Social Scientist. v 18, no. 200-01 (Jan-Feb 1990) p. 79.

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i) Except for the verses in Persian inscribed on the two sides of the mosque door, there is no other primary evidence to suggest that a mosque had been erected there on Babur's behalf. Mrs. Beveridge, who was the first to translate Babur Nama, gives the text and the translation of these above verses in an appendix to the memoirs. The crucial passage reads as follows: 'By the command of the Emperor Babur, whose justice is an edifice reaching up to the very height of the heavens, the good hearted Mir Baqi built the alighting place of angels. Bawad [Buwad] khair baqi (may this goodness last forever)'. (Babur Nama, translated by A.F. Beveridge, 1922, II, pp. LXXVII ft)

The inscription only claims that one Mir Baqi, a noble of Babur, had erected the mosque. Nowhere does either of the inscriptions mention that the mosque had been erected on the site of a temple. Nor is there any reference in Babur's memoirs to the destruction of any temple in Ayodhya.

ii) The Ain-i-Akbari refers to Ayodhya as 'the residence of Ramachandra who in the Treta age combined in his own person both spiritual supremacy and kingly office*. But nowhere is there any mention of the erection of the mosque by the grandfather of the author's patron on the site of the temple of Rama.

iii) It is interesting that Tulsidas, the great devotee of Rama, a contemporary of Akbar and an inhabitant of the region, is upset at the rise of the mieccha but makes no mention of the demolition of a temple at the site of Rama janmabhumi.

iv) It is in the nineteenth century that the story circulates and enters official records. These records were then cited by others as valid historical evidence on the issue.

This story of the destruction of the temple is narrated, without any investigation into its historical veracity, in British records of the region. (See P. Carnegy, Historical Sketch of Tehsil Fyzabad, Zillah Fyzabad, Lucknow, 1870; H.R. Nevill, Faizabad District Gazetteer, Allahabad, 1905).

Mrs Beveridge in a footnote to the translated passage quoted above affirms her faith in the story. She suggests that Babur being a Muslim, and 'impressed by the dignity and sanctity of the ancient Hindu shrine' would have displaced 'at least in part' the temple to erect the mosque. Her logic is simple: ' . . . like the obedient follower of Muhammad he was in intolerance of another Faith, (thus he) would regard the substitution of a temple by a mosque as dutiful and worthy'. This is a very questionable inference deduced from a generalized presumption about the nature and inevitable behaviour of a person professing a particular faith. Mrs Beveridge produces no historical evidence to support her assertion that the mosque was built at the site of a temple. Indeed the general tenor of Babur's state policy towards places of worship of other religions hardly justifies Mrs Beveridge's inference.

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