that Rama was a historical character at all. The VHP has refused to
consider this question, arguing that religions do not have to justify the
sacredness of their sacred sites: if the site was traditionally associated
with sacred events and characters (as it was, at least from Valmiki
onwards), or if it was treated by Rama devotees as somehow sacred (as it
was since at least several centuries), then that should be enough to
command respect, regardless of the historical basis of this claim to
Compare with the Muslim sacred places: there is no
historical substance at all in Mohammad's claim that the Kaaba in Mecca
had been built by Abraham as a place of monotheistic worship. This story
had to justify the take-over of the Kaaba from its real owners, the
"idolaters" of Arabia. And yet, in spite of the starkly unhistorical
nature of the Muslim claim to the Kaaba, this claim is not being
questioned. Nobody is saying that the Muslims can only have their Kaaba if
they give historical proof that it was built by Abraham.
Therefore the VHP insists that if the disputed site is
a genuine traditional sacred site, this must be enough to make others
respect it as such. Moreover, if it was really a Hindu sacred site, it is
reasonable to expect that this tatus was explicitated with a temple, which
must have adorned the site before the Babri Masjid was built. So, the
third question is:
3) Was the Babri Masjid built in forcible replacement
of a pre-existing Rama temple? The Muslim fundamentalist leader Syed
Shahabuddin, convener of the BMMCC (and initiator of the campaign against
agrees with the VHP that this is the fundamental question. He has said
repeatedly: "If it is proven that the Babri Masjid has been built in
forcible replacement of a Hindu temple, I will demolish it with my own
So, the subject matter of the debate can be limited to the question
whether a Hindu temple had been destroyed to make way for the Babri Masjid.
In November 1990, in a letter to the newly appointed
Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, the late Sri Rajiv Gandhi (whose Congress
Party was supporting the new Government) had also proposed to narrow down
the debate to this one question. Sri Gandhi suggested that the decision of
whether to leave the disputed building to the Hindus (who were using it as
a temple) or to give it to the Muslims (who had used it as a mosque),
should be taken on the basis of historical and archaeological evidence
regarding the specific point whether the Babri Masjid had replaced a
pre-existing Hindu temple. It is this letter from Rajiv Gandhi which
prompted Chandra Shekhar to invite the contending parties to have a
scholarly exchange of historical evidence.
3. Chronicle of the
Both parties met on 1 December and 4 December 1990, and
they agreed to submit and confront historical material supporting their
respective viewpoints. On 23 December, the VHP and the BMAC submitted
their respective bundles of evidence, On 10 January 1991, both sides
submitted rejoinders to their opponents' evidence bundles. At least, the
VHP scholars gave a detailed reply to all the documents presented by the
BMAC. But the latter merely handed in yet another pile of newspaper
articles and more such non-evidential statements of opinion. This created
the impression that the BMAC was effectively conceding defeat.
On January 24, the parties met in order to discuss the
evidence. But the BMAC team leader, Prof. R. S. Sharma, a well-known
Marxist historian, said that he and his colleagues had not yet studied the
VHP material (to which the BMAC had agreed to reply by January 10). This
is most remarkable, because the week before, he had led 42 academics in
signing a much-publicized statement staying, that there was definitely
absolutely no proof whatsoever at all for the pre-existing Rama temple. He
had issued more statements on the matter and even published a small book
There he was, pleading a lack of familiarity with the very material on
which he had been making such tall statements.
The other historians for the BMAC were Athar Ali, D. N.
Jha and Suraj Bhan, apart from the office bearers of the BMAC itself. The
four BMAC historians have published their argumentation some months later:
Ramajanmabhumi Baburi Masjid, A Historians' Report to the Nation.
Tellingly, they do not mention the outcome of the debate, but reiterate
the ludicrous demand they made while attending the debate as BMAC
advocates, viz. that they be considered "independent historians" qualified
to pronounce scientific judgment in a debate between their employers and
Of course the government representative dismissed this
demand as ridiculous. Yet, the BMAC has continued to call them
"independent historians", and they themselves have continued to demand
that the VHP submit its case to "independent arbitration", i.e., by their
own kind. These two telling details of the Ayodhya debate story have, of
course, been withheld from the reader in the booklet published by the
The next meeting was scheduled for the next day,
January 25. But there, the BMAC scholars simply did not show up. The
unambiguous result of the debate was this: The BMAC scholars have run away
from the arena. They had not presented written evidence worth the name,
they had not given a written refutation of the VHP scholars' arguments,
they had wriggled out of a face-to-face discussion on the accumulated
evidence, and finally they had just stayed away. Thus ended the first
attempt by the Government of India to find an amicable solution on the
basis of genuine historical facts.
In October 1992, the Narasimha
Rao Government tried to revive this discussion foru. Dur to personal
differences, Prof. R. S. Sharma stayed away from the BMAC team, which
otherwise consisted of the same people. The debate focused almost entirely
on the interpretation of the archaeological findings of June 1992: a large
number if Hindu sculptures and other temple remains, found in the terrain
in front of the disputed building. The BMAC team argued that these
findings had all been planted. It also demanded that in view of the
ongoing negotiations, the VHP cancel its programme scheduled for 6
December 1992 in Ayodhya. When the VHP refused, the BMAC stayed away from
the talks once more.
4. The pro-Temple
On Ayodhya, there has always in living memory been a
consensus: among local Muslims and Hindus, among European travelers and
British administrators. As late as 1989, the Encyclopedia Brittannica
(entry Ayodhya) reports without a trace of hesitation that the
Babri Masjid was built in forcible replacement of a temple marking Rama's
birthplace. When there is such a consensus on a given issue, the academic
custom is not to reopen the debate until someone comes with serious
evidence that the consensus opinion is wrong and that a different scenario
is indicated by newfound (or newly interpreted) facts. But the only
evidence to surface during the debate was presented by the VHP-mandated
team and merely reconfirmed the old consensus.
