This is an old story, but somehow makes it to the limelight once in a while. Now its Kapil Mishra’s turn to carry the burden…
Kapil Mishra? The same politician from Delhi who wasn’t in news for anything since the longest of the time has now claimed that Taj Mahal is not a tomb or a mausoleum but a Shiva Temple that was taken over by the ‘Mughal’ emperor, Shah Jahan and was constructed according to his whims and fancies.
This is not the first time that Taj Mahal was called out for its superficial existence, previously leaders like Vinay Katiar and late Anant Kumar also claimed the same. But the pioneer of this argument or theory was a historian named PN Oak.
PN Oak or Purushottam Nagesh Oak was a historian who called himself a Hindutva historical revisionist and ran the ‘institute of rewriting Indian history’ in 1980s. He put forth this claim and also filed a petition in the Supreme court in 2000 to declare Taj Mahal a Shiva Temple and also claimed that Mumtaz was not even buried here. He sought permissions to break open the cenotaphs and reach the basement to prove his case. But the case was dismissed. He gave some evidences that were built upon later, some of which were as follows:
- Padshahnama, the official history of Shah Jahan’s reign, mentions that Shah Jahan purchased the land for the Taj from Jai Singh I who was a general in the army, here a mansion existed built by an ancestor of Jai Singh I.
- The riverside doorway or a piece from it, when subjected to Carbon dating, revealed that it was 500 years anterior to Shahjahan.
- Its architectural resemblances with regards to the Chaturmukhi style or the four faced style was mainly seen in Hindu and Jain temples, also the entrance faces south and it is claimed that if it was an Islamic building, it should have faced the Kaaba or the west.
- Agra as a city is center of Shiva worship and is ostensibly an abode to 5 Shiva Shrines but since a few decades the devotees are limiting their worship to only 4 shrines as the fifth one that their ancestors worshipped seems missing or is hidden under the Taj?
- Several other evidences like how Shivalinga is often called as Tej-Linga in many scriptures and how both the words, Taj and Mahal have a Sanskrit origin or the garden in front of Taj bears flowers that are predominantly used to worship Hindu deities.
But all of these evidences are just speculative or superficial and have no strong scientific backing.
Another similar petition was filed by a group of lawyers in the Agra court in 2015 claiming entry of Hindu devotees to perform worship inside the premises and locked rooms to be opened. They made Lord Agreshwar Mahadev as the main plaintiff claiming ownership to his property. Now a proper response from the ‘other side’ was sought. The other side turned out to be the Archeological survey of India, who presented an affidavit to the Agra court in 2017. The affidavit said the following:
- Taj Mahal is not Tejo Mahalaya.
- Though it is an Islamic structure, it has not catered to any religion whatsoever or no religious offerings were made to it.
- Historical records since their prevalence (1904) has mentioned only Taj Mahal and the same has been declared as a monument of ‘National importance’ and has gained prominence worldwide as the 7th wonder.
- ASI even went on record to say that the contentions of the plaintiff were ‘concocted’ or ‘imagined’.
Later, the Central Information Commission, wrote to the Ministry of Culture seeking clarification for the same and the Ministry has clarified that there is no evidence of Tejo Mahalaya.
It is very strange to note that religious politics is now being played on monuments which showcase the beauty of Indian culture and heritage; this makes me ask a few questions. How jobless are we to get played by these claims? How does a monument’s religious orientation affect the country’s progress? How does any religion become dominant by having ‘monuments’ under its ambit?
– Md Saqlain Jameel