The mythological city of Ayodhya’s existence has become controversial after the Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli claimed that Ayodhya is in Nepal and not in India. Oli also claimed that Sri Rama – the Hindu deity was a Nepali. This claim by PM Oli opens a pandora’s box about the very existence of Ayodhya.
The Supreme Court in its 1,045 –page judgment on Babri Masjid– Ram Janmabhoomi dispute had rejected the absurd claims of the proponents of the Janmabhoomi movement that a Hindu temple was destroyed. The ruins of an ancient religious structure under an existing building do not always indicate that it was demolished by unfriendly powers, the Supreme Court observed in the Ayodhya case in 2019. “Existence of the ruins of an underlying structure is not a reason in itself to infer that it was demolished for the construction of a new structure which rests on its foundations,” the learned judges held. The above observation is significant and will form the basis of an argument against future claims that Hindu places of worship were destroyed centuries ago by rulers to build structures of other religions though petitions that have been filed in the Allahabad High Court seeking restoration of temples in other disputed places.
Going by the Nepal Prime Minister Oli’s claims, not just the city of Ayodhya but also the birth site of Shri Ram is in question now. Addressing the media on the occasion of Bhanu Jayanti, Nepal PM KP Oli claimed that Sri Rama’s kingdom Ayodhya is located west of Birgunj in Nepal, India has created the disputed Ayodhya. He argued that ‘real Ayodhya’ is in Thori. “Ayodhya is a village west of Birgunj,” he claimed. The Nepal PM Oli was quoted by the Nepali media that he asked as to why would Sri Rama travel as far as Janakpur to marry Sita had Ayodhya been in India? He said that in that period there was no telephone or mobile phone, “so both Sri Rama and Sita would have married nearby if the place claimed by India is real Ayodhya,” he added.
On the claims made by Nepal’s PM about Ayodhya and Lord Ram’s birthplace, Mahant Dhirendra Das – who is a member of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust – issued the first response and has said that Nepal must apologize! Till the filing of this report on the Ayodhya in Nepal or India issue, there was no official response yet. Nepal has been flexing its tiny muscles, some may say at China’s behest. The Narendra Modi government has not been able to tackle Nepal effectively even after the new Nepal Map was passed in the Nepali Parliament showing Indian territories as Nepal’s own.
It remains to be seen whether the Modi government would take Nepal to the International Court of Justice and settle the issue of ‘real Ayodhya’ and Sri Rama’s birthplace legally. Going by the mythological story, Indian Muslims think that Sri Rama was a great human being, a just ruler who cared about the welfare of his subjects and an obedient son. Allama Muhammed Iqbal, who conceived the national song ‘Saare Jahan se Achha Hindustan Hamara’ had called Sri Rama as ‘Imam ul Hind’ (spiritual leader of India). Indian Muslims were never against a temple. But they contested the claim that a mosque was built by demolishing a temple and the Supreme Court ruled against this claim though the land in dispute was given away to Hindus for temple construction.
It remains to be seen if Iqbal Ansari, son of the oldest litigant Late Hashim Ansari, the Muslim Personal Board and the able lawyers representing the Muslim side – Rajeev Dhawan, M R Shamshad, and others file a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking a review of the judgment in the Ayodhya case and an immediate stay on the construction of the Sri Rama temple in Ayodhya till an amicable and legal settlement is made about the ‘real Ayodhya’ and the ‘real birthplace of Sri Rama’. Will the Modi government take the issue to the International Court of Justice and deal with Nepal effectively?
It would be interesting to watch the Narendra Modi government’s Agni Pareeksha just before the elections to the Bihar Legislative Assembly. It should not be a case of ‘Munh mein Ram, Baghal mein Nepal!’
In the past, some judgments have been revisited. There is nothing wrong to correct erroneous judgments. Errors happen as learned judges are humans too. The Supreme Court is supreme but not infallible!