Opinion » Comment

Updated: January 18, 2011 11:53 IST

The verdict on Ayodhya: a historian's perspective

Romila Thapar
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ROMILA THAPAR: We cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present. Photo: S S Kumar
The Hindu
ROMILA THAPAR: We cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present. Photo: S S Kumar

It has annulled respect for history and seeks to replace it with religious faith.

The verdict is a political judgment and reflects a decision which could as well have been taken by the state years ago. Its focus is on the possession of land and the building a new temple to replace the destroyed mosque. The problem was entangled in contemporary politics involving religious identities but also claimed to be based on historical evidence. This latter aspect has been invoked but subsequently set aside in the judgment.

The court has declared that a particular spot is where a divine or semi-divine person was born and where a new temple is to be built to commemorate the birth. This is in response to an appeal by Hindu faith and belief. Given the absence of evidence in support of the claim, such a verdict is not what one expects from a court of law. Hindus deeply revere Rama as a deity but can this support a legal decision on claims to a birth-place, possession of land and the deliberate destruction of a major historical monument to assist in acquiring the land?

The verdict claims that there was a temple of the 12th Century AD at the site which was destroyed to build the mosque — hence the legitimacy of building a new temple.

The excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and its readings have been fully accepted even though these have been strongly disputed by other archaeologists and historians. Since this is a matter of professional expertise on which there was a sharp difference of opinion the categorical acceptance of the one point of view, and that too in a simplistic manner, does little to build confidence in the verdict. One judge stated that he did not delve into the historical aspect since he was not a historian but went to say that history and archaeology were not absolutely essential to decide these suits! Yet what are at issue are the historicity of the claims and the historical structures of the past one millennium.

A mosque built almost 500 years ago and which was part of our cultural heritage was destroyed wilfully by a mob urged on by a political leadership. There is no mention in the summary of the verdict that this act of wanton destruction, and a crime against our heritage, should be condemned. The new temple will have its sanctum — the presumed birthplace of Rama — in the area of the debris of the mosque. Whereas the destruction of the supposed temple is condemned and becomes the justification for building a new temple, the destruction of the mosque is not, perhaps by placing it conveniently outside the purview of the case.

Has created a precedent

The verdict has created a precedent in the court of law that land can be claimed by declaring it to be the birthplace of a divine or semi-divine being worshipped by a group that defines itself as a community. There will now be many such janmasthans wherever appropriate property can be found or a required dispute manufactured. Since the deliberate destruction of historical monuments has not been condemned what is to stop people from continuing to destroy others? The legislation of 1993 against changing the status of places of worship has been, as we have seen in recent years, quite ineffective.

What happened in history, happened. It cannot be changed. But we can learn to understand what happened in its fuller context and strive to look at it on the basis of reliable evidence. We cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present. The verdict has annulled respect for history and seeks to replace history with religious faith. True reconciliation can only come when there is confidence that the law in this country bases itself not just on faith and belief, but on evidence.

(Romila Thapar is a distinguished historian of Early India.)

Keywords: Ayodhya verdict

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If there was a temple in a disputed land holding a belief of existence of an Islam shrine in Pakistan, the temple would have been demolished a very long time ago and the incident would not even be audible. But, we are no Pakistanis, not even minimally. We hold a sacred secular belief. No matter whether there was a temple or not, it was hypocritical to demolish a mosque, a sacred place of worship. Demolishing a mosque and setting up a temple doesn't mean one can erase the fact that a temple was once erased at that spot. In a civilized world, we got to move on. God is everywhere, you just have to recognize.

from:  Vinod
Posted on: Jan 11, 2011 at 19:39 IST

Its time for every one to show the equality of the country relating to any community or religion .

from:  praneeth
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 14:04 IST

Let us forget and forgive the past and build a common place so every one can pray or devide the place and build temple and mosque side-by-side, so every body will be happy, for the common good of the country.

from:  Reddy
Posted on: Oct 24, 2010 at 10:36 IST

I have read almost every comments made by readers herein. I have observation on just one comment in particular by Dr abdul jamil khan. He in few lines debunks a few religions except Islam.

from:  Arun Kumar
Posted on: Oct 15, 2010 at 14:20 IST

It is sickening to read the one sided arguments of the JNU historians. Can't we ever have other historians voicing their opinion in this news paper?

from:  Prasad
Posted on: Oct 14, 2010 at 15:36 IST

As expected views on Ayodhya dispute are expressed to suit one's political leanings. The case was related to dispute whether any temple existed before Masjid was built some 500 years ago. ASI findings say that temple pillars were used for building the mosque. Do we need any other proof to conclude that a temple was destroyed to build the mosque. The history of Mughal emperors destroying temples to build mosques are well recorded in history.

Posted on: Oct 13, 2010 at 17:03 IST

1) "The court has declared that a particular spot is where a divine or semi-divine person was born and where a new temple is to be built to commemorate the birth."
No. Court has only said that is the place Hindus believe is the place of Ram's birth. And court has not told that a new temple be built.
2) "The excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and its readings have been fully accepted even though these have been strongly disputed by other archaeologists and historians."
Does Thapar imply all archaeologists, other than those involved in the excavation, strongly disputed the findings?
3) "...on which there was a sharp difference of opinion ..."
If there is a sharp difference of opinion by historians, obviously the role of 'historical' evidence in the judgment stops at that.
4) "...There is no mention in the summary of the verdict that this act of wanton destruction,"
The case before the court was NOT about destruction of a disputed structure.

from:  K.Suresh
Posted on: Oct 12, 2010 at 11:12 IST

As a student of history, I completely agree with Dr.Thapar. I think it is very important for us to clearly understand what she has meant. Rama is a mythical figure, based on Hindu Mythology. The mosque that was build apparently by "demolishing" a hindu temple was also destroyed attacking our own cultural and religious building. India is a secular nation, have we then forgotten how to be secular?how to think secular?

from:  Anneysha Chowdhury.
Posted on: Oct 12, 2010 at 08:24 IST

When one party is hell bent upon imposing its will on the other,the climate of trust in 1757 some money-lenders toppled the govt of Sirajud Dowlla.Then came Vande Matram and muslims were not provided the opportunity to modify it.Then came Hindi/Urdu tussle.No compromise formula was evolved on the script.Then came the partition of Bengal in 1905.Again no copromise formula.The came the communal riots.Everybody cried over the calcuttariots.But nobody ever mentioned the communal riots of Garhmuctesur of 1946.Then the continuous decline of jobs and education for the muslims.Any effort to do justice to muslims became APPEASEMENT.This mandir/masjid is one link of the same chain.Now somebody has discovered that Lord Ram was born under the central dome of the mosque.It is a matter of belief-either of majority or of minority of Hindus.People should try to find win win situation.The majority community should publicly offer compensations.They should keep in mind the religious,social cultu ral,and educational needs of the muslims.Many shops and houses of the muslims have been burnt over the years in this Holy city.Many have been killed.They should be compensated.To appease muslims you can also find a place for the statue of Bahadur Shah Zafar.The government can also establish a body for the construction of both the TEMPLE and the Mosque. There should be goodwill towards all. There could also be a multicultural university of peace or any institution of universal brotherhood. Let all of us do something to promote peace in South Asia.

from:  Azam A. Siddiqui
Posted on: Oct 11, 2010 at 14:53 IST

I sallute Ms Romila Thapper, A great thinker.
U are a gem, only an intellectual, brave, a justice lover can writte this kind of opinion. Just dont get discouraged by unbiased opinion of silly minded peoples.In real sence they are "ROUGE", who cant understand the sensible article written by you, let them to wander with their blind faith, It does not make any difference for the peace and justice lovers. Keep up the good work.... we love you..

from:  salma sithara
Posted on: Oct 11, 2010 at 00:49 IST

I agree with Ms Thapar 100 per cent. The judgement is not at all impartial ; it will hurt the sentiment of muslims causing damage to the spirit of brotherhood and fraternity among Indians. I think belief without logic is meaningless and bogus. If belief is so important then what is use of High court, Supreme court, judges Indian penal code etc...

from:  Goutam Lahiri
Posted on: Oct 10, 2010 at 22:34 IST

I have read the verdict and followed views expressed by politicians, who have nothing positive to add except to preserve vote bank and others.

from:  A Kumar
Posted on: Oct 10, 2010 at 19:22 IST

It is sad to read MS Thapar's commentary. The historian disputes HC judgment based on her leftist political convictions, not based on any historical facts.

from:  I G Shabkar
Posted on: Oct 9, 2010 at 18:08 IST

As far as the question of Faith v/s Historicity is concerned, Ms. Thapar has rightly highlighted the lack of historical perspective in the case.

