Harsh Narain

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Harsh Narain (23 April 1921[1] - 1995[2]) was an Indian historian.[3] He has a Ph.D. from Lucknow University, and was a professor at Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University and North Eastern Hill University.

Harsh Narain was born in 1921 in Bansdih. He wrote on Buddhism, Islam, Vedanta, Bertrand Russell, Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Iqbal. He wrote for the Urdu Encyclopedia, the Hindi Sahitya Kosha and the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. He spoke Sanskrit, Pali, Persian, Arabic, English, Hindi and Urdu.




  • Akbar was the first emperor to abolish Jizyah with one stroke of pen, along with all its associations and implications, including the distinction of Muslim and Dhimmî into the bargain. His son and grandson followed his example in regard to Jizyah, generally speaking, but reimposed upon the Hindus all the other restrictions and disabilities suffered by them before.
    • Jizyah and the spread of Islam, 1990, chapter 3.
  • Parsi culture is also an alien culture, but alien in name only, for, tolerant from the first, it has got blended with Indian culture almost beyond recognition.
    • Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions, 1990, p.28.
  • But the role of the Sufi tradition in bridging the gulf between Islam and Hinduism or laying the foundations of a composite culture has been greatly exaggerated. The Sufis belonging to the Chistyyah, Suhrawardiyyah, and Naqshbaniyyah orders and monasteries are found to have fanned or favoured the fanaticism of the Muslim rulers in medieval India. The Qadiriyyah Sufis from Gulbarga, Bidar, and Golconda were the most fanatic murderers of Hindus and destroyers of temples...
    • Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions, 1990, p.21-22
  • Poets like Jayasi, Rahim, and Raskhan are rare phenomena. So are saints like Kabir, Nanak and Gharib Das. They attempted a synthesis of the two cultural streams in the field of literature in their own way. But their endeavours were severly limited and short-lived. They failed to be popular amongst and influence the Muslims.
    • Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions, 1990, p.27

Harsh Narain on the Ayodhya debate[edit]

Harsh Narain (1993) cited more than 130 references to the temple in English, French, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian and Arabic.

Joseph Tieffenthaler[edit]

The Austrian Jesuit Tieffenthaler wrote in 1768: “Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramcot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cupolas. Others believe that it was constructed by Babor.” [4] Tieffenthaler also writes that Hindus celebrated Ram Navami (Rama's birth festival) in front of the mosque, and that the mosque was built on a temple. [5] He wrote: "The reason is that here existed formerly a house in which Beschan (Vishnu) took birth in the form of Rama and where it is said his three brothers were also born. Subsequently Aurangzeb and some say Babar destroyed the place in order to prevent the heathens from practising their ceremonies. However, they have continued to practice their religious ceremonies in both the places knowing this to have been the birth place of Rama by going around it three times and prostrating on the ground." [6]

The tradition of treating the site as the birthplace of Rama appears to have begun in early l8th century. The earliest suggestion that the Babri Masjid is in proximity to the birthplace of Ram was made by the Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler, whose work in French was published in Berlin in 1788. It says:

"Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas. Others believe that it was constructed by Babar. We see 14 columns of black stone 5 spans high that occupy places within the fortress. Twelve of these columns now bear the interior arcades of the Masjid; two (of the 12) make up the entrance of the cloister. Two others form part of the tomb of a certain Moor. It is related that these columns, or rather the debris of these columns, were brought from Lanka (called Ceylon by the Europeans) by Hanuman, chief of the monkeys." which in French reads as

l'empereur Aurungzeb a détruit la forteresse appelée Ramkot et construit à la même chose placer un temple musulman avec 3 dômes. D'autres indiquent qu'il a été construit par Babar. On peut voir 14 colonnes faites en pierre noire qui soutiennent des découpages. Plus tard Aurungzeb, et certains indiquent que Babar a détruit l'endroit afin d'empêcher des heathens de pratiquer leurs cérémonies. Toutefois ils ont continué à pratiquer leurs cérémonies religieuses dans le places, sachant ceci pour avoir été endroit de naissance de Rama, en le circulant 3 fois et en se prosternant sur la terre..

We see on the left a square platform 5 inches above ground, 5 inches long and 4 inches wide, constructed of mud and covered with lime. The Hindus call it bedi, that is to say, the birth-place. The reason is that here there was a house in which Beschan, (Bishan-Vishnu) took the form of Rama, and his three brothers are also said to have been born. Subsequently, Aurangzeb, or according to others, Babar razed this place down, in order not to give the Gentiles (Hindus) occasion to practice their superstition. However, they continued to follow their superstitious practices in both places, believing it to be the birthplace of Rama." Questions of history

This record reveals that Aurengzeb demolished the Ramkot fortress; that either he, or Babar constructed a Masjid there; the 12 columns of black stone pillars were brought from Lanka; and when veneration of Rama became prevalent after the 17th century, a small rectangular mud platform was built to mark the birthplace of Rama.

