VISHWANATH TEMPLE OF BANARAS OR VISHVESHVAR TEMPLE is a major reason for the religious struggle that has been going on for centuries between Hindus and Muslims.
The army of Muhammad Ghori and Qutbuddin Aibak defeated the king of Banaras a prominent North Indian king of that period ~ Jaichand. According to Islamic belief, no other religion can be practiced under Islamic rule. Idol worship is a crime in Islam and Banaras was the center of idol-worshipping of Hindus for thousands of years.
As a result, all the major Hindu temples of Banaras were demolished and their property was looted by the Muslims.
Some major Hindu temples were demolished and mosques were built at that same place from their rubble. Surprisingly some of the temples which were demolished in 1194 and were converted into mosques, still survive in Banaras though only their leftover remains can be found. For more information about this subject please visit:- https://nithinks.com/2021/12/06/the-search-for-hindus-lost-temples-in-the-city-of-templesvaranasi/
AS SHARIAT LAWS WERE IMPOSED IN THE CITY the pity-minded Hindu kings of India began to express their loyalty to it. The rule of Banaras was handed over to an Amir (Governer) so that he could suppress paganism and yet satisfy people with his justice. (Justice here refers to Sharia Law)
IBN AL- ATHIR, a Muslim chronicler wrote that after plundering the city of Banaras, the loot was loaded in 1400 camels and sent to Ghazni.
HAR -HAR MAHADEV, HOW HINDUS FOUGHT BACK AND REFUSED TO CONVERT
Soon Banaras recovered from this setback and the Hindus tried to take their temples back. And a BLOODY STRUGGLE BEGAN. The Vindhya hills around Banaras were a great place for guerilla warfare.
According to some Afghan Islamic scholars and Islamic historians, about one lakh fifty thousand Muslims were killed in this conflict by the Hindus.
This anarchy ended only when Islamic rulers accepted religious freedom to Hindus in this way the process of demolishing the temple and rebuilding it continued……………….
Some of the major events during this period
A- IN 1194, ALMOST ALL THE MAJOR TEMPLES OF BANARAS WERE DEMOLISHED. The Vishwanath temple would have been demolished for the first time during this period.
B- PADMASADHU, a monk, built the temple of PADMESHWAR in Varanasi in 1296 AD in front of Vishwanath temple in Banaras. This shows that the Vishwanath temple existed at that time, so the Vishwanath temple must have been rebuilt between 1194 AD and 1296 AD.(Fuhrer Sharqi Architecture of Jaunpur )
C- In 1447, the Vishwanath temple was demolished again by Sultan Mahmud Shah of Jaunpur.
D-During the reign of Akbar, with the help of minister RAJA TODARMAL, NARAYAN BHATT once again constructed the Vishwanath temple around 1585 AD.
E- On 18 April 1669, Aurangzeb issued a decree ordering the destruction of the Kashi Vishwanath temple. This decree document is still safely preserved in the Asiatic Society Kolkata.
F- The construction of the temple was once again completed between 1777 AD and 1780 AD by MAHARANI AHILYABAI of Indore.
KHALIFA -TUL ARD
Khalifa-tul Ard, that is, he has been called upon to play the role of being a successor to earth. The earth has its own potentialities. It, too, has been created for a purpose. But man has been sent down as a responsible being and he is here to secure improvement of earth, of making this brown earth of God green. He is here to introduce order and reform, in the light of Heavenly mandate, what has been deformed by Satanic forces.
Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad (Aurangzeb)
Aurangzeb was a staunch Sunni Muslim. Unlike his ancestor Akbar, he was not at all an advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity, nor was he in the mood to give any concession to the Hindus, also unlike Jahangir, he was not at all interested in any kind of building and construction work of gardens, minarets, buildings etc.
Shah Jahan followed Sharia law. Under the guise of this, he tried to break the Vishwanath temple in Banaras, but due to the strong opposition of the Hindus, his army could not break the Vishwanath temple, but then also 63 temples were destroyed in Benares during the reign of Shah Jahan. As a true Muslim, the expansion of Islam was the main goal of Aurangzeb’s life, he resolved to do the unfinished work of his father.
Aurangzeb probably wanted to make all the Muslims of the world as well as the Hindus feel the superiority of Muslim religion over other religions. Soon the Sharia laws were re-imposed on Banaras. Under the Sharia law-:
a. Jizya tax was imposed on Hindus.
b. All Hindu schools were closed.
c. The name of Banaras was changed to Muhammadabad.
d. The Vishwanath temple of Banaras and some other famous temples were demolished.
Saqi Mustad Khan has written extensively on this subject in Maasir-I- Alamgiri.
Demolition of Vishwanath Temple in Banaras
(18th April,1669) , it reached the ear of His Majesty, the protector of the faith, that in the provinces of Thatta, Multan, and Benares, but especially in the latter, foolish Brahmans were in the habit of expounding frivolous books in their schools, and that students and learners, Musulmans as well as Hindus, went there, even from long distances, led by a desire to become acquainted with the wicked sciences they taught. The “Director of the Faith’’ consequently issued orders to all the governors of provinces to destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels ; and they were strictly enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practicing of idolatrous forms of worship. On the 15th i Rabi’u-l akhir it was reported to his religious Majesty, leader of the Unitarians, that, in obedience to order, the Government officers had destroyed the temple of Bishnath at Benares.
Aurangzeb also wanted to break the order of Hindus repeatedly taking back their temples, To carry out his plan, Aurangzeb took some cruel decisions and implemented them.
- As per the orders of Aurangzeb, the Vishwanath temple in Banaras was demolished, the sanctum sanctorum (the holiest part of the temple where the idol of God is installed) was also demolished and leveled and a mosque was constructed at the same place from its rubble.