However, I don't see any problem in considering the findings of the ASI while delivering the judgement. As ASI is the formal association in India which is into the archaeological activities. Besides, eminent historians and archaeologists are the members of ASI. So, the court couldn't have reached a conclusion without ASI expertise.

from:  raja debashis
Posted on: Oct 9, 2010 at 14:12 IST

Indian judiciary will come up with right judgement from Supreme Court.

from:  SARANI
Posted on: Oct 9, 2010 at 11:08 IST

Historians have the habit of looking things with their own glasses and and argue for their validity.A mosque built around 500 years ago will be considered as a Cultural heritage then why not the temple built in the 12th century(if it was proved by ASI).The fact remains that Faith is an intrinsic mode of mind .

from:  P K Mishra
Posted on: Oct 9, 2010 at 09:09 IST

Dear Proffessor
I salute great historian for responding to Ayodhya verdict..The verdict rises the some important questions in the minds of minorities.

1.Three judges believed faith of people of Hindus only not the faith of Muslim minorities.
2.If faith is most important thing to decide the judgements why we follow Indian Penal Code

from:  K.Bade Saheb
Posted on: Oct 8, 2010 at 20:03 IST

Everyone must accept the verdict. The judgment was impartial in all means. This is the best possible solution for a religious dispute. Thousands of security men were assigned to check the possible mob aggravation following the verdict. But nothing bad happened. Almost all Indians accepted the verdict. Hence Indian Judiciary was successful in bringing peace and harmony, the ultimate aim of a judicial body. The success was for Muslims, Hindus, the Indian Judiciary and the entire nation.

from:  Mithun Muralidharan Nair
Posted on: Oct 8, 2010 at 19:43 IST

Learned author of this article has made correct and pertinent points. Instead of putting it aside out of our political leanings or religious bias we should start thinking of the next and the next to the next such cases that will come up in the Courts, citing Ayodhya as a precedent.

from:  Chandrahas Dayal
Posted on: Oct 8, 2010 at 16:58 IST

I appreciate Ms Thapar's views expressed boldly with the sharpness of a seasoned historian. Those who are level minded will see her points. Judiciary has to be blind to sectarian interests and political expediency in its judgements. The compromise formula could have been only be an advice and not a judgement.

from:  M.K.V.Narayan
Posted on: Oct 8, 2010 at 09:24 IST

The recent Ayodhya verdict pronounced by the Allahabad high court reminds me of the PALESTINE - ISRAEL issue.

Though Palestine had been long existing as a nation with their unique identity and culture comprising of Muslims, Jews and Christians, the Zionists encroached upon the land of Palestine during and after World-war 2. Thus, stealing the land from the native Palestinians claiming that the Jews wandered away from the Palestianian state and quoting the Bible and Torah as evidences for the land belongs to the Jews.

Similarly, Babri Masjid was encroached and destroyed by the Hindu fascists claiming that this place was the place of birth of Lord Ram, based solely on their faith. Muslims are mere scapegoats and hapless people in both Ayodhya issue and Israeli encroachments by Zionists.

Faith has been imposed forcefully in both these cases. Without any doubt, the Zionists and Hindutva brigades are close with their similar ideologies of regaining their lost grounds based solely on their faiths, not on evidences.

from:  Roeas
Posted on: Oct 7, 2010 at 09:39 IST

After independence it's the biggest achivement of our country... This type of verdict should come in the case of Mathura and Kashi.

from:  Somya sekhar dash
Posted on: Oct 7, 2010 at 08:45 IST

thanks professor firstof all our judiciary based upon constitution of india,not based upon faith&belief of any releigon,our constitution clearly says before 1947 statusquo.pls note the idols kept in1949 constitution 1950. but i want to thank all three judges also for they all accepted the mosque was there for the past 500 years and the idols kept inside the mosque in dec 1949. also the judje clearly said according to faith&belief not fact. hence i request our fellow citizens bring this in supreme court.

from:  jamaludeen
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 22:26 IST

As notified by Romila Thapper, this verdict has created a precedent, nay a dangerous precedent.. Based on this verdict, hundreds of hindu temples constructed on Jain and Budha vihars has to be demolished and ownership of land to be handed over the Budhists and Jains.

from:  Hashim
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 20:53 IST

According to her, respect of history was replaced by religious faith. Well I am asking a simple question that what is important to move people and to move society altogether? Ideologically it can be stated that without religion people can live together with greater harmony , but what in reality? It is this faith that motivate people,move them to greater cause for live. It is well known fact that people can not' live without having a faith . Just filling their stomach is not enough, they need something greater that feed their spiritual starvation. It is this faith that cause hindu coomunity and muslim coomunity . It is this faith that have worried nation from earlier time . For general people history does not meet their need. History is not their demand. For them worship a god with devotion and preserving his faith is enough. Preserving a sacred place and religious heritage , in spot of which a total transformation can take place constitute a moral duty of these people.
A religious faith means people who are standing behind this . This is a force that constitutes such vast communities . This has to be considered when a decision is being taken which influence the faith of people.

from:  kundan kumar purushotam
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 18:35 IST

I salute Madam Romila Thapar, who herself is a Hindu, for narrating an unbiased perspective of the Ayodhya dispute.

First of all, the Masjid was not protected by the Central and State government during 1992. Though the UP state government was headed by BJP and it's allies during 1992, the central government had failed utterly to protect the historical Masjid. Former PM, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi too let off certain pujas to be held inside the Masjid by opening the gates of Babri Masjid.

After the heinous crime of destroying the entire Masjid by the vandals and fascists, the contention of the case was whether there existed a Mandir before the Mosque was constructed or not?.

ASI's findings were not at all made public by the court so that the entire Muslim community must know whether there really exdisted a temple or not?

The verdict pronounced by a bench headed two Hindu judges and one Muslim judge, has not relied on the historical facts, but merely played a role of partitioner as per the majority and minority population. Some judges have even gone to the extent of saying that the central dome of the once-standing Babri Masjid was the exact place where the Lord Ram was born. From this half-baked verdict that was pronounced by the judges (who has never inteneded to hurt the majority community and thus acted in their interests), one can understand that the poltical intevention is likely. Thus, losing faith on the judiciary.

from:  Roeas
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 15:30 IST

Whether , india that is bharat , is come into exist only after 1947 or it exist long before. High Court's judges have this question in their mind.How much time it take to erase 2500 years long faith, Can as historian Romilaji predict. Again Indian court proved their ability to take decision with kind of indiannes, that we compromise,we do that with goodwill, even though it is irrational. Their decision calm extremist, for new generation it's not a major problem. It's not what majority want or minority want , it's what as a Indian we want.

from:  alpesh
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 14:49 IST

The judgement was a Panchayati judgement which showcases precisely the reason why we cannot progress as a nation: we cannot take tough decisions.

The problems with the judgment are:
1- Even if there was a temple, what is the proof that it was a Rama temple. If tomorrow, someone throws the Rama idol out and replace it with a Shiva linga or even a Krishna idol, will it be acceptable? If no, ASI evidence is inadequate.

2- If the title suits of Sunni Wakf board and Nirmohi Akhara were dismissed why were they given one-third of the land.

3- If the temple was demolished why were Sunni Wakf board giben one-third of the land? Does the courts say that if someone forcibly acquires some property, that property belongs to the acquirer after 1,500 years?

4- If no temple was demolished, why was Sunni Wakf board not given the entire land. If today I convince a substantial part of India's population that Shiva once appeared on the lands, which are today a part of Allahabad High Court, will two-thirds of the land today covered by the High Court be given to me.

5- The High Court gave one-third of the land to "Hindus." Which category of people does this phrase refer to? Anyone whom the court identifies as "Hindu"? The phrase covers people who consider Rama as Supreme Being, Rama as an aspect of Supreme Being, Rama as an aspect of a demi-god, Rama as a human hero, and even non-believers in Rama. Are all of them equally important?

from:  Sanket
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 13:08 IST

She says "What happened in history, happened. It cannot be changed. But we can learn to understand what happened in its fuller context and strive to look at it on the basis of reliable evidence. We cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present."

Yes Romila the past for me is 1992 and what happened in that year cannot be changed. It was so many years ago ! We can learn why it happened : Because a temple was destroyed as documented by Islamic historians themselves and a mosque built over it. A wrong has been righted by tearing down the illegal mosque so that a temple can be built anew.

We cannot change what happened in 1992 to justify the insulting and baiting of the majority community in INDIA by rogue marxists like you.

from:  Vishnu Sharma
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 01:24 IST

Romila Thapar, as always, is clear and simple in making her point.