The VHP's evidence bundle was not just a pile of
It was centered around a careful argumentation, which can be summed up in
A single hypothesis. Only one hypothesis is put
forward, viz. that the disputed place was traditionally (since before the
Muslim period) venerated as Rama's birthplace, that a Rama temple had
stood on it, and that this temple was destroyed to make way for the Babri
Masjid. All the material collected goes to confirm this one hypothesis.
Not a single piece of documentary or archaeological evidence contradicts
it. The contrast with the anti-Janmabhumi polemists is striking: they have
so far not produced any document that positively indicates a different
scenario from the one upheld by the VHP scholars. The BMAC effort has been
only negative, viz. trying to pick holes in the pro-temple evidence, but
the VHP has posited its own hyupothesis that takes care of all the
Temple foundations. Archaeological findings in
Prof. B. B. Lal's excavation campaign Archaeology of the Ramayana Sites
1975-80 and more recent ones as well as a large number of documents
written in tempore non suspecto confirm the hypothesis. Findings of
burnt-brick pillar bases dated to the 11th century in trenches
a few metres from the disputed structure prove that a pillared building
stood in alignment with, and on the same foundations system as the Banri
Masjid. The written documents do not include an eye-witness account of the
temple destruction, the way we have eye-witness accounts of the
destruction of many other temples. But then, a wealth of documents by
European travelers and by local Muslims, confirm unambiguously that the
Babri Masjid was considered to have been built in forcible replacement of
a Rama temple. These witnesses also describe first-hand how the place was
revered by the Hindus as Rama's birthsite, and that Hindus always came
back to worship as closely as possible to the original temple site: they
could not reasonably have done this except in continuation of a tradition
dating back to before the Babri Masjid.
The single hypothesis is consistent with known
patterns. No ad hoc hypothesis are needed to support the main
hypothesis, no unusual scenarios have to be invented, no unusual motives
have to be attributed to the people involved, no conspiracy theory has to
be conjured up. The general VHP hypothesis merely says that
well-established general patterns of Hindu and Muslim behavior apply to
the specific case under consideration. Among these are to be noted:
First, the fact that a temple stood on the now-disputed
site, which is a hilltop overlooking Ayodhya, is in perfect conformity
with a world-wide practice of putting important buildings, like castles
and temples, on the topographical place of honor. By contrast, the
hypothesis that the Babri Masjid has been built on an emplty spot
presupposes an abnormal course of events, viz. that the people of the
temple city Ayodhya had left the place of honor empty.
Second, the demolition of Hindu temples and their
forcible replacement by mosques has been a very persistent behavior
pattern of the Muslim conquerors. These temple demolitions were consistent
with the persecution of "unbelief" carried out by Islamic rulers from
Mohammed bin Qasim (who conquered Sindh in 712) to Aurangzeb (the last
great Moghul. D. 1707), and more recently in Pakistan, Bangladesh and
Kashmir. Though there is no lack of negationists who try to deny or
conceal it, the historical record bears out Will Durant's assessment that
"the Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in
It is safe to affirm that the majority of pre-1707 mosques in India has
been built in forcible replacement of Hindu temples. Outside India the
Islamic takeover of the most sacred sites of other religions was equally
systematic, e.g., the Ka'aba in Mecca, the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem, the Aya Sophia in Istanbul, the Buddhist monastery in Bukhara
Third, the fact that Hindu temple materials (14 black
stone sculptured pillars) have been used in the Babri Masjid is not an
unusual feature requiring a special explanation; on the contrary, it was
fairly common practice meant as a visual display of the victory of Islam
over infidelity. It was done in many mosques that have forcibly replaced
temples, e.g., the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi (in which a part of the
Kashi Vishvanath temple is still visible),
and the Adahi-Din-ka-Jhonpra mosque in Ajmer, the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque
in Delhi, or, outside India, the Jama Masjid of Damascus (which was a
Fourth, the fact that Hindus used to keep on revering
sacred sites even after mosques had been built on them, is attested by
foreigners like Niccolo Manucci in the 17th and Alexander
Cunningham in the 19th century.
By contrast, the hypothesis that Hindus started laying an arbitrary claim
on a place firmly occupied by the Muslims (so that they courted repression
for no reason at all), is pretty fantastic and without parallel.
5. No Direct
The VHP bundle also contained a large number of quotes
from ancient literature to prove that the Rama cult is not a recent
development, and that the status of Ayodhya as a sacred city has been
uninterrupted since at least 2000 years. The one thing that is missing is
the ultimate clinching evidence: a contemporary description of the
forcible replacement of the temple with the mosque. But even in the
absence of this item of primary evidence, the amount of secondary evidence
is so overwhelming, coherent and uncontradicted, that in another, less
contentious historical search, it would be considered conclusive.
It may be recalled that, in the course of the public
debate on the opinion pages of the newspapers, the pro-BMAC polemists had
at first demanded non-British evidence, because the whole Janmabhoomi
tradition was merely a British concoction. In A. G. Noorani's categorical
words" "The myth is a 19th century creation by the British."
Next, the demanded pre-19th century
evidence, because Hindus and Muslims had already "interiorized the British
propaganda" early in that century, as is clear from a number of writings
by local Muslims, brought to light by Prof. Harsh Narain. This, Mirza Jan,
a Muslim militant who participated in an attempt to wrest from the Hindus
another sacred site in Ayodhya, the Hanumangarhi, wrote in 1856 that "a
lofty mosque has been built by badshah Babar" on "the original
birthplace of Rama", in application of the rule that "where there was a
big temple, a big mosque was constructed and where there was a small
temple, a small mosque was constructed."
