Ayodhya

Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Rama, is one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage sites.

Words: MADHURI. Y

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Once capital of Kosala kingdom of the Ikshvaku dynasty, Ayodhya was also known as Saket or heaven. Lord Rama’s reign over Ayodhya is considered a golden period and often referred to as Rama Rajya for its good governance, prosperity and happiness.

Situated 8km from Faizabad, it is on the right bank of river Sarayu. Founded by Manu, according to Ramayana, its existence dates back to 9,000 years.

According to other sources, it was founded by King Ayudh after whom it was named. Its first ruler was Ikshvaku, the son of Vaivasvata Manu and the lineage continued to Harischandra, the king epitome of truthfulness. It was his descendant Bhagiratha who through penance to Brahma brought the Ganges down to earth so that he may perform the ceremony for his ancestors.

King Raghu was one of his descendants after whom the dynasty came to be called Raghuvamsa. King Raghu’s grandson was Dasaratha, father of Lord Rama.

It is believed that at Gopratara Tirtha, Lord Rama had entered the waters of river Sarayu to ascend to heaven. Ayodhya is part of Saptapuri, the seven important pilgrimage sites for Hindus.

RULERS OF AYODHYA
Five Jain tirthankaras were born in Ayodhya – Rishabhanatha, Ajitanatha, Abhinandananatha, Sumatinatha and Anantanatha, the first, second, third, fourth and 14th tirthankaras. During Buddha’s time, the city was called Saketa and was ruled by King Prasenjit. Saketa flourished during the Mauryan rule although it was attacked by a Greek expedition in 190 BC with Panchala and Mathura allying with the Greeks. Later, it came under the rule of the Deva and Datta kings and the Gupta rulers. Kumaragupta or Skandagupta moved the capital from Pataliputra to what was by now known as Ayodhya. The Huns damaged the city during the reign of Narasimhagupta but were later driven out. In 1226 AD, Ayodhya became the capital of Awadh in the Delhi Sultanate.
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BABRI MASJID
It is said Ram Janmabhoomi temple which marked the birthplace of Lord Rama was replaced by a mosque – the Babri Masjid – in 1528 AD by the Mughals. Records state that Hindus and Muslims worshipped at the site; Muslims within the mosque and Hindus outside the fence on a platform. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad launched a movement to reclaim the temple and the matter is under dispute.
AYODHYA TODAY
Today, Ayodhya is a city in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. According to the 2011 census, its population was 55,890 of which 31,705 were males and 24,185 females. With female sex ratio of 763 to the state’s average of 912 and the nation’s 940, Ayodhya has one of the poorest sex ratios. Yet, literacy rate at 78.15 per cent is higher than that of the state’s 67.68 per cent and the nation’s 74.04 per cent.
AYODHYA ACCORDING TO RAMAYANA
Sage Valmiki describes the city of Ayodhya in the Bala Kanda of Ramayana as follows:
The great kingdom of Kosala of Emperor Dasaratha is situated on the banks of the river Sarayu. It is a kingdom that brings joy and is filled with money and cereals. The city is renowned around the world and was built by Manu, the first man and sage-king.
The city’s length is of 12 yojanas, that is, around 120 miles. Its breadth is three yojanas, that is about 30 miles. It enjoys well-designed highways that are kept wet and with flowers strewn all over them. Gateways and archways surround the city. Buildings within the city have well-laid front yards. The city holds within itself machinery, weapons, and craftsmen. A wide fort wall encircles the city like an ornament.
Ayodhya played host to many who eulogised it. It has many fortified areas and its own flag. Dancers and artists walk on its roads and the city is surrounded by gardens, marsh land and mango trees.
Neither trespassers, nor invaders can cross her due to deep moats. The city is filled with horses, camels, cows, and donkeys. Many provincial kings come to the city to pay their dues. Travellers and traders from other countries too come to the city.
Precious gems adorn the buildings. These multi-storey structures fill the city like in Amaravati, the city of Indra.
Ayodhya is a picturesque city in its planning to look like an eight-faced game-board called ashtapadi, with beautiful women moving around the city. Precious gems can be seen heaped about and the seven-storeyed buildings are a beautiful sight.
It is a dense city, packed with houses and no piece of land has gone unutilized. Buildings are constructed on land that is levelled well. Rice is aplenty and drinking water tastes sweet as sugarcane juice.
Great drums fill the city with their drumbeats, so do the mridangam, the cymbals, the veena and other stringed instruments which turn the city into one of the unique cities on earth.
Buildings in Ayodhya well-planned and filled with the best of people. Ayodhya’s archers skilful and they don’t kill a lone being with their arrows, nor do they kill one who does not have a predecessor or a successor in the family, nor a person who is fleeing nor by listening to the target. Hence, their skill and acumen is benevolent. They kill roaring lions, tigers and wild boars with their sharp weapons or with their bare arms. Ayodhya is filled with such archers and fast chariot warriors.
Vedic scholars who fill the city, worship the ritual fire and burn three sacred fire continuously. Brahmins, who are scholars in Vedas and the six vedangas, live in the city. So, do other great souls who are like great saints and donate freely and abide by the truth.
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