Prof. Lal : Ramayan and Mahabharat researcher par excellence


Braj Basi Lal, better known as BB Lal

Braj Basi Lal, better known as BB Lal, was an Indian writer and archaeologist. He passed away on 10th September 2022 at the age of 101. He became famous after he got associated with the Shriram Janmabhoomi case. He gave proof of a temple pillar in the southern portion of the Babri mosque. He had prepared a 7-page report about this pillar; however, this report was not published.

During the Shriram Janmabhoomi case, the finding of a temple pillar under the mosque was presented as the main evidence in the Court. The Honourable Court accepted this evidence and agreed about the existence of a temple in place of the Babri mosque. This resulted in the verdict of the Court going in favour of Shriram Mandir. Now, the construction of this temple is going on at a fast pace. Prof. Lal’s contribution in getting back Shriram Janmabhoomi site is invaluable.

Finding the existence of a temple below Babri mosque

Prof. Lal was born in Jhansi (in the United Provinces in British India) in 1921. Upon completing his Master’s degree in Sanskrut from the Allahabad University, he developed interest in Archaeology and began working as an archaeologist. In 1968, he was appointed the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)where he would remain till 1972.

During this period, he led the excavation project at the site of Shriram Janmabhoomi. When Prof. Lal found pillars under the Babri mosque, the then Government stopped the excavation work; technical aid being provided at the site was withdrawn too.

Prof. Lal persistently followed up with the Government for the restoration of the excavation work, but to no avail. The historians who have allegiance to Communists criticised him no end for his claim of having found temple pillars under the mosque. Prof. Lal had claimed that pillars similar to those of a temple were below the mosque and had been used for laying the foundation of the said mosque. He was opposed with a single-minded agenda – that the glorious history of Hindus should not get resurrected. However, Prof. Lal, like a Karmayogi, continued with his research as if bound by a pious vow. That his research will help the generations to come, is a certainty.

Under the leadership of Prof. Lal, excavation work was carried out at Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur, Bharadwaj and Chitrakoot. All these places are associated with our Epic Ramayan. As a result of these excavations, the ancient and glorious heritage of India, that had been deprived of seeing the light by the Communist historians came to the fore again.

His Hindi text – ‘Ram, Unki Aitihasikta, Mandir aur Setu Sahitya, Puratattva aur annya Vijnan ke Sakshya’ entirely changed the course of debate on the Shriram Mandir dispute. His contribution to the research commencing from the Harappa culture till Shriram Janmabhoomi is invaluable. The Communists purposely created the theory that Dravidians are the original Indians and that Aryans came to India from foreign lands. Prof. Lal’s contribution in exposing the hollowness of this theory is immense. It is because of this contribution that he was targeted by the Communists; however, he paid no heed to their rage and continued with his mission unabatedly comprising excavation, research, preparing research papers, etc.

Former President Ramanth Kovind awarding Prof. Lal with the second highest award in India – the Padma Vibhushan

Pinpointing the geography of Mahabharat

His other excavation sites included Hastinapur (in Uttar Pradesh), Sisupalgarh (in Odisha), Purana Quila (in Delhi), Kalibangan (in Rajasthan). He also carried out excavation related to the Mahabharat. It is believed that the geography of Mahabharat pointed out by Prof. Lal is very accurate. He tried to investigate this on numerous occasions.

Prof. Lal believed that since the River Yamuna changed her course, the Pandavas changed their capital. After extensive research, He found a shloka in the Mahabharat to this effect. Based on this shloka, he carried out excavation and proved that there were great floods during the Mahabharat period and the River Yamuna changed her course. Consequently, the Pandavas had to shift their capital elsewhere.

While he worked in the Archaeological Department, Prof. Lal presented over 150 research papers and wrote over 50 books. He continued reading and writing even at the age of hundred. His book on the subject of society during the Rugveda period is going to be published. Prof. Lal had a penchant for writing. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in the year 2000 for his contribution to research associated with Archaeology. On 9.11.2021 he was awarded the second highest award in India – the Padma Vibhushan.

Prof. Lal’s message to budding archaeologists

Upon seeing the pathetic condition of many old temples, forts, etc. the common man is likely to wonder what the Archaeological Department is actually doing ! Against this backdrop, Prof. Lal’s achievements are incredible. He worked in this field for four decades and also groomed many budding archaeologists.

In his message to them he said, ‘Decide first on what you want to achieve – your goal, then study the issue in-depth and only then go for excavation. Publish your findings early. Keep your ears and eyes open (be alert)’. If the present-day archaeologists practice this message of Prof. Lal, the state of the Archaeological Department and heritage sites will improve and the world will once again witness the glorious heritage and highly developed Hindu culture.