Therefore, Muslim leader Mohammed Abdul Rahim Qureishi has asked the pro-Janmabhoomi
side "to produce any historical evidence, not only independent of the
British sources but also of the period prior to the advent of the 19th
But this type of evidence was also produced: most
publicly the Austrian Jesuit Joseph Tieffenthaler's 1767 account,
presented by Mr. Abhas Kumar Chatterjee in Indian Express.
Tieffenthaler describes how Hindus celebrated Ram Navami
(commemorating Rama's birth) just outside the Babri Masjid, and recounts
the local traditions that the mosque was built in forcible replacement of
Rama's birthplace temple.
It was also pointed out that the Muslim writer Mirza
Jan, already mentioned, had given an extensive quotation from an
(otherwise unknown) letter by a daughter of Aurangzeb's son and successor,
Bahadur Shah. He quotes her as writing about 1710 that the temples on the
sacred sites of Shiva, Krishna and Rama (including "Sita's kitchen", i.e.,
part of the Ramkot complex) "were all demolished for the strength of
Islam, and at all these places mosques have been constructed". She
exhorted the Muslims to assert their presence at these mosques and not to
five in to Hindu compromise proposals.
Furthermore, a letter dated 1735 by a Faizabad qazi
(judge) was shown, describing Hindu-Muslim riots in Ayodhya was shown,
describing Hindu-Muslim riots in Ayodhya over "the Masjid built by the
emperor of Delhi", i.e., either a pre-Moghul Sultan or Moghul dynasty
founder Babar. This is only a secondary indication for the actual temple
destruction, but it is first-hand evidence for the existence of the Hindu
claim on the Babri Masjid site well before the 19th century.
Only when this type of evidence was shown, did the pro-BMAC polemists move
on to demand strictly contemporary evidence.
About this demand for eye-witness accounts, Arun
Shourie has remarked: "Today a contemporary account is being demanded in
the case of the Babri Masjid, Are those who make this demand prepared to
accept this as the criterion - that if a contemporary account exists of
the destruction of a temple for constructing a mosque, the case is made?"
Shourie goes on to quote from Aurangzeb's court chronicles: "News came to
Court that in accordance with the Emperor's command his officers had
demolished the temple of Vishvanath at Benares (2/9/1669)*In the month of
Ramzan, the religious-minded Emperor ordered the demolition of the temple
at Mathura*.In a short time by the great exertions of his officers the
destruction of this strong center of infidelity was accomplished*.A grand
mosque was built on its site*.January 1670)".
These accounts are as contemporary as you can get.
Shourie concludes: "If the fact that a contemporary
account of the temple at Ayodhya is not available leaves the matter
unsettled, does the fact that contemporary accounts are available for the
temples at Kashi, Mathura, Pandharpur and a host of other places settle
the matter? One has only to ask the question to know that the 'experts'
and 'intellectuals' will immediately ask for something else."
6. The Anti-Temple
The BMAC presented a pile of some eighty documents
which can be divided into three groups: legal documents, statements of
opinion, and historical documents.
The largest group consists of court documents, from
court disputes over the Rama-Janmabhoomi and other contentious places in
Ayodhya, most of them from the British period, a few from after the
independence. However, what these court documents prove is:
First, that the Hindus kept on claiming the site in
principle, even if for the time being they were willing to settle for a
license to worship on a platform just outside the contentious building.
Second, that the Muslim please always focused, not on
questioning the temple destruction tradition, but on the accomplished fact
that they owned the place for centuries, long enough to create an
ownership title no matter how and from whom they had acquired it;
And third, that the British rulers did not want any
raking-up of old quarrels, and therefore upheld the status-quo, but
without questioning the common belief that the Masjid had replaced a Hindu
British judges have explicitly not subscribed to the
thesis, now defended by the BMAC and BMMCC, that there had never been a
Hindu temple on the contentious spot. On the contrary, in his verdict in
1886 a British judge observed: "It is unfortunate that a mosque should
have been built on land held specially sacred by the Hindus, but as that
happened 356 years ago, it is now too late to remedy the grievance."
So, the court verdicts that upheld the Muslim claim to the site (and have
been cited by the BMAC scholars to this effect), by no means imply that
the judges doubted the contention that a temple had been demolished to
make way for this mosque. All the British sources, such as Edward Balfour
in 1858 and Archaeological Survey of India's field explorer A. Furher in
1891, confirm the tradition that the Babri Masjid had replaced a Rama
One British source, Francis Buchanan's survey (written
in 1810 and edited by Montgomery Martin in 1838), has been quoted by pro-BMAC
historians (who have otherwise British testimonies as "prejudiced", "part
of a British tactic to foment communalism" etc.) as calling the tradition
of the Rama-Janmabhoomi temple destruction "very illfounded".
However, Buchanan did not denounce as ill-founded "the temple-destruction
theory", as the BMAC historians claim, but only referred to the fact that
"the destruction is very generally attributed by the Hindus to the furious
zeal of Aurangzeb", which allegation was misdirected: as proof for
Aurangzeb's non-involvement Buchanan cites the inscription attributing the
mosque to Babar.
As the last large-scale temple destroyer, Aurangzeb had become the
proverbial representative of the old Islamic tradition of iconoclasm,
which has already destroyed thousands of temples before his own time.
