The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wall falls, seer rises with new temple plan

Chennai, Oct. 9: Three months after his initiative to resolve the Ayodhya dispute fell through, the Kanchi Sankaracharya has floated a fresh, if more hardline, solution. Gone is the proposal that Muslims “gift” the disputed land at the site of the Babri Masjid to Hindus to build a Ram temple — a move Sri Jayendra Saraswati had said in July would elevate Muslims “to the position of Mount Everest”.

The seer had then suggested that a wall could be built between the disputed and undisputed land while awaiting the Supreme Court verdict on the undisputed portion. A temple could be constructed on the undisputed land with the consent of the Muslims, who could build a mosque of their own nearby, he added.

But the Sankaracharya has now said the temple construction can begin on the undisputed land anyhow and the sanctum sanctorum should be on the disputed land. His new proposal appears to suggest that the Hindu claim over the disputed land or a part of it has been “accepted” by those floating different proposals.

The Kanchi seer sets out his argument in an article, Raman Kadhai Kelungal (Listen to Ram’s story), in the just-released Deepavali Malar (Diwali special number) of the Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan.

In the three-page article written in Tamil laced with Sanskrit, Saraswati says: “It looks reasonable that the garba griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the proposed Ram temple be constructed where the present makeshift shed for Ram lalla exists in Ayodhya.”

He says the temple could be constructed on the portion of the undisputed land that has already been acquired. The Sankaracharya suggests that Muslims should be persuaded to accept this proposal. He points out that various solutions to the Ayodhya tangle have been floated, but all agree that “andha idam Muslimsgalukku maathiram pooga koodathu (the disputed land should not go to Muslims alone)”.

“Hence, taking into consideration the general sentiments of the people at large, the faith of the Hindus and in accordance with the Indian Constitution, it occurs to me to be reasonable that the temple for Ram can be built in the acquired land and its garba griha be located in the present shed where the idol… is kept,” the seer says.

Saraswati starts his article by listing the seven “moksha puris (places sacred to Hindus)”, which include Ayodhya, Mathura, Kashi and Kancheepuram. He briefly relates the story of the Ramayana, before saying that efforts to “amicably resolve” the Ayodhya dispute are continuing.

Simultaneously, the seer says, efforts are also on to begin temple construction on the acquired (undisputed) land in Ayodhya which “has been separated from the disputed part”.

He says one proposed solution to the vexed problem of the “disputed” land is to set up a public park or library on the spot in order to avoid further “controversy”.

Another proposal was that half of the disputed land be handed to Muslims for constructing a mosque, and the rest be used for building a temple.

A third proposal was to give some land away from the disputed part to Muslims to “end the deadlock”.

Saraswati then traces the history of the dispute, saying it is basically a “religious issue”. He says there has been little scope for controversy over any “place of God” in the past.

The seer says Ayodhya has been regarded as the “birthplace of Ram” right from the days of King Dashrath. He said a “structure (mosque)” came up on the site only during Babur’s reign. Even so, the Faizabad district gazette of 1528 had described the site “as the birthplace of Ram”.

It was under British rule that the land was transferred to the Wakf Board, the Sankaracharya adds.

He says rules governing transfer of ownership of land would not apply in this case as the original land “had been encroached upon”. “There are documents on both sides. This is a religious issue and cannot be viewed as a simple ownership transfer as in the case of a house,” the seer says.

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