Hindu Temples- What Happened to Them (Vol- I)
|Author:||Sita Ram Goel|
|Publisher:||Voice of India New Delhi|
|Other Details||8.50 X 5.50 inch|
I take this opportunity to record the story of how the first edition of this book came to be compiled and published in April 1990.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), founded in 1964, had been discussing the question of claiming on behalf of Hindus the Ramajamabhumi site at Ayodhya since its first public session in 1966. The issue was placed before the country by the VHP in a largely attended public meeting held at Delhi in 1978. I*n April 1978, the VHP sponsored Dharma Samsad comprising Sadhus and Mahatmas from all over the country launched a movement to liberate the site. In June1984, the Ramajanmabhumi Mukti Yajna was formed which, in turn held a public demonstration in October 1984, in order to mobilize public opinion in support of its resolve. On 6 October 1984, the VHP called upon Hindus to vote only for those candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections who were prepared to champion Hindu demands, one of the demands being that a glorious Rama Temple be built at Ayodhya in replacement of the Babri Masjid which had stood at the sacred site 1528 AD-A Rama Janaki Rathayatra was taken out by the VHP in 1985, showing the deities behind bars since 1949. And when the locks of the Babri Masjid were opened in February 1986 by an order of the Faizabad District judge, Hindus felt an upsurge of triumph that the liberation of the sacred site was in sight at last.
As the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC) was threatening throughout 1987-88 to organise a march on Ayodhya for doing a congregational namaz in and around the Babri Masjid, the VHP announced a Sri Rarna Mahayajna to be held at Ayodhya, starting on 11 October 1988. The Yajna continued for five days, till 15 October and more than a lakh of Hindus participated in it. In February 1989, a Maha Sant Sammelan was held at Prayag during the Kumbha Mela proclaiming that a Rarna Temple would be constructed at the sacred site after liberating it soon. Finally, on 11 June 1989, the Bharatiya Ianata Party (BJP) passed a resolution in its National Executive Committee meeting at Palampur (Himachal Pradesh) that the Party would support the VHP demand in its campaign during the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.
But there was a basic ideological weakness in presentation of the case by the VHP/BJP combine. Firstly, they were asking people, including Muslims, to choose between Babar, the foreign invader, on the one hand and Sri Rama, the national hero, on the other. Thus the Islamic inspiration which had made Babar do what he did, was not being mentioned. At the same time, Sri Rama was being downgraded from the status of an Avatar of Vishnu to that of a mere national hero. What was worse, the combine was proclaiming from the housetops that Islam did not permit the destruction of other people's place of worship that namaz offered at a disputed site was not acceptable to Allah, and that Muslims themselves should remove the structure or allow the combine to remove it respectfully to some other spot. Thus they were reinforcing, loud and clear, the modern I lamic apologetics that Islam was a religion of peace and tolerance, without caring to consult or ignoring willfully the tenets of the Sharia comprising the Quran (revelation), the Sunnah (Practices of the Prophet), Ijma (consensu of the Ulama), and Qiyas (analogy). They were also overlooking the record of Islamic iconoclasm all over Bharatvarsa since its advent in the capital of Sakasthan (Seistan) in 653 AD.
Meanwhile, the Stalinist "historians" led by Romila Thapar and S. Goapl (son of the late President of India, Dr. Radhakrishanan) had jumped into the fray. A letter written by this gang had been published in The Times of India, New Delhi, on 2 October 1986 accusing the daily of "giving a communal twist to news items and even editorial comments". The "provocation" for their outburst had been provided by two photos which had been front-paged by the newspapers in August and September, 1986. The first photo was of two stones from the Kutub Minar at Delhi depicting defaced carvings of Hindu deities. The editorial comment had said that the stones were found with their faces turned inwards during repairs of a wall of the Minar. The second photo was that of Aurangzeb's Idgah on the Katra Mound at Mathura standing on the site and built with the rubble of a pre-existing Kesavadeva Temple. The editorial comment was that a Committee had been formed at Mathura for the liberation of Srikrishnajanmabhumi. I was told that the photos had been displayed by Arun Shoruie who had joined The Times of India a few month earlier to take over as Chief Editor from Girilal lain who had decided to retire soon. His appointment had been -approved by Girilal lain as lain himself told me.