Buchanan opines that Babar had built the mosque not on
empty land, but on the site of the Ramkot "castle", which to him may well
have been the very castle in which Rama himself had lived. This claim only
differs from the local tradition and the VHP position by being even
bolder. According to him, the black-stone pillars (with Hindu sculptures
defaced by "the bigot" Babr) incorporated in the Masjid had been "taken
from the ruins of the palace", and at any rate from "a Hindu building".
Obviously, the site was considered by the devotees as Rama's court,
originally a castle and only later a temple.
At any rate, the quarrel over whether the Babri Masjid
replaced a "castle" or a "temple" is a false problem, considering Rama's
double-role as a God-king. Buchanan gives no facts supporting an
alternative origin for the Babri Masjid and upholds the essence of the
local tradition, viz. that the Masjid has replaced a Hindu building.
The British judges have consistently accepted the view of the British
surveyors and scholars.
The second largest group of BMAC documents consisted of
book excerpts and newspaper articles, mere statements of opinion. They
give the well-known or at least predictable opinions of politicians like
Jawaharlal Nehru and Ramaswamy Naicker, of secularist journalists like
Arvind N. Das and Praful Bidwai, of Marxist intellectuals like the JNU
historians and Prof. R. S. Sharma (who was invited to lead the BMAC team
only after this first round). In this collection of opinions essentially
four points have been argued:
Firstly, Rama was not a historical character;
Secondly, Rama have been a historical character, but
Ayodhya is not his real birthplace;
Thirdly, Rama worship in Ayodhya is fairly recent, and
hardly existed prior to the period when the Babri Masjid was built;
Fourthly, the Babri Masjid was not built in forcible
replacement of a Rama temple.
However, the cited opinions on each of these four
points are not even convergent or in mutual agreement. For instance
several authors say that the Babri Masjid was built on empty land; others
say it replaced a Jaina temple, or a Shaiva temple, or a secular building.
About Rama's birthplace, one source cited says that Rama was born in
Nepal; another says it was in Afghanistan; yet another says it was in
Ayodhya, but on a different spot; one writer says that Rama was in fact a
pharaoh of Egypt. In all, the BMAC has given "proof" that Rama was born at
8 different places.
Methodologically speaking, these documents do not form
a body of evidence supporting one hypothesis. The BMAC has merely
collected all kinds of opinions which happen to be in conflict with the
thesis that the Masjid replaced a Rama temple, without minding that these
opinions are also in conflict with each other. Of course, this collection
of contemporary, often politically motivated articles and statements does
not have any proof value. At best, some of the names under the articles
could constitute an "argument of authority", but even that is diluted by
their juxtaposition with political agitators and plain cranks. More than
an argumentation, this presentation of many conflicting opinions is a
dispersionary tactic to keep the opposing party busy with refuting the
An important feature of the collected pro-BMAC opinions
is that they have in fact limited themselves to an attempt to discredit
the evidence cited in favor of the Rama-Janmabhoomi tradition. They have
not given any evidence (valid or otherwise) at all for an alternative
scenario that explains the presence of the Babri Masjid and the
well-attested Hindu opposition against it. They have tried to explain away
the Janmabhoomi tradition by means of a campaign by the British rulers,
out to "divide and rule".
In fact, such a rumor campaign is totally unheard of in the
well-documented history of British India, and would have left testimonies
which the pro-BMAC historians have not been able to produce.
It is an ad hoc hypothesis based on nothing but the fond belief that
India's "communal problem" is a British creation and not the necessary
result of any religious doctrine of hostility towards alternative forms of
The only seemingly valid point scored by some of the
BMAC sympathizers cited in the BMAC evidence bundle is the argumentum e
silentio that the temple destuction is not mentioned in
near-contemporary sources, notably Abul Fazl's Ain-I-Akbari and the
poems of Tulsidas. However, neither Abul Fazl nor Tulsidas have written
catalogues of demolished temples or even just devoted some pointed
attention to the buildings of the cities mentioned in their works: they
are simply not the sources that are supposed to carry the required
information. Also, they are not really contemporary with Babar, but with
his grandson Akbar (around 1600 A.D.).
For them too, the temple destruction was history, and the Babri Masjid
just one of the thousands of mosques built on demolished Hindu temples.
The third part of the evidence bundle for the Babri
Masjid side, is the historical evidence properly speaking. It consists of
One is the text of the inscriptions on the Babri Masjid
and its gate, declaring that the mosque was built in 1528 by Mir Baqi, who
worked under Babar's command. Of course the Hindu side has no quarrel with
that: the Babri Masjid was built, so it must have been built by someone.
However, inspite of the inscription, the identity of the Masjid's builder
happens to be disputable. It has been argued (by Sushil Srivastava and R.
that, judging from the architecture, the mosque must have been built
during the preceding Sultanate period. Sushil Srivastava even claims that
the inscription attributing the Masjid to Babar (or at least to his
lieutenant Mir Baqi), is a 19th century forgery.
At any rate, the scenario that it was built under Babar is not in conflict
with the thesis that it was built in forcible replacement of a Rama
temple. This dispute is not about who built the mosque, but about what
The second piece is Babar's memoirs. In it, no mention
is made of a temple demolition in Ayodhya. Unfortunately, the pages for
the months when he must have been in Ayodhya and perhaps also ordered the
demolition of a Hindu temple, are missing from the manuscripts. So we
simply do not have Babar's own report on this matter. And if Sushil
Srivastava and R. Nath are right, Babar was not the builder and his
testimony is irrelevant, except insofar as it might explain why the
already existing mosque got attributed to him. For instance, the Afghan
rulers (against whom the invader Babar fought) or the city's inhabitants
may have defended Ayodhya from the Ramkot hill, so that the existing
mosque got damaged in the fighting (Babar was the first one in India to
use cannon), and was subsequently rebuilt by Babar's men. But all this
will remain speculation, because the relevant part of Babar's report is
The third piece of BMAC evidence is Babar's testament,
in which he advises his son Humayun to practice tolerance, to respect
Hindu temples, and not to kill cows. This statement of religious tolerance
is very nice, but unfortunately it has amply been proven to be a forgery.