How can a 21st century court condemn a presumed destruction 5 centuries back, and ignore one that happened in front of our eyes, just 2 decades back ?

from:  Xavier Abraham
Posted on: Oct 6, 2010 at 00:00 IST

It is a political verdict and Its like a patchwork. This judgement will be challenged in SUPREME COURT by both the parties and will take another decade for judgement based on justice. (Political) Parties concerned do not like and do not allow judiciary to have any final verdict for their own political interests. The dispute, in one way or other will prevail as KASHMIR issue for the generations to suffer. And thats it.

from:  Burhan Sha
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 17:17 IST

Since the extremists on both sides are disatisfied with the decision, the majority moderate Indians know that this is indeed the right decision to take. I think the judges delivered a very statesman like judgement and I applaud their wisdom.

from:  neverforgetmumbai
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 16:39 IST

Dear Professor Thapar

You are one heck of brave person and I have one has the deepest admiration for your informed view. A majority of those who see the whole issue as a clever political ploy to convert the ordinary citizen to a religious fanatic would agree with me in saying you are not at all impressed by politicians who pretend they are the founders and defenders of Hindu faith. I would have thought the site would be put to better use for humanity if the court had sought to convert the site into a National Monument with a museum within housing stark images of the historical outcomes of religious bigotry. Images of those who were affected by it so that you prevent history from repeating itself. Any that was just a thought don't take me seriously. But the reason I wrote was to say you are a good example of human being and we all love you for it. Keep it up! Jai Hind

from:  Joseph
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 16:36 IST

Professor Thapar seems not to have gone through the verdict completely or she is content with nit-picking. What the honourable Judges have stated was not based on the beliefs over the law. They merely have responded to a question on whether the site is believed to be a Ram Janmasthan by Hindus, by saying "yes".

from:  Sangeetha
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 13:09 IST

I think decision given is fine but now some party wants to build huge temple. Why waste so much money? Can't they build a small shrine and use that money to build better infrastructure?

from:  Rangaraju
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 13:04 IST

This judgment has taken the steam out of the conflict and in that there can be no better solution.

from:  Shael Sharma
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 12:58 IST

The judgement has grave repurcussions for the future..she rightly argues that any group can claim title based on faith...will the courts go by the size of the group to determine title? It exceeded its mandate...or was the mandate wrong in thefirst place? It should have only have restricted itself to title..

from:  B.Banerjee
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 12:41 IST

This judgement would give 'more muscle, to the the militant hindu fundamentalist groups as we can see they have already started twisting the court verdict in their favour by saying 'rath yathra was right & razing down of masjis was right etc. It seems like everyone has forgotten that the same forces were responsible for the killings of thousnds of poor fellow muslim citiizens during these riots associated with the demolition of Babari masjid & that they haven't been convicted for these crimes yet. I fear this court order would be used by the same organizations to demolish more masjids in future by bringing up stories regarding the birth of more goddesses inside the masjids in India through well organised mass campaign. How our judicial system is going to deal with such a hysterical high voltage well organized mass campaign in the name of Hindutva, that's something every secular Indian is closely watching in the coming days.

from:  Bins Ray
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 05:00 IST

Dear Editor,

I read with interest article penned by Prof. Thapar.It's merely diabolical concoction of facts.Nothing surprising as people in love with secular ideology are used to it.She hails the judgment as "political judgment".The truth is that it's not the judgment but her views that are political.

I am surprised how can a person who is an eminent historian enter in distortion of facts ? A historian is supposed to unearth true details so that we can have a true picture of the past.Can we expect this from a person in tune with distortion of facts ? She states that "one judge stated that he did not delve into the historical aspect since he was not a historian but went to say that history and archaeology were not absolutely essential to decide these suits" and that leads her to raise suspicion.She conveniently forgets that the excavation was carried out after the direction of High Court which believed that truth should come on the surface.Interestingly,the parties involved in it were against the excavation since everybody felt the results could go against their interests.

Prof. Thapar should not be worried about lack of sufficient evidence or fallacious interpretation of historical facts.The bench that delivered the verdict possessed a deep knowledge of historical facts.No need for Prof.Thapar to create any confusion in this regard.And yes,it's not a political judgment.It's a sound legal judgment in tune with well-settled principles of jurisprudence.

from:  Arvind K.Pandey
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 02:37 IST

well i ll say this is the defeat of secularism in india .

from:  pravir kumar ram
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 02:08 IST

i fully agree with prof thapar on the point that everybody and anybody will start claiming lands showing them as birthplaces of deities

from:  pallavi kesar
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 01:04 IST

Have you, Professor, ever considered that history was also about humans, their hopes and fears, their aspirations and inspirations?

from:  sudhir mittal
Posted on: Oct 5, 2010 at 00:10 IST

I agree partly with this article. Now that the decision has come I completely agree with it and I also believe that everyone should do the same. However, truth be told, I would like to ask everyone here (who would disagree with me) that if somehow, tomorrow archaeology reveals that there were temples below the Taj Mahal, The Parliament Building, Rashtrapati Bhawan, is it fair enough to demolish them all? Or 'divide' them 'equally' among different faiths? When the mosque was built (c. 1528), 'India' (as we know her today) nor the Indian Government (Legislature, Executive AND Judiciary) existed. Prof. Thapar is very correct it deeming it to be 'history'. Addressing the same people again, I would like to ask (suppose for instance) it is revealed later that some king long back had demolished certain mosques and built temples on them which are very famous now. Would you agree that the 'archaelogical evidence' is credible and support their demolition? Quoting lines from a book, "Do not be too eager to deal out judgement, for even the wisest cannot see all ends!"

from:  Ehtesham
Posted on: Oct 4, 2010 at 22:54 IST

Dear Prof Thapar,
Your ‘historian’s perspective’ begins with the Babri Masjid and ends with a lament that the Court did not order its restoration. It willfully ignores all other historical facts. Is this pursuing history or political partisanship?
When even Muslim parties “…neither dispute that lord Ram existed nor that he was born in Ayodhya and nor that the present Ayodhya is the same as is believed to be the birthplace of lord Ram for the purpose of the present case” you raise the canard of ‘absence of evidence’. You want proof that Rama was born just on that spot. Are you looking for an inscription, saying, ‘Ramo Dasharathasya aatmajah idam jaatah?’
Historians accept that Schliemann excavated Troy without an inscription saying, ‘This is Ilion polis of Priam.’ Ramajanmabhumi has a stronger case.
That temples have existed at the spot called ‘janmasthaana’, and one of Vishnu Hari has even an inscription saying that it was built by Meghasuta in the reign of Govinda Chandra, of Gahadavala dynasty (1114 to 1155 CE). Against this you create a smoke screen saying that a school of professional historians have questioned it and the Court has ignored them. I believe most of them, deposed before the court which heard them.
Now you raise the false alarm of the HC order facilitating many future claims of Hindu janmasthanas. How many janmasthanas more do Hindus claim? Just one more, Mathaura. But with all the crystal clear historical evidence, so recent and indisputable, you have never argued for its full restoration to Hindus. Here you switch to the let bygones be bygones track.
For you only the Babri masjid is part of cultural heritage. Demolition of temples and making masjids on them, an extensive practice of Muslim monarchs in medieval India, and Hindus attempts to reclaim the holy spots is neither history nor an issue. IF reconciliation is to be the way of future, we have ALSO to admit all the acts of destruction done since the advent of Islam not just the Hindu act of 1992 and put them ALL behind us and move forward to a new India.
In a modern pluralistic world idol worship has to be recognized as a legitimate way to the Divine giving up all the earlier theological Islamic and Christian prejudices against it. Coexistence is the only way. This is what the judgment has done on the basis that since both Hindus and Muslims have prayed there for five hundred years, let them do that again. Homepage: and

from:  Prof Bharat Gupt
Posted on: Oct 4, 2010 at 17:50 IST

"The verdict has annulled respect for history and seeks to replace history with religious faith".The author has faith on/about the written word only written in the past.She does not have faith in the oral transmittion of knowledge/information over time.The written word may not have changed over time but how can one judge whether the written word has/had any prejudice or not?Oral tradition like Vedic tradition are oral only passing on transmitted from ages.Even today Chitrakoot is revered because Rama stayed there.Similarly places in south like Badrachalam in Andhra pradesh are associated with Sri Rama only through oral word only.Hampi, where capital of Vijayanagar empire stood is another place associated with Sri Rama`s stay is known through oral tradition only.There are any number of sites which are known through oral tradition only associated with Sri Rama or Krishna.In our country oral traditions are high source of knowledge in addition to written word.
If Tulsi das or somebody has not mentioned something about a place or event it does not mean it does not exist.KNOWLEDGE has other sources.

