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This incident is a very complicated one with a lot of strings attached to it. But, what I can understand is the following:

In 1992, Babri Mosque was vandalized and destroyed by Hindu extremists saying that:

  1. the site of the mosque was the birth-place of Lord Ram
  2. the mosque was built by Emperor Babur by destroying an ancient temple

Reportedly, the archeological survey of India said that they found evidence of an ancient temple beneath the destructed mosque's structure, and the Supreme court of India gave a verdict in favor of Hindu extremists. It took almost 30 years to give the verdict, and it is alleged that the ruling BJP party had an influence on the entire process.

I am not interested in the nitty-gritty details of the incident. My question is only about the said Ram Temple.

Was the Babri Mosque built by Emperor Babur by destroying an ancient temple?


N.B. By the way, extremist Hindus also believe that the holiest place of Muslim worship Kaaba was a Hindu temple: see here, and here.

N.B.2 Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia and it is not always trustable.

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  • Those who are here to know the answer, the answer is: its inconclusive.
    – user366312
    Aug 2 '20 at 21:39
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There is a massive amount of information on the Wikipedia articles. Here I will only do a limited analysis of a few statements on Wikipedia.

Issue of the preexisting temple

Article Ayodhya dispute The Ayodhya Mahatmya, described as a "pilgrimage manual" of Ayodhya,[12] composed and collected from the 11th century onwards,[13] traced the growth of the Rama cult in the second millennium AD. The original recension of the text, dated to the period between 11th and 14th centuries,[14] mentions the janmasthana (birthplace) as a pilgrimage site.[15] A later recension adds many more places in Ayodhya and the entire fortified town, labelled Ramadurga ("Rama's fort"), as pilgrimage sites.

R. Sharma (2001:129-130) points out that the Ayodhya Mahatmya gives specific directions to the janmasthana which place it far away from Babri Mosque, "somewhere between Rinmochan and Brahamakunda." He also argues that Ram's birthplace was never mentioned in medieval texts so even this is likely a later interpolation. The source being quoted in Wikipedia's footnotes 13-16, Hans Bakker, himself observes that medieval texts attempting to boost the cult of Ram never claimed that Ram was born in Ayodhya.

R. Sharma also discusses a poet writing in Ayodhya, who was speaking specifically about pilgrimage on Ram's birthday, but failed to mention any temple in Ayodhya. "Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramacharitamanas in 1574 at [Ayodhya], does not mention it as a place of pilgrimage. ... He clearly specifies the time and place when he wrote his famous Ramacharitamanas ... add[ing] that whoever sings the story of the birth of Rama on [the day of Ram's birth when he completed the poem] obtains the merit accruing from his visit to all places of pilgrimage automatically, but he does not declare [Ayodhya] a place of pilgrimage." Tulsidas refers to many nearby temples in this text, but never a Ram temple. (Sharma 2001:127-8)

Article Archaeology of Ayodhya

This article discusses a temple dedicated to Vishnu built between the 11th and 12th centuries in Ayodhya, possibly on the site later used for the Babri Mosque. It also discusses animal bones and Muslim graves which the archaeologists spirited away from the site but avoided analyzing in detail. It does not mention glazed Islamic-style pottery which was found lying on top of the Vishnu temple, which alongside the animal bones and Muslim graves, suggests that the temple was being used as a residential area by Muslims before the construction of the mosque in the 16th century. (Sharma 2001:132-134)

Issue of Muslim sources on building/destroying

It is part of the Hindu contention that "Muslim texts" describe the destruction of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya. No such primary source has been located. On one hand this is not surprising because the Indian government allows old documents to rot. But the secondhand quotations that do exist are dubious even beyond Wikipedia's hesitant citation of them.

Article Babri Masjid: "The Baburnama (Chronicles of Babur) does not mention either the mosque or the destruction of a temple."

In fact, the Baburnama is missing leaves for the time when the temple is said to be constructed, between 12 Jumada 934 AH and 3 Muharram 935 AH. (Conermann 1994:281n45)

Article Babri Masjid: "the Muslim activist Mirza Jan quoted from a book" written by Aurangzeb's granddaughter in the early 18th century which describes the destruction of temples in past generations.

This book cannot have been written by Aurangzeb's granddaughter because she died in 1705 and the book's title refers to events that occurred in 1707. The original text has never been located and Mirza Jan was a fanatic who wanted to demolish more temples, which places the reliability of his account in question. Furthermore, even if real, this book does not describe the destruction of a Ram temple. (Conermann 1994:275)

Article Ayodhya dispute: "According to an early 20th century text by Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar and the surrounding historical sources examined by historian Harsh Narain,[note 3] the young Babur came from Kabul to Awadh (Ayodhya) in disguise, dressed as a Qalandar (Sufi ascetic), probably as part of a fact-finding mission. ... The older editions of Abdul Ghaffar's book contain more detail, which seems to have been excised in the 1981 edition. Lala Sita Ram of Ayodhya, who had access to the older edition in 1932, wrote, "The faqirs answered that they would bless him if he promised to build a mosque after demolishing the Janmasthan temple. Babur accepted the faqirs' offer and returned to his homeland."[34][35]"

This is a startling paragraph. Was the 1981 text a redaction, or was the manuscript cited in 1932 a revision based on an ideology like Mirza Jan's? Looking to the citations given on Wikipedia, there is no Redaktionsgeschichte going on here at all. Citation 34 goes to Dharam Veer Sharma's opinion in the 2010 court case, which is mind-boggling. Not only does this High Court justice not consider the possibility of a revision to the text, he accepts this outlandish story of a king disguising himself as a Sufi ascetic on its face. Even though the earliest citation of this dates to the "early 20th century," an incredible 300-400 years after the construction of the mosque.

I do not claim to derive a conclusion from this when Indian courts have been unable to do so, but I do think this helps show that the situation is more complex even than the confusing evidence laid out on Wikipedia. I hope that any more detailed answer to this question pursue the source The Babri Masjid Question 1528–2003: 'A Matter of National Honour' (New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2003) which is not available online. Ordinarily I would be able to obtain this book but the relevant library is closed due to COVID.

References

Conermann, Stephan. "Muslimische Quellen in der Ram Janmabhumi Mandir-Babri Masjid Debatte." Internationales Asienforum 25, nos. 3-4 (1994).

Sharma, R.S. “The Ayodhya Issue,” in Destruction and Conservation of Cultural Property, ed. Robert Layton, Peter G. Stone, and Julian Thomas (New York: Routledge, 2001).

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  • There is a massive amount of information on the Wikipedia articles. --- you missed the last line in my question.
    – user366312
    Jul 25 '20 at 13:08
  • 4
    I didn't miss it... I'm responding to it
    – Avery
    Jul 25 '20 at 13:18
  • 1
    So, its inconclusive.
    – user366312
    Jul 25 '20 at 15:17
  • 4
    Yes, the documents and archaeology that exist are extremely inconclusive about the claim that the Babri Mosque was built by Emperor Babur by destroying an ancient temple. The Supreme Court also ruled in 2019 that there is no consensus about this.
    – Avery
    Jul 25 '20 at 15:20
  • How do you explain the artifacts shown in this video?
    – user366312
    Jun 2 at 23:54

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