The faith and belief of Hindus that the land in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid once stood is the birthplace of Lord Ram was based on scriptures and religious books, including 'Valmiki Ramayana' and 'Skanda Purana', and it "cannot be held to be groundless", the Supreme Court has said in its verdict pronounced on Saturday. 'Shlokas' from religious texts, which are of much earlier period than 1528 when the Babri Masjid is supposed to have been constructed, were referred to by witnesses and placed as evidence before the Supreme Court by the Hindu parties to canvas their arguments that the site was indeed the birthplace of deity Lord Ram, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
The bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, in their 1045-page judgement said, "Religious scriptures, which are main source of Hinduism, are the foundation on which faith of Hindus is concretised. The epic Valmiki Ramayana is the main source of knowledge of Lord Ram and his deeds...."
It further said that the epic Valmiki's Ramayana, whose composition dated back to the period Before Christ (BC), was the main source of knowledge of Lord Ram and his deeds.
The top court further said that 'Shlokas' in 'Valmiki Ramayan' referred to birth of Lord Ram with planetary situation at Ayodhya.
According to the top court, 'Shlok 10' of Valimiki's Ramayan stated that Kaushalya gave birth to a son who was the Lord of the whole world and Ayodhya was blessed with his arrival.
"He was invested with divine symptoms. It was not birth of an ordinary man. Ayodhya was blessed with the arrival of the Lord of the whole world. Even then Aligarh historians say that Ayodhya was never sacrosanct because of the birth of Rama," it quoted from the 'Shloka'.
It said, one of the witnesses during his cross-examination had testified saying, "In the fifth couplet, which starts with the word -'Janmabhoomi', the word city stands for the whole city and not for any particular site and the same thing has been mentioned by the word 'ihan' in the 7th couplet and the same very thing in couplet number four has been described as Awadhpuri.
"It is wrong to suggest that in all these three couplets, the word 'puri' has been used in the sense of 'Janmabhoomi'," the top court said.
It, however, said that though the epic associated the birth of Lord Ram with Ayodhya, it did not give any description of the place of birth except that Lord Ram was born to Kaushalya at Ayodhya in the Palace of King Dasratha.
It also noted that a witness of suit number 5 and other Hindu parties also relied on religious scripture Skanda Purana from the eight century AD.
"To the north-east of that spot is the place of the birth of Rama. This holy spot of the birth is said to be the means of achieving salvation etc. It is said that the place of birth is situated to the east of Vighnesvara, the north of Vasistha and to the west of Laumasa....
"By observing sacred rites, particularly at the place of birth, he obtains the merit of the holy men endowed with devotion to their mother and father as well as preceptors," the top court said while quoting one of the 'Shloka'.
The bench also noted that a witness has referred to Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas as another religious scripture to prove that the disputed site was the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The 'chaupaiyas' quoted by one of the witnesses referred to Vishnu taking human form in Avadhpuri, that is, Ayodhya and specifically mentioned that he would take human form at the house of Dasaratha and Kausalya, said the bench.
"It can, therefore, be held that the faith and beliefs of Hindus regarding location of birthplace of Lord Ram is from scriptures and sacred religious books including Valmiki Ramayana and Skanda Purana, which faith and beliefs cannot be held to be groundless.
"Thus, it is found that in the period prior to 1528 AD, there was sufficient religious texts, which led the Hindus to believe the present site of Ram Janmabhoomi as the birthplace of Lord Ram," it said.
The submissions by the Hindu parties were refuted by the Muslim parties, saying there was no reference to the Ram Janmabhoomi site either in Valmiki's Ramayan or in Ramacharitmanas.
Settling a fractious issue that goes back more than a century, the Supreme Court in a historic verdict backed the construction of a Ram temple by a government trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya, and ruled that an alternative five-acre plot must be found for a mosque in the Hindu holy town.