Posted on: Oct 4, 2010 at 16:07 IST

….like millions across the country and abroad, I also had a strong feeling and fear that a grotesque violence would escalate along the countryside following the Historical Ayodhya Judgement… But it proved the other way round. Common people like me – it does not much matter who gained, who lost, who benefited in this… but the unexpected PEACE being prevailed is definitely a great benefit and gain in common people’s daily life… But sad part is that, slowly here and there comments on “injustice” started floating. I only hope such comments does not trigger the violence or stir the prevailing PEACE…!

from:  Kargal Bhogaraj
Posted on: Oct 4, 2010 at 11:50 IST

Faith emanates from historical facts. For example, Mahatma Gandhi`s birth place after say 5000 years cannot be proved by any of the artifacts that may be dug out after about a millenium. But recorded itihas (history), the culture, traditions of the faithful survive for ever. River Saraswati, Dwaraka, Rama Sethu referred to in the Indian Itihas and Discovered by Satelite Imagery during the past decade have established the veracity of the itihas, vedic references and beliefs of a mass of cultured people as againt the discoveries of (hitherto scientific) historians` controvercial findings.

It is definitely a fact that the invaders from the North of India have tried their level best to destroy our culture, our monuments etc.with ulterior motives. To aspire for the restoration of the prestine glory of a re-awakened race post-1947 is not a crime. All the citizens of our country should without reservations come forward in correcting the wrongs done in the course of the past millenuim.
The Honourable Judges of the Allahabad High Court have probably this in mind while writing their Judgement which is welcomed by most of our countrymen.

Posted on: Oct 4, 2010 at 11:15 IST

I respect Madam Thapar's historical knowledge, which is indeed erudite. But it's obvious that she is not good at interpreting legal judgments.

It appears that she has not fully grasped the technicalities of this case from a legal angle. And certainly, she is not alone in this. The entire English and Hindi media, some politicians and some other scholars are in the same category.

Let's first understand that this suit was never filed to build a temple or mosque in place of the destroyed ones - it has been correctly mentioned by a commentator above that the judgement doesn't mention the construction of a temple or a mosque - that's because that was not what the litigants asked for in their suits in the first place.

This suit was not filed to claim community rights of any religion.

This suit was filed to claim this piece of government land for possession by the three groups of individuals - and that's precisely what the court has decided - rather than granting it to any one of them, it has equally divided it amongst them.

Second, definitely there was a historical mosque there and also a temple, but please note that this does NOT AUTOMATICALLY PROVE that the land should automatically belong to all or any of the 3 litigant groups. This is why history is not important in this case.

Please read Justice SU Khan's statement, in which he has clearly said that there has not been any evidence in last 500 years that this land has belonged to any of the 3 litigant groups.

The truth is that this is government land, which these 3 groups have been trying yo claim for their selfish ends. They have provided religious faith as the basis for claiming this land for themselves.

Third, the political parties, the media and the intellectuals have unnecessarily politicised this issue and have tried to raise public emotions for their own motivated gains.

Precisely because they politicised this issue so much which caused a carnage of thousands of people, destruction and tensions running through the society, the high court had to give credence to the religious faith which these 3 groups of people were citing as the basis for claiming this piece of govt land, for which NONE OF THEM HOLDS EVIDENCE OF OWNERSHIP.

If only the media, the politicians and the intellectuals had not politicised this issue, the normal constitutional, secular verdict for this case would have been that NONE OF THESE 3 LITIGANT GROUPS OWNS THIS LAND. Hence, they should hand over this land to the government and not claim it for themselves.

However, given the circumstances, this verdict can not be given now.

Please note that it is the media, the politicians and the intellectuals who are responsible for this faith-based judgement. They hijacked the legal process and are blaming the high court decision now.

It is the political business of some people in India to thrive on communal tensions and riots. In this case, when the people of India have decided not to go for violence, these people can't gulp it down that such a judgement can be passed without any violence. It hurts their political agenda. Hence, they are deliberately trying to instigate the people of India to indulge in violence.

I'm sorry, but the people of India have better things to do in life than to take sides in a selfish dogfight for a piece of government land.

As for the destruction of the mosque, that is indeed serious matter.

Unfortunately, by focusing too much on issues not raised by the 3 litigants in their Ayodhya lawsuits, the media, the politicians and the intellectuals have helped to drown the real issues that should matter to all responsible citizens of India -

Who is demanding from the government to act on the findings of Liberhan Commission's report?

Who is demanding that the people named in Liberhan Commission Report as responsible for destroying the mosque should be severely punished?

Who is demanding that the committee responsible for building the mosque should be given financial assistance from the government?

Is the media and a so-called responsible paper like "The Hindu" using its platform to appeal to the Hindu community to help the Muslims to build the mosque?

What have the media, the politicians and the intellectuals done in this direction?

I think rather than misinterpreting the HC judgement to bring into focus the issues the 3 litigant groups didn't go to court for, these concerned people should rather focus on the Liberhan Commission Report, demand that the culprits mentioned there should be severely punished and financial assistance should be given to the mosque building committee. "The Hindu" should give a call to the majority community of India to help the Muslims to build a mosque.

It is the Liberhan Report that deals with the destruction of the Babri Mosque, NOT the Ayodhya land suit and it is the Liberhan Report that is being suppressed in this over-attention to the Ayodhya land suit.

It is not the HC verdict that is responsible for this, but the media, the politicians and the intellectuals - Madam Thapar included, I'm sorry to say this.

from:  Sonia
Posted on: Oct 4, 2010 at 08:22 IST

I am a hindu and i totally agree with the article..its a biased judgement based not on facts but on sentimental grounds.The issue has been much stretched unnecessarily.The land should be taken under govt control and the offenders of babari masjid demolishers must be punished for the sinful act..

from:  sneha nidhi
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 22:41 IST

the decision is based on possession as no one had title papers. deity RAM was in possession of central dome since 1949 & given that piece of land. Law is clear how is history involved in law.

from:  vipan
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 22:31 IST

Mythical prophets/history and academic history.
Dr Romilla Thaper , is hated by hindu nationalist/creationist.There is absolutely no historical evidencr of Ram,its birth place,Ram setu etc.Academic historians also dont accept biblical prophets, Moses, solomon, David either.But both hindu and judeo-christian creationist/nationalists run their priestly politics just founded on faith.This is unfortunate but real and acceptable as long as you dont step on other's human right/resources.Jews claimed and got a homeland based on" myhtical David/soloman and Divine promise";evven though bible accepts Palestinian as the " orignal owners".It was hilarious that even UNO accepted GOD's will. Here india we face the same myth, even though there absolutely no truth of RAM, court did accept this.
Acceptance by court, is really very sad.It only shows that even the court/judiciary like the political leaders are the reflection of peoples intellectual status.And for good /bad Indian are still drowned in " suprstition/magic,astrolgy,mythical history/" and upholds " human inequity/caste racisn"as divne and even lawfull.
Hope professors,likes of Romilla Thaper will stand up fo justice, clarity and human dignity/rights.

from:  Dr abdul jamil khan
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 21:31 IST

the ayodhya verdict is more like a compromise in panchayat than anything.the case was about the ownership of the disputed land and not about the beliefs of people of two court should have given clear verdict about the same irrespective of the sentiments of the people about it, based on historical facts involved. one can argue for hours about the beliefs and myths,about the god and religion but outside the courtroom. mrs Thapar is right in her claim about the disrespect to history.if we had to compromise, we should have done it many years ago...

from:  abhijit deshmukh
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 21:22 IST

I am surprised that in India where many religions have co-existed so beautifully together, should now lean towards one or the other for a decision. I propose they reconstruct a beautiful temple and an amazing masjid right next to each other. Today we must set an example in the true spirit of India to the rest of the world.

from:  Vandana Sabharwal
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 20:43 IST

To those who are sending in reams of text to criticise Ms. Thapar, please understand what the argument is about: the criteria that a court of law can use in a secular nation to decide on a legal dispute. Everyone knows that most facts and histories are contested but what matters is how available evidence, however complex or contradictory it is, is used to arrive at a judicious decision.

from:  astitva
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 19:29 IST

I am surprised that in India where many religions have co-existed so beautifully together, should now lean towards one or the other for a decision. I propose they reconstruct a beautiful temple and an amazing masjid right next to each other in the true spirit of India. History and Science will also tell us that we were monkeys once. Today we must evolve to using common sense.

from:  Vandana Sabharwal
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 19:21 IST

In the subcontinent religion and politics are so intermingled that to separate them is almost impossible. The decision given by the court is political yet best under the circumstances.This is the best way for the followers of the different faith to live in harmony side by side with each other and pray to the Gods of their choice.

from:  Liaqat ur Rehman
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 18:38 IST

Lets hope there wont be any mosque or Ram Temple for another larger timeframe...Lets keep our fingers crossed for final verdict :) I hope the supreme court will come up with final judgement atleast well within this decade! The author itself has accepted there was temple in disputed site around 12th century AD. Though destruction of masjid is a brutual act we should respect the sentiments of majority too..Judgement is apt.