The Stalinists had proclaimed that the Kesavadeva Temple which had been destroyed by Aurangzeb for rich booty as well as for being a centre of Hindu rebellions, was built at first during the reign of Jahangir and occupied the site of a Buddhist monastery destroyed by Hindus. They had questioned the historicity of Sri Krishna and Sri Rama and contended that, according to a Persian text, the Babri Masjid did not occupy the site of a pre-existing Rama Temple. At the same time, they had accused Hindus of having destroyed Buddhist and lain monuments and pre-Hindu animist shrines. The letter was in keeping with the concocted history which the Stalinists had been selling for quite some time through the Indian History Congress, the Indian Council of Historical Research, and the National Council of Educational.Research and Training, all of which they had come to control progressively during the period of dominance by the Soviet stooge, Pandit ]awaharlal Nehru, and his daughter Indira Gandhi. Pandit Nehru had gone further and rewritten the history of medieval India in both his Glimpses of World HistorY and The Discovery of India. Several Hindu scholars, including myself, wrote letters to The Times of India refuting the Stalinist canards, A to Z. But Girilal lain refused to publish them, and thus let the Stalinist accusation stand that The Times of India had become a mouthpiece of 'Hindu communalism'. I visited Arun Shourie in his office at the newspaper to find out why our letters had been held up. He told me that he had been sidelined and no work was being sent to his desk any longer. A few days later it was announced in the newspaper that Dilip Padgaonkar, a Hindu-baiter to boot, had been promoted to as the Executive Editor of The Times of India. The rumour went round that Padgaonkar and not Arun Shourie was going to succeed Girilal lain. The rest is history. Fortunately for Hindus, Arun Shourie had meanwhile received an offer to take over as Editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, and joined it after resigning from The Times of India.
Around this time, I had come to share Ram Swarups view that the temple issue raised by the VHP provided an excellent opportunity to educate the Hindu intelligentsia not only about the iconoclastic record of Islamic invaders and rulers but about the exclusivist, totalitarian, terrorist and imperialist character of Islam as expounded in the Sharia. If the aggressive theology of Islam remained intact, he said, the temple at Ayodhya will get destroyed again, assuming that the VHP succeeded in restoring it. He asked me as a student of history to put the record straight in its proper context. Neither the VHP nor the BJP, he regretted, had published anything worthwhile about Islamic Iconoclasm in India, not even in Ayodhya.
As a student of history in school and college, I had been taught the history of medieval India in the conventional way, presenting Islam as a great religion and the Islamic invaders and rulers as indigenous Indian princes. Later on, Mahatma Gandhi's mindless slogan of sarva-dharma- sarnabbaua had prevented me from studying the history and theology of Islam from primary source. But Ram Swarup's magnum opus, The Word As Revelation: Names of Gods and his subsequent study, Understanding Islam Through Hadis. Faith or Fanaticism had made me aware of Islam's real character. I could now see that there was more to the history of medieval India that the reigns of Muslim dynasties, their rise and fall, the wars they waged, the harems they collected, and the monuments they built, etc. It was by now several years since I had been reading the primary sources in English and Urdu-the Quran, the orthodox Hadis collection, the Hidayab, the numerous histories written by medieval Muslim chroniclers, and Reports of the Archaeological Survey of India about the genesis of many Muslim monuments which dotted the land. I had become fully aware of the holocaust caused by Islam in India for centuries on end through its victims and slaves-the Arabs, the Turks, the Afghans, the Iranians, and the native Hindu converts. I was in a position to compile the record of Islamic iconoclasm and place it in the context of Islamic theology.
But my hands were full with several other books. So we decided to commission some competent historians to collect the relevant references form the libraries of the Archaeological Survey of India and the National Museum in New Delhi. Ram Swarup suggested the name of Dr. Ganeshi Lal Varma who had been writing some good pieces in the weekly Organiser. I called upon Dr. Varma and placed the proposition before him. He was hesitant, He said he had specialized in the history of modern India and knew neither Persian nor Urdu. I told him that he had only to consult reports which were all in English, and that once the material was collected we could sit together, sort it out, and put it in the proper context. He accepted the assignment. I took him immediately to the National Museum and the Archaeological Survey of India and introduced him to several friends I had known personally, particularly Dr. S.P. Gupta who was one of the Keepers in the National Museum at that time.
But the next thing we saw from Dr. Varma after a few weeks was an article in the Organiser mentioning the names of a few Muslim monuments which stood at the site of Hindu temples or had been built with temple materials. He had cited a report of the Archaeological Survey of India, and preceded the list with a long introduction regarding who had built those temples and when. Another article in a similar vein followed next week. Ram Swarup was' annoyed. The articles, he said, hardly conveyed the message we wanted to convey, namely, that Hindu temples had been destroyed by such and such Muslims ruler inspired by the theology of Islam. He asked me to tell Dr. Varma that either he kept the agreement about collecting material and leaving it to us to put it into shape or his assignment was over. I took it up with Dr. Varma. But he was adamant. He insisted that he had the right to use the material the way he liked and that we could use it later on the way we preferred. I had to decommission him.
Dr. Varma went on collecting more material and writing articles in the Organiser. The List of Muslim monuments he provided in 18 articles came to nearly 350 or more. But as the theology of Islam was not even mentioned, nor the monuments placed in a chronological context, the list made practically no impact on public opinion. The General Secretary of the VHP, Ashok Singhal, was not even aware that such an authentic list had appeared in the mouthpiece of the Sangh Parivar till I mentioned it to him after the series had been completed. Failure to publicise Dr. Varrnas list was a grave failure on the part of the VHP/BJP combine which on its own had produced no literature at all on the subject of Islamic iconoclasm and which was trying to coax the Muslims out of their cherished mosque by flattering Islam. This failure was to bear fruit later on, and force the combine to drop the Ayodhya card and go on the defensive.
