Thursday, July 12, 2007

Aurangzeb -- As he was according to Mughal Records -- Part IV -- Demolition of Viswanath & Keshav Rai temples

August 1669 AD
It was reported that 'according to the emperor's command, his officers had demolished the temple of Viswanath at Kashi'
(Maasir-i-Alamgiri, 88)

Kashi is one of the most sacred towns in India and reference to the worship of Shiva as Vishveshwara goes back to very early times. Kashi itself enjoys highest status since times immemorial. According to the puranas, every foot-step taken in Kashi kshetra has the sanctity of making a pilgrimate to a tirtha. Lord Vishvanatha is regarded as the protector of Kashi and the belief is that one earns great religious merit by having darshana (view) of the deity after having bathed in the Ganges. After destruction of the temple on Aurangzeb's orders, a mosque was built which still stands there as a testimony of the great tolerance and spirit of forgiveness of the Hindus even towards those who had for centuries desecrated and destroyed their temples and other places of worship and learning, and also as a lesson that "mutually uncongenial cultures", when forced by circumstances to intermingle in the same geographical area, result in such calamities. A protion of the sculpture of the demolished temple, probably built in the late 16th C, still survies to tell the tale of Aurangzeb's vandalism and barbarity. The present temple of Vishveshvara was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore.

Demolition of Keshava Rai temple at Mathura (13th January - 11th February 1670)
The great temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura was built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela during Jahangir's time at a cost of 33 lakhs of rupees. The Dehra of Keshava Rai was one of the most magnificent temples ever built in India and enjoyed veneration of the Hindus throughout the land. Prince Dara Shukoh who was looked upon by the masses as the future emperor had presented a carved stone railing to the temple which was installed in front of the deity at some distance, the devotees stood outside the railing to have darshan of Keshava Rai. The railing was removed on Aurangzeb's orders in October 1666.

The dehra of Keshava Rai was demolished in the month of Ramzan, 1080 AH (13th January - 11th February 1670) by Aurangzeb's order. In a short time, by the great exertion of the officers, the destruciton of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditue of a large sum. To the author of Maasir-i-Alamigiri, the accomplishment of this seemingly impossible work was an instance of the strength of the emperor's faith. Even more disgraceful was transporting the idols to Agra and burying them under the steps of the mosque of the Begum Sahib in order to continually trodden upon.

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