Is disputed Ayodhya site the exact birthplace of Ram?

By Pramod Kumar, IANS,

New Delhi : Does the 1,500 square yard piece of land where the disputed Babri Masjid once stood support the mansion of Queen Kaushalya, the mother of Hindu god Ram, and is it the exact place of his birth?

According to Justice S.U. Khan, one of the three judges in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court who gave the Sep 30 Ayodhya verdict, there is a difference between Janamsthan, Janambhoomi and Janamsthal.

Translating the words in English, Justice Khan says ‘janam’ means ‘birth’, ‘sthan’ means ‘place’, ‘bhoomi’ means ‘land’ and ‘sthal’ means site. “No one has used the word Janamsthal (birth site in English),” points out Justice Khan.

Queen Kaushalya was one of the three favourite queens of Raja Dasharath of Ayodhya, the father of Lord Ram, according to the Ramayana.

The question on the 1,500 sq yard piece of land arose in the course of the hearing of the title suit and was dealt with by Justice Khan in his separate but concurrent judgment with Justice Sudhir Agarwal in the title suit case.

Justice Khan says that each of the counsel who appeared for different Hindu contenders replied in the affirmative when they were asked if they were sure that the 1,500 sq yards, which was in dispute, was the birthplace of Lord Rama.

However, the same counsel were not sure if by Janmasthan or Janmabhoomi they meant that it was the exact site where Kaushalya – the mother of Lord Rama gave birth to him, which by its very nature could be a very, very small area of 5 to 10 square yard only, or it meant the room in which the birth took place or it meant the mansion where the mother of Lord Rama resided, he pointed out.

Justice Khan said that in common parlance, birthplace denotes the village, town or city where one is born. None of the learned counsel could give any specific reply to this query.

Justice Khan further pointed out: “At this juncture it may be noticed again that in the plaint of suit no.5 by the deities no effort has been made to identify, specify and pinpoint ‘the birth place’.”

The court was told that the position was too well known to need any description. It is also mentioned in the plaint that both the annexed maps clarify the position.

However, the first map is of premises in dispute and the second of the premises in dispute as well as the adjoining land, most of which was barren (parti) and unused.

Raja Dasharath was a king. In olden times there was not much demand on the land.

It is given in several books and gazettes that the fort of Raja Dasharath was quite big. The mother of Lord Ram was one of his favourite queens. Accordingly, it cannot be assumed that she used to live in a ‘mansion’ constructed only on an area of 1,500 sq yards.

In those times even the houses of medium level people must have been of quite larger area.

It has been mentioned in several books as well as gazettes that for a long time till the first century BC, Ayodhya was completely deserted and was almost a jungle, he pointed out.

It was Raja Vikramaditya in the first century BC, who after great research located several places connected with activities of Lord Ram in Ayodhya and constructed/got constructed 360 temples there, he said.

However, it has also been mentioned that most of those temples collapsed over the centuries and were in ruined condition.

It has also been noticed in various books and gazettes that even before the construction of the mosque in question thousands of pilgrims visited Ayodhya and treated and believed it to be the birthplace of Lord Ram and revered it as such.

These and many other arguments have been used by Justice Khan to conclude that firstly no temple was demolished for constructing the mosque, and secondly, until the mosque was constructed during the period of Babar in the 16th century the premises in dispute was neither treated nor believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.