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Source of Trouble

Religious myths have a tendency to grow despite the clearest evidence to the contrary. Now, where Hindu beliefs about the site of the mosque were clearly vague and contradictory, it was the turn of a section of Muslims to claim with pride that at Ayodhya mosques had, indeed, been built after the destruction of temples on the sites of Hindu holy places. It was this growth of bravado which exacerbated relations between the two communities, and which resulted in a serious clash at Ayodhya under the Awadh Nawabs in 1855. Under the shadow of bitterness of that clash, a fiery tract was composed by Mirza Jan in A.H. 1272 A.D. 1855-56 under the title Hadiqa-i- Shuhada. This book contains a passage allegedly quoted from a persian work Sahifa-i-Chihal Nasaih-i Bahadur Shahi, said to be written by "a daughter of Bahadur Shah ' Alamgir (Sic)".

The other claims of the polytheistic Hindus situated in Mathura, Benaras, Awadh (Ayodhya) etc., which the wretched infidels believe to be the birth place of Kanahya (Krishna), or the rasoi (Kitchen) of Sita or the residence of Hanuman, in which, they say, Ram established on him after the conquest of Lanka, have been destroyed, and for the strengthening of Islam mosques have been established all these sites; let them not leave these mosques without firday prayers and congregation." (printed book, Habibganj Collection, Urdu, 32/115, Maulana Azad Library, P.114).

Since much has been made of this quotation supposedly from the pen of a Mughal princess, it is important to note that the author himself confess that he had read the book forty years before he was writing, and claims that he had then copied the passage. This on the face of it is very implausible. The princess remains unnamed, and her father Bahadur Shah is given the title 'Alamgir', which not he but his father Aurangzeb (d.1707) had borne. No work by a daughter of Bahadur Shah or bearing the title Sahifa-i Chihal Nasa-i Bahadur Shah is known to exist in any collection anywhere in the world. One fails to locate it in C.A. Storey's Persian Leterature-a bio-bibliographical survey, or D.N. Marshall's comprehensive Mughals in India – a Bibliographical Survey, Vol I: Manuscripts. It is very likely, therefore, that the work or the passage was a figment of Mirza Jan's imagination.

While in his so called quotation from the Counsels of the Mughal princess Mirza Jan only speaks of a temple at the site of Sita-ki-rasoi being destroyed he goes on himself to say that the Baburi Masjid was built at Rama's birthplace by destroying the temple of Ram Janamsthan, close to Sita-ki-Rasoi, so that the mosque, was then known as Sita-ki-rasoi. Thus the legent had grown to Rama's birth site had been added Sita's kitchen; and Mirza Jan was exulting in the the supposed destruction of a temple here, of which generations of earlier Hindus and Muslims were unaware.

Subsequent to Mirza Jan's tract – in fact, subsequent to the clash over the Baburi Masjid in 1855 – the myth that the Masjid was built on the site of a destroyed temple became the common possession of the partisans of the two communities. How the legend could grow, out of a sense of bravado and revenge on both sides, is illustrated by the series of Urdu tracts, which VHP triumphantly lists. Lack of space prevents an analysis of this material; but it is enough to say that no evidence, nor already discussed by us, is presented in this literature. It is only illustrative of the growth of the mentality of modern communalism; its authority for what stood at the site before the Baburi Masjid was built is nil."