It is quite bizarre that scholars trying to prove a point discredit their
own case by using a proven forgery without any comment.
And even if Babar's testament had been genuine, it
would only prove that at the end of his life, Babar had got tired of the
jihad which he had been waging (on top of an inter-Muslim war), or that he
had come to realize that a prosperous kingdom would be better served by
religious amity than by the intolerance of which he himself had given
sufficient proof during his life. Babar's emphatical concern for tolerance
would certainly not prove that tolerance had been his way all through his
There are Hindu temple materials attributed to Babar in
Sambhal (replacing a Vishnu temple, and dated by archaeologists to the
Sultanate period, just like the Ayodhya "Babri" Masjid) and Pilakhana.
Local tradition affirms that the Babri Masjids in Palam, Somipat, Rohtak,
and Sirsa have replaced Brahmanical or Jain temples. The contemporary
Tarikh-i-Babari describes how Babar's troops "demolished many Hindu
temples at Chanderi" when they occupied it. Some tough Jihad rhetoric has
been preserved from Babar's war against the Rajputs, such as the quatrain:
"For Islam's sake, I wandered in the wild,
prepared for war with unbelievers and Hindus,
resolved myself to meet a martyr's death.
Thanks be to Allah! A ghazi I became."
It is quite plain that Babar, even when he had to fight
fellow Muslims (the Afghan Lodi dynasty), never lost sight of his duty of
waging war against the infidels.
So, these three documents do not prove that the Babri
Masjid was built on something else than a Rama temple. The two other
groups of documents are not even an attempt to give documentary or
archaeological evidence, merely a collection of sympathizing statements of
opinion. What is worse, the whole collection makes one wonder whether the
BMAC experts had read it at all: not only are many of the documents
unconvincing or beside the point, but some even support the VHP case.
Thus, a court ruling of 1951 cites testimony of local
Muslims that the mosque had bot been used since 1936, which means that in
1949 the Hindus took over an unused building - hardly worth the current
Babri Masjid movement with its cries of "Islam in danger!" (or its newer
version "Secularism in danger!") an its hundreds of riot victoms. On 3
March 1951, the Civil Judge of Faizabad observed: "It further appears from
a number of affidavits of certain Muslim residents of Ayodhya that at
least from 1936 onwards the Muslims have neither used the site as a mosque
nor offered prayers there*.Nothing has been pointed to discredit these
Of course, even a nudge may be misinformed on occasion; but at least, this
is the official view, enunciated by a Court of Law constituted under
India's democratic legal system. In particular, those who have been
lecturing the Hindu movement on "abiding by the Constitution" and
"respecting Court verdicts" ought to show some respect for this Court
Another court document shows that the ongoing court
dispute (which is the only legal obstacle to the replacement of the
present structure with a proper temple) was filed well past the legal
time-limit. In any case, while the BMAC wants to rule out the British
Gazetteers as evidence (because they confirm that the Babri Masjid had
replaced a temple), it cites court documents which reproduce excerpts from
the Gazetteers as evidence and declare in so many words that Gazetteers
are admissible as evidence. A number of court rulings record that Hindus
relentlessly kept on claiming the site, "most sacred" to them, and made do
with as near a site as possible under prevalent equations: this refutes
the BMAC claim that the Rama-Janmabhoomi tradition is a recent invention
for political purposes, whether colonial "divide and rule" pr Hindu
The leading political analyst Arun Shourie has
commented: "On reading the papers the BMAC had filed as 'evidence', I
could only conclude, therefore, that either its leaders had not read the
papers themselves, or that they had no case and had just tried to over-awe
of confuse the government etc. by dumping a huge miscellaneous heap."
When asked in public forums about the results of the scholars' debate,
both Prof. Irfan Habib (historian at Aligarh Muslim University) and Subodh
Kant Sahay (who was the Home Minister at the time of the debate) have
declared that "the VHP has run away from the debate". Leading newspapers
have refused to publish denials of this allegation. In fact, this
unfounded allegation provides an interesting illustration of the
psychology of lies. Liars are often not very creative, and they tend to
say things that are partly inspired on truth. Thus, Prof. Habib and Mr.
Sahay are perfectly right in alleging that the debate has ended because
one of the parties has "run away from the debate": to that extent, their
version is transparent of the truth. Only it is not the VHP, but the BMAC
which has turned its back on the debate.
7. The Anti-Temple
Meanwhile, the actual course of the debate both in the
official forum and in the media could have suggested some conclusions even
to non-historians (like the Supreme Court judges who refused to pronounce
an opinion on it in 1994). The debate has not genuinely altered the old
consensus, but it has been an interesting case-study in manipulation by
unscrupled academics. That, at least seems to be a fair description of
learned publications advertising themselves as "objective" studies of the
controversy, but systematically concealing the arguments put forth by one
of the parties.
The VHP has published it argumentation including a
detailed refutation of the Babri Masjid Action Committee's arguments, and
like-minded scholars have published detailed presentations of specific
types of evidence (e.g., Prof. Harsh Narain and Prof. R. Nath; note how
the VHP, lacking a think-tank of its own, was dependent on the help of
people with no prior connection to it). By contrast, the BMAC, which had
the support of the Indian Council of Historical Research led by Aligarh
historian Prof. Irfan Habib and of a team of scholars led by Prof. R. S.
