The solution is not in removing our idols from Qutub Complex but rather in restoring the hallowed position of Sri Ganesha in reconstructed ancient temples that existed in this sacred place. This will depict factual history of our Capital
A recent report in The Indian Express of April 7, 2022, titled ‘Government Body Wants Ganesha Idols out of Qutub Complex’ was sent to me in one of the Whatsapp groups. It came with the pointed question – how come this is happening in your field of work? I was confronted with the same query by my IT Media Team professionals, who also informed me that Twitter is abuzz and outraged with this move by the Government of India. All these persons, and many more, contacting me were well aware of my two decades research, work and advocacy for protecting, preserving and showcasing the factual Itihasa and Heritage legacies of Bhartiya Sabhyata Sanskriti evam Itihasa.
First let us realise that it would be the saddest day of our country if the Ganesha idols are removed from Qutub Complex by the Government of India. It would amount to ‘authorised’ fratricidal ‘murder’ of Bhartiya Sabhyata Evam Sanskriti – because Sanatan Sanskriti is the creator, custodian and promoter of learning, reverence, and worship of knowledge. Ganesha is the symbol of knowledge and wisdom and revered at every place of worship. The Ganesha idols are the historical evidence of the Temples of learning here, part of the broken remains from the 27 Nakshatra Vidya Mandirs that were destroyed by invaders. This is a place where the science of astronomy was visually depicted, taught and used for our ‘Kaal Garna’- for calendars and astrology. This is also the place of Jain temples and the most ancient Vishnugiri Stambh (the Iron pillar mentioning one Raja Chandra, who as per our research is linked to Yudhishthira).
Removing the remains of ancient temples out of the Qutub complex will not only subvert history but more disturbingly the place will be popularised merely as a place of medieval times, in public memory and over a period of time physical evidence, as has been done with Purana Qila and Safdarjung etc. It is important to note that 1970s onwards, under the National Integration Policy, aggressive efforts were undertaken by the then Government to wipe out or remove historical evidences from textbooks and significant monuments like this place of Ganesha idol and 27 Nakshatra Mandir inscription mentioning the destruction of these temples by invaders. However, the antiquity of this area is deeper as revealed in the Sankaskarshana inscription found at Mehrauli now at Delhi Museum.
Epigraphy evidences of Indraprastha at Mehrauli Sankaskarshana, from Mehrauli now preserved in the Delhi Museum, Nagari and Sanskrit language, are dated in Vikarama 1204, Magha su (7), Friday. 1147 CE January 10 records that the image of Sankarshanamurti was installed by Titura Sehaka, son of Sade and grandson of saadhu Govinda and belonged to Rohit-anuya. It’s quite evident from this popularity of the Krishna cult around the region. (Source: Dr. TS Ravishankar, Director (Rted) Epigraphy, ASI, GOI)
Restoring Sri Ganesha
The solution is not in removing our idols from this complex, but rather in restoring the hallowed position of Sri Ganesha in reconstructed ancient temples that existed in this sacred place. This will at once place in proper perspective, this area’s historical journey from ancient to modern and also depict factual history of our capital. Shri KK Muhammad, former Director of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), has done good work in restoring old temples at Bateshwar, Madhya Pradesh. We have the Vaastukala (architectural designs and arts) of various temples in this complex, prior to its brutal destruction.
While this restoration of ancient temples, and stopping the removal of idols from here is important, it also has to be understood and be known by the Government and the public at large. What makes the people infuriated and annoyed at this thoughtless idea of removing the idol that forms the very basis of existential historical evidence, and are the marvellous creations of our ancestors. Time is ripe to bring this in focus, to hammer the point of a visionless idea that hurts and harms the survival of the breathless Monumental remains of a rich Sanatan Sanskriti. It must now be told how removing historical evidence has played into the scheme of transforming ancient heritage to mediaeval monuments of aggression and subversion of a rich cultural legacies. The so far followed objective of ASI of creating a single period (Medieval) monuments, wiping out ancient and even modern history within and around them, is absurd in a country of deep civilisation in cultural roots that also witnessed modern colonial architecture. Bharat is not a single culture country. To showcase the real strength of Bharat’s Sanskriti and Sabhayata, the least the ASI should do would be to ensure that all our important monuments under its protection visually showcase the historical journey of various periods, truly and in correct proportion, witnessed at these points of national importance. It has been grave injustice to our rich wealth of culture and civilisation by downplaying, hiding and even removing historical evidences just to showcase medieval monumental history.
