Ayodhya Ram Mandir: A Divine Resurgence for Hindus

The Ayodhya Ram Mandir is a Hindu temple located in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, dedicated to Lord Ram, a revered deity in Hinduism. Its construction marks the culmination of a long-standing dispute over the site, which holds significance for both Hindus and Muslims. The temple’s construction is seen as a symbol of cultural and religious identity for many Hindus and has sparked debates on secularism and communal harmony in India.

Background behind Ram Mandir:

Religious Dispute: The site in Ayodhya has been a source of religious and political tension between Hindus and Muslims for decades. Hindus believe it to be the birthplace of Lord Rama and claim that a Ram Mandir (Temple) existed on the site before the construction of the mosque.

Babri Masjid Construction: The Babri Masjid was built by the Mughal emperor Babur in the 16th century. The mosque stood for several centuries, coexisting with the surrounding Hindu community. The mosque became a focal point of the dispute between Hindus and Muslims.

Ram Janmabhoomi Movement:

The Ram Janmabhoomi movement is a political and religious movement in India that advocated for the construction of a Ram Mandir at the site traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The movement gained prominence in the late 20th century and played a significant role in shaping the political landscape of India. Here are the key details of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement:

Formation of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP): The Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu nationalist organization, played a crucial role in spearheading the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. It was founded in 1964 as an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and gained prominence for its efforts to promote Hindu unity and causes.

Advocacy for Ram Mandir: The demand for the construction of a Ram Mandir at the disputed site gained momentum in the 1980s, with the Vishva Hindu Parishad at the forefront of the movement. The call for a Ram Mandir (Temple) at the site became a rallying point for Hindu nationalists.

Rath Yatra by L.K. Advani (1990): In 1990, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani embarked on a Rath Yatra (chariot procession) to mobilize support for the construction of the Ram temple. The yatra covered several states, and it resulted in widespread public attention and support.

Babri Masjid Demolition (1992):

Demolition: On December 6, 1992, a large crowd of one lakh of Hindu activists, including leaders from various right-wing organizations, gathered at the site. The situation escalated, and despite assurances from political leaders that the mosque would be protected, it was demolished by the mob.

Demolition of Babri Masjid
Demolition of Babri Maszid

Communal Riots: The demolition triggered widespread communal riots across India, leading to the loss of lives of more than 2000 people and property of approximately 10000 crore. The aftermath of the incident was marked by violence between Hindus and Muslims in several parts of the country.

National Ramifications: The event had a profound impact on Indian politics. The BJP, which had been advocating for the construction of a Ram temple, gained political prominence in the years following the demolition.

Justice Liberhan Commission:

The Justice Liberhan Commission, officially
known as the Liberhan Ayodhya Commission of Inquiry, was a one-man commission set up by the Government of India in 1992 to investigate the circumstances behind the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 by the mob. The demolition of the mosque sparked widespread communal riots across India.

Justice M.S. Liberhan, a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court, headed the commission. The primary objective of the commission was to inquire into the events leading up to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and identify the individuals and organizations responsible for the act. The commission was also tasked with investigating the role of various political, religious, and social entities in the incident.

The commission’s inquiry was lengthy and protracted, lasting for about 17 years. It submitted its report to then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 30, 2009. The contents of the report were not immediately made public, and it took several months before portions of it were leaked.

The Liberhan Commission report implicated various political leaders, including some from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. However, its findings were controversial, and opinions on its credibility and effectiveness varied. The report’s release reignited debates about the events leading up to the demolition and the subsequent communal tensions in the country.

Ayodhya Verdict (2019):

The Supreme Court of India delivered a landmark judgment on November 9, 2019, in the long-standing Ayodhya dispute, providing a resolution to the contentious issue of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site. Here are the key details of the Supreme Court decision:

Ownership of the Disputed Land: The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the entire disputed land, approximately 2.77 acres in Ayodhya, should be handed over to a trust to oversee the construction of a Ram temple.

Alternative Land for Mosque: The court directed the government to provide an alternative 5-acre plot of land in Ayodhya to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque. This allocation was based on the court’s consideration of maintaining communal harmony.

Basis of the Decision: The Supreme Court’s decision was based on a legal assessment of historical, archaeological, and documentary evidence related to the disputed site. The court examined the claims of Hindus and Muslims and concluded that the Babri Masjid was built on the ruins of a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Rama.

Archaeological Evidence: The court took into account the findings of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which conducted excavations at the site. The ASI report suggested the presence of a structure similar to a Hindu temple beneath the mosque.

Statute of Limitations: The court considered the legal doctrine of adverse possession but ultimately concluded that the limitations period did not apply in this case, given the unique nature of the dispute and its historical and religious implications.

Constitutional Principles: The judgment emphasized the secular principles of the Indian Constitution and the importance of maintaining communal harmony. The court sought to strike a balance between the rights of the Hindu and Muslim communities.

Unanimous Verdict: All five judges on the Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, delivered a unanimous verdict. The other Supreme Court judges on the bench were Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, and S. Abdul Nazeer.

