The religio-urban life of Ayodhya is attractive. Being the birthplace of Rama, it becomes a rich field of special interest. This book presents its culture in historical perspective.
Rama's ancestors who had founded the city are mentioned in the Rgveda. Its remote antiquity is proved also by the OCP which has been found from Srngaverapura, another old town of the region. Both the cities had contacts with each other.
Saketa, a part of Ayodhya, was established on the bank of river Sarayu during the sixth century Bc. For a long period, Lord Buddha and the Jaina Tirthankaras had made it their dharmaksetra.
The Ramayana and the Ayodhya, series of coins tell about the re-emergence of Ayodhya. Saketa was then a big township. The Kusanas were defeated at Ayodhya. Germs of the same national spirit had inspired the Guptas who had made their offensive from there. Some of them had made it their home.
The Pauranika phase of Ayodhya is described in detail. By the time of the Guptas, it had emerged as a great centre of Hindu pilgrimage. Under the influence of the Bhakti cult, during the early medieval period, a number of temples including that of Rama were built there. It continued to flourish in spite of certain odds. Visitors continued to flock there and worship their gods and goddesses.
This book enlists the temples and other monuments of Ayodhya and describes its antiquarian prospects.
Dr L.P. Pandey is a great scholar of History. A brilliant product of Allahabad, Gorakhpur, and Delhi universities, Dr Pandey did his post-doctoral research at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was Professor of History, Head, Dean, and the Director in H.P. University, Shimla. He taught History, Culture, and Archaeology at the University of Gorakhpur and Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth University, Varanasi. His research works include Sun- Worship in Ancient India (New Delhi, 1971); Ancient Himachal: History, Religion, and Culture [in Hindi (New Delhi, 1981)]; History of Ancient Indian Science, vol. I: Botanical Science and Economic Growth (New Delhi, 1996); and Bharatiya Itihdsa-darsana [in Hindi (Allahabad, 1997)]. Dr Pandey is a former Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shirnla, and is also engaged in completing "Development of Agrarian Science, Technology, and Economic Growth in Ancient India (from early period to 600 Bc)."
There has been an organized attack from a platform by a class of historians on Indian traditions and heritage. They call themselves progressive. They have followed mainly a crude economic approach to their historiography and used Marxism as their main tool which gives much emphasis on the mode of production and consequential social tension.
D.D. Kosambi was the first great historian who adopted this methodology: but he, however, did not ignore traditions and mythology of ancient India. He had an anthropological approach as well to the history-writing of the past. He sought social realities of the past in various myths and symbols, a path of research shown earlier by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. But his followers including a few prominen historians ignored other dimensions and approaches of history-writing. They followed only sociological approach and economic interpretation of history.' They, however, did not use literary evidence including contemporary ones. They questioned the validity and importance of literary heritage of ancient India and ignored ancient Indian tradition and mythology. A search of social reality, based on economic activities, has been the aim of their historical research. They did not know the historical growth of ancient Indian science and technology, yet tried to copy the crude form of economic approach to history-writing. They ignored various values of life and did not give importance to idealism as the aim of their historical search for truth.
Frankly speaking, most of them did not know Sanskrit, or Pali and Prakrta, and ignored literary sources due to theirlinguistic and literary limitations. They justified their approach by saying that most of these literary works did not pr?,vide reliable and certain dates to arrive at historical conclusions, which is required in history. They were partly correct. They were probably not aware of the fact that history deals with what man had thought, conceived, and spoken in the past in addition to what he had actually done. Literature deals with all sorts of human behaviour of the past. It can, therefore, be treated as a good source of knowledge of the past. The past is certainly known also from traditions, myths, motifs, and symbols.
Similarly, historians not knowing Persian interfered in the writing of medieval history and culture. Even Persian-knowing historians ignored non-Persian literary sources of medieval India. Medieval archaeology was equally neglected and no care was taken to correlate literary and non-literary sources of the period. Therefore, full justice was not done even in the study.
