In her latest book Vasudev Krishna and Mathura, historian Meenakshi Jain has brought forth well-researched historical evidence that reconfirms Hindu claims over the Sri Krishna Janmasthan over which Idgah was erected by Aurangzeb.
However, the book doesn’t limit itself to claims and counter-claims regarding the Janmasthan temple, also known as the Katra Keshavadeva Temple, but also provides insights into the rise of the Vaishnava sect along with the transition from fire worship and sacrifices based Vedic religion to the incorporation of images in worship thanks largely to the Bhakti movement.
There are ten chapters in the book that broadly deals with topics such as the emerging shift from the culture of worship through sacrifices to murti puja, the fusion of different cults to form the Vaishnava sect, the growth of Bhagwan Krishna worship with the help of literary and epigraphic evidence, and Islamic iconoclasm among others.
Mathura has always remained central to Hindu Dharma and society with several dynasties protecting it despite attacks from Islamic marauders. The Katra Keshava Temple, popularly known as the Krishna Janmasthan, was originally constructed by Jajja who was a vassal of the Gahadavala dynasty. The temple was reconstructed by Bir Singh Bundela after the Jajja temple was destroyed by Muhammad Ghori. The temple’s final demolition took place in 1669 under Mughal tyrant Aurangzeb who got an Idgah constructed over the temple.
“History turned in favor of the Hindus when the Marathas won the battle of Govardhan in 1770 and obtained control of Mathura and Agra. They declared the entire Katra Keshavadeva land as nazul (government) land, which brings us to the genesis of the current dispute over Krishna Janmasthan and its antecedents”, says a report by Swarajya.
The declaration of the Katra Keshavdeva Temple as government land led to the entire 13.37 acres being purchased by Raja Patnimal of Benares in 1815. Various legal challenges by Muslims of the Idgah with respect to the sale failed. Seth Jugal Kishore Birla, with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and two others playing a key role, purchased the temple in 1944 and set up a trust in 1951.
Historian Meenakshi Jain in her book has made it amply clear that the land belongs to Hindu parties and this position has been upheld by numerous judgments passed by lower courts. The only obstacle in reclaiming the temple is the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 since as per its provisions ownership of places of worship after 15 August 1947 can’t be changed.
(Featured Image Source: Swarajya Mag)