Ayodhya Ram Mandir Judges
Supreme Court Judges in Ram Mandir verdict

Peaceful Resolution: The Supreme Court’s decision was seen as an attempt to bring a peaceful resolution to a decades-old dispute that had led to communal tension and violence in the past. The court’s emphasis on maintaining communal harmony was a crucial aspect of the judgment.

The Supreme Court’s verdict marked the end of a protracted legal battle over the Ayodhya dispute and paved the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. The judgment was significant not only for its resolution of a deeply divisive issue but also for its implications on the principles of secularism and religious freedom in India.

Foundation Stone Laying (2020):

The foundation stone-laying ceremony for the construction of the Ram Mandir (temple) in Ayodhya took place on August 5, 2020. The ceremony was a historic event attended by various political and religious leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Here are the key details of the foundation stone-laying ceremony:

Foundation of Ram Mandir
Foundation of Ram Mandir

Date of the Ceremony: The foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Ram Mandir took place on August 5, 2020. The date was chosen for its significance—it coincided with the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

Location: The ceremony was held at the site where the disputed Babri Masjid once stood in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The Supreme Court of India awarded the entire disputed land to the Hindu parties in its November 2019 judgment.

Participation: The ceremony was attended by a select number of guests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Key attendees included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and other prominent leaders associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

Rituals and Ceremonies: The ceremony began with religious rituals, including prayers and bhajans (devotional songs). The rituals were performed by priests and religious leaders to sanctify the ground for the construction of the temple.

The Placing of the Foundation Stone: The highlight of the ceremony was the symbolic laying of the foundation stone for the Ram Mandir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a plaque and laid the silver brick as part of the foundation-laying ritual. The silver brick was inscribed with “Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra” to mark the occasion.

Time Capsule: A time capsule was also placed at the construction site to preserve the memories of the historic event. The capsule contained documents and materials related to the temple’s history, the legal journey, and the entire Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

Significance: The foundation stone-laying ceremony marked a significant moment in Indian history, symbolizing the fulfillment of a long-standing demand of the Hindu community for the construction of a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Rama. It also signaled the beginning of the actual construction process for the Ram Mandir.

The construction of the Ram Mandir is being overseen by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust, and it represents a major development in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya dispute.

Inauguration of Ram Mandir (Pran Pratishtha):

Preparations for the upcoming inauguration of the Ram Mandir (Temple) and the consecration ceremony on January 22 are in full swing, entering their final stages. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the temple, with approximately 6000 distinguished dignitaries from diverse fields expected to attend the ceremony.

Final touches are being added to the decorations at Rampath, Bhakti Path, and Sugriva Fort. The walls are adorned with terracotta and delicate clay mural artifacts.

The district administration reveals that murals depicting incidents from the Ramayana will grace the walls along Dharma Path, with artifacts reminiscent of Tretayuga enhancing the visual appeal.

Painting, cleaning, and artistic efforts are evident throughout the temple premises as the grand inauguration ceremony on January 22 approaches.

The 13-kilometer-long Rampath leading to Sahadatganj is now 40 feet wide, with establishments, buildings, and shops on both sides freshly painted.

The primary entrance of the Ram Mandir (Temple), named ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Path,’ is undergoing lighting and canopy work on the 90-feet wide road. Additionally, beautification work is in progress at the Ramkatha Museum located at Nayaghat, as reported by the district administration.

Historically significant Ram Ki Pauri has undergone cleaning, and the pumping stations’ capacity has been increased. A laser show presents Ram Katha every evening, and 37 ancient temples in Ayodhya are undergoing renovation.

Cost of Ram Mandir:

Government records and officials cited in various reports indicate that the total construction cost of the Ram Mandir is estimated at Rs 1,800 crore.

Nripendra Misra, the chairman of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust’s construction committee, stated earlier this year that the temple’s construction is being financed through public donations, amounting to approximately ₹3,500 crore has been collected so far.

The Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra, also known as the Ayodhya Ram Temple Trust announced on October 18 that it had obtained a license to accept foreign donations under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The Indian Government has also contributed funds towards the construction of the Ram Mandir. The initial donation of one rupee to the Ram Mandir Trust was made by the Union government following the formation of the Trust. However, after this initial contribution, the Union government did not provide any additional financial support for the construction.

Aftermath of Inauguration of Ram Mandir

Religious tourism will boost employment and businesses in the holy city of Ayodhya and nearby places after the inauguration of Ram Mandir in January 2024.

The inauguration is scheduled a few months ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections, and it is anticipated that the ruling party and government will make concerted efforts to disseminate the symbol and message of the temple throughout the country, utilizing both social media and traditional channels. The BJP stands to gain politically from the temple in three key ways. Firstly, the party aims to highlight its successful resolution of the longstanding conflict between religious communities at the site, fulfilling a promise outlined in various manifestos. Secondly, it will contribute to bolstering the Prime Minister’s political standing, reinforcing the narrative of “Modi fulfills promises.” Lastly, by emphasizing Hindu pride, the temple could potentially encourage more unified voting from the community during the general elections.

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