They have appreciated, however, archaeological sources by using them in the form of primary source, because they deal with the material culture of the past; but it may be stated that if archaeology is used without using literature of the contemporary period and other auxiliary sciences like anthropology, psychology, statistics, and other disciplines, the past cannot be interpreted in its total perspective. Archaeology alone, therefore, can never be treated as history. Undoubtedly, it is an important source of history, never to be ignored for throwing light on the past, specially the remote past. But equally true is to state that an archaeologist alone is not a historian. He is a good digger but, there is much difference between a pen and a spade. An archaeologist brings material objects of the past to the notice of a historian. Therefore, a report on archaeological excavations and explorations may be treated as a source of knowledge of the past, but it alone cannot be regarded as reliable piece of history. The recent archaeologists made the same mistake. They are, therefore, partly responsible in misunderstanding some of the important aspects of the cultural heritage, the past, and its rich traditions. Their contribution is nevertheless, commendable
This has been done at times owing to their ignorance of various types of sources, long span of the various epochs of Indian history, and their lack of knowledge of the concept of total view of history. Some of them were not properly trained. Historiography in modern India has grown in stages and the sources of knowledge dealing with various periods of history of India came to light gradually from one stage to the other. Varieties of sources, quite rich in their content, were also out of their reach. Various approaches to history-writing were also unknown to them, as those were gradually discovered one-by- one. So, a scientific, critical, and objective analysis of sources of knowledge with widened scholarship was beyond their reach. It indeed has been a late exercise in the process of historical writing in modern India.
Personal biases and prejudices in writing history cannot be avoided by all means. It depends upon the interpretation of facts which do not speak for themselves. A historian does have his say in his analysis in spite of his claim to the maintenance of utmost objectivity in his exercise. R.G. Bhandarkar, the historian on ancient India, like some other modern historians, compares a historian with a judge who is supposed to be above everything including personal prejudices. Kalhana favours objectivity.' But it is, undoubtedly a difficult task. The historical objectivity of a historian, therefore, is always challenged.
Marxist historians were, however, concerned basically with the social and economic realities of the past which were never easily revealed to us at this point of time. Consequently, the ideals of Indian civilization were ignored and the consideration of certain values of life and society was no doubt neglected. Unaware of the concept of the progress of history, they have their own viewpoints of history. They believe that the progress of history depends upon the realities of life alone. Materialism alone, according to them, may be taken as the foundation of history. They do not give much value, therefore, to ideals and ideas which humanity has been discovering in the course of its long history.
It is definitely a wrong approach to viewing Indian history; because, Indians followed ideals of life and sought a happy blend of the real and ideal, seen and unseen, temporal and spiritual. Some historians did not give heed to these values and based their arguments on the growth of economic activity. The uncovering of this and consequent social realities was the aim of their research. They gave importance to the discovery of tools of production which change the face of economic structure of a given society. They were not aware of the fact that economic interpretation of history presents only one approach to history- writing and reveals only a part of the past. It may be stated that economic realities may not be equated with social reality; social formation does not base itself only on economic activities taking place in a given society. Emotional and psychological approaches of Man, and society do play their role in socio- political, and economic life. For humanistic growth of Man, something more than Economics is required. Racial, tribal, and kinship-relations too play their role in the process of history. Man does not possess a mind or a stomach alone. He possesses a heart as well, which is full of sensibilities. Geographical factors have their own impact on various aspects of social organization.
Economic activities and political ethos do influence the growth of the personality of an individual and his identity is actually defined and known by his heartfelt and intellectual qualities. Bread is needed, no doubt, for development of human physique. Equally true is the fact that it does influence the growth of the human mind and has its own impact on the growth and working of the human heart, but human sensibility and overall personality are shaped by the given cultural and environmental ethos. Education plays its own role in shaping the personality of a man who, in turn, makes the society grow.
