Mangaluru: The historic Babri Masjid verdict, in which the Supreme Court handed over the disputed land in Ayodhya, the holy land for Hindus, to build a Ram temple, unleashed a tidal wave of debates. Most are political in nature, with words like 'communal' bandied about profusely on social media. In the melee, history is ignored and far too little has been said about the man who was instrumental in excavating the ancient temple that lay beneath the now-demolished Babri Masjid. This man, who was part of the Archaeological Survey of India, fought tooth-and-nail to carry out his work. Dr K.K. Muhammad is his name and he retired as the Regional Director of the ASI.
Speaking at an aptly titled session, 'Excavating Truth,' at the two-day Mangaluru Literature Festival, Dr K.K. Muhammad began with the words, 'Om Ganeshaya Namaha'. He went on to recount the excavations in Ayodhya, a process fraught with interventions from 'communist' historians, many of which Muhammad himself faced.
The first team, he said, was led by Professor B.B. Lal, of which he himself was a part. They conducted excavations in Ayodhya and found about 12 pillars that were clearly elements of Hindu architecture. Although the team didn't declare this at the time, the 'communist' team, as he called it, was so vocal about claiming that no temple structure had been formed, that they did, in the end, discuss their findings.
"Ayodhya is as sacred for Hindus as Mecca and Madina are for Muslims," says Muhammad. "Ayodhya doesn't have any connection with the Prophet or the Calipha or Aulias or any important Islamic personality. For Muslims, it is not so important, the Babri Masjid was just another mosque. They should have willingly handed it over to the Hindus and contributed to the temple. However, due to the influence of a section of Communist historians, they could not do so. They should also now come forward and had over the Gyanvapi Mosque in Kashi and Mathura," he said.
Muhammed recollected how it was easy to repair about 80 temples in the Chambal region, controlled by the dreaded dacoit Nirbhay Singh Gujjar. "I told him he had a connect with the region as the temples had been built by Gujjar Kings. He was so happy, he agreed to repair the temples that lay within his control. About 80 out of the 200 temples were restored," he says. He also said that in 1990, the government was all set to take action against him for speaking in public on the issue but later, satisfied itself with transferring him to the Goa circle.
The Qutb Minar too, he confirms, was built out of the spoils of 27 temples and still contains more than 50 idols. "These wrongs have taken place and there is no point in hiding them. What has happened has to be accepted," he says, adding, "In the same way, it should also be accepted that the present day Muslims are not responsible for this." The destruction of temples, he says, "happened at the hands of Afghani Muslims centuries ago. But present day Muslims will be held responsible if they justify it."
Is the Taj Mahal a temple? Some questionable reports circulated in the media, including the Al Jazeera, claimed that the destruction of the Taj Mahal was next in line, claiming that the Hindutva brigade had declared it a temple too. This he refutes, firmly . "It is not a temple," he says. "I was in charge of the Taj Mahal and there is no Hindu temple feature in its architecture. it has two domes - the architectural style that evolved only after 1526. Also, there is no temple built out of marble."
Dr Muhammed, who took a little trip down memory lane, recalled how his Madrassa teacher exposed students to the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Dr Muhammed also stressed on the need for a well planned course, in schools, on Indian art, culture and architecture. "This must be incorporated into the education system to help the youth relate to their own roots and culture," he said.
He even spoke on Muslims adopting Lord Rama and Krishna as national heroes, as has been done in countries like Indonesia. He however expressed his unhappiness over the present union government for not living up to expectations on promoting Indian culture and also for interventions in the ASI.