However, this account does not explicitly mention the existence of a temple but a mud platform.

Mirza Jain[edit]

Mirza Jain was a Muslim who participated in an attempt reconquest the Hanuman Ghari temple (which is a few hundred yards from the Babri Mosque) during Wajid Ali Shah's rule.

Mirza Jan wrote in 1856 that “a lofty mosque has been built by badshah Babar” on “the original birthplace of Rama”, so that “where there was a big temple, a big mosque was constructed, and where there was a small temple, a small mosque was constructed”. [7]
Mizra Jain also wrote: ‘wherever they found magnificent temples of the Hindus ever since the establishment of Sayyid Salar Mas’ud Ghazi’s rule, the Muslim rulers in India built mosques, monasteries, and inns, appointed mu’azzins, teachers, and store-stewards, spread Islam vigorously, and vanquished the Kafirs. Likewise, they cleared up Faizabad and Avadh, too, from the filth of reprobation (infidelity), because it was a great centre of worship and capital of Rama’s father. Where there stood the great temple (of Ramjanmasthan), there they built a big mosque, and, where there was a small mandap (pavilion), there they erected a camp mosque (masjid-i mukhtasar-i qanati). The Janmasthan temple is the principal place of Rama’s incarnation, adjacent to which is the Sita ki Rasoi. Hence, what a lofty mosque was built there by king Babar in 923 A. H. (1528 A.D.), under the patronage of Musa Ashiqan! The mosque is still known far and wide as the Sita ki Rasoi mosque. And that temple is extant by its side (aur pahlu mein wah dair baqi hai) ’ (Mirza Jan: Hadiqa-i Shahada (“The garden of martyrdom”), Lucknow 1856p. 247). Mirza Jan also wrote (quoting a relative of Aurangzeb), that the temples of Rama, Shiva, Krishna as well as Sita's Kitchen (i.e. part of the Ramkot complex) "were all demolished for the strength of Islam, and at all these places mosques have been constructed". [8]

But there are others who contest the writing as an exaggerated version of history in a book that is on Martyrdom and published at least three hundred years later to the construction of the Babri Mosque.

Shykh Muhammad Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami[edit]

Shykh Muhammad Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami (1811-1893) wrote: ‘According to old records, it has been a rule with the Muslim rulers from the first to build mosques, monasteries, and inns, spread Islam, and put (a stop to) non-Islamic practices, wherever they found prominence (of kufr). Accordingly, even as they cleared up Mathura, Bindraban, etc., from the rubbish of non-Islamic practices, the Babari mosque was built up in 923(?) A.H. under the patronage of Sayyid Musa Ashiqan in the Janmasthan temple (butkhane Janmasthan mein) in Faizabad-Avadh, which was a great place of (worship) and capital of Rama’s father’ (p. 9). ‘Among the Hindus it was known as Sita ki Rasoi’ (p. 10).[9] Zak Kakorawi, in his publication of the work of Shykh Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami, also includes an excerpt written by Mirza Rajab Ali Beg Surur. Mirza Rajab Ali Beg Surur (1787-1867) wrote in Fasanah-i Ibrat that ‘a great mosque was built on the spot where Sita ki Rasoi is situated. During the regime of Babar, the Hindus had no guts to be a match for the Muslims. The mosque was built in 923(?) A.H. under the patronage of Sayyid Mir Ashiqan… Aurangzeb built a mosque on the Hanuman Garhi… The Bairagis effaced the mosque and erected a temple in its place. Then idols began to be worshipped openly in the Babari mosque where the Sita ki Rasoi is situated,’ (pp. 71-72).

However, some observers have likened this account very similar to this Colonial exchange between the British Viceroy and the Prime Minister "Every civil building connected with Mahommedan tradition should be levelled to the ground without regard to antiquarian veneration or artistic predilection." British Prime Minister Palmerston's Letter No. 9 dated 9 October 1857, to Lord Canning, Viceroy of India, Canning Papers.

Guru Nanak[edit]

According to Bhai Man Singh's Pothi Janam Sakhi (late 18th century), Guru Nanak visited Ayodhya and said to his Muslim disciple Mardana: 'Mardania! eh Ajudhia nagari Sri Ramachandraji Ji ki hai. So, chal, iska darsan kari'e. Translation: 'Mardana! this Ayodhya city belongs to Sri Ramachandra Ji. So let us have its darsana (pilgrimage visit).' [10]Though the Guru does not specifically state which temple should be visited.

Abul Fazl[edit]

In Abul Fazl’s Ain-i-Akbari (1598), Ayodhya is called “one of the holiest places of antiquity” and “the residence of Ramchander”. It mentions the celebration of Rama's birth festival (Ram Nomi) in Ayodhya. [11] However, again no specific spot was identified, in this account. He even mentions small details such as two Jewish priests lay buried in Ayodhya. Yet there is not the remotest reference to Ram's birthsite, let alone to any mosque built on it. Clearly the tradition did not continue Ram's birthplace to the existing town of Ayodhya, or the site occupied by the Babri Masjid.