The Great Man in the progress of history can also not be ignored. A leader, who is the maker of the society and the nation, possesses a different identity of his own, peculiar to others, something unique in his own way, a quality which makes him a special individual, much different than others. Similarly, the role of a man and the group and crowd are to be reckoned with. Materialism does play a role in the formation ofsocial and cultural formation but Indians did not give value only to this fact of human life. They had evolved the concept of various values of social and individual life to sustain society. Ideas and ideals have their own value in shaping the personality of an individual and society. They make a society traverse on the right path.
Such a concept of progress of history has made the normative view of life imperative. That is how and why the institution of state was born and organized, and constitution came into existence. Organization of marriage, family, and other such institutions were the results of the long search of ideals and value-based life. The discovery of the standard of life and morality has been the continuous aim of human life, society, and history. Humanity has, thus, travelled from the natural way of life to an organized one. It has, thus, progressed from realities to ideals, though varying from time to time and from place to place; search for a better state of affairs has been the process of history in each and every civilization of the world.
The job of the historians is, therefore, to reveal them. The search of all aspects of the truth which had taken place in the process of history, thus, seems to be the purpose of history- writing. It is a positive approach in this exercise. It is, in fact, the duty of the historian to search both the aspects of historical growth: the real and the ideals. The basic aim of historical research is, in fact, to uncover the progress of history which includes the ideals of life. Indians were in search of a happy blend of the real and ideal, seen and unseen, temporal and spiritual traditions. Therefore, these realities may not be ignored while writing on Indian history.
The identification of ancient Ayodhya with modern Ayodhya, situated near Faizabad on the bank of the river Sarayii in Uttar Pradesh has also been questioned by a group of historians. Some media-persons follow them. Their opinion is based on one or two statements found in the ancient literature of India. The Sarityuttanikiiya, a Pali text, calls it "Ayojjha" and erroneously describes it "once situated on the bank of the river Ganga, where the Buddha went on two occasions."! Once, Hiuen Tsiang states that he crossed the Ganges to go to Kosala," which stands for the kingdom of Ayodhya, extended upto the Ganges; otherwise to my knowledge it is always and everywhere stated plainly in Indian literature, whether Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist, or other religious or secular, ancient or medieval, that the city of Ayodhya was situated on the bank of the river Sarayii in Uttar Pradesh. (Historians should use statistics too in writing history.) It may be stated that this statement is made many-a-time while negative and controversial statements are found only at one or two places. Therefore, it is only a prejudiced opinion to deny the existence of ancient Ayodhya at its present site situated on the river Sarayii, a tributary of the river Ganges.
There is some scope, however, to moot the point whether Ayodhya was situated on the northern bank or on the southern bank of Sarayii. The Viilmiki Riimdyana states that the kingdom of Kosala was situated on the bank of Sarayii. It doesn't mention whether the capital called Ayodhya was situated on the northern or the southern bank. However, the location of Ayodhya, when VaImiki wrote his Riimdyana may not have been the same owing to the long span of time in its historical existence. According to it, the putrestiyajha (sacrifice performed for begetting a son) was performed on the northern bank. Visvamitra went with Rama and Laksmana in the north of the river arid Rama went in exile in the south of the river. These descriptions, however, do not indicate or tell the real location of the capital city of Ayodhya. Had it been on the northern side of the river, it would have been strategically better-located, as it was very difficult to cross the river in ancient days. It would have been more invincible (~), if it was located on its northern side. However, as time passed on, the probability of its location seems to have been on its southern bank.
The Puranas once described it located on both sides. Once it is said that it was situated on the confluence of the river Gharghara and Sarayii (both the rivers join each other at this place and then bear the name Sarayii). During the medieval period, there was some change in the landscape of the city, because the Biibur-Niima states that Babur had encamped on the confluence of the Sarayii and the Sidra rivers which was located 7-10 km near the township of Ayodhya. The modem town of Ayodhya is situated on the southern bank of the river. The physical geography of Ayodhya-Faizabad Township and the landscape found there at present suggest that the town had been devastated several times and the main channel of the river Sarayii used to shift at times towards the north. For example, Saketa-area of the town, a new settlement was established during the sixth century be at a place existing between the present day combined townships of Ayodhya and Faizabad.
Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala kingdom of the Janapada period and the capital of the empire of the old Iksvaku dynasty attracted the attention of archaeologists quite late. General Cunningham had surveyed the place for the first time and tried to identify a few mounds which had traces of certain monuments. The Ramakota-area was discovered at the same time and also the temple, dedicated to Lord Visnu, which was known as Rama-janma-sthana temple. The site under discussion was also discovered. The discovery of the Ayodhya stone inscription of the time of Dhanadeva, the Sunga emperor who was/the sixth descendant Pusyamitra, established the site of Ayodhya in its real sense. The hoard of coins revealing the names of a large number of rulers of Ayodhya was another significant dis- covery.' It was found at Bhitaura, situated in Ayodhya. This too helps in knowing the old site of the city.
Excavations were also carried out to trace the antiquity of the city. Prof. A.K. Narayan dug a trial trench in a place adjacent to the Rama-janrna-sthana temple, but it did not succeed in tracing the antiquity of the place beyond the sixth century Be. Prof. B.B. Lal recently launched his Ramayana project having the same problem and purpose in view under the patronage of Prof. Nurul-Hasan, the then Education Minister. He dug some places in the same Ramakota-area at Ayodhya but no new significant evidence came forward to trace the antiquity of the city earlier than the sixth century Be. He also dug at Bharadvaja Asrama (Allahabad), Nandigrama, situated near Ayodhya, and Srngaverapura, situated thirty-five miles away in the west on the bank of the Ganges in Allahabad district, the places which are traditionally associated with Rama, the son of Dasaratha, who is accepted in Indian mythology, religion, and tradition as one of the incarnations of Lord Visnu, Cultural sequence found at Srngaverapura traced its antiquity upto the period of Ochre Coloured Pottery, the earliest pottery type of northern India. Nevertheless, this discovery did not satisfy Prof. Lal and he concluded that the antiquity of Ayodhya did not go beyond sixth century Be. His conclusion cannot be accepted in any way, while considering the location of a site on the basis of an archaeological excavation which involves a chance discovery. It also goes against the literery evidence and also against the concept of Indian philosophy of history.
It may be stated, as already pointed out, that archaeology is not history. It is a source of history. Any theory or opinion propounded by an archaeologist cannot be accepted if it goes against the theory known from traditions and philosophy of history. Archaeologists are not generally a trained historian and an excavation-report can never be a piece of history.
Literary sources of ancient India throw a flood of light on the history and antiquity of Ayodhya." The city of Ayodhya was founded by King Iksvaku who is described in the later part of the Rgveda. He made expansive conquests, according to it, and established Ayodhya as its capital. Another great ruler of the same dynasty called Mandhata, is also mentioned in the early part of the Rgveda. Later Vedic literature, the epics, the Jatakas, the Puranas, and all other classes of ancient Indian literature mention many other rulers of the dynasty including Rama, son of Dasaratha who has been deified in course of time as an incarnation of God (Lord Visnu). He stands more or less at the sixty-one or sixty-ninth place in the Puranic list of rulers of the dynasty.
The Atharvaveda mentions some material aspects of Ayodhya, the place which had been regarded by that time as a holy place. The Atharvaveda calls it the city of gods. The city of Ayodhya had already met with its decline during the time of the Brahmanas and the AraQ.yakas. The Siinkhiiyana Srautasutra and the Aitareyabrahmana call it a griima (a village). By the eighth-seventh centuries BC or earlier than that Sravasti was established in the north of Ayodhya as the capital of Kosala kingdom. During the sixth century BC, Saketa-area of Ayodhya was established. By the time of the Sungas, the old part of the city of Ayodhya got a new life. During the Kusana-period, Saketa and Ayodhya were fully identified as one city and by the period of the Guptas onward, Ayodhya again dominated as the name of the combined areas of Saketa and Ayodhya. The area of Ayodhya, thus, expanded at various stages. Kalidasa and the Puranas describe it as a grand city and one of the largest and holiest places of India. Kalidasa states that it was renovated (navikrta).
