One of the most ancient living cities on earth and the epicentre of Hindu religion and Indian civilization, Kashi is undergoing a civilization renaissance. First, it was the grand makeover of the Kashi Vishvanath Corridor in 2021, two and a half centuries after Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar renovated the temple and the area surrounding it.
The Aurangzeb apologists feared that the KVC project would be a precursor to Gyanvapi Mosque becoming a flashpoint; when the masses would witness the “Nandi” facing a Mosque, it would expose the truth about the exact original location of the Adi Vishveshvara Temple.
The legal-civilizational dispute over the Gyanvapi Mosque has been going on for ages. For centuries, it remained an undying symbol of resistance and a point of conflict between Hindus and Muslims. In 1809, one of the worst riots called the “War of the Lat” broke out when Muslims killed a cow and poured her blood into the sacred Gyanvapi Well to desecrate it permanently.
The first legal dispute arose in 1854 when the local Court rejected a plea to install a new idol in the complex.
In December 1935, local Muslims attacked the Police for being prevented from offering prayers outside of the mosque proper. It gave way to another lawsuit seeking the entire complex to be treated as an integral part of the mosque. This contention was rejected by Court in 1937, and an appeal was also dismissed by the Allahabad High Court in 1941.
The first petition on the ‘Title Dispute’ was filed in the Varanasi civil court in 1991. In the same year, the Congress Govt. brought ‘The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.’ And soon after that, the Puja in the Gyanvapi Complex was stopped by order. However, the title dispute case continued.
Surprisingly, the Supreme Court, in the Ram Mandir judgment, wilfully ratified the PWA, 1991 by saying:
“The PWA is thus a legislative intervention, which preserves NON-RETROGRESSION as an essential feature of our SECULAR VALUES, it is intrinsically related to the obligations of a SECULAR STATE, which reflects the commitment of India to EQUALITY OF ALL RELIGIONS.”
Imagine the irony that terms like “equality” and “secularism” were used to practically prevent the Hindus from approaching the Court to legally demand Justice! Any sane mind would find both the PWA 1991 and its ratification by the SC immoral and an act of betrayal.
Generation of Justices and judgments may come and go. Still, they will fail if they don’t understand that Justice understands human suffering and confronts ideologies that propagate hatred and seek to annihilate others.
Justice for a race that faced all kinds of inhumanity for its religious identity is only redemption. Denying it is not only betrayal but letting a wound fester to resurface again and again with much misery.
However, some understanding of this prolonged suffering prevailed. The Varanasi Civil Court, stating that “the matter in dispute pertains to have connection with our deep history”, issued direction to the Archaeological Survey of India to “get a comprehensive archaeological physical survey” done on the Gyanvapi complex.
What we know
There is inordinate historical evidence that the Gyanvapi mosque was built atop the remnants of the ancient Visheshvara Mandir. The original Visheshvara temple was destroyed multiple times through recorded violent onslaughts by Mughal invaders. The first was in 1194 by Qutubuddin Aibak, then in 1393 by the Sharqui dynasty, and then in 1447 by the Sultan Mahmud Shah of Jaunpur. During Akbar’s time, his courtier Bayizid Bayat also destroyed the area and broke the Padmeshvara pillar to use its remains to build a Mosque and Madrasa.
Kashi faced the most vicious and abhorrent attack ever at the hands of the Mughal despot Aurangzeb in 1969, who went on a rampage destroying temples. The Gyanvyapi mosque was constructed atop the Visveshwara temple. The original Linga was hidden by priests inside the Gyanvapi well, and the plinth continued to be considered sacred. Apart from many other recorded sources, the “Maasir-I-Alamgiri”, which has records of Aurangzeb’s firman, also reconfirms it.
Despite the best attempts of the secular historians, the plain truth – that the Islamic invaders destroyed thousands of temples in India, is well known to the masses for centuries and generations.
The Gyanvapi Mosque survey showed this truth and much more. A Shivalinga in a well and countless other remnants of an ancient temple were seen as expected. In fact, there was no need for a survey when the rear base of the temple was deliberately retained only to showcase Hindus of Islam’s victory over their holiest shrine. But, perhaps, for the establishment of truth and judicial closure.
We also witnessed that the place where the Shivalinga was found was used as a Wuzukhana, a place where Namazi washes their hands, feet and mouth before praying. Is it not a deliberate provocation?
