The Ayodhya dispute is located neither solely within the institutions of the nation state, nor within networks of religious associations, but at the crossroads of secular and religious culture in India. At its heart lies the place of the Hindu god Rama, constituted in law as a jural person. How do we understand the emergence of this jural deity in the dispute? Focusing on appellate judgments that addressed the demolition of the Babri Mosque on 6 December 1992, the article argues that the legal evaluation of specific claims rested on a contest over asymmetric temporalities. Prior to the demolition, judicial accounts referred to the site as a ‘disputed area’ or the ‘Ayodhya dispute’. After the demolition, this literature named the disputed area as the Babri Masjid. It was as if the Hindu deity, Rama, would fill in the space of the absent mosque. The author shows how the presence of the deity rested on an understanding of the sublime that was simultaneously political and religious. © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.