Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – Even as all the six Hindu parties (appellants) in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi title dispute case had been harping on the Hindu belief and faith in the Supreme Court to clinch the verdict in their favour a new book with as many as 17 major evidences proved that the present Ayodhya is not the epic Ayodhya mentioned in the Ramayana. But the Ayodhya of yore could have been located somewhere in Africa.
The book titled ‘Clinching Evidence on Ayodhya’ claims that there is hardly any evidence that exists beyond textual assertions which could substantiate the claim that present Ayodhya is the same city that existed during the time of Lord Rama. Therefore, the Ayodhya title suit dispute which had been heard by the apex court should be dealt with as a land dispute rather than as a matter of faith or belief, said the author of book, Dr Abdul Rashid Agwan, a scholar on Hinduism and president of the Institute of Policy Studies and Advocacy.
The author, who is also Delhi state president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, has not only relied on mythological sources but also on archaeological findings, anthropological studies, geography, epigraphy, global history, genomics, etc. to prove his claim.
Speaking with Caravan Daily, Dr Agwan said, “We should separate three issues related to Babri Masjid-Ram Janmmbhoomi controversy. One is about the title of the land. Another is about location of the Epic Ayodhya. And the third one is about the divinity of Shree Rama.”
Elaborating on these issues, Dr Agwan said the last one is entirely a matter of faith and belief and the second issue is related to historical existence of the epic Ayodhya.
When asked why he doubts the existence of epic Ayodhya in Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh, he quipped, “In order to consider any locality as the Epic Ayodhya, three conditions should be fulfilled, urbanisation, antiquity and geographical match with the epic descriptions. Ayodhya in Faizabad district does not fulfill any of these criteria. He further said that the existence of Shri Rama’s Ayodhya at its claimed location seems to be impossible.
What prompted him to take this study?
He said that the study was based on his multi-dimensional research in search of the epic Ayodhya in the wake of the fact that neither Ayodhya nor places associated with the Ramayana route could be convincingly located in spite of excavations for more than six decades, which prompted him to undertake a research on the issue two years back.
What are the major findings discussed in the book to support his claim?
Agwan said the book dwelt on 17 major evidences which underline that there is hardly any possibility that Ayodhya in Faizabad district could be the epic Ayodhya.
How did he arrive at the conclusion that the epic Ayodhya could have been in African continent?
He said he listed 20 places from Tanzania (Africa) in the west to Vietnam in the east (Asia) where existence of ancient Ayodhya is possible.
“I applied various scientific methods in the context of epic and Puranic statements and arguments in current debates regarding Ayodhya and reached to these strange conclusions,” he added.
Agwan regretted that many scholars and historians are creating new myths by distorting available facts.
Commenting on the book, noted activist and executive director of South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, Ravi Nair, told Caravan Daily that the author had put his hard work and scholarly ingenuity while discussing some untouched aspects of the Ayodhya controversy.
Ayodhya dispute is the product of a distorted history and dispassionate works like that of Dr Agwan could perhaps set the discourse on the right track for its long overdue remediation, he emphasised.
Agwan sahib did not accept its very premise of dealing with a concocted mythology as he considered the story of Ayodhya to be an absolute myth and was apprehensive of the possibility that it might simply be a trap of endorsing false claims in the name of history, Nair said.
In this context, he pointed out that Ramayana was not a historical work but a poetic rendering and there existed many of its versions, even with contradictory statements.
Nair, who is also a noted lawyer, observed that the title suit of Babri Masjid land was based on a wrong act recorded in a FIR which clearly points to surreptitious installation of idols in the historical mosque 70 years ago.