from:  venkatasubban
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 18:21 IST

I salute Romila Thapar a thousand times for her courageous observations. Law of the land was not taken into consideration while issuing the court verdict. Faith of some people with no sound convincing basis was upheld and fairness was ignored. No mention was made about the illegality in breaking open the gates of the mosque,putting the idols on the masjid pulpit, allowing idol worship in the masjid and shilanyas in the masjid compound, tearing down the entire masjid structure and building a makeshift temple in its place where idol worship is continuing till this date and the hounding up, jailing and persecution and murder, molestation and looting of the victims of communal fury of fascists. The court loudly observes that the masjid was not built as per tenets of Islam whereas it is silent on whether the babri demolition was as per the tenets of any religion. The verdict allows two third of the babri land to those who tore it down and one third to those who had prayed there for four and half centuries. It also allows the idol worship there to continue uninterrupted. By allotting the babri land to those who tore it down, a dangerous legal precedence is created by the judges for posterity. Tearing down a four and half century old holy shrine belonging to one community is indirectly given legal approval through this verdict which allots the masjid portion to the masjid breakers. Two thousand people left to the other world in the communal riots that followed. The three lakhs karsevaks who razed the mosque under full police protection, under media glare, in broad daylight, being watched by all the branches of our government as well as media the world over, had a smooth return back to their respective destinations in hundreds of special trains well organized by our railways department! But the victims of this one sided attack were hounded up, looted, maimed, molested, imprisoned, killed, burnt alive and as per reports, our security set up misused their position in helping the aggressors. Despite all these, the people of our country needs to be congratulated over the calm they maintained upon hearing this biased, unjust, unkind verdict. This proves that Indians are not with fascist. There are secular people like Prof Romila Thapar who has created a precedent, like many other impartial historians, of expressing their sincere observations in predicaments like this that the nation faces. Future history students will also salute the Professor for her bold remarks. Just as future law students will look down upon the verdict in question. Thank you again Prof Romila Thapar.

from:  Pullissery Hamza
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 17:24 IST

True, there is no historical evidence, in terms of modern historians terms, that Ram was born at the exact spot. But, then how do you fix the place, when the history is about a birth that took place thousands of years ago. You cannot dig out archiological 'evidence' from that spot, which may have undergone changes over the centuries. In such cases one will have take cognizance of the lore, beliefs and faith of the people in the surrounding areas, which is derived from knowledge handed down from generation to generation. There is no other place in India which is believed to be the birth place of Ram. So we have to willy nilly accept that this spot as the birth place, unless there is another claimant.

As for the Court's verdict, it had to accept the ASI's findings, with all its shortcomings,as it is Statutory body. Court cannot ignore its findings and listen to other self proclaimed experts.

The verdict has atleast opened a way for peaceful way for settling the issue and help India move forward to tackle its more pressing issues.

Historians picking holes in ASI findings and critising the Court decision, raising alarms about more such issues, are only stocking the embers of communal hatred. They should keep their mouth shut in the interest of India.

from:  Venkiteswaran. K.A.
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 17:23 IST

Thapar's polemics on court Judgement lacks the very things that she points the judgement is devoid of - it's not based on facts and history. For those who want to see what kind of destruction took place in India during the time of the invaders, it would be good to start with Robert Sewell's book on Vijayanagar.

from:  Ritesh
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 15:57 IST

Ms. Thapar, if at all you see this comment, I would appreciate your point of view. There are some very very crucial points you raised and I am glad someone did! When temples were destroyed hundreds of years ago, it was not the India that we see today. Hence, the unfortunate incident of 1992, when Babri Masjid was destroyed cannot be justified by peeping into the history. The problem is there was no condemnation of this act. Being Indians, we take pride in the secular, democratic society but what went wrong that such things took place and are taking place still?

from:  Saira
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 14:38 IST

I agree with the professor. How can the court give verdict based on emotions and belief rather than facts and evidence. This will definitely pave way for more such disturbing incidents in India. Hope Supreme Court will give verdict based on truth.

from:  Fahad
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 13:48 IST

The so-called historian seems to have been inflicted with more of emotion rather than factual digestion. The historian erred in mixing the title suit with the demolition case.

The court has decided the case only on the title suit. As regards forcible demolition of the mosque, every rightful citizen will not condone it but this is a separate criminal case and is being dealth with accordingly. Both these cases should not be mixed.

The historian seems to be worried about only the demolition of masjid but what about the demolition of the temple on which it was built upon. Obvioiusly, circumstantial evidences of existence of temple are plenty - the neighbouring Hanuman Garh, Varaha swami temple, etc., which shows that there would have been a temple there on which masjid has been built. Ample evidences are available that the Babar masjid has been built on the remains of a temple - including the court case at the time of British rule way back in 1885.

Obviously, no judge would have given judgement unless there is an evidence to be relied upon and no one, including the so-called historian shall jump to conclusion unless the entire court judgement is read through.

The historian shall consider himself lucky for not being booked for contempt of court.

Even the muslims have welcomed the historic decision of the judges.

from:  Prabhakar
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 13:30 IST

The judgement was a fair one, many things what Ms.Romila Thapar said cannot be justified. India has always been a sanctuary for all the religions in the world, destruction of any heritage structure is part of vandalism. Many of the history what we learned where wrong, take the case of Tipu Sultan, we have been taught that Tipu Sultan was a freedom fighter but our ForeFathers has told how cruel Tip Sultan & his Father Hider Ali was. As during their time when ever they pushed their troops to the Malabar regions in Kerala they gave a hell of destruction to the Hindu & Jain Temples all over the place. It doesnt mean that just because he fought for his survival to retain his throne aganist the British he became a freedom fighter as because the whole of India where under the British. Hindu relegion was always tolarent towards all relegions, & Ms.Romila Thapar shouldnt have used the term for Lord Ram as Devine or Semi-Devine, does she have the guts to say so with Jesus Christ or with Prophet Mohammed. We should not try to keep on digging the grave, let us forget all those bad memories & pray that this judgement will bring in peace to our Country for 1000years to come & that dark shadow is gone.

from:  Anoop
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 12:58 IST

The article reflects the sentiments of minorities and they are now sceptical about judiciary. It creates a way new way to invade monuments that is put some idols by force and claim it in the court. Court is in favour of faith not the evidence submitted. Equal status of all communities guaranteed by law is at stake.

from:  Kunhalankutty odakkal
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 12:15 IST

The historians have their own perspective. Even among themselves they do not agree. We cannot hang on to the document and evidence only for this case. Of course mosque stood there for 400+ years. When you can believe that, and side with them, what of the faith of millions who believe a temple existed there before? Why deny them justice. This verdict is a welcome compromise.
I beg to differ Romila Thapar's conclusion. Any common man needs hope first to survive, which law did not provide for 60 years. This is the new beginning.

from:  Lakshman
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 11:45 IST

I agree with this candid article. Only a learned person can make such a brave statement. And truth is always bitter.

from:  nakhhlesahra
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 11:42 IST

Our country as a whole, not just a particular sect, creed or religion etc, need to get beyond the concept of a temple or a mosque. As a citizen of a country its imperative on us to think about progress. Just get on with building a building. Why do we have to look at every decision as an insecurity and keep cribbing about it. There are hundreds of other important things to do, lets make a way for them.
Common Wealth Games and corruption behind them and the condition and plight of Kashmir being just two of them.
History, as said is written by the one in power. And we cant be and never be certain about it, unless we go back and see it. So chuck the whole idea behind historical significance, and try to see the rationale behind the decision. My understanding says, that decision was aimed with a viewpoint of making progress and peace. Why do we fail to see that?

from:  Ishan Aggarwal
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 11:15 IST

I hope good sense prevails over both sides & they believe peaceful co-existence is the essence of life.

from:  hari
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 10:50 IST

The only decision that could have been given is the one which promotes harmony and peace in the contemporary India. The decision includes the division based on longevity of each group and the population of each group. There is no way any one could have given a judgement based on history as there is no evidence for all bits of history needed. So it is a bit naive to think such a judgement would have been possible. However what is possible is for people to work together for the betterment of the country and learn to live together in peace and haromny.

from:  Nyaya
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 10:02 IST

Dear Prof Thapar,
Your ‘historian’s perspective’ begins with the Babri Masjid and ends with a lament that the Court did not order its restoration. It willfully ignores all other historical facts.

from:  bharat gupt
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 09:35 IST

Mosque...A faith. Temple...A faith. This judgement too is based on faith. What is wrong in it?
Fair deal. No harm caused to both parties.

from:  Ajith Kumar
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 09:28 IST

