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Ayodhya – The Place that enlivens Myth, Spirituality & Controversies

Ayodhya – The Place that Enlivens Myth, Spirituality & Controversies

Ayodhya, as everyone is aware is the birth place of Lord Ram and it has huge significance on the lives of Hindus across the world. Ayodhya is where the mythical lore are translated into modern metaphors, and the metaphorical translations are transformed into various but related action projects. Moreover, Ayodhya reminds us of the infamous Babri Masjid and Ram temple issue that embroiled the country for more than a century.

For most of the pre-independence era, the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya did not simply exist for the majority of Indians. The mosque emerged as the most bitterly contested terrain ever since the partition of the country primarily because the issue was built up carefully by the Hindutva forces with an eye on appropriating it for contemporary politics.

The controversy is more mythological than historical, and hence it is matter more of faith than fact. Since the issue stands on popular culture and not on recorded history, it becomes even mre prone to manipulation and politicization. The Hindutva groups have turned the disadvantages of unspecificities and ambiguities of the legendary problem into clear advantages.

The conflict cannot be considered more concrete even from 1528 when the Babri Masjid was actually constructed because the Hindutva groups claim that the mosque replaced an existing Ram temple for which there has never been any tangible evidence. But now the Supreme Court has given its verdict and finally the place has been handed over for Ram temple construction which will begin on August 5.

Although much has been written about this controversy rather recently, some of it is drenched in Hindu piety and bias, and some other works are the Hindu communalists’ own propaganda. Ayodhya, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is a site holy to both Hindus and Muslims, and has been a constant source of religious clashes. Now the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under directions of the High Court, is trying to settle the dispute over whether a Hindu temple once existed there.

The disputed site houses the remains of the Babri Masjid, a sixteenth-century mosque built by Mir Baqi, commander to Mughal emperor Babar but destroyed by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992. Hindus believe that the mosque stood on the ruins of an earlier temple that once marked the birthplace of Lord Rama, one of the most revered deities in the Hindu pantheon.

The ASI has conducted excavations which, it claims, have revealed features of a tenth-century Hindu temple beneath the Babri Masjid. The report cites the discovery of stone and decorated bricks, mutilated sculpture of a divine couple, and carved architectural members including foliage patterns, amalaka (wheel found on temple roofs), three sculptures of Makar (crocodile associated with Goddess Ganga), vallari (floral motif found on temple gateways), purnaghata (used in rituals), lotus medallion, a circular shrine having pranjala (water shute) and fifty pillar bases associated with a massive structure… all artefacts that, according to the ASI, are distinctive features of north Indian temples. A round signet with legend in Asokan Brahmi is another important find.

Set on the banks of Sarayu river, Ayodhya is a mythical city. It is said to have been the capital of the Kosala kingdom, which saw the birth of Lord Ram, of the Ramayana epic. As such it is considered by Hindus as one of the seven most sacred cities of India (Sapta Puri). Like all pilgrimage places, the spiritual fervor is palpable there even if the city has been the centre of religious conflict since two decades.

Ram Janbhoomi is believed to be the place of birth of Lord Ram and the very place of the conflict between Hindus and Muslims. Ram janbhoomi is located to the west of ayodhya, where the fort of Ram was supposed to be built.

The Atharvaveda describes it as “a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself”. The illustrious Ikshvaku of the solar clan (suryavamsa) was the ruling dynasty of this region.

Ayodhya Temple Timings :Summers: 7.30 – 11.30 am and 4.30 – 9.30 pm and Winters: 9 – 11 am and 4 – 9 pm


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