The last and the 7th phase of the Vidhan Sabha elections brought to the forefront the city of Varanasi also known as Kashi and touted as the ‘oldest living city’ of the planet. Varanasi being the seat of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is strategically important for all the belligerents in the elections. The ruling dispensation at the center would like to make a clean sweep in all the 8 seats of Kashi and the opposition too would like to make some inroads in the constituency of the Prime Minister.
The election campaigning also saw a number of leaders flocking to the all important temple of Kashi Vishwanath, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas across the country.
Stands right next to it, the proof of the iconoclasm of the 6th Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb who razed down the temple and built a mosque over it which is known as the Gyaanvapi Masjid. Even the pillars of the Mosque speak the history about how a temple was destroyed to raise a mosque over it.
The court chronicle dated 2nd September 1669 says about the desecration of the Kashi Vishwanath temple at Varanasi.
However our secular historians have some other stories related to the destruction of the temple.
K.N.Panickker says that the desecration had a political nexus to it as the rebel Sufis and the temple Pandita were planning to overthrow the bigot Mughal. However, Panickker forgets that he is speaking of a time when Pandits even avoiding a physical contact with a ‘Mlechha’ leave aside planning any intrigue with them.
Another famous canard is that by Dr. Gargi Chakraborty who in turns quotes the work of Dr. B.N. Pande (Islam and Indian Culture) that Aurangzeb demolished the temple to raise a mosque at the insistence of the Hindu Kings of his cavalcade when he was on his way to Bengal. At the plea of his Hindu Rajas, Aurangzeb camped at Varanasi and some Hindu princesses went for a bath to Manikarnika Ghat. The queen of Cutch went missing and after a long search she was found dishonoured and disrobed in the undergrounds of the temple. The temple Brahmans had raped her and looted her of her precious gold jewellery.
This infuriated the Hindu Rajas so much that they requested Aurangzeb to destroy the temple and replace it with a pious mosque. Now, in the work of B.N. Pande, is cited the work of P. Sittarammiya titled ‘The feathers and the Stones’ from where he picked up his story. Now in the work of P. Sittarammiya, the source of this story is credited to an unnamed but a very respected Mullah friend of his who had a manuscript with him but he never showed it to P. Sittarammiya or to anyone else.
No date or purpose of visit to Bengal is cited in any of these works by any of the historians.
Aurangzeb spent all his life in either Deccan and Transoxania. Never ever was he made a Governor or office bearer of the Mughal Sultanate of Bengal. It was always taken care of by his elder brother Shah Shuja.
So, this appears as another botched attempt to absolve Aurangzeb of his iconoclasm. The tyranny of Aurangzeb over his non Muslim subject is unparalleled.
The renovation of the temple was started by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar and later 1 tonne of Gold was donated by the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh to gold plate the Temple tops.
It is really sad to see that flowery stories are coined to save the honor of a king who wanted to rob the land of its diversity.
We just hope that Baba Kashi Vishwanath blesses its most deserving son in this electoral battle to emerge as a winner.