I was busy putting together the material when I saw the Indian Express of 5 February 1989 carrying an article by Arun Shourie-'Hideaway Communalism'. It told the story of how a book written in Arabic and Urdu by a rector of the adawatul-Ulama at Lucknow mentioned several historical mosques which had replaced pre-existing Hindu temples, and how the references to this replacement had been omitted in the English translation of the same book published by the rector's son, Ali Mian, the present rector and Chairman of the Muslim Personal Law Board. Arun Shourie's article in a major newspaper was the first of its kind after a long time. It had violated a taboo placed by the mass media and the academia on any unfavourable narration of the history of Islam since the days when Mahatma Gandhi took command of the Indian National Congress and launched his first no-cooperation movement in support of the Turkish Khilafat. The correct thing since that time had been to praise Islam and its heroes, and not to ask any inconvenient questions about its belief system or its deeds or its goals. In fact, Islam had imposed an Emergency on India and enforced it by means of terror, verbal as well as physical. Hindus were free to praise Islam but if they asked any inconvenient questions, they invited not only swear- words form all respectable quarters but also the assassin's dagger.
I approached Arun Shourie to tell him that I had studied the subject of Hindu temples turned into mosques in depth and detail, and to ask him if I could write an article for his newspaper. He welcomed the idea and invited me to do justice to the subject even if it meant more than one article. Eventually I wrote three articles which were published in the Indian Express on 19 February, 16 April and 21 May 1989. Another article by Ram Swarup about the character of revealed religions, particularly Islam, appeared in the Indian Express on 18 June 1989. He had developed it as a commentary on my first two articles. He also wrote an article showing that 'secularists' were writing the history of India on the model set by the Muslim and British historians and that Marx had seen India as a country always ruled by conquerors. This article was published in the Indian Express on 15 January 1989.
By now the VHP IBJP campaign had become focused wholly on Ayodhya. It was claimed by the combine that Babri Masjid had been built on the ruins of a pre-existing Rama Temple. But they had not published anything to support their claim, and were citing only a tradition of prolonged Hindu efforts to recover the sacred site. On the other hand, Muslims as well as the Stalinists had dismissed the' claim as bogus and based entirely on the testimony of British Gazetteers which, they said, had mentioned the destruction of Hindu temples by Muslims in pursuit of their policy of divide-and-rule. Syed Shahabuddin went to the extent of proclaiming publicly that if the pre-existence of a Hindu temple could be proved from pre-British sources, he would himself pull down the Babri Masjid and hand over the site to Hindus. His challenge was accepted by Dr. Harsh Narain whose article was published in the Indian Express on 26 February 1990. He had quoted three authentic Muslim records which admitted in so many words that the Babri Masjid had indeed replaced a Rama Temple. On 27 March 1990, the Indian Express published another article, this time by an IAS officer, A.K. Chatterjee. He had cited to the same effect the testimony of joseph Tiffenthaler, an Austrian Jesuit, who had toured the Awadh region between 1766 and 1771.
Shahabuddin went on shifting his ground and indulging in a lot of casuistry in a series of letters published in the Indian Express in response to the evidence provided by Dr. Harsh arain and A.K. Chatterjee. Now he asked for evidence from Babar's own time. Hindu scholars, I could see, had walked into a trap-Muslims and Stalinists demanding more and more evidence about a pre-existing Rama Temple and even about the historicity of Sri Rama, and Hindus coming forward with it. It was clear that no amount of evidence could ever satisfy the likes of Shahabuddin and the Stalinist gang. They were playing a well calculated game of keeping Hindus on the defensive, reserving for themselves the right to ask any number of fraudulent questions and making it obligatory for Hindus to go on providing the answers. I, therefore, decided to shift the focus from Ayodhya and revert to what I had done earlier in my articles-marshalling evidence of large-scale slamic iconoclasm inspired by a belief system. I put together whatever evidence I had collected about Muslim monuments standing on the site and or built with the materials of Hindu temples, all over India. From my point of view it was a very small list-only the tip of an iceberg. But it proved formidable for the Shahabuddins and the Stalinists. None of them has even mentioned the list during the last seven years, not to speak of challenging any part of it. I had just completed this article when A. Ghosh (Houston, Texas, USA) sent to me a list of Hindu temples and monasteries destroyed or desecrated by Muslim mobs in Bangladesh in October-November 1989 as a reaction to the hila Puja Yatra and Shilanyasa ceremony from September 30 to November 1989 performed by the VHP. Hindus were molested, even killed and their properties destroyed on some scale all over Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the Stalinist gang had come out with a pompous pamphlet-'The Political Abuse of History Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhumi Dispute'. The pamphlet was examined by Professor A. R. Khan of the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, in an article published in the Indian Express on 25 February 1990. He showed effectively that the Stalinism were making issues out of non-issues and raising controversies where none existed. He also pointed out big holes in the arguments advanced by the Stalinists in so far they were citing as evidence what they had dismissed earlier as myth and hearsay. A chapter from Alexander cunnigham's The Ancient Geography of India showed that Ayodhya and saket referred to the same city and were not were not two different places as was being argued by the Stalinsts. The chapter served very well as supplementary to Dr. Khan's article.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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