2. After the construction of the mosque on the main part of the temple, a Islamic graveyard was also constructed in the courtyard of the temple. It can be clearly seen in the drawing of James Princip. Generally, in Hindu belief, temples are never built at such a place where the rituals related to the dead person have been completed. In future, Hindus cannot build any temple at this holy place, undoubtedly this must have been the intention behind the construction of this graveyard.
3. Aurangzeb’s intention was not only to destroy the most sacred temple of Hindus, but he also wanted to humiliate Hindus forever. For this a part of the temple was deliberately left out so that the Hindus always felt inferior, and the feeling of a conqueror remained among the Muslims.
This can be better understood from James Prinsep’s drawings. In the temple courtyard, the place where the mosque was built is shown point-wise. This place is still in the possession of Muslims due to the construction of the mosque.
After Aurangzeb’s death, the Mughal Dynasty got weakened due to struggles for inheritance of the throne, several governors proclaiming themselves independent rulers, and most importantly the Marathas and Sikhs challenging the Mughal Empire. The politics of India in the eighteenth century was very similar to the politics of the seventeenth century in Germany. The old dynasties were subsiding and the struggle for the throne to fill their place was at its peak. Soon Banaras overcome the shock it got from Aurungzeb’s side and the Hindu Maratha rulers came to dominate Banaras.
Maratha’s also got the Mughal rulers of that time to write an assurance to compensate for the destruction of the Vishwanath temple by Aurangzeb in Banaras.
Malla Rao thought of demolishing the Gyanvapi mosque and building a temple on it, but due to the dilemma of the Pandits of Banaras, this work was postponed. Because of the struggle to inherit the throne in the country, the Marathas couldn’t even pay much attention to it.
In 1781, the East India Company’s dominance over Banaras was established. The East India Company’s effort was to avoid Hindu-Muslim conflict as much as possible. In the year 1777-80, the temple was rebuilt again by the Maharani Devi Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. The disputed site (the mosque built by Aurangzeb was left intact) still remains in the same condition presently.
In 1809, a Hindu-Muslim riot had also taken place over the Vishwanath temple, which got controlled with great difficulty, hundreds of people died in this riot.
Mr. Watson, the Magistrate of Banaras at that time wanted an end to this quarrel and therefore requested the officers of the Company to HANDOVER THIS PLACE TO HINDUS.
Unfortunately, doing this was not possible in the future due to the complex political conditions of India in those days. Later, learning from the revolution of 1857, the British focused on maintaining the status quo in the Hindu-Muslim religious dispute, due to which the Vishwanath temple dispute still continued.
The area inside the red boundary in this picture is still occupied by the mosque. This is the reason for the present Hindu-Muslim tension. The present courtyard of Kashi Vishwanath temple has been expanded. It has been expanded from three thousand square feet to five lakh square feet, but the disputed structure of the mosque remains the same.
INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM THE SURVEY
A. Hindu artworks on the walls, and statues of some Hindu Gods and Goddesses have been found in the survey of the mosque.
B. A dome of the mosque rests on the top of the temple.
C. In the survey, a small pond was found in the mosque’s courtyard, and a Shivling was also found inside the pond. This is not at all a fact of utter surprise because James Prinsep has described this pond very clearly in his book ‘Benares Illustrated in a Series of Drawings’.
The principal lingam of Mahadeo stood in an ornamented reservoir in the centre,(center) having a drain below to carry off the Ganges water continually poured over it by day and night. Mundip signifies vestibule: Dundpan and Dwarpal are respectively the staff-bearer and door-keeper. The latter situation is held by Kal Bhyro, the offspring of Shiva’s rage; the former appointment was conferred upon Hurikeshu, a Yukshu, or one of the attendants upon the Deity of riches, in reward for his having abandoned the sports of youth to devote himself to ascetic meditation at Kashi. Tarakeswur and Manikeswur are two inferior lingums of Shiva.
To a large extent, it is possible that this is the holy pond of the Hindus as described by James. Presently, Muslims use this pond for Wuzu. Wuzu is an Islamic process. Cleaning the body before offering Namaz includes washing hands, mouth, head, feet, and inner part of the nose. I think a few more ancient mysteries can be uncovered by examining this holy pond.
One thing is clear the scientific analysis of the ancient Vishwanath temple done by James in 1831 is still unmatched. There is no difference between the conclusion of James and the condition of the Vishwanath temple today.
AT LAST, WE ARE THE FREE PEOPLE
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
With the independence of India, India got a new constitution and there was also hope of a solution to this issue. After independence, instead of handing over their holy place to Hindus through a new law, the Congress party made it more controversial. Nehru, who believed in the communist ideology, felt that Hindu political parties could take advantage of this problem in elections, so it would be right to keep the temple-mosque dispute entangled in the cumbersome court proceedings. According to a section of the law, the status quo before 15 August 1947 in a religious dispute shall be maintained. It was the political compulsion of Nehru and Congress to maintain the Hindu-Muslim dispute over Vishwanath temple otherwise it might have got resolved years before.
Presently, this disputed mosque near Vishwanath temple is a living example of Islamic imperialism. Hardly any Muslim goes to this mosque to offer prayers, but this disputed temple definitely knocks the eyes of every Hindu. Most of the foreign travel writers who have visited this place in the sixteenth century and after believed that THIS PLACE SHOULD BE HANDED OVER TO THE HINDUS. These foreign travel writers have explained their side in detail in their writing. Any person who looks at this disputed mosque objectively rather than from a religious point of view will come to the conclusion that no doubt this place should be handed over to the Hindus. After all it was built by demolishing their ancient temple.