I appreciate and admire the timely comment that a great historian like Romila Thapar gave on a court verdict which is hardly befitting the Indian judiciary.
Until and unless our Supreme Court gets chance to rule on the case concerned and makes its observation on the quality of the verdict just given, many of us feel like Mr Lieberman that it is no verdict at all.

from:  Bodhi Ratna Lakshman
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 08:22 IST

Democracy is the rule by majority.Here,in India even by very strict estimate 70% of people are believers;So faith will be the element in every sphere of Indian life

from:  pankaj pandit
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 08:09 IST

Ms Thapar needs to study the context of the case to fathom the deliberations.

from:  N J Ramesh
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 07:38 IST

Society is a union of people with a common belief and tradition. So belief and tradition is a very central part of any society. I think every Hindu believe that Ayodhya is Lord Rama's birth place. I don't think you and me have to argue on that.

from:  Saubhagya
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 06:19 IST

I disagree in the view that the judges are mistaken in their verdict. I also disagree that evidences were not used for the verdict.

from:  sam
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 05:26 IST

Babri-Ram mandir Case judgement legitimizes the act of vandalism and violence perpetrated by frenzied mobs of different hue and political colours.

from:  G Mohan
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 05:05 IST

I appreciate the outcome but not the process or method. But after reading the above comments I can't understand how a decision can be taken on the basis of what might have happened 400 years back or 200 years back.

from:  Kaukab
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 04:05 IST

Prof. Thapar should not be worried about lack of sufficient evidence or fallacious interpretation of historical facts.The bench that delivered the verdict possessed a deep knowledge of historical facts.No need for Prof.Thapar to create any confusion in this regard. And yes, it's not a political judgment. It's a sound legal judgment in tune with well-settled principles of jurisprudence.

from:  Arvind K.Pandey
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 03:47 IST

While I value the views expressed by Romila Thapar,I feel sad that nobody is bothered to respect the " Ram " highly revered by Mahathma Gandhi. Whether anybody proves it or not it is sentimentally accepted that Ayodhya is place where Ram was born. Absence of proof does not mean proof of absence.

from:  S.bala
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 03:41 IST

When our history s not much to be proud of, it created a history and a precedent underlining co-existence for generations to come. For only if we co-exist can we afford to even have disagreements.

from:  Srinivas N
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 02:44 IST

The judiciary has made a political judgment, Thapar comments go beyond the context of history. ASI analysis (images of maps/plans of foundations/carvings etc) have never been published by any major newspaper. Everybody seems to be overreaching and nobody seems to display any clarity.

I best like hearing the politicians "our youth wants development", well so did our parents! It was appalling to watch the sound byte by one Rahul Gandhi in between the five day postponement, talking about development.

from:  Shantanu
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 01:52 IST

What the ASI report and recent judgement have confirmed was already well-known in 1989. The only problem was the denial of the historical facts by secularists and historians.

from:  vinod
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 01:05 IST

The honorable judges have given their verdict. The majority of India seems to have accepted this verdict so graciously. Now let us move on!

from:  P.S. Swaminathan
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 00:36 IST

I completely agree with Thapar's analysis. It is unbelievable that a court of law could offer this opinion. I can understand the desire to create a decision that has the least potential for violence and unrest. But that is the job of the Govt, not a court of law. The court needs to follow facts, logic and the law. This judgment shows failure on all 3 counts.

from:  Michael
Posted on: Oct 3, 2010 at 00:07 IST

New India responded maturely to judgment.

from:  prasbad
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 23:02 IST

The author states "The excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and its readings have been fully accepted even though these have been strongly disputed by other archaeologists and historians..." I have not seen any "strongly disputed evidence" against it.

The HC verdict provides both communities a pathway to move forward and leave the past "history" behind.

from:  Surendra Sharma
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 22:56 IST

I would like to highlight some points....
The concern raised by Thapar over demolition of mosque not condemned in verdict is worth to consider. The bench should have criticized such acts which threatens India's integrity.
I think the bench of judges has given the landmark verdict that despite the mosque was not built according to tenets of Islam thus can't be considered mosque, the court has given the rightful share of land to Waqf board to construct mosque because people were actually worshiping Allah there. The same has been done with party demanding land for building Ram's temple. Because people were worshipping Lord Ram there, so they are also given equal share. So I think nothing like injustice has been done to decades of prayers done at that holy place.

from:  Ashish Singal
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 22:37 IST

I salute the judiciary for their balanced and practical judgement and it is better historians don't get in to politics to soil it further.

from:  Anand Shastri
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 22:30 IST

the analysis by siddarth varadarajan does not reflect his knowledge about indian history or indian ethos and almost reflects that he has not studied in india since he passes a judgement about judgement before anyone can read all the 5000 pages and digest it and secondly when there is a court order as well as unwritten agreement between media that no intrpretation should be given. what other judgement can we expect. the judiciary is to do a job and this sixty years old case is now given a somewhat shape of things to be taken.

from:  n ramaswami
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 21:22 IST

"The verdict is a political judgment and reflects a decision which could as well have been taken by the state years ago"
I totally disagree with that opening sentence of the article. TIME was one of the key "JUDGE" in this particular case. had they given the same verdict in 1993-94, do u think the 'public response' would have been same. the kind of maturity People showed after the Apprehension of the government is truly commendable.

from:  ravi
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 20:50 IST

Dear Prof. Thapar,it is refreshing and hopeful to hear from academics like you. The court sadly endorses a minority of extremist, which divided our community like never before. This is a very sad chapter in our history. I wish the court ordered the site to be taken over by the government and proclaim the land as national monument or museum. Restore it to previous state as much as possible. Preserve it for the next generation. I wondered what god would want to be worshiped at a place over which thousands are killed and is now becoming a symbol of vandalism and divide instead of love and peace which every religion promotes.

from:  liju
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 20:06 IST

Perhaps it may be that Prof Thapar missed the point suggested by the judge on the irrelevance of historical evidence and counter evidence in a case like Ayodhya that had a mixed and turbulent history. Which historian, by what historical method can say that this is THE history of Ayodhya? Which judge will take the historian's words as evidence in a case like Ayodhya? Most important of all what will the impartial India gain by sticking on to the historical evidence where there is none? And what is the point if the impartial India had to say that there were bloody riot and social unrest over a verdict, but the verdict has a historical evidence on its side.

The impartial India, as you can see from various online posts, wants this case to be buried once and for all. So they are all happy with the judgment that showed the character of better statesmanship, wisdom and goodwill, even with some imperfect legal flavours.

Those who shed tears against the verdict by want of evidence are like those who seek DNA tests on Gods in order to justify the faith, rituals and worship of the human folks. Unlike some of the politicians and a large section of intelligentsia, the verdict was welcomed by the common wisdom of all religious and secular faiths in India. Its time to move away from history, from social divisions and the hysteria of the past. Let wisdom and goodwill prevail.

from:  Jayadev. K
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 19:56 IST

I have one point to make, not whether the disputed land belong to one community or the other.

It's a historical fact that there exist a mosque at the disputed site, What cannot be established by hstory is that whether there was a temple or not, or whether Rama was born there or not. But before Temple, before Rama, To whom does the land belongs?. Is He/She/They not the Actual owners? The question is not that to Whom does the land belongs to? but rather can Judicial systems give justice in such cases were there is vague/no history to be considered for Justice? And does that means Emotions, Feelings et al should be considered for a Just Decision? Or What should be the principal for justice in such scenarios?

Any Takers?

from:  Syed
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 19:50 IST

I appreciate Romila Thapar for her courageous condemnation of the judgement . Our political class welcomed almost unanimously this judgement, because it saved them from their responsibilities. When belief and faith became the basis of a judgement then we should not expect justice from the judges. The sangh parivar speaks about peace and tranquility. Yes, calm prevails everywhere but it is not a sign of the acceptance. It is a sign of fascist atmosphere. Our intellectual class has failed miserably to rise to the occasion. We were immune to the violence. Elias Canetti (1905- 1994) a Bulgaria born thinker said: ‘’ Judgement is a disease and one of the most widespread; hardly anyone is immune from it.” He also said: “ Man has a profound need to arrange and rearrange in groups all the human beings he knows or can imagine ; by dividing that loose , amorphous mass into two opposing groups he gives it a kind of density.. he makes them exclusive and fills them with enmity for each other…tension between the groups continually renewed by the act of judgements.” Elias Canetti explains the techniques of fascists. It is very sad it suits well with our democracy .
Member of Legislative Assembly ,
Kattumannarkoil constituency,

from:  Ravikumar MLA
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 19:37 IST

The statement "What happened in history, happened" is just not right. History can be taken to be 5 years or 5000 years. The extent of time lapsed is not adequate to transform an unethical act into an ethical one. Willfully erecting a religious structure on another one used by a different faith, whether dilapidated or not, is plain bad judgment and unethical.