Sharma, has not felt sufficiently satisfied with its own performance in
the official debate to publish its argumentation. Its numerous supporters
have chosen not to refer to the debate at all and to keep the
argumentation of their serious opponents out of view.
Instead, these top academics have chosen the poorest
Hindutva pamphletists as their opponents and made some fun of cranky but
irrelevant claims which go around in the semi-literate fringe of the Hindu
movement. One point they like to highlight is the spurious claim that on
22 December 1949, the idols "miraculously appeared" in the disputed
building. I do not know of anyone who would affirm that except tongue in
cheek, but given that placing the idols could be construed as a criminal
offence, it has nonetheless been affirmed - as an obvious ad hoc fable for
purposes of self-exculpation. But note that this miracle story has long
gone out fashion: in an interview in the New York Times, "Abbot Ram
Chander Das Parahamahams of an Ayodhya akhara declared openly that
he was one who had put the image inside the mosque."
Another fairly common tactic was to lump the temple
argumentation with the fringe school led by P. N. Oak, which holds that
every Indo-Muslim building (e.g., the Taj Mahal)
was in fact a Hindu temple, not demolished but only transformed. However,
this school happened to have aligned itself with the eminent historians
against the VHP. Oak himself explained that the Babri Masjid itself was
built by Hindus as a temple, that "Babar had nothing to do with the Babri
Masjid", and that neither the Moghul nor any Muslim ruler had demolished a
Hindu temple at the site.
Oak's version of history is of a kind with the contrived scenarios thought
up by the eminent historians.
Another spokesman if this school, Heevan Kulkarni from
Bombay, claimed that the Babri Masjid was a Hindu temple built by Hindus
before the Muslim conquest. He even approached the Supreme Court to obtain
permission to prove his point by means of thermo-luminescence and other
advanced archaeological techniques, as well as an injunction to solve the
dispute by preserving the building (as Muslims demand, in the "mistaken"
belief that the building was built as a mosque) but allotting it to the
Hindus to serve as the "restored" Rama temple which it was meant to be
when it was built. Again, this school was wrongly identified with the HP
A similar tactic was to associate the Ayodhya evidence
with the eccentric theory of the non-historian Bal Gangadhar Tilak, later
adapted by the non-historian Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar in his young days,
that the Aryans came from the Arctic (Tilak's attempt to harmonize the
Aryan invasion theory with traditional Vedic chronology) or that Indian
itself had been in the Arctic zone then (Golwalkar's attempt to harmonize
Tilak with Aryan indigenousness).
These ideas are simply unrelated to the more recent history of
Hindu-Muslim conflict, and are only brought into the discussion in order
to strengthen the contrast between Hindu amateurishness and secularist
professionalism: "After R. C. Majumdar, the communal interpretation has
been relegated to the world of school-level textbooks, made-easies,
popular magazines, newspapers and comic strips", - meaning that the
positions of prestige by India's secularists who imposed denial of
Hindu-Muslim conflict as the orthodox explanation.
This is an argument not of authority but of status.
This way, India's topmost academics and journalists
have avoided confronting the real evidence and have concentrated on
attacking straw men instead. It is clearly an application of Mao Zedong's
dictum: "Attach where the enemy is weak, retreat where the enemy is
strong." That may be a legitimate principle in warfare, but in scholarship
the goal is not to score points but to establish the truth.
Koenraad Elst: "The Ayodhya Debate", in Gilbert Pollet, ed.: Indian
Epic Values. Ramayana and its Impact, Peeters, Leuven 1995. As is
all too common with conference proceedings, this book was assembled only
three years after the conference, so the published version of my paper
was finalized only in 1994.
In the 1961 Faizabad Gazetteer, Mrs. E. B. Joshi, while not yet denying
the traditional account relayed in the earlier Gazetteers, suppresses it
without giving any reason for doing so, probably on orders of the
Government of India under Jawaharlal Nehru. But neutral scholarly
publications like the 1989 edition of the Encyclopedia Brittannica
(entry Ayodhya) confirm the temple destruction scenario.
One of the first scholarly publications on the dispute was my Ram
Janmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid, a Case Study in Hindu-Muslim Conflict
(Voice of India, Delhi, July 1990), partly a reply to the statement
The Political Abuse of History: Babri Masjid/Ram Janmabhoomi Controversy,
by Bipin Chandra and 24 other historians of the Jawaharlal Nehru
University. A large part of my book has been included in Vinay Chandra
Mishra and Parmamand Singh, eds.: Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid,
Historical Documents, Legal Opinions & Judgments, Bar Council of
India Trust, Delhi 1991.
The VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad, "World Hindu Council") was founded by
Guru Golwalkar, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS,
"National Volunteer Corps") as an instrument for the spread of Hindu
culture and religion. It takes its guidelines from an assembly of
traditional religious leaders.
Prof. B. B. Lal has formulated this conclusion on different occasions
including articles in Puratattva no. 16, 1987, and in Manthan,
October 1990. In a letter to the Times of India, published on
1-3-1991, he concludes that "what is known as Ayodhya today was indeed
the Ayodhya of the Valmiki Ramayana".
Prof. Kamal Salibi of Beirut has proposed the theory that all the
Biblical sites including Abraham's Hebron and king David's Jerusalem,
were situated in the Hijaz area of Western Arabia (in his 1985 book
The Bible Came from Arabia: A Radical Reinterpretation of Old Testament
Geography). The double political motivation is obvious: undermining
Israel's historical legitimacy and giving a foundation to Islam's claim
to an Abrahamic heritage including the Ka'aba. Established Bible
scholars have dismissed this theory as wishful thinking.
