know your neighbour

A View from the Charminar

Posted by chimeki on December 20, 2012

harminarThe controversy surrounding the historic Charminar at Hyderabad and the adjoining Bhagyalaxmi temple is one of many the sub continent has witnessed in the last two decades. This time the twist in the story is that not the formal Hindutva party but a secular party is in the forefront of save-the-temple campaign. The Andra Congress party is claiming that the adjoining temple is as old as the Minar itself and it should stay even at the cost of the Minar. Although there are ample evidences to suggest that the temple was planted in 1960s nevertheless there are no takers of the claims.

Well, these claims and political posturing hardly surprise anyone, at least those who are aware of the history of the Hindu religion. Hinduism is fundamentally an anti-history religion. Its inherent hatred for history can be traced as far as in ancient times. The clinical precision with which it erased the Buddhist history can put many modern surgeons to shame. Thanks to Alexander Cunningham, father of Indian Archeology, who, with great pain, traced the existence of Mauryan Empire in the region otherwise one would only be guessing the writings on the edicts. All the Buddhist monuments or caves were either converted to Hindu temples or were named after Hindu legends. Evidently, we see the Jagannath and other temples and Pandav Caves scattered across the land. Not surprisingly, many Hindu intellectuals claim the Taj Mahal and the Qutub Minar as Hindu temples.

Exemplary case for above drawn argument is Jabalpur, a small city in the heart of Madhya Pradesh. As its present its history too is shrouded with ambiguity. Talk to any native, he would, with few exceptions, relate the city with legendary saint Jaabaali of the Ramayana, a myth sustained by all the state governments and never seriously refuted by Archeological Survey of India. But before the rail link between Bombay and Calcutta was established in mid nineteenth century no one knew its existence. Garha was the only known town in its close proximity. It was during Marathas’ rule, in late eighteenth century that Jabalpur as a town came into existence. Etymologically, its name’s first part ‘Jabal’ comes from a Marathi word which means ‘near’. This suggests that the Marathas, instead of giving it a definite name, loosely referred it as a near town. The British called it Jubbulpore.

Today’s Jabalpur is a conglomeration of many small medieval towns. Two of them are Garha and Katanga.

In the edge of the city is Madan Mahal, a castle built by Gond King Madan Sahi. Today, this historical monument stands isolated. So far no government has shown interest of any kind for the monument. Excavation of the surrounding area would have brought to light an important aspect of the Gond history rescuing the Indian history from Vedic-Islamic binary.  So brute is the neglect that there is not even an inscription on stone which can suggest what people are looking at, which time of history it belonged. A set of cement stairs that takes to the castle is fast depleting. On the side of it people defecate and urinate. The caretakers of the temples do not seem to mind it. On the other hand they can’t see a girl and a boy hanging together. The mahants of these shrines have barred boys and girls from walking together and holding hands. Punishment, written bold and clearly on the rocks, for disobeying the holy warnings includes wiping, procession and arrest.

Apart from this the construction of temples, a Mosque and a Dargah around the castle has made the excavation impossible. In a state that takes pride in legends and myths scientific research is always causality. One can but wonder if the castle would have been built by a Babur or a Man Singh could it be so neglected.

To save history is to save future. A country that remains indifferent to its history is killing its own future.



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