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Varanasi
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Gyanvapi – the pond of knowledge

A jury in the UK, last year decided to clear protesters responsible for toppling a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest. Similarly, in the USA, in Boston, Miami, and Virginia, statues venerating Christopher Columbus and Confederate leaders were beheaded. The West has to wake up to erase its past of colonialism and slavery and has decided to reclaim what was rightfully its heritage: the native Indian and the black heritage. When will Bharat wake up to erase the horrors of Islamic colonialism and slavery?

353 Years of Waiting

This year in February, as I made my way through the gentle wave of pilgrims towards the Kashi Vishwanath temple, I felt an unprecedented calm and serenity. I was witnessing a new chapter in the temple’s history with the formation of a new corridor. Although purists and traditionalists have their valid criticisms of the corridor and how it destroyed a major portion of Hindu architecture and history, I looked at the brighter side. The accessibility to the temple and the infrastructure development. It is spacious now with a bigger walking arena, a gallery, new structures, barricades, security, and friendliness in architecture for the disabled and blind. Kashi Vishwanath temple was now resembling a part of its past glory.

gyanvapi

Behind a wall of barbed wire, with security forces keeping an alert eye, rose the domes of a structure that stood out differently from its surroundings. Even the walls and pillars that it was built on looked so familiar with the temple that they openly defied the existence of what they were carrying on top of them, the Gyanvapi Mosque. A lone Nandi statue with wide eyes looks at a wall. In all the Shiva temples in the world, this humble bull looks devotionally at his Bhagwan. Why was he here, in Kashi, the land of Shiva, with an ancient Jyotirling, the Nandi, looking at a blank wall? What was behind this wall?

It’s a Fountain!

As soon as the news broke out from various sources that, during the court-supervised videography of the complex, a Shiva Lingam had been found inside a well-like structure, the people cried in unison, “Namo Parvati Pataye… Har Har Mahadev!”. The news spread like wildfire and attracted all kinds of attention on social media. This news was nothing new for the people of Banaras, as they always knew the truth. ‘Baba Mil Gaye’, or “Bhagwan has been found,” started trending everywhere. Devotees performed special prayers in their nearest temple and a sense of familial reunion swept the nation.

But it didn’t go down well with the other side in court. This claim was disputed by the mosque committee members, who said it was part of the water fountain mechanism in the wuzu-khana reservoir, used by devotees to perform ritual ablutions before offering namaz. The district court had then ordered the sealing of the ‘wuzu-khana’.

They went on to appeal in court that even the filming of the interiors of the mosque violates the 1991 Places of Worship Act, a law that prevents the alteration of the character of any place of worship in the country, forgetting that it doesn’t apply to the case since no change in the status of the religious site is being sought. Many people have valid claims that the ‘Maa Shringar Gauri’ shrine and the entire region with several big and small temples fall under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

But-Parasti

This row started a string of Hinduphobic and anti-murti puja propaganda on social media, with major self-proclaimed journalists like Saba Naqvi and self-celebrated historians like Irfan Habib making anti-Hindu remarks. Several Islamists on Twitter compared the findings with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s nuclear domes, and some found similar shapes in various things of daily use. Many left-leaning and supposedly liberal celebrities also jumped on the bandwagon, giving yet another proof of their lost sanity.

Murti pujaks or But-Parast as they were called in 7th century Arabia, have always been targeted and persecuted by monotheistic invaders. All pagan cultures and even tribal religions in small pockets were mocked, humiliated, and slaughtered for worshipping idols/murtis in any form. All these monotheistic religions, in their swelled up ego, accuse murti pujaks of bowing down to a false God, one that is a figment of human imagination, because the real God lies above the seven skies.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who whitewashed the Hindu genocide in Bangladesh by Pakistan’s Army as the propaganda minister, also used the anti-murti puja imagery in his average piece of art, Hum Dekhenge. He was writing against dictatorship, standing on the graves of millions of murti pujaks in his land. Jab Arze Khuda Ke Kaabe Se, Sab But Uthwaye Jayenge, is a regressive take on revolutionary poetry, as it marginalizes and ghettoizes the oldest of world religions.

The entire world’s history will tell you that murti pujaks never attacked monotheistic people. They were happy with their lands and their gods. A tree was a god. A cow was a god. A fellow human being was a god. There was a god inside each and every being. If someone can find God in a piece of rock or a grain of sand, how easy does it become for them to find God in each other?

The Gyanvapi Mandir

The unrelenting attacks on Kashi Vishwanath began shortly after Islamic invaders entered Bharat. Murti pujaks were under threat again. In fact, Qutb al-Din Aibak was the first to assault it in the 11th century. The assault broke the temple’s summit. The alleged demolition of the hallowed Hindu mandir was carried out under Mohammad Ghor’s instructions. Evidence indicates that Sikandar Lodi was also responsible for the invasion of Kashi Vishwanath during his reign from 1489 to 1517.

The ultimate attack on the mandir occurred in 1669 when Aurangzeb partially demolished the mandir out of contempt for Hindu culture and replaced it with a mosque. The remnants of the former mandir can still be seen in the mosque’s foundation, columns, walls, surroundings, and towards the back. The existing temple in Kashi is not the initial place of devotion. It was created by the noble queen, Ahilya Bai Holkar. Even she couldn’t bring it back in all its glory. The ancient temple is still standing beneath the dome of barbarism created by Aurangzeb, known as the Gyanvapi mosque.

The Way Ahead

The wrongs done by Islamic invaders and Jihadis will never be completely rectified and forgotten, but these wounds can heal to some extent if Indian Muslims come together for reconciliation by admitting their violent past and peacefully giving back the temple lands to their rightful owners, the Hindus.

The stupid debate about Hindu temples being the sites of even ancient Buddhist temples is hilarious, ill-timed, and unfruitful. The recent excavations at Vishnu Stambh (Qutub Minar) have revealed even more insights into Hindu and Jain history.

gyanvapi

Islamic rulers broke temples and looted wealth. This is a truth that no one can deny. So the irrational argument of claiming the Shivling to be a fountain is as funny as claiming that a mosque has a Sanskrit name, Gyanvapi (Pond of knowledge). C’mon guys, Amber Heard’s style of acting won’t save you from the judiciary and, more importantly, from the light of truth. It is, after all, in all its glory, the Gyanvapi Mandir.

(This article has been written by Vaibhav Ji Srivastava)

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