Muslim side argues Ramcharitmanas does not mention temple demolition by Babur

Zafaryab Jilani, the advocate of the Muslim side, said no evidence of puja of Lord Rama was found under the middle dome of the ‘Babri Masjid’ before 1949

New Delhi: The hearing in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute continued in the Supreme Court today, the 30th day of the daily hearing. On behalf of the Muslim side, advocate Rajeev Dhavan presented a new set of arguments in the court on Tuesday.

The advocates of the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla had presented their arguments first when the daily hearing started.

On 24 September, Dhavan and Zafaryab Jilani presented the viewpoint of the Sunni Muslim side. At 11 AM, Dhavan began by saying that he had named some former prime ministers during the hearing in the case. This, he said, did not mean that his side was making a political comment in this matter; they were rather talking about the constitutional validity of viewpoints in the case. Dhavan mentioned a case related to the Chidambaram temple.

Responding to a plea by ​​advocate PS Narasimha, Dhavan said that he believed that there were many forms of worship in India that was a country full of diversities. He said there were a bird temple, a pātāl (underworld) temple and a Kamakhya temple, for example, in the country. When Lord Shiva could not be pacified, he said, Lord Vishnu severed Sati’s body, the parts of which fell in many places including Allahabad, Kamakhya and Nainital where Shakti Peethas had come up and where believers offer worship regularly.

However, Dhavan said in the court, there had never been a puja inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple that the Hindu side was arguing for. He said the “wrongly placed” idol could not be a proof of prior existence of temple on the disputed plot. Thereafter, Jilani took over to speak on behalf of the Muslim side.

Jilani said that there was faith associated with the birthplace of Lord Rama, but there was no evidence. He said that three grounds had been offered by the Hindu side: Valmiki Ramayana and the Ramcharitmanas were included in them. Jilani said that the petitioners ought to prove which books mention the Lord Rama’s birthplace. He claimed that there was no mention of Lord Rama’s birthplace in Ramcharitmanas or the Ramayana anywhere.

The advocate for the Muslim side said that no evidence of puja of Lord Rama was found under the middle dome of what he called the Babri Masjid before 1949.

On this, Justice Bobde asked Jilani whether he would provide evidence to support the theory that before 1949, namaz used to be offered regularly at the site. To that, Jilani said that the evidence was in the spoken but not written form.

Justice Ashok Bhushan said that even in the argument of the Hindu side, the Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas figure, where Dasharatha’s palace in Ayodhya is mentioned as the birthplace of Lord Rama although there was no mention of the exact spot.

Taking this matter further, Justice Chandrachud noted that while both the texts mention the birth of Lord Rama in Ayodhya, it did not mean that any spot in Ayodhya could be claimed as one where the god was born. On behalf of the Muslim side, Jilani said that the Ramchabutra in the site was not older than the temple that came up later.

However, Jilani soon contradicted himself. When Justice Bobde said that in Ayodhya, there was no dispute about the birth of Lord Rama; it was restricted to the exact birthplace, Jilani agreed. Further, Justice Bobde asked whether the Muslim side considered Ramchabootare as Lord Rama’s birthplace. Jilani replied in the affirmative. The advocate for the Muslim side said that earlier everyone believed this, as the Skanda Purana mentioned it but that exact spot no longer could be traceable. He said that in 1886, the then district judge had allowed Ramchabutra as the place of Lord Rama’s worship, recognising that to be the god’s birthplace.

Jilani gave the example of Ramanandacharya and Rambhadracharya. He said that Awadhpuri was mentioned also in Manas Tika. He claimed this was not any place in particular. Jilani rejected the Doha Shatak as evidence, saying it was not established that Tulsidas had composed it.

Jilani said that the 1886 decision also said that the platform was the birthplace, but later on, the Hindu side claimed the inner enclosure and the place beneath the spot where the dome of the mosque stood until 6 December 1992 was the spot. Justice Bobde asked whether Jilani thought that the district court’s order was not challenged. Jilani said while the current Muslim litigants did not challenge it, many other petitioners did.

Jilani said that Hindus wanted to build a temple only after getting the right to worship in 1886, but the court did not grant the permission. He said that a witness mentioned the birth of Lord Rama as the palace of Dasharatha, but the status of the palace was not known.

On this, Justice Chandrachud said that the witnesses, citing scriptures, described the birthplace of Rama 200 steps away in the Sitakup (well of Sita).

Jilani, describing the map of the place, said that the birthplace and the north-south of the Sitakup had also been mentioned and the birthplace temple was considered to be in it. Later, Hindus changed their faith and started claiming both the places.

Jilani quoted a witness as saying that Sumitra Bhavan, Kaushalya Bhavan and Kaikai Bhavan were not mentioned in the Ramcharitmanas. Raja Todarmal Goswami was a friend of Tulsidas but Tulsidas had not mentioned that in the Ramcharitmanas.

Another witness said that, in the Kavitavali and other texts, the birthplace was mentioned as Ayodhya, Avadhpuri or Saket, but a specific spot was not identified.

The witnesses could not tell the distance and direction of the disputed site from the Vashisth Kund, Lomash Kund, Vidhaneshwar Ganesh and Pindarak. No specific place was mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana either, Jilani said. he added that the Ramcharitmanas was composed almost 70 years after the mosque was built, but did not mention anywhere that Lord Rama’s birthplace was where the mosque was. That is, he claimed, the belief of Hindus about birthplace also changed later.

On this, Justice Bobde asked whether Babar got the temple demolished and built a mosque in that place or there had ever been a temple nearby but the mosque was built on an empty plot. Jilani replied that Babar had built a mosque on an empty plot. If there had been a temple before, then Babar would not have known about it.

Editor’s note

While the Supreme Court has heard the arguments of the Hindu side already, it is to be seen whether the Muslim side is questioned in the remaining days of hearing why they expect the Awadhi version of the Ramayana to also contain a commentary on what was happening in the contemporary times when Tulsidas lived (1532–1623 AD). Does the Muslim side in the Ayodhya case take the Ramcharitmanas for a newspaper? Does the Qur’an report the political developments in Arabia of the time when Prophet Mohammed lived (571-632 AD)?

From 23 September onwards, the hearing of this case has got an extension of an hour daily. The Supreme Court hopes to hear the matter till 18 October, after which it has sought about a month to write the verdict.

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