This was a centre of pilgrimage not only for Hindus but also for Jainas and Buddhists as it is described in the Jaina as well as in Buddhist literature. Secular literature too exalts it as a birth-place of Rama, the son of Dasaratha,
This is the briefest history of Ayodhya. Its antiquity, therefore, must go back upto the period of the early part of the Rgveda.
The Aryans are regarded the earliest torch-bearers of the pread of civilization in north India. It is known from the Satapatha- briihmana; one of their leaders, called Videha Madhava had brought sacrificial fire from Sarasvati valley to Ayodhya. This had happened during the beginning of the expansion of culture in the Ganga-Yamuna doab where the early phase of urbanization had taken place.
The beginning of civilization takes place along with many aspects. There should be sufficient technology, tools, and pottery; surplus food and other objects which man and culture need to sustain. This was in fact, the expansion of the first stage of the process of urbanization. Ayodhya along with other earliest cities, namely Hastinapura, Ahicchatra, and Kampilya, etc., were the participants in the process. A full study of the archaeological discoveries of the Ganga-Yamuna doab and their correlation with literary data may throw light on the problem.'
These problems were in fact never fully and properly investi- gated in the form of a serious and comprehensive type of historical research. Mortimer Wheeler wrote a chapter entitled "The Gangetic Civilization" in his book, Early India and Pakistan, * but no serious attempt was made by him to make use of the discovery of the OCP from the Ganga-Yamuna doab. Allchin wrote a little more on this pottery type in broader perspective of ancient Indian history, calling his book The Birth of Indian Civilization, but without throwing satisfactory light on the birth of Ochre Coloured Pottery, found from the earliest phases of the earlier settlements of the region. The problem of the Copper-Hoard Culture, the earliest metallic technology of the heart of north India, known from archaeology was also not investigated by him thoroughly.
Prof. B.B. Lal and a host of other practical archaeologists wrote a large number of research articles on Painted Grey Ware showing its hypothetical relations with the Aryans of the Aryavarta region (northern India) described in the Vedas and the people mentioned also in the Mahabharata. Prof. Lal wrote exhaustively also on the problem of the Copper-Hoard Culture existing in early northern India, but no satisfactory correlation was established with the stock of people using a particular pottery type, though he wrote an exhaustive research article on the OCP describing in detail its chronology and its distribution pattern. The association of the makers of this pottery-type with a particular stock of people using a particular metal and tools made of it remained only a hypothesis. His suggestion that the OCP people may be the users of the Copper-Hoards was no doubt a significant breakthrough in the process of historical research." Archaeology has no doubt contributed in the reconstruction of the earliest past of north India.
Archaeologists of that era were in fact in search of the problem of the PGW culture and its association with the iron technology. Therefore, The Iron Age in India was written by Dr N.R. Banerjee. A. Ghosh pursued the problem of urbanization in early north India and used archaeological materials and literary sources partly and wrote his The City in Early Historical India. * He ignored however some ancient cities including Ayodhya, probably because they had not been excavated by then; ancient literature which has preserved its early existence was somehow doubtfully ignored.
The attention of scholars was in fact drawn towards the importance of potteries of ancient India for the purpose of throwing light on the early history of India. Firstly, B. Subba Rao's The Personality of India, and secondly, by a national seminar, organized by Prof. B.P. Sinha in Patna University on Ancient Indian Potteries. * * The OCP also attracted the attention of scholars in this seminar, and some scholars contributed research articles on it. Later on, potteries were studied in several theses written for earning a PhD degree in some universities. For example, O. Manchanda wrote A Study in Harappan Potteries. t Dr Vibha Tripathi made a good and full study of Painted Grey Ware, An Iron Age Culture of Northern India under the table supervision of late Prof.K.K.Sinha Similarly NBP was also studied By Dr Nisar Ahmad and Dr Makkhan Lal. The research articles written by Dr.K.N Dikshit describing much cultural importance of the OCP may also be taken as serious attempts to dig the pattern of pottery culture in northern India.
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