Ayodhya is one of the oldest cities in the history of mankind. It is known as the birthplace of Bhagwan Shri Ram. Today everyone is elated as finally we are building a grand temple at Shri Ram janmbhoomi, however we have to learn and understand the history of Ayodhya, this is the city which faced countless battles and never fallen to any adversary in its entire history.
In fact, we should start with its name, the word “Ayodhya” is derived from the Sanskrit verb ‘Yudh‘, which means ‘War’. The word ‘Yodhya’ is the means “to be fought” and when we add ‘A’ as a prefix, it means ‘not to be fought” or “invincible”. This name is a synonym of the character of Ayodhya, which indeed a city where adversaries tried to attack countless times but unable to take control of it.
It is considered that Ayodhya city was established by Brahma’s Son Maharaj Manu. It was the capital of ‘Kosala’ State ruled by Ikshvaku Kings, Legendary Kings Dashrath, and Shri Ram was part of ‘Ikshvaku’ Lineage. Ayodhya is also known as ‘Saketa’. It was ruled Magadha rulers and then Maurya empire as well.
In 1st Century BC, Ayodhya was attacked by by a combined force of Greeks (Yavanas), Mathuras and Panchalas, however they were failed and had to retreat later. The account of this incident is described in Yug Purana. It was a massive battle fought to capture the Magadha empire, but in the end, Ayodhya remained invincible and Greeks had to retreat.
Then Ayodhya was ruled by the 7 consecutive rulers of Deva dynasty. Reference of Deva Dynasty is given in the Vayu Purana and the Brahmanda Purana, which indicate that Kosala state was ruled by 7 powerful rulers, who never let any other adversary to take control of Ayodhya.
Around 4th Century, this region came under the rule of the Gupta dynasty, however, Ayodhya remained an independent Kingdom even then. Though there is evidence of the Khotanese-Kushan invasion during that point in time, they did try to destruct several temples and Buddhist sites, but still, the region remained out of their bounds.
Under Gupta dynasty rule, Saketa was recognized as the ‘legendary city of Ayodhya’ the capital of the famous Ikshvaku Dynasty. During the rule of King Kumaragupta, Ayodhya was once again made the capital of Kosala province. It was also said that considering the importance of this city, Gupta empire moved its capital from Patliputra to Ayodhya. The famous king Vikramaditya moved the royal court to Ayodhya.
However, there is another theory, which suggests that the Ayodhya was deserted after the death of Bhagwan Rama’s descendant Brihadbala and it remains deserted until King Vikrama of Ujjain province came searching for it, and re-established it. He found that all the ancient ruins of Ayodya were covered by dense forest, he cut down the forests and built the famous Ramgar fort along with 360 temples.
In 6th Century, Hun King Mihirakula staged an attack on Ayodhya, he tried to destruct the city, however he was failed miserably. Later on, the Gupta Dynasty fall and Ayodhya went under control of the Maukhari dynasty.
In the 11th century, the Gahadavala dynasty took control of this region and they were promoting the Vaishnavism which is a denomination of Hinduism, which considers Bhagwan Vishnu as their supreme God. They built several massive temples of Bhagwan Vishnu in Ayodhya, and it is said that the Ramjanmbhoomi Temple was also built during their reign. Per historic sources, five of those massive temples survived till the end of Aurangzeb’s rule.
Mughals were the one who attacked Ayodhya many times. It was Babar’s Commander Mir Baqi who razed Shri Ram Janmbhoomi temple on 21st March 1528 and built a Mosque over it, later on, he rechristened it a ‘Babri Mosque’. Mughals destroyed many temples and pilgrimage centers and slapped heavy ‘Jajiya Tax’ on Hindu Pilgrims to demoralize them to carry out their religious practices.
The act of demolition of Ram Janmbhoomi mandir met with a resistance from the ruler of ‘Bhiti’ province Raja Mehtab Singh, Raja Ranvijay Singh of ‘Hanswar’ province, Rajguru Pandit Devideen Pandey, who waged a war against the Mughals to take revenge of Ram Mandir.
But continuous resistance from the then local population was something that Babur was prepared for. Although he wanted to build a grand mosque at the temple’s place, Hindus mounted continuous attacks. Finally, he hurriedly built a ‘structure’ that resembled a mosque; the minarets, place for ablutions and other essential structures of a mosque were starkly absent. The temple’s remains were used for constructing the mosque.
Between 1530 to 1556 AD, during the reign of Humayun and Shershah, Ayodhya saw more than 10 such battles between Hindus and Mughals to avenge the demolition of Ram Janmbhoomi temple. It is said that during the entire Mughal era, Hindus fought 76 such battles to take control over the pious place which is called as ‘Ram Janmbhoomi’. Many times Hindus were able to take control over the temple and the area in its vicinity.
The city then became the capital of the province of Awadh, which is indeed a variant of its erstwhile name “Ayodhya.”
Past the death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 AD, Mughals rule was weakened, and once again Awadh became an independent province. Hindus prominence increased in the administration of Ayodhya, and that was the reason why control over the temples and pilgrimage centers was relaxed.
Final battle to regain the Ram Janmbhoomi
In the 1850s, Hindus attacked the Babri mosque to capture it and resurrect the Ram Mandir. British understood the gravity of the situation, and to prevent further disputes, they divided the mosque premises between Hindus and Muslims.
However, the issue never settled, the first civil suit over the Ram Janmbhoomi was filed in 1885. In 1949, Hindus installed the Ram Lala idols. In January 1950, the additional city magistrate allowed Hindus to offer puja, but it was just a start of a long battle. Past India’s independence in, this fight shifted to the courtrooms.
In 1984, BJP and VHP called for the demolition of the Babri mosque. Rajiv Gandhi allowed laying the foundation stone for a temple in 1989. Indeed he was forced to take this decision as he was facing the wrath of Hindus due to his biased approach to appease Muslims by struck down the duling of Supreme Court in Shah Bano case.
A massive turnaround came when BJP’s Senior Leader Advani began a rath yatra in September 1990. The then PM of India Narasimha assessed the mood of the nation and allowed a ‘kar seva’ on December 6, 1992, where Kar sevaks pulled down the structure of Babri mosque and installed the idol of Ram in a make-shift temple and settle this issue once for all.
After that Ayodhya saw another 30 years of legal battle and finally on 9th November 2019, Supreme Court ordered that this land should be handed over to Hindus and a grand Ram Temple should be built over the place which is considered as birth place of Bhagwan Ram.
Though Ayodhya is known for countless historic battles, this battle was for Hindus self-esteem as Babri Mosque always remained a symbol of slavery for Hindus.
Today on 5th August, India has seen a historic moment when PM Modi lay down the foundation of the Grand Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. A long wait of centuries has ended finally. Resonating the collective demand of Hindus, a grand temple will be built for Bhagwan Ram who had been living under a makeshift tent for many decades. Today’s function marked a watershed moment for one of India’s longest battle.
It seems, Ayodhya has won its final battle and as its name suggests, it will remain ‘Invincible’ forever.