Other sources[edit]

A. Führer wrote that: 'Mir Khan built a masjid in A.H. 930 during the reign of Babar, which still bears his name. This old temple must have been a fine one, for many of its columns have been utilized by the Musalmans in the construction of Babar's Masjid.' [12]

H.R. Neville wrote that the Janmasthan temple "was destroyed by Babar and replaced by a mosque." He also wrote "The Janmasthan was in Ramkot and marked the birthplace of Rama. In 1528 A.D. Babar came to Ayodhya and halted here for a week. He destroyed the ancient temple and on its site built a mosque, still known as Babar's mosque. The materials of the old structure [i.e., the temple] were largely employed, and many of the columns were in good preservation." [13]

William Flinch, AD 1608,the British historian William Flinch who stayed in India during AD 1608-11 gives a detailed description of Ayodhya and the castle of Ramchand (Ramkot), "extensive enough to undertake a search for gold." Though he does not mention the birthplace of Rama, he gives a detailed account of the place where the ashes of Ram are kept. "Some two miles on the further side of the river in a cave of his with a narrow entrance, but so spacious and full of turnings within that a man may well loose himself there if he taketh not better heed; where it is thought his ashes were buried. Hither resort many from all parts of India, which carry from thence in remembrance certain grains of rice as black as gunpowder which they say have been preserved ever since." Had the place been considered sacred for being the birthplace of the Lord Rama, it should have become one of the places of pilgrimage. Instead the place where his ashes are kept was considered a place of veneration.

According to Romila Thapar "If we do not take Hindu mythology in account the first historical description of the city dates back recently to the 7th century, when the Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zang observed there were 20 Buddhist temples with 3000 monks at Ayodhya, amongst a large Hindu population. In 1528, nobles under Mughal emperor Babur constructed a mosque over the disputed site. The mosque, called the Babri Masjid, has become a source of contention for some Hindus. At the end of the 19th century, Ayodhya contained 96 Hindu temples and 36 Muslim mosques. Little local trade was carried on, but the great Hindu fair of Ram Navami held every year was attended by about 500,000 people."Template:Inote.

Alleged Censorship[edit]

Hindu parties cite that several attempts to censor information regarding the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi (and other temples) have been discovered. The book "Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein" by Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai, which included a chapter that described the demolition of the Ram Janmabhoomi and other temples, was suddenly missing in most libraries. The English version (1977) has the passages that described the destruction of temples censored out.

The book Muruqqa-i Khusrawi by Sheikh Mohammed Azamat Ali Nami, published by Zaki Kakorawi with the financial aid of the F.A. Ahmad Memorial Committee, has a chapter describing the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi censored out. Zaki Kakorawi later published the relevant chapter independently. He wrote about this incident that the ‘suppression of any part of any old composition or compilation like this can create difficulties and misunderstandings for future historians and researchers’. [14]


  1. https://books.google.de/books?id=ZodmAAAAMAAJ&q=%22Narain,+Harsh%22&dq=%22Narain,+Harsh%22&hl=de&sa=X&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAzgoahUKEwj-hI3foc_HAhUBnCwKHc-sDLg
  2. Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: ideological development of Hindu revivalism. Rupa & Co. ISBN 8171675190.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hasan, Qamar (1988-01-01). Muslims in India: attitudes, adjustments, and reactions. Northern Book Centre. pp. 40–. ISBN 978-81-85119-26-7. Retrieved 27 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. (Quoted by R.S. Sharma et al.: Historians Report, p.19)
  5. (A.K. Chatterjee: “Ram Janmabhoomi: some more evidence”, Indian Express, 27-3-1990 and History and Geography of India, by Joseph Tieffenthaler, (published in French by Bernoulli in 1785))
  6. Joseph Tieffenthaler, History and Geography of India,1785, publisher: Bernoulli, Frace, cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 818550416 p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer Religious Nationalism, p.153
  7. Mirza Jan, Hadiqa-i Shahada (“The garden of martyrdom”),1856, Lucknow, cited by VHP evidence bundle History vs. Casuistry, Voice of India, Delhi, 1991, p.14; also cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 818550416 p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer Religious Nationalism, p.153
  8. Sahifa-i Chahal Nasaih Bahadur Shahi, Letter of the Forty Advices of Bahadur Shahcited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 818550416 p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer Religious Nationalism, p.153
  9. Shykh Azamat Ali Kakorawi Nami, Muraqqah-i Khusrawi or Tarikh-i Avadh cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 818550416
  10. Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 818550416
  11. (R.S. Sharma et al.: Historians’ Report, p.16.)
  12. ( A. Führer: The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Archaeological Survey of India Report, 1891, pp 296-297) cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 818550416
  13. H.R. Neville, Fyzabad District Gazetteer, Lucknow, 1905, pp 172-177) cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 818550416
  14. (Amir Ali Shahid aur Ma’rkah-i Hanuman Garhi, p. 3)

Further reading[edit]