B. B Lal has also been director-general at the Archeological Survey of India for four years between 1968 and 1972 during which he started the excavation work at Ayodhya
Archaeologist Braj Basi Lal was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award of India on this Republic Day. He is best known for leading the excavation of Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya in the mid-1970s. B. B Lal has also been director-general at the Archeological Survey of India for four years between 1968 and 1972 during which he started the excavation work at Ayodhya. He has also worked at the archaeological sites related to Hindu epic Mahabharata; Hastinapur and the ancient Harappan civilisation.
Who is B B Lal?
B B Lal belongs from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh but currently resides in Delhi. After completing Masters in Sanskrit from the Allahabad University, the young archaeologist started his career in 1943 as a trainee in the excavation under British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler. His was excavation project was at Taxila and later at sites like Harappa.
B B Lal worked extensively on 50 books and 150 research papers published in national and international journals for over 50 years and some of this works contradicted mainstream view. Some of his notable books re ‘Rama, His Historicity, Mandir and Setu: Evidence of Literature, Archaeology and other Sciences’, ‘The Rigvedic People: ‘Invaders’? ‘Immigrants’? or Indigenous?’ and ‘The Saraswati Flows On: The Continuity Of Indian Culture’.
In his book, ‘The Saraswati flows on’ he contradicted historian R S Sharma’s theory of Aryan invasion and migration. He held views that people who lived in the Rig Vedic times were also part of the Harappan civilisation. Nonetheless, his views attracted a lot of criticism from international historians.
In his paper ‘In search of India’s traditional past: Light from the excavations at Hastinapura and Ayodhya’, B B Lal cited his findings of in the Indo-Gangetic divide in upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab as evidence to indicate the existence of the Mahabharata story which but got inflated with time.
B B Lal findings in the Ramjanmabhoomi site
Following his excavations at the Mahabharat sites, B B Lal commenced on another project in 1975 at the Ramayan sites. After receiving funds from ASI, Department of Archaeology in the government of Uttar Pradesh, Jiwaji University, Gwalior the project was inaugurated on March 31, 1975. The excavation took places at five sites; Ayodhya, Nandigram, Chitrakoot, Bharadwaj Ashram, and Shringaverapura.
In his 1975 paper, B B Lal mentioned the discovery of coins and pottery at Ayodhya but did not mention about the remains of any temple. His findings so far did not indicate the beginning of the site before 8th century BC.
In 1990, his ‘pillar base theory’ however, claimed to have found temple-like pillars that could have been the foundation of now-demolished Babri Masjid. BJP-affiliated magazine, Manthan covered his findings. In his 2008 book on Rama and his historicity, he mentioned evidence of twelve stone pillars, which carried Hindu motifs, mouldings and figures of Hindu deities. His paper further said that these Hindu motifs were an integral part of the Masjid but were foreign to it.
The interpretive framework of the court-appointed excavation team recognised his theory in 2002.