Ram Temple History & Significance
TOPIC: General Studies 2
In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the first brick of the grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya at 12:44pm, as per the ‘muhurat’ for ‘bhoomi pujan’. He termed August 5 a ‘golden day’ and added that Ram Janmabhoomi stands ‘liberated’ today. CM Yogi Adityanath said that the temple construction is a moment to “showcase new India to the world, which does not discriminate on basis of caste and creed”.
- Hindus and Muslims claimed ownership over the site for decades. Hindu mobs had demolished a medieval mosque there in 1992, saying it was built on the ruins of a temple for Lord Ram, a revered deity.
- Last year, the top court gave the site to Hindus, ending a decades-long legal battle.
History and Significance of the Ram Temple
1528: Mughal emperor Babar’s commander Mir Baqi builds Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
1858: Puja on premises – An FIR was filed on November 30 by Mohd Salim against a group of Nihang Sikhs who had conducted rituals inside the Babri Masjid. The dispute and riots led to the British building a seven-foot-high wall to separate the places of worships for Hindus and Muslims.
1885: Case for temple – Raghubar Das, who identified himself as mahant at the chabutra in the outer courtyard, filed a suit in the Faizabad civil court against the Secretary of State for India in Council seeking permission to build a makeshift temple there. The suit was dismissed. Subsequent civil appeals too were dismissed by the District Judge of Faizabad and the court of the Judicial Commissioner. A riot in 1934 led to demolition of a portion of the structure, which the British rebuilt.
1949: Emergence of idols – Abhiram Das, a Hindu priest, claimed he had a recurring dream of Ram making an appearance under the main dome of the Masjid. In the night of December 22 that year, idols were found at the place he had mentioned. While many Hindus believed that it was a miracle, then Faizabad DM K K Nayar on the morning of December 23 informed UP Chief Minister Govind Ballabh Pant about a group of Hindus entering the site and placing the idol. An FIR was filed, the gates to the structure were locked, and the city magistrate attached the property. A long legal battle ensued.
1989: VHP’s Shilanyas – Exactly three decades before, on the same day the Supreme Court approved the construction of the Ram Temple at the disputed site, on November 9, 1989, the VHP had put the first stone for the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
- The VHP was all set, but the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court ordered a status quo.
- Determined to defy the court order, VHP collected funds and bricks with Shree Ram written on them, organised kar sevaks and held prayers to go ahead with the Shilanyas.
- Later, as the fervour and communal tension escalated, the Centre and the state governments tried to get the VHP leaders to agree on conducting the Shilanyas outside the disputed site.
- But on November 9, a congregation of VHP leaders, including Sadhus, dug a 7x7x7 ft pit to lay the singhdwar (main entrance) of the sanctum sanctorium, clearly on the disputed land, defying the agreement they had made with the authorities.
1990: L K Advani’s Rath Yatra – The most important milestone in the BJP’s political journey. BJP leader L.K. Advani launches a Rath Yatra in support of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya.
1992: Babri Masjid demolition on December 6 – Frenzied karsevaks clambered up the domes of the 16th century Babri Masjid and pulled it down, again breaking the assurances given to the Centre and the state governments. The communal violence this sparked across the country left almost 2,000 people dead.
- President’s Rule was imposed in several states, dismissing the BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.
- Liberhan Commission: The justice M S Liberhan Commission of inquiry was appointed within two weeks of the demolition and was asked to submit a report within three months. The Commission availed 48 extensions and finally submitted its 10,000-page report on January 30, 2009
1994: The Supreme Court, in the historic Ismail Faruqui judgment, says the Babri Masjid was not integral to Islam.
The legal battle is back in April 2002
The matter was back at the courts and yet another legal battle began. A three-judge Bench of the Allahabad High Court was hearing to determine the ownership of the disputed land. The HC ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to excavate the site and determine if it was a temple earlier.
- In 2003, ASI found evidence of the presence of a temple under the mosque. This re-energized the VHP, and its chief Ashok Singhal asked the then-BJP government to make a legislation to hand over the site to the Hindus so that the construction of the temple could begin.
- In September 2010, the High Court, which took the ASI’s findings along with other evidence before it into consideration, ruled that the disputed land should be divided into three parts — a third should go to Ram Lalla Virajman, represented by the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha; one-third to the Sunni Waqf Board; and the remaining to the Nirmohi Akhara.
- In December, the parties moved Supreme Court. Neither the VHP-BJP nor the Muslims was happy with the order. In May 2011, the apex court stayed the High Court order.
- Meanwhile, the VHP continued its campaign with vigour. But the BJP’s coming to power and its silence over the temple as well as the RSS leaderhsip’s advice not to escalate pressure over the Ram Temple forced them to lie low.
- Towards the end of 2018, the VHP again raised its pitch, with hundreds of thousands of Hindu seers and followers assembling in Ayodhya but BJP’s senior leaders convinced them that the government had to wait for the Supreme Court verdict.
On November 9, 2019: A five-judge Supreme Court bench led by then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi ruled in favour of Ram Lalla, and said the entire disputed land spread over 2.7 acres will be handed over to a trust formed by the government, which will monitor the construction of the Ram Temple at the site.
February 5, 2020: The Union Cabinet approved the setting up of the Trust, with the Prime Minister making the announcement in the Lok Sabha.
- The Trust, named Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra, is to take decisions independently on the construction of the Ram temple and related issues.
- It has been handed over the whole 67.703 acres acquired to maintain the sanctity of Ayodhya and for the construction of the temple, keeping in mind the needs of crores of devotees.
Connecting the Dots:
- Ayodhya has been a witness to a medley of historical, cultural, religious and political events. Discuss.
- Essay: Construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya: A real emotive issue or a political instrument?