Epigraphy Evidences of ancient Indraprastha at Purana Pandava Qila
A. Shiva Temple Kept in Delhi Archeological Museum is the inscription of Raja Sohan Lal, dating Samwat 1886, in Sanskrit & Nagari language. It records the grant of a feeding horse Satra in the temple of Shiva by Sohanlal.
B. Swasktika Seal 1st Century BCE – found in 1972. Seal excavated in Puarana Qila was received from Shri M.C Joshi, SA, Excavation BR II. In early Brahami characters. 1st B.C and Prakrit language. At the beginning there is a Swastika symbol that reads Kabhathaseya.
C. Temple Inscription Talaqui gate – Sandstone slab from the tenth step of the semi circular flight, immediately inside to the west or the Talaqui gate of Puarana Qila. Assigned to Bhoja I, Gurjar- Pratihara dynasty (9th CE), Nagari and Sanskrit language. Semi construction and also some gift for the offering of marjana, lepana, dipa gandha, pushpa etc., a temple of Gurjar Partihara period.
D. Another Temple Inscription Talaqui gate – built in modern flight of steps constructed inside the Talaqui Gate of the Indrapat Fort ( Pandavoka Kila). Nagri character and Sanskrit language.., of the king Bhojadevea of Gurjar Partihara dynasty. Seems to second the grant by purchase of a house site for the maintenance of a temple.
(Source: Dr. T.S Ravishankar, Director
(Rted) Epigraphy, ASI, GOI)
Yet after 1970’s, when ASI established its office in the Old School Building, (that was not demolished by the British while removing habitation within Purana Qila in 1913-14, which makes this school building hundred years old and yet was demolished by ASI in 2018), started the process of transformation of Purana Pandav Qila to Dinpanah! The Site Museum does not display the important inscriptions of Raja Bhoja or those mentioning ancient Temples that were here. Rather they want to remove the existing Kunti Temple within, claiming it is of new construction. So how much new is the renovation of the so-called Humayun Tomb nearby? One has to remember that it has always been a tradition for Kings and even ordinary Bhartaiya people to renovate old temples and look after their well being. Two related inscriptions of Safdarjung Tomb area kept at Safdarjung Delhi Circle office are also worth mentioning. One relates to a deity and the other to drawings. The transformation of this area into merely a medieval Tomb is worth pondering, as its ancient character has been completely wiped out.
Thus this outrage and concern of the public has to be understood with reference to context of what has been done to transform important landmarks of history into symbols of medieval subjugation, not only since hundreds of years of destruction, demolition, subversion, camouflaging and denouncement of our landmark places. These places represent and reflect the rich civilisation and knowledge of our ancient stalwarts, rishis, kings, and vishwakarmas (architects) and crafts persons. We are all aware of the open aggressive mayhem caused in the life and landscape of Bhartiya people and Bharatmata, from the time of Gazni onwards. Targets were mainly our centres of learning, worship and historical places. Few can forget the tyranny of the likes of Aurangzeb towards our centres of learning and worship-Vidisha Charchika Devi Temple and Kashi Vishwanath are glaring examples. The aim of Islamisation continued, very subtly, even during reign of Akbar and other minor Muslim rulers. Surviving countless such years, gradually the horror of Partition happened, which again deprived us of the remains of our highly developed ancient civilisation of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Most unfortunately, what happened to our important places of Itihasa after Partition is a very sad and painful tale worth knowing.
Let us rewind to the tale of Somnath Temple Files moving within the cabinet of the first Prime Minister, from Gadgil, Munshi, Patel to Maulana Azad Nehru and even the lead ‘freedom fighter’ Bapu Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi. Overcoming strong obstacles and hindrances, Munshi did succeed in getting Somnath restored, but one remark of Education Minister Maulana Azad reverberates till date in the ASI. When the file of Somnath Mandir re-creation reached him, he said let the ruins be maintained by ASI! So till date all ancient places of historical importance have either remained in ruins or transformed into the single period history of mediaeval occupancy, as if no other period of Bharat’s history has relevance. Even if an excavated site reveals ancient evidences or relics, it is again covered with mud and buried from public view, and in 99 per cent cases not even the excavated ancient evidence are showcased at the site museum.
