How and why Aurangzeb destroyed the Kashi Vishwananth Mandir as described in the Maasir-I-Alamgiri - Savitri Mumukshu
As the UP court allows an ASI survey of Gyanvapi Mosque, the usual suspects are crying foul that it sets the stage for demolition of yet another mosque and any changes will violate Muslim rights.
In reality, even without ASI investigating the site for further evidence, Aurangzeb’s court records in the Maasir-I-Alamgiri provide undeniable proof of his deliberate destruction of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir in order to construct a mosque in its place. This practice was employed by him at many of Hinduism’s holiest sites, in order to create visible symbols of the defeat of Hindui Kafirs at the hands of Muslims. His motivations were purely religious and the goal was to establish the supremacy of Islam over Hindu places of worship, which he considered the dens of evil. Audrey Truschke and apologists of her ilk can disguise these instances of the height of intolerance, any way they want, but the proof has been provided by Auranzeb himself in the form of his Firmans (royal decrees).
The Persian Maasir-I-Alamgiri written by chronicler Saqi Mustad Khan is an annal of the events which occurred during the reign of Aurangzeb-Alamgir, the last Mughal Emperor of India. The work is based upon documentary evidence, & translated by Jadunath Sarkar, in a condensed form. Several excerpts from the book clearly describe the destruction of the Kashi and Mathura temples. The first piece of clear evidence is a general order by Aurangzeb for the destruction of temples in the provinces of Tatta, Multan & Varanasi. These provinces were chosen in particular because they were the centers of learning, where “Brahman misbelievers” used to teach their “false books” thereby attracting too many admirers & students.
“The Lord Cherisher of the Faith learn that in the provinces of Tatta, Multan, and especially at Benares, the Brahman misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and that admirers and students, both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire this vile learning. His Majesty, eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and with the utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion and these misbelievers”
Aurangzeb being the devout Muslim he was, was eager to establish Islam in these places instead. On 9th April 1669, Aurangzeb in Islamic zeal, ordered governors to demolish schools & temples of the infidels in these areas. The second piece of evidence (p. 55) refers specifically and clearly to the fact that the Kashi Vishwanath temple was completely demolished at Kashi in September, 1669 A.D.
“It was reported that, according to the Emperor’s command, his officers had demolished the temple of Vishwanath at Kashi. On Saturday, the 18th September/2nd Jamad,. A., Ekkataz Khan and Giridhardas Sidodia had a fight in the course of their watch before the Lahore Gate. The Hindus went to hell; the Khan received five wounds..”
So far we have established that Aurangzeb specifically commanded and ensured that the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi was destroyed. Moreover, we have corroborative evidence that it was a common practice of Aurangzeb to not only raze Hindu temples to the ground, but also to build mosques in their place on top of the sites of the destroyed structures – for the specific purpose of reminding Kafir disbelievers that Islam reigned supreme over them.
The records of his habit of building mosques at the site of destroyed temples and his motivations for doing so are documented by the account of his destruction of the Keshavanth Mandir in Mathura, which was one of the most magnificent temples in India. In its place, he deliberately spent a huge amount to build a “lofty mosque” and ensured the Hindu deities were broken, desecrated and purposely denigrated. Accomplishing this “seemingly impossible work showed the undefeatable “strength of the Emperor’s faith”.
“On Thursday, 27th January/15th Ramzan (1080 A.H./January-February 1670)… During this month of Ramzan abounding in miracles, the Emperor as the promoter of justice and overthrower of mischief, as a knower of truth and destroyer of oppression, as the zephyr of the garden of victory and the reviver of the faith of the Prophet, issued orders for the demolition of the temple situated in Mathura, famous as the Dehra of Kesho Rai. In a short time by the great exertions of his officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished, and on its site, a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum. This temple of folly was built by that gross idiot Birsingh Rao Bundela…”
Order for Demolition of Keshava Rai temple, Mathura. (13th January, 1670)
But Aurangzeb was not satisfied with just the destruction and desecration of Hindu deities and temples, he wanted to ensure that the memory of helplessness and insult would be seared into Hindu minds for posterity. He ensured this by transporting the broken parts of the Murtis and burying them under the steps of the mosque of Begam Sahib in Agra. This way Muslims would keep stepping on them as a symbol of Islam’s victory over Hinduism and perpetual humiliation of Hindu Kafirs.
“Praised be the august God of the faith of Islam, that in the auspicious reign of this destroyer of infidelity and turbulence, such a wonderful and seemingly impossible work was successfully accomplished. On seeing this instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith and the grandeur of his devotion to God, the proud Rajas were stifled, and in amazement they stood like images facing the wall. The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels, which had been set up in the temple, were brought to Agra, and buried under the steps of the mosque of the Begam Sahib, in order to be continually trodden upon. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad.”
Such then were the lofty motivations and actions of Aurangzeb, the great Reviver of Islam. We need not search for much more proof of the horror behind the Gyanvyapi Mosque than what has been given directly by the horse’s mouth. The proud description of the systematic and deliberate destruction of the Kashi Vishwanath temple is just one among the stories of the desecration of Hinduism’s holiest shrines. The episodes have been meticulously recorded by the Islamic court Chroniclers of the Mughal kings themselves. They serve as irrefutable evidence of the terrible atrocities committed against Hindu culture by Mughal emperors like Aurangzeb, for the sole sake of establishing the supremacy of Islam and demeaning the faith of Hindus.
To learn more, please visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum of Indian History’s outstanding exhibition on original Persian Firmans by Aurangzeb, the Source of images & Firmans in this article.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum of Indian History: https://bit.ly/3dMX99t
Translation of Maasir-E-Alamgiri at: https://bit.ly/39Vt9az
Savitri Mumukshu is a software entrepreneur and designer from the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She holds a Masters in Information and Business Strategy from Harvard University. Her research interests include the authentic history of India, Hindu art and architecture, religious traditions, Ayurveda, and women’s roles in ancient Hindu society.
She tweets regularly on topics of interest on Twitter as @MumukshuSavitri