Bamiyan Buddhas have been demolished. Carving out a diametrically opposed religious viewpoint in its place, by use of force, is unethical, whether we take stock of it 5 years or 5000 years later. If, 5000 years later, we find an edifice as beautiful as the Taj Mahal, in the place where the Bamiyan Buddhas now stand, we will be right in saying that the new structure was put there in an unethical fashion. When history was demolished in Bamiyan before their own eyes, I wish historians like the author were more vocal in sermonizing the marauders than the current level of confusion they are creating in the pliant Indian system.

Indian democracy is strong enough and balanced enough to correct historical wrongs committed by dictators, tyrants and even the society itself. That's why we have reservation for the weaker sections. That is why this very same court threw out Indira Gandhi's election. If the courts in the US had not had the "Whatever happened, happened" and "we are running out of time" attitude, that country would have possibly had a different course from 2000 to 2008.

from:  Nanda
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 19:29 IST

I commend the honorable judges for their Ayodhya verdict.This judgement is truly based on the truth and the historical facts.This is definitely not a political judgement.AS they say Justice is blind. Judgement is made based on proofs and facts.Adding anything else in the equation would change the outcome.Therefore Romila Thapar's plea of preserving a historical monument could not be entertained in the decision making process.
Not everyone has the wisdom and ability to deliver the intricacy of judgement and thas is why we have judges.Thanks to the judges that after so many years justice has been served and truth has emerged.

from:  T.B.Srivastava MD
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 19:10 IST

In Secular Country like India, Belief and Faith should not be use to give judgements. Judgement should be on fact not on belief. When i hear judegement, it ridiculed me so much and also thought other places of workship or home or any land. Based on the belief anyone can come and claim the property.
As a Reconcilation, Let Muslims and Hindus distribute the Land but Judgement should be upheld. Hopefully Muslims goes to Supreme Court.

from:  Bakher
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 18:35 IST

First of all it is nice to see a wonderful analysis by Romilaji. As Romilaji has pointed out people may resort to this modus operandi of getting possession of lands by declaring it as janmasthan.
To truely make India a global power, we should keep these religious issues aside and a total privatisation of religion should be adopted. The state should not favour any religious institution and especially should not be religiously motivated when they are delivering a judgement. Everything should be fact based. This case is going to open a whole can of worms which was long ago dead, burried and forgotten.
Talking about this verdict, will make the wound more sore and not let people move on.Instead, religious organizations (all of them, be it any religion) should not get state affiliation. All of them should start privatising their faith.
Only then people can think about economic development by collaborating and building an environment which is enriching for all.

from:  Danny
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 18:30 IST

Unfortunate that the indian tradition and faith is now contested with evidence, if tomorrow 300 years from now someone says there were no buddhas (bhamayn) in afganistan that were destroyed by Taliban will anybody be able to create a evidence, It is a well established fact the fanatic islam erases the history to erect its own...... even in Kashmir which is going through such phase, even the spritual "Lal ded" Who is considered one of the proponents of Shavism is now branded Lala Arifa and people there have started quoting her in light of Islam... It is indian people Hindus in particular who were enslaved 600 years back have started self negating themselves and their spritual and vedic history. I am not against any kind of faith I would still love to go to a Dhargah revere great people of all faiths because if GOD is one then every faith would lead to same end. But go history and look with open eyes how Islam spread. You will get the feelers...India is a greate country which accepted all faiths because of sanatandharma traditions but that does not mean we negate things just for lack of evidence.

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 18:11 IST

It is difficult to stomach an argument which tries to pass a barbaric act of as part of our heritage. 500 years back, building the Babri Masjid by razing down a temple was an even more reprehensible act. And going by that logic, this judgement with the passing of time, will also gain ‘heritage’ status. Antiquity is not the only way one can bestow heritage status to ba(r)baric acts. The context is as, if not more, important

from:  Harshvardhan Bhatkuly
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 17:16 IST

by giving precedence and credence to the belief and faith of one community, and thus pronouncing the judgment, the verdict has shown how politically and ideologically the decision is motivated. the justice system has taken a severe beating in this judgment. if this was to be the case why did they take so long to pronounce this judgment and waste huge tax payers money by getting historians, archaeologists and other experts to use their precious time investigating the nuances in this case???

from:  aasif
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 15:56 IST

A timely article!

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 15:10 IST

This is a political commentary by a 'distinguished' historian whose career has been distinguished by blunders on a macro scale. The court verdict which should never have been necessary has discredited the position of historians of the school to which Professor Thapar belongs that no temple was destroyed in building the Babri Mosque. She has also long held the position of Aryans as outside invaders also discredited by science, especially population genetics. Such blunders in any other field would have ended the career of a professional but such persons thrive in the Indian history establishment. This suggests a need for a serious revamping of the Indian academic establishment, especially in the humanities. Is it any wonder that talented young people are leaving India in droves drawn to the more congenial academic climate in the West?

from:  N.S. Rajaram
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 15:01 IST

First of all a sigh of relief that we were not plunged into another bout of rioting, murder and mayhem.

The legal basis for for declaring ".....that a particular spot is where a divine or semi-divine person was born and where a new temple is to be built to commemorate the birth.........." is simply non-existent. Not only has the court to blame itself for bringing the whole Indian legal and judicial system into contempt, ridicule and disrepute, but also, as Ms Thapar has so eloquently put it, "...... has created a precedent in the court of law that land can be claimed by declaring it to be the birthplace of a divine or semi-divine being worshipped by a group that defines itself as a community....." The verdict has sown the seeds for many more Ayodhyas to be created all around the country.

from:  mohansingh
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 14:59 IST

Can historians comment on Judegements? Did she comment as historian to left leaning politician? or as aam admi? Is history to be decided based on rocks and stones or also traditions that people follow?

from:  gdebgee
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 13:22 IST

Dear professor,

There seems little disagreement that faith have superseded historical facts in recent HC judgement. But, the way in which the question is being raised by "intellectuals" on historical facts should also be critically analysed.

You have stated that ASI recommendations was analysed in simplistic manner..but forget to mention the complex analysis, similarly, many are claiming that the ASI committee was created during NDA regime thus having biased study..does not the same logic would apply on all other committees created in other regimes!! Thus, this simplistic and sectarian analysis should not be given importance and a more complex and holistic pictures should be posed as counter argument in better interest of the history discipline.

Second, one need to look how the judiciary interpret historical facts, they can't go beyond their limits, they have their time limits also for settling many issues. So, the question of including other counter views need to by analysed. The other important question is over authority? Who will decide whom view to be included? Is there any professional body who have given common counter argument against the ASI arguments to the court?

Moreover, how can people believe over the sanctity of "historical facts" when to imminent historians of modern India are giving different details of oldness of the mosque of our common culture? You have stated it as 500 years old..where as prof. Panikkar state it as 400 years old:

"The demolition was a criminal act according to the laws of the country, as the mosque was a 400-year-old historical monument that the state was committed to protect." (PANIKKAR, K N 2010)

from:  Aseem
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 12:47 IST

"The verdict is a political judgment and reflects a decision which could as well have been taken by the state years ago. Its focus is on the possession of land and the building a new temple to replace the destroyed mosque."

Am sorry, but nowhere have I read since the verdict came out about its focus being on building a new temple. The verdict pointed to the issues that were to be decided and said how they had been decided.It never said anything about building a new temple to replace the destroyed mosque. Of course, that was a focus of the anchors and participants in debates and discussions on TV news channels.

from:  V.M. Rajasekhar
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 12:29 IST

Romila Thapar's age old strategy of twisting historical facts to suit her "secular" (i.e., communal) ideology is well documented and corroborated through this kind of "yellow" piece of journalism. She and many "secular" historians always deny that Muslims have destroyed even a single temple in India. Since the HC has decreed on the basis of hard evidence that there indeed was a temple in place of disputed structure (not a Mosque!) *ALL* that land must be handed over the Hindus for construction of a Ram temple. Let Romila Thapar establish go and study history of Mecca- Medina and Vatican, and give her "secular" advise about what should be built there. And then she will soon see the "results" of her advise.

from:  shailendram
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 12:22 IST

Exactly my thoughts... even though I am not any expert on anything... Any layman can see that the Indian Judiciary has completely become inefficient with this judgement... not only it takes eons to deliver justice but when a judgement is made, it is purely based on emotions like faith and belief of majority community and nothing to do with evidence.

