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The Ayodhya dispute (Hindi: ) is a political, historical and socio-religious debate in India, centred on a plot of land in the city

ty of Ayodhya, Faizabaddistrict, Uttar Pradesh. The main issues revolve around access to a site traditionally regarded as the birthplace of the Hindu God Rama, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque. The Babri Mosque was destroyed by hardline Hindu activists during a political rally which turned into a riot on December 6, 1992. A subsequent land title case was lodged in the Allahabad High Court, the verdict of which was pronounced on September 30, 2010. In the landmark hearing, the three judges of The Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2.77 acres (1.12 ha) of Ayodhya land be divided into 3 parts, with 1/3 going to the Ram Lalla or Infant Lord Rama represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha for the construction of the Ram temple, 1/3 going to the Islamic Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1/3 going to a Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara. While the three-judge bench was not unanimous that the disputed structure was constructed after demolition of a temple, it did agree that a
[1] temple or a temple structure predated the mosque at the same site. The excavations by

the Archaeological Survey of India were heavily used as evidence by the court that the predating structure was a massive Hindu religious building. [2]
Contents
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1 Religious background

o o

1.1 Ram Janmabhoomi 1.2 History of the Babri Mosque

2 Demolition of the Babri Mosque 3 Early historical surveys

3.1 The Mahant Ram case

4 Post-independence

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4.1 Excavations 4.2 The title cases

5 Hindu Nationalism 6 Timeline of the debate 7 See also 8 Further reading 9 References 10 External links

[edit]Religious

background

At the center of the debate is the status of the land known as Ram Janmabhoomi, on which the original Babri Mosque was built in 1528. [edit]Ram

Janmabhoomi

Main article: Ram Janmabhoomi Ayodhya is revered by Hindus as the birthplace of the Maryaada Purushottam, i.e. ideal person, Lord Rama, legendary King of Kosala, who is also worshiped by millions as an avatar of Vishnu. The Skandh Puraan, an over 2000 year old work of reference for ancient pilgrimage sites in India, narrates in detail the different temples in Ayodhya, including the one commemorating the birthplace of Rama.

Ayodhy Mathur M y K si K ch Avantik I Pur Dv r vat chaiva saptait moksad yik h II

a I XVI .14

Garu a Pur

Ayodhya is one of seven most holy places for Hindus in India whereas Varanasi is considered as Holiest of the seven holy cities for Hindus.[3] A K etra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, a place where Moksha, i.e. final release from cycle of rebirth,can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as giver of Moksha, They are Ayodhya, Mathura, M y , K si, K ch , Avantik andDv r vat .[4] [edit]History

of the Babri Mosque

A view of the Babri Mosque, pre-1992

Main article: Babri Mosque When the Mughal invader Babur came down from Kabul in 1525, he first defeated Ibrahim Lodi at the battle of Panipat and then the Rajput King ofChittorgarh, Rana Sangram Singh at Khanwa, making

pioneering use of cannon and light cavalry. After these triumphs, Babur took over a substantial part of northern India. One of his generals, Mir Baki Khan came to Ayodhya in 1528 and built the "Janmasthan" i.e. "Birthplace" Mosque.[5] Mir Baki, after building the mosque, named it Babri Masjid.[6] The Babri Mosque was one of the largest mosques in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India with some 31 millionMuslims. [edit]Demolition
[7]

of the Babri Mosque

Main article: Demolition of Babri Masjid By the middle of the 20th century, Hindus in the area were claiming that the mosque had not been used by Muslims since 1936, and according to a court ruling an idol of Rama was placed inside the mosque in the intervening night of 22/23 December 1949.[8] A movement was launched in 1984 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP party) to reclaim the site for Hindus who want to erect a temple dedicated to the infant Rama (Ramlala) at this spot. On 6 December 1992, the structure was demolished by karsevaks,[9] 150,000 strong, despite a commitment by the government to the Indian Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed.[10][11] More than 2000 people were killed in the riots following the demolition. Riots broke out in
[citation needed] many major Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad

