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Babar and Babri masjid.

Vinod Kumar

Annette S Beveridge completed translation Babarnama into English in the year 1921. At that time she could have hardly known what dimension Babri masjid would acquire seventy years after she translated Baburnama.

It is well known that some parts of Baburnama are missing and the period (934 - 935 AH) during which Babar visited Ayodhya and supposed to have given order for the construction of this mosque is one of those. Mir Baqi would demolish a temple regarded to have been built on the birth site of Lord Rama om his own is highly unlikely. This issue of Babri mosque is not dealt with in the main text of Baburinama but Annette Beveridge did deal with this issue in an appendix, Appendix 'U'.

In this she quotes the inscription inside and outside the mosque as sent to her husband by the Deputy Commissioner of Fyzabad.

In her footnote, she notes:

Presumably the order for building the mosque was given during Babur's stay in Aud (Ajodhya) in 934 AH at which time he would be impressed by the dignity and sanctity of the ancient Hindu shrine it (at least in part) displaced, and like the obedient follower of Muhammad he was in intolerance of another Faith, would regard the substitution of a temple by a mosque as dutiful and worthy -- The mosque was finished in 935AH but no mention of its completion is in the Baburnama. The diary for 935 AH has many lacunae; that of the year 934 AH has lost much matter, breaking off before where the account of Aud might be looked for.

Beveridge leaves no doubt that this mosque did replace an existing Hindu temple (shrine) of impressive beauty.

I have been going through Baburanama and so far I have found only a few mention of the destruction of Hindu temples and building of mosques in their place in the text which compared to the destruction of Hindu temples in annals of Muslims from Kasim to Aurangzeb is quite perplexing. Did Babar not destroy Hindu temples or did he just not mention them in his memoirs which are rather very detailed otherwise. Or have most the Hindu temples in the country he was visiting already been demolished -- from Punjab to Bihar and down to Gwaliar? He was a very devout Muslim despite his earlier indulgence in drinking and womanizing -- which h, as he himslef records, gave up soon after he came to India -- mostly reckoning the time of the day by prayer times. He was very proud of his being a Ghazi and incessantly talks of killing pagan Hindus and making towers of Hindu skulls.

He wrote:

For Islam's sake, I wandered in the wilds,

Prepared for war with pagans and Hindus,

Resolved myself to meet the martyr's death,

Thanks be to God! a ghazi I became.

(Baburnama pp. 575)

The question comes why did he build a mosque at Ayodhya on that hill of all places while he could have built a mosque anywhere? Ayodhya at that time was quite an obscure place, not a big kingdom or anything of that sort.

It is well known that most of the Hindu temples and specially those very Holy to the Hindus like in Somnath, Mulsthan, Thanesar, Mathura, in north India have already been destroyed and plundered by earlier Muslim invaders/rulers from Kasim to Tughlaqs. Had this temple escaped? Or was it rebuilt?

Had Babar known the sanctity of this shrine for the Hindus and by its destruction sending an unambiguous message to the Hindus that he is the new boss in "town"?

I don't know how many mosques are in India that were specifically sanctioned to be built by Babar? Baburnama does not talk of Babur ordering building of many mosques -- he talks of building water tanks and gardens. He was really fond of gardens.

Why a mosque in Ayodhya of all the places to make a religious and political statement?

Vinod Kumar