Kashi, described in Skanda Purana by Bhagwan Shiva Himself as “His royal place” in the “three worlds that form one city of Him”, is blessed with the divine abode of Baba Vishwanath. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, despite its divinity, was also known for its congested and dirty lanes, so much so that Mahatma Gandhi spoke about it when he visited Kashi on February 4, 1916, to inaugurate Banaras Hindu University (BHU). After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, he began working on giving Kashi – the oldest living city on earth- the infrastructure, befitting its stature and requirement.
And then came December 13, 2021—the day that will forever remain etched in the memory of Hindus. This day formally marked the beginning of another era in the life of eternal Kashi- its re-emergence to reclaim its rightful place as the city of Hindu consciousness. The ambitious project to redevelop and revamp the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir complex began on March 8, 2019.
The Inauguration & Its Significance
While inaugurating the newly opened complex, PM Modi spoke about the unimaginable and infinite energy of the Vishwanath Dham. Terming the newly opened complex of Vishwanath Dham a symbol of the Sanatan culture of India and encompassing its antiquity, traditions, energy, dynamism and spiritual soul. Quoting extensively from scriptures, PM mentioned how Kashi belongs to Bhagwan Shankar only and how the opening of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple complex represents Bhagwan Shankar’s blessings. He further spoke of the Kashi's past and how it used to be the cynosure of the invaders' eyes and had to face several round of destructions at their hands, including that of Aurangzeb. But then, time could never imprison Kashi; it kept moving ahead. Every time an invader set his eyes on the city, it found a saviour as well.
Before PM Modi, the Indian state turned its blind eye towards recognising the past's excesses, leaving aside temple restoration efforts. This sheer neglect by the previous Governments dented the spiritual pride of the country and contributed greatly towards its waning in earlier decades. Much of the reason lies in the events that followed KM Munshi's efforts to restore Sri Somnath Temple. “My heart was full of veneration and shame. Millions have worshipped and worship today, Shri Krishna as ‘God himself’…none had dared to raise his voice to rescue the sacred spot where once His mortal remains had been consigned to flames… Reconstruction of Somanatha was then but the nebulous dream of a habitual dreamer,” Munshi wrote in his book, ‘Somanatha: the shrine eternal’—those words of late KM Munshi turned a largely regional issue of Sri Somnath Temple to one of national and Hindu pride. Nehru's dislike for temple reconstruction was well known. It is clearly evident from his comments to Munshi, “I do not like your trying to restore Somnath. It is Hindu revivalism.” Despite his opposition, India embarked on the rebuilding and renovation of Somnath Temple. When the time came for its inauguration, Nehru tried to stop Dr Rajendra Prasad from going ahead, but he failed. Although Sri Somnath Temple was restored, it remained the only restoration effort for the longest time. The situation began changing only after Modi's arrival.
How PM Modi Is Making the Difference
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who completed 20 years in office as head of a government recently, started and finished several projects of national importance & embarked on various transformational initiatives. However, it is his feats in removing the excesses of the 1000 years of invader rule, which need to be told. As a leader well-versed in the nuances of our civilisational struggle, PM Modi is aware of the role played by sacred Hindu temples in our millennium-long struggle and their importance for the dharmic resurgence and revivalism efforts, underway ever since he arrived on the governance scene of India.
During the last 20 years, PM Modi played a leading role in the rejuvenation and renovation of several temples. His civilisational repair initiatives' scale and scope expanded considerably after he moved from the State to the Centre as PM in May 2014.
During the last 20 years, PM Modi played a leading role in the rejuvenation and renovation of several temples. His civilisational repair initiatives' scale and scope expanded considerably after he moved from the state to the centre as PM in May 2014
A grand and magnificent Shri Ram Temple is already under construction at Ayodhya. Modi Government has also put in place plans to establish the entire area as a significant Hindu dharma pilgrimage centre. The sacred site of Sri Somnath Ji has seen major development work in recent times, while Sri Kedarnath Ji has been massively redeveloped and restored after the destructive floods of 2013 to its full glory. Plans have also been finalised for the redevelopment of Sri Badrinath Dham. PM's temple building efforts are not only limited to India but he has also facilitated development/redevelopment of temples in foreign countries as well. In 2019, he launched the $4.2 million redevelopment project of the 200-year-old Lord Sri Krishna Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama, Bahrain. In addition, Prime Minister performed the foundation stone laying ceremony of the first-ever Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi in 2018. Ever since Article 370 was repealed and Jammu Kashmir became a Union Territory, the Government has started working on the renovation of several religious sites in Srinagar, Kashmir.
Spiritual awakening Through Temple Rebuilding
PM Modi, known for publicly practising his faith, believes that India's spiritual awakening can only come when its religious and divine places are restored to their ancient glory. Hence all his endeavours in the religious field are singularly focused on restoring the glory of our established religious, cultural and spiritual centres.
Fully conscious of the need to match the country's modernity and development with spiritual awakening, PM has embarked on the temple rebuilding and renovation drive of our famous pilgrimage centres and sacred sites. He presides over all the temple reconstruction efforts underway at sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites. Under his visionary leadership, the modern Indian nation is being brought closer to its spiritual foundation. And our temples, being our centres of spiritual awakening, have found a modern version of Ahilyabai Holkar.
Hindus have found in him- a temple builder and an ambassador of the Hindu faith as well!