- by M.V. Kamath in Organiser
NO book in recent times has brought out in such vivid- and well-researched -detail the havoc caused against Hindu temples in India by Islamic forces from ancient times right up to the twenty first century as Prafull Goradia's Hindu Masjids, just published. In its entirety it is the definitive answer to all our secularists who in the last one decade have been shedding crocodile tears following the destruction of the Babri structure in Ayodhya. What is Hindu Masjids all about? Why was it written? How authentic is the information herein provided? The book is about all the Hindu temples that were either converted from mandirs to masjids by the replacement of idols with mehrabs and the defacement of temple statuettes, or were first destroyed, the rubble then reused to build masjids over the ruins. In two years (2000-2001) the author personally visited all such masjids, took photographs, went deep into the background of each structure, digging historical records, published literature and archaeological studies to produce what, surely, is the most definitive study of Islamic fundamentalism gone haywire. Each time the author published his findings some of his friends would call him up and say: "Why are you digging up the past? Do you want the Hindus to take revenge? Do you wish to humiliate fellow Indians who happen to be Muslim? Will not your articles arouse anger which may lead to bloodshed?" Such thoughts have been far from Goradia's mind. He knows that Hindu Masjids personify the deep chasm or the sharp conflict between the Hindu ethos and Muslim zealotry. More than any secularist he is profoundly concerned with building bridges between Hindus and Muslims. But how can one build bridges when one community just does want to acknowledge that Hindus are suffering from a sense of lasting hurt? And what bridges can Hindus themselves seek to build if they don't want to face up to facts? According to Goradia - and he is so right- many Hindus who are at once afraid, hypocritical and opportunistic and embarrassed to admit as much, have taken cover behind secularism and alleged broad-mindedness. On their part, Muslims - certainly the vast majority of them - remain blissfully ignorant of what their co-religionists in centuries past have done to hurt the Hindu psyche. Says Goradia: "How are they to know the Hindu has done little to tell them. Instead, many a Hindu political leader has gone out of his way to pamper the Muslim for electoral support. This book is an attempt to bridge the communication gapů"
Goradia's thesis is that once the average Muslim knows what had gone wrong in centuries past, his conscience will be stirred and he will be more appreciative of Hindu sentiments which, in turn, could lead to firmer and lasting friendship between Hindus and Muslims. Gordia's work us an attempt to diagnose the slavery complex that haunts the upper fringes of Hindu society. He says: "Amongst the Hindu intelligentsia there are many anti-Hindu Hindus. If the upper echelon of society is embarrassed about its collective identity, namely Hindu, how can the society regain its pride and self confidence?" It is to confront this class that Goradia has done his research and one feels like saying: "If you have tears to shed, shed them now!"
It is a story of thousands of temples ruthlessly destroyed or desecrated, in all cases the deities then being buried under mosque entrances so that they could be easily trampled upon by those who came to offer prayers. In every case Goradia quotes authorities, both Muslim and British, and does not go by hearsay. Quoted are such men of eminence like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who founded the Aligarh Muslim University, Rev. Mathew Atmore Sherring, a Christain evangelist, a British Civil Servant F.S. Growse and many more like them. Can one possibly contradict a Viceroy like Lord Curzon, an archaeologist like Sir Alexander Cunningham or a historian like Khair-ud-din? Anyone even remotely aware of historical writing will recognise the name of Vincent A. Smith who wrote: " The richly jewelled idols taken from the pagan temples were transferred to Agra and there placed beneath the steps leading to the Nawab Begum Saheb's mosque, in order that they might over be pressed under foot by the true believers. The city's (Mathura's) name was changed to Islamabad." Reading this work is enough to drive one to tears. Goradia is not interested just in quoting authorities. This book is richly illustrated with colour photographs so that the reader can see for himself what has been said in the text. There is, for example, a picture of triple temples at Ajmer converted by Qutbuddin Aibak into a mosque called Adhai din ka Jhopra because the work of desecration was completed in 60 years. Goradia says that the jhopra is "among the first in a series of temple desecrations perpetuated by foreign rulers of India." In 1403 Ibrahim Naib Barbak ordered all Hindus to quit Jaunpur so that only Muslims could live there. Ethnic cleansing is nothing new in India. Hindus have suffered it down the ages - only then there were no secularists to defend the actions of ruthless Muslim rulers.
In page after sickening page Goradia lists all acts of destruction and desecration of Hindu (pagan!) temples but it would be a mistake to think that Muslim rulers have learnt the lessons of decency in our times. Iconoclasm continues in Pakistan and Bangladesh to this day. Goradia quotes no less than Taslima Nasrin, the Bangladeshi author, according to whom 62 temples were destroyed in Bangladesh just in one year, 1990, a clean two years before the Babri edifice was brought down! And may it be noted: those temples were not builr on the ruins of masjids, as the Babri structure was built on the ruins of a temple. Right in Kashmir itself, under the benign eyes of Sheikh Farookh Abdullah, 116 temples and mandirs, properly named, had been desecrated since 1986. As for temples destroyed in Pakistan- all identified in this remarkable boom - the mames of 59 have been identified. This, then is the story. Reading Goradia is enough to wrench one's insides. No Hindu has ever demanded that all those masjids built on temple sites or are temples converted into masjids be restored to their original owners. What he does is merely to tell the truth so that both ignorant Muslims and pitiful secularists get a chance to understand the Hindu psyche. In the process Goradia has occasion to expose certain myths propagated by some secular Hindus themselves. The intention as he says, "is to illustrate why and how the Hindu-Muslim divide is so deep" and to hope that presented with facts, Muslims will hereafter respect Hindu aspirations more sympathetically. May it not be a vain hope as truth prevails over secular hypocrisy and facts, long hidden are sharply brought into focus as Goradia has now done.