from:  Sriram
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 11:30 IST

The above article is flawed in many aspects:
1. "Its focus is on the possession of land and the building a new temple to replace the destroyed mosque". - Please note that the focus is nowhere to build a new temple to replace the destroyed mosque. This is nowhere in the gist of the ruling.
2. Same with first sentence of Paragraph 2
3. "This is in response to an appeal by Hindu faith and belief." - Entirely correct. This is actually a legal principle of interpretation which states that an interpretation of law is subordinate to the customs and beliefs and practices of the class of people being adjudicated, and in this case the belief of the Hindus.
4. The verdict claims that there was a temple of the 12th Century AD at the site which was destroyed to build the mosque — "hence the legitimacy of building a new temple." - The court never says this or even implies this.
5. "The excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and its readings have been fully accepted even though these have been strongly disputed by other archaeologists and historians." - Fine, so Ms Thapar is suggesting that the findings of a Government authority be ignored - please do take this legally up by dragging the ASI to court over its findings - the onus of proof would be on the persons claiming the falsity of the report. I'm sure that no one has done this. Alternatively, could Ms Thapar suggest what other evidence can one rely on - the NASA may be not, it is populated by capitalist scientists, maybe the Chinese archaelogical authorities could help ?
5. One judge stated that he did not delve into the historical aspect since he was not a historian but went to say that history and archaeology were not absolutely essential to decide these suits! - The court has relied on the rulings of the Supreme Court for this. So please take the SC to task, not the subordinate judicial authority who relied on it.
6. A mosque built almost 500 years ago and which was part of our cultural heritage - Not sure what cultural heritage Ms Thapar is talking about when she ignores the cultural heritage of Ayodhya itself as the place of the birth of Lord Rama.
7. The verdict has created a precedent in the court of law that land can be claimed by declaring it to be the birthplace of a divine or semi-divine being worshipped by a group that defines itself as a community. - Why should there be ? This question is being investigated in a seperate criminal case that is being heard. The court would then be influencing the outcome of another ruling in its own jurisdiction [I'm assuming].

Would plead with the 'distinguished' historian to digest the detailed judgment.

To The Hindu - Please read an extract of an article from today's Business Standard []: I wonder whose vested interests this distinguished paper is pandering today, in 2010. Back in 1878, I have learnt, it was to oppose British racial discrimination against a native Madras HC judge - a noble cause indeed.

"Rao had set up an Ayodhya cell in his office, headed by Naresh Chandra. In an interview to this reporter in October 1992, Chandra was strongly critical of the attempts made by a team of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professors to prove historically that Ram was not born in Ayodhya. “Progressive historians (like Romila Thapar, S Gopal and others) are more keen to present their modern, secular credentials.They want to sound superior and informed, but we find their writings opinionated and argumentative.”

He added: “We would be rejecting history if we were to say that for the last 400 years (since Mir Baqi, a Shia from Iran, built a mosque at the disputed site), Hindus and Muslims have been living happily and sharing the same building for puja and namaz. There has obviously been a temple here. Whether it belonged to Ram or someone else, we don’t know because there isn’t enough data. But the fact is there have been bitter conflicts over this place, and we cannot brush this aside, as the JNU professors have done.”

from:  Bharath L
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 10:41 IST

It makes strange reading. India is perhaps the only country that has its history written by outsiders that, as usual, we vehemently defend. Nowhere else will a politician dare the majority with absurd remarks about their origin, practices or beliefs and get away with it. Worse still, get elected to represent the very majority he outwardly will despise. All beliefs are the exclusive prevail of the minority community. It is justifiable if people riot for happennings in Iraq, Denmark, the US that we as Indians neither endorse nor have any influence whatsoever. Even a strand of hair can become a bone of contention but justifiable. Land cannot be granted for religious purpose if the majority in that region (minority elsewhere in the country) decide not to part with it for the minority (majority elsewhere).

The very fact that such things are allowed to happen and tolerated is one more among numnerous testimonies to Hinduism's tolerance which no other religion can stake claim to. Yet it is villified. It may require a social scientist to research if the new found assertion (not aggression) of Hindus is the result of repeated emasculation by a section of the same majority for narrow political brownie points.

May be we will find a more sensible ground for discussion.

from:  K.Ravishankar
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 09:37 IST

I agree with Professor Thapar. If the destruction of a temple is justification for the building of a new temple at the disputed site, then the destruction of the Babri Mosque ought to also be reason enough to build a new mosque at that same site. Otherwise this verdict is setting a dangerous precedent which can encourage the continued destruction of Islamic monuments in India.

from:  Mahua Sarkar
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 08:40 IST

i am amazed why is their so much poohpooh with this verdict.the court has distributed the land to both the religion what else is required.

historians are not sure of who was ram and even the true identity of mohammad.this doesn't mean that people should stop believing in them.

well as demolition of babri masjid is a crime so the demolition of several temple by invaders was also a crime.

the best thing about this verdict is that people of india have shown cognizance towards the philosophy of living with sharing and our court has upheld that concept.

some historians will shout as history has always been manipulated and always remains open for counter debates.historians should stop taking mileage from these subjects and better focus on the bigger picture.that is the great saga in indian history where people of india successfully averted the plots of fanatics and agreed to share the future with each other and move on for greater glory.

but of course we need preventive measures so that these things can not happen again.

from:  sukant
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 08:16 IST

History is known to be only 50% true and replete with the whims and fancies of the historians History can be read,but not be believed in totality.

from:  K.Sugavanam
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 07:42 IST

As a neutral non-believer, I believe that a sensible judgement has been given. Religion is all about faith only. I don't see 'evidence' for existence of GOD anywhere. So this is an issue of faith only. I do also hear sighs of relief from the parties involved. With this judgement as the basis, the aggrieved people from all 'faiths' should now sit down and arrive at a consensual way to close-out this issue. Probably, Romila Thapar as a revered historian cannot see beyond the historical evidence; why should they bother? we bother? when we are insulated and protected from the ferocity of events, when 'faiths' clash.

from:  Sudhir Venugopal
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 07:34 IST

According to certain historians,everything is a myth.

from:  M.Hariharakrishnan
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 07:09 IST

This is not unexpected from the pen of Romila Thaper. She says that the findings of the excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and its readings have been fully accepted even though these have been strongly disputed by other archaeologists and historians. She has to understand that Archaeological Survey of India is a body of top level research scholars who know how to read epigraphical records.

from:  Jagannatha
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 06:57 IST

Ms. Thapar's piece is excellent. Her point of view and agony are not only admirable but sharp and focussed. Having said that, let us, the people of independent India, who have earned our freedom struggle through Gandhiji's doctrines of non-violence and truth, strive to understand the underlying meanings of evidence and true reconciliation. Kudos to you, Romilaji.

from:  vani
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 06:38 IST

a nation cannot be ruled by law alone but by faith & brotherhood.let us take the verdict in good perspective & march on...

from:  v narayanan
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 06:33 IST

She is correct, the verdict is agianst Muslims.

from:  mkhader
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 06:17 IST

I beg to differ with Ms. Thapar. According to her arguments, I cannot see what judgment could have satisfied her other than granting the complete land to Waqf board. Also, she claims that the monument was of historical importance. As far as I know the place was hardly used by anyone and was in shambles even before the controversy erupted. Thirdly, she criticizes the court for accepting the findings of ASI. I cannot see any other alternative available to the court. The courts base their judgment on the facts presented in front of them. I don't think they have the right to doubt the accuracy of the facts: courts are not investigative agencies. Considering the various restrictions that the court had, I believe that they have delivered a smart judgment and have made an earnest attempt to resolve the issue. The demolition of the mosque is altogether a different issue and the culprits in that crime should be given the harshest of the punishments.

from:  Mayur
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 05:37 IST

The ASI report had made use of modern laser technology, cross-checked by experts from various fields. It is about time that young historians are also trained in the use and interpretation of these new technologies applicable for archeology, so that they can vindicate their theories through real hard evidence instead of just their political biases.

from:  Pijush
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 05:13 IST

Romila Thapar clearly evades the historical references made by many eminent Muslim historians about the demolition of a temple in Ayodhya in 16th century. Romila Thapar believes Babri Masjid was a historical monument that needed to be protected. If that is so what about the rights of Hindus who were worshipping the same spot as Ram Janmabhoomi even before the construction of the Mosque and continue to do so for 5 centuries after the construction of the mosque. It is clear that Hindus had believed the place was Ram Janmabhoomi for centuries, there must be some reason behind that? Now that ASI has explicitly found evidence of a temple under the mosque it is totally illogical to say that there is "no" evidence for a past temple.

from:  Prasanth Nambiar
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 05:00 IST

Very biassed perspective. I doubt if Ms Romila Thapar has read the 8500 page judgement.

from:  Dr. J
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 03:46 IST

Yes, we cannot change the past. But it cannot be misinterpreted as the leftist historians have done to maul India's history.They have used history to impose their obsolete concepts and as a political tool.

from:  Ramakrishna
Posted on: Oct 2, 2010 at 03:33 IST
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