The Ayodhya dispute and the Rushdie affair are indeed connected. The ban
on The Satanic Verses was a part of a package of concessions by
the Rajiv Gandhi Government to calm down Syed Shahabuddin, who had
threatened a Muslim "march to Ayodhya" on the same day when the VHP
would hold a rally there.
Quoted for rebuttal from Shahabuddin's own monthly Muslim India
by Harsh Narain in his article Ram Janmabhoomi: Muslim Testimony
published in the Lucknow Pioneer (5-2-90) and in Indian
Express (26-2-90), and included in S. R. Goel: Hindu Temples, Vol.
1, 2nd ed., Voice of India, Delhi 1998. In the ensuing debate
between Prof. Narain, Mr. A. K. Chatterjee and Syed Shahabuddin, the
latter has never denied nor cancelled his offer.
Prof. R. S. Sharma: Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, People's
Publishing House, Delhi 1990.
R. S. Sharma et al.: Ramajanmabhumi Baburi Masjid, A Historians'
Report to the Nation, People's Publishing House, Delhi 1991, p. 4
The VHP evidence bundle, its rebuttal of the BMAC argumentation, a press
brief, and some articles generally supporting the VHP viewpoint, have
been published as History versus Casuitry, Evidence of the
Ramajanmabhoomi Mandir presented by the Vishva Hindu Parishad to the
Government of India in December-January 1990-91, Voice of India,
Delhi 1991. Most of it was also included in Sita Ram Goel: Hindu
Temples. Vol. 1. at least in its second edition, Voice of India,
Delhi 1998. The BMAC evidence bundle has not been published.
Will Durant: Story of Civilization, Vol. 1, New York 1972, p. 459
This incorporation of Hindu temple materials in mosques is cynically
held up as a showpiece of "composite culture" and a "living evidence of
secularism" by the friends of Islam such as Congress MP Manu Shankar
Aiyar, cited to this effect by Swapan Dasgupta, Sunday,
A testimony to the same effect is also given by the Portuguese historian
Gaspar Correa, who describes the site of the Kapalishwara temple on
Mylapore beach (Madras), even after the temple had been forcibly
replaced with a Catholic church, vide Ishwar Sharan: The Myth of
Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, Voice of India, p. 18-19
(1st ed., 1991) or p. 93-94 (2nd ed., 1995).
A. G. Noorani: "The Babri Masjid Ram Janmabhoomi Question" (originally
published in Economic and Political Weekly), in A. A. Engineer
ed.: Babri Masjid Ram Janmabhoomi Controversy, Ajanta, Delhi
1990, p. 66.
Mirza Jan: Hadiqa-I Shahada ("The Garden of Martyrdom"), Lucknow
1856, included in the VHP evidence bundle: History versus Casuitry,
Voice of India, Delhi 1991, p. 14
Indian Express, 13-3-1990.
A. K. Chatterjee: "Ram Janmabhoomi: some more evidence", Indian
Express, 27-3-1990. It is included, with the whole ensuing polemical
exchange with Syed Shahabuddin, as appendix 4 in History versus
The title of the princess's text is given as Sahifa-I Chahal Nasaih
Bahadur Shahi (Persian: "Letter of the Forty Advices of Bahadur
Shah". It is included in the VHP evidence bundle: History versus
Casuitry, p. 13-14
Percival Spear has the effrontery to declare: "Aurangzeb's supposed
intolerance is little more than a hostile legend" (Penguin History of
India, vol. 2, p. 56). The contemporary records show Aurangzeb as a
pious man who faithfully practiced his religion and therefore
persecuted the unbelievers and destroyed their temples by the thousands.
About the denial of Islamic crimes against humanity, vide Sita Ram Goel:
Story of Islamic Imperialism in India, Voice of India, Delhi,
A. Shourie: "Take over from the experts", syndicated column, included in
History versus Casuitry as appendix 1, and in A. Shourie:
Indian Controversies, ASA, Delhi 1992, p. 411-418
Quoted by the VHP-mandated experts in their rejoinder to the BMAC:
History versus Casuitry, p. 61
This text does not figure in the original BMAC evidence bundle, but its
words "very ill-founded" are quoted by Prof. Irfan Habib in a speech to
the Aligarh Historians Group (12/2/1992, published in Muslim India,
5/1991). The paragraph containing these words (but not the entire
relevant passage) is quoted by R. S. Sharma, M. Athar Ali, D. N. Jha and
Suraj Bhan, the historians for the BMAC, in their joint publication:
Ramajanmabhumi Baburi Masjid, A Historians' Report to the Nation,
People's Publishing House, Delhi, May 1991, p. 20-21).
Cited in Harsh Narain: The Ayodhya Temple/Mosque Dispute, Penman,
Delhi 1993, p. 8, emphasis added. Father Joseph Tieffenthaler records
that the temple destruction was being attributed to Aurangzeb by some,
to Babar by others, but this minor confusion never affected the
consensus that the mosque had forcibly replaced a Hindu temple.
In 1608, William Finch (quoted in the VHP evidence bundle: History
versus Casuitry, p. 19) had witnessed the "ruins of Ramkot", i.e.,
of the Hindu temple which kept alive the tradition that that very site
had once been Rama's castle. The entire hill was called Ramkot, "Rama's
castle", and the temple complex was certainly larger than the Babri
Masjid, so that Finch may well have seen some leftovers standing there
beside the mosque.
Francis Buchanan's report has been put into perspective by Mr. A. K.
