Skip to main content

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

ASI excavations: Pix by Prof Supriya Varma
By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”
Noting that “there was Buddhist occupation” in Ayodhya then, Prof Varma, in an interview recently  “updated” in Huffington Post following the Supreme Court’s verdict handing over the Babri site to build a Ram Lalla temple, said, this is what even Alexander Cunningham, the first director general of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), also said after he carried out “some kind of survey” around the Ayodhya region in 1861-62.
Belonging to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and inserted as observers in the ASI team excavating the site following a Sunni Waqf Board plea in the Babri case, Prof Varma says, Cunningham mentioned three mounds, two of whom had some kind of Buddhist Stupa and one had a Vihara. Varma was recommended to the Sunni Waqf Board, along with Jaya Menon of the history department of the Shiv Nadar University.
According to Prof Varma, whose name was recommended to the Sunni Waqf Board by Prof Irfan Habib, one of the top-most Indian historians, currently professor-emeritus, Aligarh Muslim University, “Outside the Babri Masjid, there are several other archeological mounds which seem to be sites of Buddhist stupas as well as monasteries. There was clearly a Buddhist community here, in the period, roughly from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD.”
She adds, “To us, it looks like this was then abandoned and reoccupied sometime around the 11th-12th century and possibly because there was a Muslim settlement that came up. And they had a small mosque, which was expanded as the community increased, in size and finally a much larger mosque was built by Babar in 1528.”
Insisting that “there is no evidence” of of the narrative that “Babar's general Mir Baqi knocked down a temple to build a mosque”, as suggested by ASI, Prof Varma says, there is only “oral tradition that starts coming up in the late 19th century and it is recorded in a colonial period gazetteer.” She adds, even when Alexander Cunningham recorded these oral traditions during his travel to Ayodhya around 1861-62.
How do you explain finding animal bones in a Vaishnav temple? ASI did not want that recorded. Bones were not dated. Labour they had hired were just throwing the bones away
According to Prof Varma, Cunningham “does not mention a temple being underneath the Babri Masjid”, adding, “He talks about three temples, there is oral tradition of three temples being destroyed, but these are not underneath the Babri Masjid. They are some other temples in Ayodhya.”
Taking up issue with those who claim that “this is the site of Ram Temple, which is a Vaishnav temple”, Prof Varma says, here, “generally, you would not expect to find any bones because of this vegetarianism etc., but when they started excavating, they started finding a lot of bones, animal bones.”
Wondering how “do you explain finding animal bones in a Vaishnav temple”, she says ASI, strangely “did not want that recorded”, adding, “We noticed that the labour they had hired were just throwing the bones away.”
She adds, “The other thing they were also doing, there is a certain pottery, ceramic type, which is known as glazed ware, which is generally associated with Muslim communities. They were finding a lot of this glazed ware. Those again were being thrown.”
In fact, according to her, there is an entire chapter on the trenches in the ASI report and a chapter of chronology, a chapter on different structures, on pottery, yet “what is missing is a chapter on bones and human skeletal remains. That is what they also found but they never published it.
Calling it procedural “violation of an ethical code”, Prof Varma says, worse, ASI “did not date” the bones. Pointing out that they did complain about this, she adds, also, “you would not expect glazed ware in a Vaishnav temple.”
According to her, the issue acquired so much of a political character, “As far as foreign archeologists are concerned, they would not want to get entangled in it. If they wish to do any other archeological work in India, they would not want that to be jeopardised.”
As for the ASI and its archeologists Prof Varma opines, “They really are now no longer considered to have any kind of expertise. They haven't kept up to date with the latest methods, the recent theoretical developments, and they really just see it as more as an administrative job than as an academic discipline.”

Comments

Uma said…
Why did none of this come out all these years. Nothing can be done now--I doubt the court will entertain a review petition

TRENDING

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Is sacrilege charge against Punjab Dalits any different from Pak blasphemy cases?

Lakhbir Singh, his wife By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  There is no doubt that Sikhism actually was a revolt against the Brahmanical system and superstition. Guru Granth Saheb is perhaps the only Holy Book which contains matters from different religions as well as those of various Sufi saints, including Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid and others. The aim of Sikhism was to create an egalitarian society, and, definitely, Punjab that way is far better than many other States in India, where violence against Dalits is rampant.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.