What makes the people infuriated and annoyed at this thoughtless idea of removing the idol that forms the very basis of existential historical evidence, and are the marvellous creations of our ancestors. Time is ripe to bring this in focus, to hammer the point of a visionless idea that hurts and harms the survival of the breathless monumental remains of a rich Sanatan Sanskriti
Let us take the case of our national identity, capital Indraprastha, which covers New Delhi areas and the prominent Purana Pandav Qila at Mathura Road, Indraprastha. The 1913 Gazetted Notification mentions Purana Qila Indrapatha Mouza (district Indrapath). A. Ghosh of ASI notes that during 1913-14 while removing concrete habitation within and outside Purana Qila, within its precincts was found an inscription of Raja Bhoja of Pratihara lineage (ASI Report 1925-26. The former Director Epigraphy, ASI Dr TS Ravishankar, reveals (at our Indraprastha Talks YouTube channel) four ancient inscriptional evidences recovered from within Purana Qila. First relates to a Shiva temple and the inscription is surprisingly preserved in Delhi Archeological Museum and not in the Purana Qila site Museum, which also does not display 2013-14 excavated image of Vaikuntha Vishnu, Gaja Laxmi and miniature Ganesha, besides many Sealing’s and artefacts of ancient periods found in this fort. Second is a 1st Century BCE Swastika Seal found during excavations by MC Joshi’s team of ASI. There are two prominent inscriptions found from the steps at Talaki Gate inside Purana Qila. One refers to a Shiva Temple, the other to a purchase of a property and use its income to maintain a Temple within Purana Qila.
Evidences of Ancient Indraprastha at Safdarjung Tomb
Inscription of Deity: A slab kept in the office of the Delhi Circle, ASI at Safdarjung Tomb. Written in Sanskrit language and Siddhamatrika characters of a deity (name lost) by Maharajadhiraja Sri Madhava.
Chitra Rachna of Kings: Assignable to the same period refers to the pictures of kings and the drawing of pictures (chitra-rachama) and mentions the names Bhatta Divakara and Kayastha Sajjana.
(Source: Dr. T.S Ravishankar, Director (Rted) Epigraphy, ASI, GOI)
What we see today at Purana Qila (besides Sher Shah Suri’s library and Kila-e-Kona) are the newly restructured walls, the 2018 created Mughal architecture Ticket counter at entry, and inside again the 2018 created Red Mughal architecture structure, which in a few years will probably be propagated as something of Humayun! With much advocacy we did influence ASI to place the two Sultanate period Indraprastha inscriptions at the site museum. One is the Sarban Stone Sanskrit inscription (Figure 3) and the other is the Naraiana Stone Sanskrit inscription (Figure 4).
What we do not see are the excavated Swastika of 1st Century BCE, the Temple-linked inscriptions. Despite several years of advocacy to create an open archeology park at the excavated site, covered with toughened glass structure, to educate the public about the deep historical roots of Purana Qila, our perseverance seems almost wasted on deaf years and kangaroo mentality.
The 1877 Revenue records mention this Puarana Qila New Delhi area as Pargana Indraprastha, giving its boundary and revenue records. Texts (Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi) and Inscriptions of Sultanat period mention it as Indraprastha. Ain-e-Akbari tells us that Humayun came and settled at Indrapath Qila, and started his dream of creating Dinpanah city, which Sher Shah Suri demolished and made his own Shergarh. The current medieval structures within Purana Qila have interesting tales too.
Why it is important to refer to historical context will be clear when we comprehend the subtle ‘secular’ strategy of how evidences of our history are being deliberately wiped out from geo-spaces, texts, and transformation undertaken to create fallacious history, and work towards gradually wiping out facts of history from even public memory especially after Partition.
Does a Nation, revered for long as Vishwa Guru, having repository of most ancient knowledge and itihasa, considered as the oldest civilisation, deserve this treatment of shocking neglect to the roots of civilisation wealth.