Ayodhya verdict: SC considered 'fragments of history'

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From Ain-e-Akbari, penned by Emperor Akbar's court historian Abul Fazl, to Alexander Cunningham, the first Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India— the Supreme Court also referred to travelogues by Europeans while delivering its judgement on the Ram temple dispute.

Besides religious scriptures such as Skand Purana and Ramcharitmanas, the apex court also heard arguments based on travelogues dating back to 1583 by explorers written in English, French and Latin about their visit to Ayodhya and references to the Ram temple there.

The court heard arguments based on the Colonel H S Jerrett's English translation of Ain-e-Akbari published in 1893-96. Ain-e-Akbari or the 'Administration of Akbar' was written in 1590 in Persian by Fazl.

The book has references to Lord Rama under the section 'Ramavatara' and description of Ayodhya under the section 'The Subah of Oudh'.

The lawyer for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board Zafaryab Jilani argued that the book made no mention of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

A travelogue 'Early Travels in India (1583-1619)' refers to the travels of seven Englishmen in India during the reign of Akbar and Jehangir.

Of the seven, Willam Finch, who traversed through India between 1608-1611 mentions about the “ruines of Ranichand(s) castle and houses” in “Oude (Ajodhya)”. The expression “ruins ...” has a footnote appended to it that says it referred to a mound known as the Ramkot or fort of Rama.

The judgment also referred to the travel account of Joseph Tieffenthaler, a Jesuit missionary who visited India in 1740.

Tieffenthaler's account was relied upon by various Hindu parties as it mentions in detail the existence of “Rama's cradle” and other places of worship such as “sorgadaori (swarg dwar) and 'Sitha Rassoi' (Sita Rasoi).

This account also mentions about the demolition of RamKot by Aurangzeb or Babur and building of a 'Muslim temple' with three domes at the same place.

Another book referred was 'History, Antiquities, Topography and Statistics of Eastern India' by Robert Montgomery Martin, an Anglo-Irish civil servant who also established the newspaper 'Bengal Herald'.

Martin refers to the discovery of Ayodhya by 'Vikrama of Ujjain', who built 360 temples in places sanctified by Rama after clearing the region of forests. Martin also refers to the destruction of temples and erection of mosques.

The judgment also referred to Edward Thornton's 'Gazetteer of the territories under the Government of East India Company and the Native States on the Continent of India' first published in 1858.

The judgment also refers to Cunningham's reports on the Archaeological Survey of India as also officials posted in Faizabad, including P Carnegy,A F Millet, H R Nevill among others.

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