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Digging Doubts-II: Jain Figurines Found, But no Ram

Published: 29.08.2003
Updated: 02.07.2015

The Times Of India

Royden D'Souza, TNN, Aug 29, 2003, 10.05pm IST


The latest ASI report on the disputed site does identify a ''temple-like structure'' dating back to the 12th century AD based upon findings such as an 'Amalaka' and a 'Pranala' - though other archaeologists say these structural components are not unique to temples of the time.

However, by the ASI's own reckoning, there exists no indication of any temple-like structure having existed from 1200 AD to 1500 BC (the expected antiquity of a Ramayana site), i.e. over a period of 2,700 years. And that, say scholars, is truly a mystery. Right from the 15th century BC to the end of the Gupta period, there were a series of Hindu rulers who held sway over the Ayodhya region, yet inexplicably, there is no sign of a temple at the disputed site.

This is all the more strange when one considers the fact that the Gupta kings were great patrons of Hinduism. In addition, say archaeologists, Lord Ram was born in the palace of King Dashratha. If there was a temple built on the very spot where he was born, there would have been some remains of palatial structures or at the very least a fortification wall. However, ASI excavations at the disputed site have found nothing suggestive of such a structure or antiquity.

What also has to be taken into consideration is that coins and terracotta figurines typical of the Sunga, Kushana and Gupta period were found, but none of them were depictions of Rama or Dashratha. Interestingly, and to be considered in conjunction with this, is the fact that the excavation conducted at Hanuman Garhi by Prof B B Lal in 1976 threw up a grey terracotta figurine that was dated back to the fourth century BC.

This figurine, according to Lal, turned out to be the oldest Jain figurine found in India at the time. Keeping this key discovery of the Jain terracotta figurine in mind, coupled with the consideration that the antiquity of the Hanuman Garhi site and the disputed site at Ayodhya are the same, the question that now arises, is whether it is the Jains who can claim 'first right' over Ayodhya?

Whatever may be the outcome, the fact remains that in the entire Ayodhya region where excavations have been undertaken by the ASI since 1975 - at the disputed site, at Hanuman Garhi and Sita-ki-Rasoi - despite the discovery of numerous coins and terracotta figurines of varied antiquity, none of them are connected to Rama Sita or Laxman, or Dashratha. And most significantly, no terracotta figurine or idol of Ram, Sita, or Laxman belonging to any vintage, was found by the ASI at the disputed site.


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