‘Mandir-waapsi’ craze in India: A text-book example of revisionist history
India has been seething with many political issues regarding communalism and religion that have brought the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, a saffron state rallied behind Hindutva ideology and radical ideas, to the brink of another communal violence, thirty years after the demolition of Babri Masjid by extremists and the subsequent riots, deaths and catastrophe.
The ancient city of Varanasi, the heart of the recent Gyanvapi Mosque crisis, has been standing for three thousand years, and has had its fair share of communal violence throughout history, and now Hindu nationalists want to keep the flame of Ayodhya alight here as well.
From Vanarasi to Mathura
According to the claims of Hindu nationalists, Gyanvapi Mosque was built on the foundation of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, destroyed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The debate has been freshly instigated by the recent controversy when during the renovation of the mosque exposed a structure like Shivling in the ablution room, and five women went to court with the plea.
The Muslims called it a fountain, and despite much resistance, the court ordered videography of the room, which found debris of old temples at the corner of the northern and western walls outside the barricading, and Hindu motifs such as bells, kalash, flowers and trishul were visible on pillars in the basement.
Now the two communities are confronting, and neither is willing to back off nor compromise, and this much is expected from the land where faith is the last word in a believer’s life.
After thirty years of the demolition of Babri Masjid, the saffron gang seems to repeat Ayodhya in Varanasi.
In Mathura, UP, the district court allowed a plea by the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust and other private parties seeking ownership of the land in which the Shahi Idgah Mosque is built.
The dispute essentially involves ownership of 13.37 acres of land which, the petitioners claim belongs to the deity Lord Shri Krishna Virajman, which had been settled in the compromise between the Trust and the Masjid authorities in 1968.
Now the Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust wants the full ownership of the land to create a Krishna Temple.
However, the mandir-masjid row is not restricted to the state where religious fanaticism is a rift, it has spilled over various other states where ancient mosques are at risk of being demolished, or claimed to be built over the foundation of a demolished temple. The row has pervaded Karnataka, Telangana, even West Bengal.
In Karnataka, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a sister concern of BJP, has claimed that a temple like structure to be found during the renovation of the ancient Juma Masjid in Malali, Mangaluru, and a plea was moved demanding a survey of the site with assistance from the archaeological department.
The petitioners said a probe should be done and till then status quo should be maintained. Acting on the plea, the court granted an injunction and restrained the mosque authorities from damaging or dismantling the structure there. Same story being repeated over and over again.
In Bidar district of Karnataka, the same allegation has been put forward against a dargah, where VHP has claimed that it was a Basavanna temple which has been converted into a dargah. And the Karnataka government has decided to examine the claim. Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka told the media,
"The time has come to re-examine temples that were converted into mosques. Across the country, the awareness regarding this is increasing. Some seers are going to search the roots of the temple in Basavakalyan. We will definitely intervene," he added.
Meanwhile, Pramod Muthalik, head of the radical right-wing group Sri Ram Sene, said in Karnataka, "We will take back all 30,000 temples which were demolished to build masjids.”
The wave has reached Telangana, where the state BJP chief Bandi Sanjay said, “Several temples were demolished and mosques were built over them by Muslim rulers in Telangana. If these mosques are dug up now, there is a possibility of unearthing Shiva Lingams. Let us dig up all the mosques in Telangana. If skeletons are found, we shall leave the mosques to them. But if Shiva Lingas are found, we will take over them.”
This defies the common sense where the muslim rulers had taken such care to destroy the temples, but forgot completely about the shiva lingas in their basements.
In West Bengal, VHP has laid claims on the largest and most ancient of the mosques - Adina Masjid of Pandua.
According to Sourish Mukherjee, the spokesperson of the West Bengal unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the mosque bears rather unmistakable connections with Hindu structures like stones carved with Hindu motifs are part of the mosque’s architecture.
This makes it evident that the mosque was built by destroying an Adinath Temple to be precise, and it must be pulled down and restored to an Adinath or Shiva temple.
The mosque was built by Sikandar Shah, the second ruler of the Ilyas Shahi sultanate, the first independent Bengali sultanate, to commemorate their glorious victories over the invading Delhi Sultanate on two separate occasions, and this marks as a perfect metaphor for the current saffron wave coming out of the Hindi Belt.
And it should be noted that the BJP is not in the government in neither Telangana nor West Bengal. Whether their calls for ‘Mandir Waapsi’ is driven by religion or it is to cajole the Hindu voters into voting them and getting the power in the few remaining non-saffron states can be argued.
Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar controversies
Meanwhile, the plea for the twenty-two locked rooms in the Taj Mahal ordered to be opened has been rejected by the Allahabad High Court.
The petition was filed by BJP’s Ayodhya Unit media in-charge Rajneesh Singh, who wanted the rooms to be examined saying that those rooms may have hidden Shiva Lingas there.
To add more flame to the already much heated debate, Archaeological Survey of India's ex-Regional Director Dharamveer Sharma has claimed that the Qutb Minar was constructed by Raja Vikramaditya and not by Qutb al-Din Aibak, to study the direction of the sun.
That is a surprise because we are perfectly aware of the fact that the Iron Pillar of Delhi was built by Vikramaditya in the 4th century CE, and there is no mention of any pillar constructed at the site of Qutb Minar before it was built by Qutb-al-Din at the 13th Century CE.
It just does not add up that such a marvelous and majestic structure has been standing there for nine hundred years, and nobody ever bothered to mention it, but there are numerous accounts of the Iron Pillar.
Concerned liberals in India believes that the Hindutvawadis are trying to erase the glorious Muslim reigns from the history of India.
Perhaps the Muslim rulers are thinking at their graves - integrating the local elements into the Muslim architechure of India as a gesture to enrich and assimilate with the people was a bad idea!