Debunking Myths

HAF’s Ram Temple Narrative

Shamsul Islam

In January 2024, the US–based Hindu nationalist group, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), released a series of videos and a so-called factsheet addressing the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya which was built on the ruins of the 500-year-old Babri Masjid.

But a careful examination of historical records, religious texts, and legal judgments reveals HAF’s article to be fraught with lies, inaccuracies, deliberate fabrications, and questionable historical narratives.

The HAF writes that the new Ram temple was “built on an ancient site of Hindu worship. The final Hindu temple on the site was destroyed in the early 16th century by the first Mughal emperor for the construction of a mosque known in modern times as the Babri Masjid. Archaeological evidence proves the mosque had no foundations of its own and was built upon a Hindu temple.”

This is a brazen lie propagated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with no historical or legal proof, nor any corroboration in the ‘Hindu’ narrative of history. There is no mention of the Ram Temple even in the writings of the most prominent Ram worshiper to date, GoswamiTulsidas (1511-1623), who penned the Epic Ramcharitmanas (Lake of the Deeds of Ram) in the Avadhi language in 1575-76. According to the Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) version, Ram’s birthplace temple was destroyed during 1528-1529. It would be surprising indeed if the Ramcharitmanas, written only 48 years after the so-called destruction of Ram’s birthplace temple, did not mention such a momentous event.

According to the RSS, Adi Shankaracharya, Aurobindo Ghosh, Swami Vivekananda, and Swami Dayanand Saraswati were the saints who contributed immensely to the cause of Vedic religion and the growth of the Hindu nation. None of these Vedic saints ever referred to this destruction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya by Mughal King Babar or his agent in any of their writings.

Today, Ayodhya is referred to as one of the oldest holiest places for Hindus. It would be interesting to know that Adi Shankaracharya (788-820), who toured India preaching Vedas for more than a decade, established 5 Peetams [main centers] at Badrinath in the North, Puri in the East, Dwarka in the West and Sringeri and Kanchi in the South for the revival of the Vedic religion but did not consider Ayodhya one.

Moreover, the Indian Supreme Court, in its 1,045-page Ayodhya Judgment (November 9, 2019), nowhere agrees with the claim that the Babri Mosque was constructed after destroying any temple.

 HAF claimed that “As the traditional birthplace of Lord Ram, archaeological and documentary evidence shows that the site has been recognised as a place of spiritual importance for Hindus since time immemorial.”
It is true that traditionally, Hindus believe that Ram was born in the city of Ayodhya, but the issue is whether he was born exactly under the central dome (approximately measuring 150 cm x 150 cm) of the Babri Mosque as is claimed now by Hindutva’s flag-bearers.

But here it is important to note that the Indian Supreme Court, in its 2019 judgment, made two observations on this point without mincing words.

Firstly, it stated: “The exclusion of the Muslims from worship and possession took place on the intervening night between 22/23 December 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols. The ouster of the Muslims on that occasion was not through any lawful authority but through an act which was calculated to deprive them of their place of worship.” [Supreme Court Judgment dated November 9, 2019, pp. 921-22]

Secondly, on pages 913-14, it states that “On 6 December 1992, the structure of the mosque was brought down and the mosque was destroyed. The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this Court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law.”

It is worth mentioning here that RSS —which initiated the bloody, violent campaign to build the Ram Temple at the end of the 1980s, never advanced this demand during the period of its founding in 1925, under British rule. Even after Independence, it was only in 1989 that the political appendage of the RSS, the BJP, began to focus on this issue.

The views of two RSS luminaries who initiated the Ram Temple movement reveal the preposterousness of the claim that Ram himself was born under the dome.

 According to HAF, the construction of the Ram Temple at the site of the Babri Mosque was essential to seek “restorative justice to re-establish a Hindu temple that had been destroyed as a result of iconoclasm a few hundred years ago.” They allege that the Ram Mandir “has great symbolic and emotional resonance for Hindus in contemporary times” and that “the trauma that this destruction brought has been passed down through generations and continues to impact the psyche of Hindus” and “contributed historically and continues to contribute to Hindu-Muslim tensions in India to this day.”

It is nobody’s argument that Aurangzeb or many other ‘Muslim’ rulers were not religious bigots or tolerant. Aurangzeb did not spare his father, brothers, and many smaller ‘Muslim’ kingdoms of his times. There are also contemporary records that prove that Aurangzeb donated lands, money, and resources to many temples throughout India.

 According to this logic, the rule by rulers with Muslim names in India was the Islamic rule of idol-breakers. This narrative of Muslim history developed only at the beginning of the 19th century is in absolute contradiction with historical facts and even common sense. To understand the lies behind this fabricated Medieval past, one needs to examine the nature of this ‘Muslim’ rule.

Despite the ‘Muslim’ rule of almost one thousand years, almost 75% of Indians did not convert to Islam, as was made clear by the first Census held by the British in 1871-72 when even ceremonial ‘Muslim’ rule was over. Hindus and Sikhs constituted 73.5 percent of the population, and Muslims numbered 21.5 percent only. Moreover, this rule was also the rule of the Hindu High Castes. According to contemporary ‘Hindu’ narratives, Aurangzeb never faced Shivaji in the battlefield; these were his two Rajput commanders, Jay Singh I and Jai Singh II, who fought against Shivaji on Aurangzeb’s behalf. Akbar personally never fought any battle against Rana Pratap of Mewar; Man Singh, brother-in-law of Akbar fought all battles against Rana. The Deewan Ala (prime minister) of both Shahjahan and Aurangzeb was Raghunath Bahadur, a Kayasth Hindu.

 HAF, parroting the RSS claim, declared that the building of the Ram Temple was “an important event for Hindus of all traditions.”

 According to HAF, the mosque replacing the demolished Babri Mosque to be constructed at a distance of 22 km “will become the largest mosque in India. To be named the Masjid Muhammad Bin Abdullah, some 9,000 worshippers will be accommodated at one time”.

 India already has five mosques, which are larger than the to-be-built mosque at Ayodhya. Jamia Masjid Srinagar can accommodate 33,000 worshippers, Jama Masjid Delhi can accommodate more than 25,000 worshippers, Taj-ul Masjid, Bhopal, Mecca Masjid, and Jama Masjid Agra, all three can accommodate over 10,000 worshippers. Why is it that despite these facts being available in the public domain, the mosque at Ayodhya is being touted as the largest one? The only reason is that Hindutva apologists, instead of showing any remorse or shame for the demolition of Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, want to be seen as large-hearted people who became instrumental in building ‘the largest mosque’ in India—a fact for which Muslims should apparently be grateful to the Hindutva demolition squad.

Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and its Hindutva tribe must understand that Ram was never the cause of perpetual conflict between Hindus and Muslims till RSS invented it as a convenient tool for religious polarisation. Muslims of Ayodhya stopped going to Babri Mosque once the idol of the child Ram was smuggled into the Babri Mosque on the night of 22/23 December 1949. They did not try to break into the usurped Mosque, and there was no bloodshed engineered by Muslims of Ayodhya who were in substantial numbers in Faizabad, now rechristened as AyodhyaDham despite the Indian Supreme Court declaring that “the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols”.

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Vol 56, No. 37, Mar 10 - 16, 2024