On 16 December 1992, the Liberhan Commission was set up by the Government of India to probe the circumstances that led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.[12] It was the longest running commission in India's history with several extensions granted by various governments. Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, senior leaders of the of the BJP were held culpable by the report. Other senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh and top brass of VHP like Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal were also held culpable. Other prominent political leaders indicted by the commission include Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, former RSS leader K Govindacharya, late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, former BJP leader Uma Bharti and BJP leader Vijayraje Scindia.[13] Many Muslim organizations have continued to express outrage at the destruction of the disputed structure. In July 2005, Islamic terrorists attacked the makeshift temple at the site of the destroyed mosque. In 2007, M. N. Gopal Das, the then head of the Ram temple, received phone calls making threats against his life.[14] [edit]Early

historical surveys

In 1767, Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler recorded Hindus worshiping and celebrating Ramanavami at the site of the mosque. In 1788, Tieffenthaler's French works were published in Paris, the first to suggest that the Babri Mosque was on the birthplace of Rama[citation needed], saying that "Emperor Aurangzeb got

demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas" reclaimed by Hindus through numerous wars after death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D like they earlier fortified it during Jahangir's rule as Ramkot. During the 19th century, the Hindus in Ayodhya were recorded as continuing a tradition of worshiping Rama on the Ramkot hill. According to British sources, Hindus and Muslims from the Faizabad area worshiped together in the Babri Mosque complex in the 19th century until about 1855. P. Carnegy wrote in 1870: "It is said that up to that time, the Hindus and Mohamedans alike used to worship in the mosquetemple. Since the British rule a railing has been put up to prevent dispute, within which, in the mosque the Mohamedans pray, while outside the fence the Hindus have raised a platform on which they make their offerings."
[15]

This platform was outside the disputed structure but within its precincts. In 1858, the Muazzin of the Babri Mosque said in a petition to the British government that the courtyard had been used by Hindus for hundreds of years[citation needed]. [edit]The

Mahant Ram case

In 1885, Mahant Raghubar Ram moved the courts for permission to erect a temple just outside the Babri Mosque premises. Despite validating the claim of the petitioner, the Faizabad District Judge dismissed the case, citing the passage of time.[16] On 18 March 1886, the judge passed an order in which he wrote: I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babur stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south it is clear of habitations. It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to agree with the grievances. (Court verdict by Col. F.E.A. Chamier, District Judge, Faizabad (1886)[17] [edit]Post-independence Several later mosques were built in Faizabad district, in which the pilgrim city of Ayodhya falls. Ayodhya itself has a small
[18]

Muslim population, though there are substantial numbers of Muslims

7 km away at District Headquarters - Faizabad. Since 1948, by Indian Government order, Muslims were not permitted to be closer than 200 yards away to the site; the main gate remained locked, though Hindu pilgrims were allowed to enter through a side door. The 1989 Allahabad High Court ordered the opening of the main gate and restored the site in full to the Hindus. Hindu groups later requested modifications to the Babri Mosque, and drew up plans for a new grand Temple with

Government permissions; riots between Hindu and Muslim groups took place as a result. Since, then the matter is sub-judice and this political, historical and socio-religious debate over the history and location of the Babri Mosque, is known as the Ayodhya dispute. [edit]Excavations Before 2003, the standard view that an ancient Ram Janmabhoomi temple was demolished and replaced with the Babri Mosque, was not supported by any archaeological evidence. References such as the 1986 edition of the Encyclopdia Britannica reported that "Ramas birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple".[19] However, archaeological excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1970, 1992 and 2003 in and around the disputed site have clearly found the evidence indicating that a large Hindu complex existed on the site.[20] In 2003, by the order of an Indian Court, The Archaeological Survey of India was asked to conduct a more indepth study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure that was beneath the rubble.[21] The summary of the ASI report [22] indicated definite proof of a temple under the mosque. In the words of ASI researchers, they discovered "distinctive features associated with... temples of north India". The excavations yielded:

stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of a divine couple and carved architectural features, including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb with semicircular shrine pilaster, broke octagonal shaft of black schist pillar, lotus motif, circular shrine having pranjala (watershute) in the north and 50 pillar bases in association with a huge structure [23]