Chatterjee, in an article intended as an episode of his Ayodhya debate
with Syed Shahabuddin on the opinion page of the Indian Express,
sent on 14-8-1990 but not published; but included in History versus
Casuitry, appendix 4.
For instance, Syed Shahabuddin blames "propaganda by the British" (Indian
Express, 12-5-1990), and according to Md. Abdul Rahim Qureishi,
secretary of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, "The Britishers*..planted
false stories and succeeded in misleading the masses to believe that
Babri Masjid stood in the premises of a Rama temple which was demolished
by Babar" (Indian Express, 13-3-1990).
For a rebuttal of the British conspiracy hypothesis, vide K. Elst:
"Party-line history-writing", The Pioneer (Lucknow edition),
19/20-12-1990, reproduced in History versus Casuitry, app. 6.
It should be borne in mind that the Qur'an contains dozens of
injunctions to wage war against the unbelievers, e.g." 'Make war on them
until idolatory is no more and Allah's religion reigns supreme" (2:193
and 8:39); "Those who follow Mohammed are merciless to the unbelievers
but kind to one another" (48:29); "Enmity and hate shall reign between
us until ye believe in Allah alone" (60:4), etc. The same attitude is
found in the jihad chapters of the Hadis collections and the Islamic law
codices. In Indian history, these verses and the precedent set by the
Prophet have been systematically invoked to justify persecutions and
A. G. Noorani (A. A. Engineer ed.: Babri Masjid Ram Janmabhoomi
Controversy; p. 65) claims that Tulsidas "was over thirty in 1528
when the mosque was built. He lived and wrote his great work [the
Ramacharitmanas] in Ayodhya." In fact, he wrote it in Varanasi, on
what is now called Tulsi Ghat, and he died in 1623, which means that he
was born after 1528.
Sushil Srivastava: The Disputed Mosque, Vistaar Publ., Delhi
1991, ch. 5; R. Nath: The Baburi Masjid of Ayodhya, Historical
Research Documentation Programme, Jaipur 1991. The latter has clearly
stated that this revision of who built the Masjid, in no way invalidates
the claim that it had replaced a Hindu temple: "I have been to the site
and had had the occasion to study the mosque, privately, and I have
absolutely no doubt the mosque stands on the site of a Hindu temple on
the north-western corner of the temple-fortress Ramkot." (letter in
Indian Express, 2-1-91).
Srivastava (in A. A. Engineer ed: Babri Masjid/Ram Janmabhoomi
Controversy; p. 36) quotes Shamsur Rehman Farooqui, a scholar of
Persian, who considers the inscription written in a younger style of
calligraphy common in the 19th century, and by someone not
well-versed in Persian. The latter observation may as well be explained
by the fact that Babar's Turkish scribes had only recently learned
Persian; whereas most literature Muslims in 19th century
India were very well-versed in Persian.
Sri Ram Sharma: Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors (1940),
p. 24-25. The same position has been taken by Mrs. Beveridge, the
translator of Babar's memoirs, and other historians. Several hypotheses
of who forged this "testament" and why are explored in J. N. Tiwari and
V. S. Pathak (BHU): "Rama Janmabhumi Bhavana. The Testimony of the
Ayodhya Mahatmya", in Lallanji Gopal, ed.: Ayodhya, History,
Archaeology and Tradition, papers presented in the Seminar held on
13-15 February 1992, All-India Kashiraj Trust, Varanasi 1994, p. 282-296
Quoted in Mrs. A. S. Beveridge: Babur Nama, Delhi 1970 reprint,
p. 574-575. Ghazi has the same meaning as mujahid, though
it is often used in the more precise sense of "one who has effectively
killed infidels with his own hands".
Prof. B. P. Sinha claims to know how this disuse of the Masjid came
about: "As early as 1936-37, a hill was introduced in the legislative
council of U. P. to transfer the site to the Hindus (*) the bill was
withdrawn on an unwritten understanding that no namaz [be]
performed." (in annexure 29 to the VHP evidence bundle, unpublished)
A. Shourie: "Take over from the experts", syndicated column, 27-1-91,
included in History versus Casuitry as appendix 1. Shourie was
sacked as Indian Express editor, apparently under government pressure,
after revealing that, in October 1990, Prime Minister V. P. Singh had
aborted his own compromise arrangement on Ayodhya under pressure from
Imam Bukhari, a prominent member of the BMAC.
Cited in Peter Van der Veer: Religious Nationalism, p. 157, with
reference to New York Times, 22-12-1991
Though the Taj Mahal was obviously never a Hindu temple, the story of
its construction may be a bit more complicated than simply one of an
original Indo-Saracen construction on virgin land, vide Marvin H. Mills
(Professor of Architecture, Pratt Institute, New York): "An architect
looks at the Taj legend", a review of Wayne Edison Begley & Ziyauddin
Ahmad Desai: Taj Mahal, the Illumined Tomb, University of
Washington Press, Seattle 1989.
Padmini Kumar: "Another twist to the issue!", Maharashtra Herald,
9-12-1990, based on an interview with P. N. Oak
B. G. Tilak: Arctic Home in the Vedas, 1903, and M. S. Golwalkar:
We, Our Nationhood Defined, 1939
Aditya and Mrdula Mukherjee: "No challenge from communalists", Sunday
It may be noted that the no-temple school is not necessarily less
communalist, for it imposes explanations by religious conflict where no
such conflicts existed, e.g., in his president's address before the
Panjab History Conference held at Patiala in March 1999, "Against
communalizing history", D. N. Jha communalizes history by repeating
the myth of Saint Thomas' "martyrdom" at the hands of Hindus as a "well