Correcting the injustices perpetrated by tyrannical Mughal rulers is one thing. How can one fix the mindset that even today is offering Namaz at a place which is clearly built upon by demolishing a temple? In addition, also demands to continue ‘wuzu’ atop the holiest deity of the Hindus. That is an extreme provocation.
If that was not enough, the impunity with which the mocking of the Shivalinga followed, from the Aurngzebists, Khap Liberals and the self-loathers, alike, was beyond shameless. The Hindus, a four-times majority, watched this mocking in silence, except for some extraneous noises on social media. It tells us exactly how the genocidal invaders would have destroyed the holy temples in medieval times and how Hindus would have remained silent without any retaliation.
The Prolonged Trauma
The most distressing trauma for the Hindus has been the destruction and desecration of the holiest of their temples. Not being able to seek redemption, the Hindus have remained a community frozen in trauma.
Why did invaders destroy Somnath, Mathura, Kashi, and Ayodhya? Obviously, to cut us from our roots. Even after the so-called independence, our historians did everything to hide the truth. The left-liberal academia made us feel embarrassed for taking pride in our culture and religion. Gradually, boasting about not knowing about our faith and culture, including self-loathing, became fashionable in some quarters.
How is it possible for the prolonged trauma to heal without remembering, retelling the stories and seeking Justice for the genocide, forced conversions, rapes, and annihilation, all in the name of religion? How can a race be liberated from the memories of oppression that once chained them? How can the wound heal without reclaiming the holiest of its lost places to genocidal desecration?
Remember the infamous trial of the Nazi monster Adolf Eichman? It was not to punish him for his crimes against humanity. The trail was not of Eichman alone but of the ideology. The inclusion of survivors’ testimony in the trial was proof that a destructive ideology believed that some races and their beliefs deserve to be eliminated. It shook the world’s conscience. Then followed a feeling of compassion for the Jews, allowing their trauma to heal.
Those who destroyed the temples also believed the Hindus as a race and temples as symbols of their religion had no right to exist.
Persevering the Memory
Human Faith survives. Take the case of the Shri Ram Janmbhoomi – a movement over a particular place of birth of a deity carried on for over half a millennium. Kudos to the remarkable patience of millions of unknown but religious Hindus, their struggle to regain the holiest places from their invaders survived all kinds of genocidal violence and oppressive regimes.
A time comes when the civilization begins to value its memory; they revisit their history and realize that there is nothing to be ashamed about one’s humiliating phase of the past. When they assert, symbols of faith re-emerge.
The Hindus showed their unwavering faith in the Indian judiciary and Lord Shri Ram. The Supreme Court of India concluded a 492-year legal-historical-civilizational dispute with a unanimous verdict on facts and evidence.
Because the victory belongs to the most tenacious.
A majestic Ram Mandir at his birthplace in Ayodhya will not only be a place of holy pilgrimage. It will also be an iconic symbol of tolerance, a monument showcasing a civilization’s courage in the face of religious persecution, and a memorial for future generations to remind them of their duties towards Dharma. It will remain the most unique event in centuries towards reconciliation, healing, and harmony.
Truth for Harmony
Without Justice, no harmonious co-existence is possible. If Somnath could be built, if a Ram Temple at Ayodhya is being constructed, all assertions must be made for all historical facts of Kashi to Mathura to emerge in the public domain, through legal means, by exploring pieces of evidence.
Today, the Gyanwapi mosque, built over desecrated Vishveshvara Temple, stands like a civilizational wound reminding Hindus of centuries of genocidal hatred against their faith.
Seeking truth and Justice is not against anyone and in no way means that the present-day Indian Muslims need to be disrespected, blamed, or punished for these past acts of violence by Islamic invaders. Nonetheless, instead of disassociating with maniacs like Aurangzeb and acknowledging them as despots, resisting the truth, hailing them as heroes, and attempting to continue the desecration will not allow us to move forward in harmony.
Communal harmony is a two-way street. Every hollow attempt toward harmony, sighting “Ganga-Jamuni-Tehzeeb” will continue to fail because the truth will resurface like an unhealed wound.
For honestly approaching communal harmony, the legal-historical-civilizational disputes must end through legal means, and these holy symbols of unwavering faiths must rise to even greater heights.
The time has come for the Gyanvapi to re-emerge in its original form of a ‘Wisdom Well’ that Svayambhu Shiva himself created from his trident so that its sacred water washes away millennia of anguish and trauma.