Before the archaeological opinion was published, there were some differing viewpoints. In his Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, written prior to the ASI researches, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma writes, "Ayodhya seems to have emerged as a place of religious pilgrimage in medieval times. Although chapter 85 of the Vishnu Smriti lists as many as fifty-two places of pilgrimage, including towns, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., it does not include Ayodhya in this list."[24] Sharma also notes that Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas in 1574 at Ayodhya, does not mention it as a place of pilgrimage. This suggests that there was no significant Hindu temple at the site of the Babri Mosque.,[24] or that it had ceased to be one, after the mosque was built. After the demolition of the mosque in 1992, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma along with Historians Suraj Bhan, M.Athar Ali and Dwijendra Narayan Jha wrote the Historian's report to the nation saying that the assumption that there was a temple at the disputed site was mistaken, and no valid reason to destroy the mosque.[25] The 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement came down heavily on these "eminent" historians, with one of the judges remarking that he was "surprised to see in the zeal of helping the parties in whose favour they were appearing, these witnesses went ahead and wrote a totally new story"[26]

[edit]The

title cases

In 1950, Gopal Singh Visharad filed a title suit with the Allahabad High Court seeking injunction to offer 'puja' (worship) at the disputed site. A similar suit was filed shortly after but later withdrawn by Paramhans Das of Ayodhya.[27] In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious institution,[28] filed a third title suit seeking direction to hand over the charge of the disputed site, claiming to be its custodian. A fourth suit was filed by the Muslim Central Board of Wakf for declaration and possession of the site. The Allahabad high court bench began hearing the case in 2002, which was completed in 2010. However, the bench withheld its verdict till September 24. After the Supreme Court dismissed a plea to defer the high court verdict, the high court set September 30, 2010 as the final date for pronouncing the judgement.[29][30] On September 30, 2010, the High Court of Allahabad, the three-member bench comprising justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and DV Sharma, ruled that the disputed land be split into three parts. The site of the Ramlala idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the installed Infant Ram deity), Nirmohi Akhara to get Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Wakf Board to get the rest. The court also ruled that status quo was to be maintained for three months.[31][32] Reacting to the verdict, all the three parties, including the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf board announced that they will appeal against the division of disputed land among three parties in the Supreme Court of India .[33] All the three parties, however, conceded that this judgment was an important step forward, towards resolution of a long pending dispute. [edit]Hindu

Nationalism

The Ayodhya debate has grown along with a revival of Hindu Nationalism. The issue of the disputed structure had remained inactive for four decades, until the mid1980s.[34] The Hindu Nationalist movement pressed for reclamation of three of its most holy sites which it claimed had suffered at the hands of Islam, at Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. L K Advani, the leader of the BJP in his memoirs argued, "If Muslims are entitled to an Islamic atmosphere in Mecca, and if Christians are entitled to a Christian atmosphere in the Vatican, why is it wrong for the Hindus to expect a Hindu atmosphere in Ayodhya?" The legal case continues regarding the title deed of the land tract which is a government controlled property.[35] While the Muslim parties want the Babri Mosque to be reconstructed through a court order, the Hindu side wants a law in parliament to have a temple constructed,[36] saying faith in the existence of Ram Janmabhoomi cannot be decided in a court of law.

The situation regarding the Ram Janmabhoomi has been compared to the Temple Mount controversies and claims in Israel by conservative blogger Daniel Pipes. In particular, Pipes writes: Ayodhya prompts several thoughts relating to the Temple Mount. It shows that the Temple Mount dispute is far from unique. Muslims have habitually asserted the supremacy of Islam through architecture, building on top of the monuments of other faiths (as in Jerusalem and Ayodhya) or appropriating them (e.g. the Ka'ba in Mecca and the Hagia Sophia inConstantinople).
[37]

Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul has said that the destruction of Babri mosque was an act of historical balancing
[38]

and the repatriation of the Ramjanmabhoomi was a "welcome sign that Hindu pride
[39]

was re-asserting itself."

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