A famous Hindu writer writes some historical events without fear or favour.
Among all these beliefs, we will first try to understand the truth about temple destructions. Were temples demolished to humiliate Hindu religion? Here the first case we will analyze is that of Mohammed Ghaznavi destruction of the Somnath temple. Most likely, the name Ghaznavi came from a city called Ghazna in Afghanistan where Mohammed Ghaznavi ruled. He must have traveled a long distance to come to Somnath from Ghazna and it is quite certain that he must have passed by numerous temples on his way. The question is why did he not destroy all those temples? He must have seen the famous Buddha idols in Bamiyan but he did not touch them. So the question is- Why did he choose to demolish the Somnath temple only? When he was proceeding towards the Somnath temple, he crossed a city called Multan. Ghaznavi sent a message to the Nawab of Multan whose name was Abdul Fath Daud that he wanted his permission to pass through his city on his way to Somnath. Abdul Fath Daud however declined the permission. This led to a battle between Ghaznavi and Daud during which Multan’s “Jama Masjid” was demolished. So for those people who see Ghaznavi as the protector of Islam, they need to wonder how Ghaznavi, on his way to demolishing the Somnath temple, had no hesitation in even destroying a Masjid to achieve his goal. After Multan, there was another city named Thaneswar, whose king’s name was Anandpal. Again, Ghaznavi requested the king for permission to allow his army to cross his kingdom, which the king provided.
Most people are strangers to the fact that before Ghaznavi actually demolished the Somnath temple, he took into his possession the wealth worth crores of rupees. It should be clearly established here that in mediaeval times, some temples-places of worship- had enormous wealth as the devotees gave these offerings to the deity. It is said that the Somnath temple had jewels, diamonds, gold and silver worth Rs. 200 crores. Ghaznavi looted the entire wealth and proudly asserted that because Islam did not accept idol worship, he was demolishing the Hindu temple at Somnath. The question that must be raised is that if Ghaznavi was a soldier of Islam, then why did he not break other temples along the way? Another question that must be raised is that if he was really a soldier of Islam, then why was he instrumental in demolition of Masjid on the way. Mohammed Ghaznavi army had one-third Hindus as soldiers and out of twelve ‘ siphasalars’ – (generals), five were Hindus. Their names were: Tilak, Sondhi, Harjan, Rann and Hind. After winning Somnath, a Hindu king was nominated as his representative and a currency was issued on which the letters were inscribed in Sanskrit.
This event reminds me of the story, the elephant and six blind men. When the six blind men tried to comprehend the nature of the elephant they were made to grasp its different parts: one person touched its trunk, another its legs, a third its tail and so on. Later, all of them began to quarrel with each other regarding the actual shape of the elephant. they insisted that it resembled a big rock, a snake, a trunk of a tree etcetera. They did this because they had perceived only one part of the larger truth and hence could not grasp the entire truth. We are also like them because we do not know the full facts of history and we create an opinion on the basis of few facts, which do not represent the totality. There is another thing to remember that many kings used the name of religion to accomplish many of their deeds. Expansion of kingdoms or increasing the wealth of their kingdoms was also undertaken in the name of religion. Earlier, court poets used to write the history of kings. As they were directly dependent on kings, they had no option, but to appreciate all the actions of those kings, hence, mostly they presented their kings as noble religious souls.
Now we will discuss about king Harshdev of eleventh century Kashmir. There was a poet in his court whose name was Kalhan. Kalhan wrote a book entitled- Rajtarangini. In this book, he wrote that during his reign, king Harshdev created a new post, whose title was “Devotpannayak”. It means the official who uprooted the images and idols of gods and goddesses. Try to imagine that this is a Hindu king who has appointed an official who would go into temples and uproot and retrieve the idols of gods and goddesses. The fascinating part, however, is that such kings had no use of stone idols, rather they were interested in idols made of gold, silver or the ones’ studded with precious stones. Similarly, once the Maratha army attacked Tipu Sultan. This attack did not produce any definitive results, nobody won or lost. The retreating Maratha army demolished the Hindu temple of Srirangapatnam, located in Tipu Sultan’s territory. Tipu Sultan however got the temple repaired. Was Maratha army not Hindu, then why did they destroy the temple? It is clear that they wanted to humiliate Tipu Sultan by showing that they could enter his kingdom and destroy its property. Why did Tipu Sultan get this temple repaired? Because he wanted to send a message to his subjects that he respected their sentiments. No king can rule without respecting the wishes of his subject and Tipu did the same.
If I ask you- “Who was the most terrible king in the Indian subcontinent? ” you will certainly take the name of Aurangzeb. It is as true as the claim of Pakistan’s communal historians that Aurangzeb was the greatest ruler ever of the subcontinent! But what is the truth? Aurangzeb ruled this country for a long time. During his reign, whereas he demolished mandirs and masjids, he also built few mandirs and masjids. He even gave ” jagirs” for their maintenance and upkeep. Once, the Nawabs of Golkunda did not give Aurangzeb his tribute for a considerable period of time. Before we go ahead, we must know something about the tribute system of that period in India. During this time, poor farmers and shudras carried out most of the production. A big share of that production used to go to the zamindar , who, in turn, used to give one portion of it to the local king and another portion to the emperor.
Coming back to Aurangzeb, when the Nawab of Golkunda did not give the tribute for three years, Aurangzeb sent a team of spies who found out that the Nawab had hidden his treasure beneath a mosque. Aurangzeb ordered that the mosque be dug up and the property confiscated and brought back to Delhi. So this was the ‘ideal’ Muslim king! The same Aurangzeb gave considerable land in the area of Kashi and Vrindavan for temples. One great historian Dr. Vishwambhar Nath Pandey has mentioned many such firmans court orders in his book “The Farmans of King Aurangzeb”. Within this region, there is a Krishna mandir, which was gifted with a lot of gold jewelry by Aurangzeb. Even to the present day during Navratri celebrations, the idol of god Krishna is decked with the same gold jewelry. Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya in his book “Feathers and Stone” describes a very painful story. Once Aurangazeb was traveling from Delhi to Calcutta. There were many Hindu Rajas and Queens in his retinue. When the caravan reached Kashi, the queens requested that if there is an overnight stay in Kashi, they can have a holy dip in the Ganges and also pay their respects to Lord Vishwanath in the morning. Aurangzeb readily agreed to the request. The next day morning, the queens went and had a holy dip in the Ganges and then went to have Darshan of Lord Vishwanath. When the group returned, one queen, Queen of Kutch was missing. After a long search, she was found dishonored in the temple basement, precisely under the idol of Lord Vishwanath. The Mahant of the temple had raped her. There was intense anger in the whole camp, the Mahant was punished with death sentence and since the temple had been polluted, the idol of Lord was shifted to the new temple and Aurangzeb gave all the money from his treasury to build the new temple. The well-known curator of Patna museum Dr. P.L. Gupta has corroborated this version.
This story also tells us that Mughal kings did not bring in too many changes in the social structure of the society. Even Hindus had a large presence in Mughal administration. We all know that out of the nine jewels of Akbar’s crown Navratna, two of them Todarmal and Birbal were Hindus. In Shahjahan’s administration, the number of Hindu kings was 24% and this number went up to 34% in the reign of King Aurangzeb. There are accounts in History where Parmar kings especially Shubhatvarman got many a Jain temples destroyed. Similarly King Shashank of Gauda got the Bodhi tree cut off. We have to understand that religion was not the major motive of king’s action. On the contrary, kings used the name of religion for their actions. Hindu kings also destroyed temples, Muslim kings destroyed temples and mosques both.