Hello world! Friday, Jul 24 2009 

The Author

Prafull Goradia, former member of Parliament, wrote “The Saffron Book” in 2001. It is the first attempt to think through Hindutva and has been much sought after by readers. Many refer to it for understanding the Hindu ethos. Its Hindi and Bengali translations are also available now.

A graduate of Elphinstone College, Mumbai, the author has been fortunate in not suffering from any crossfire of the Hindu – Muslim conflict which enables him to be free from any prejudice. Although a Hindu, his early education was by Catholic Anglo-Indian teachers. For eight years he was taught spoken Urdu by Agha Iqbal Mirza.

Hypocrisy is not the key for achieving Hindu – Muslim oneness without which India cannot be integrated. Many an eminence beginning from Emperor Akbar to Bhakta Kabir to Mahatma Gandhi have tried. Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi a la Shah Bano also attempted. Yet the equation has oscillated between that of an acquaintance and an adversary. At best, they have smiled at each other and at worst, have killed one another. The relationship has never firmed up into friendship. Goradia believes no one can be a friend unless he is frank and forthright. Hindu Masjids is an endeavour for laying new foundations for building amity between the two communities.


A full circle. From Jain temple to masjid to Bharat Mata mandir Friday, Jul 24 2009 

18. Shuddhi by Govemment

Beheaded pillars of Jain Temple at Devgiri later named Daulatabad by Allaudin KhiljiWhat is now known as Daulatabad was originally Devagiri Fort built by King Bhilamma V,   a Yadav king who ruled the area in the year approximating 1184AD.  It was taken through deception by Allauddin Khilji in 1294AD when he was still not the sultan and had pretended to be a disaffected nobleman. Twelve years later in 1306AD, Malik Kafur who was a general in Sultan Allauddin’s army, invaded the south and captured Daulatabad. The ostensible purpose of his invasion was to reinforce repatriation of revenues of the area, as had been agreed to during the earlier invasion of Khirki. Six years later, Kafur came again for enforcing the same agreement although this time he was extremely punitive. He went to the extent of beheading the ruling raja named Shankerdeo. Yet another six years later in1318AD the successor Hasrapala rebelled against the sultan. He was punished by Malik Kafur, whose cruelty became legend in the area because he had Hasrapala flayed alive.

The came Muhammad bin Tughlaq who took over the fort when he shifted his capital from Delhi to Devagiri in 1326AD. In fact, it is he who introduced the name Daulatabad. Much later during the 14th century, Hassan Gangu Abu’l Muzaffar Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah and his successors captured the fortress and were in possession until the advent ofthe Mughals in the 17th century. On Augangzeb’s death in 1707, the Nizam of the Asafjahi dynasty appropriated Daulatabad as part of his domain, along with his declaration of independence from the Mughal emperor. Incidentally, Daulatabad can be termed as having been charismatic for the rulers of Delhi. In 1653, Shahjehan through his Khan-e-Khanan, Mahabat Khan, invested the fort and had the khutba read at the Jami masjid in the emperor’s name.
Evidently, the history of Daulatabad has been littered with blood and cruelty. Nevertheless, the fortress remained an edifice to be proud of. As quoted in the Cambridge History of India, Volume III, London, 1928, Ibn Batutah, who visited the area early in the 14th century, described Daulatabad as a great and magnificent city equal to Delhi. Three centuries later, the official chronicler of Shahjehan, Abu-ul-Hamid Lahori, waxed eloquent about the fort:

this fortress, the ancient names of which were Deogir and Dharagir is a mass of rock which raises its head towards heaven. The rock has been scarped throughout its circumference, which measures 5,000 legal yards, to a depth which  ensures the retention of water in the ditch at the foot of the escarpment…. Through the centre of the hill a dark spiral passage like the ascent of a minar, which it is impossible to traverse, even in daylight, without a lamp, had been cut, and the steps in this passage are cut out of the rock… The ordinary means of reducing fortresses, such as mines, covered ways, batteries, etc., are useless against this strong fortress. This passage still exists and is the only work the attribution of which to Muhammad is doubtful, for Ibn Batutah, who visited Daulatabad late in 1342 or early in 1343, records that access to the citadel was then gained by means of a leathern ladder.

What however is of interest to us is the unusual shuddhi that the temple undervent inside the outer wall of the fortress. This historical event took place in1948 on the morrow of the police action by the Government of India during the takeover of the Nizam’s Hyderabad. There had been a great deal of local pressure for the restitution of the temple. Leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as well as Shri Kanhaiyalal Munshi were also aware that it was a Jain mandir which had been forcibly converted into a masjid by Alauddin Khilji.
However, to avoid giving a religious or a communal colour to the shuddhi or reconversion, the idol installed in the sanctum sanctorum was that of Bharat Mata. It is therefore now known as the Bharat Mata temple, although for 700 years it had been called Jami masjid. The mandir was built on a plan not dissimilar to Palitana in Gujarat and Dilwara at Mount Abu, Rajasthan. There is a large courtyard. There were the usual traditional 52 pillars as in Jain places of worship.At the western end was a hall, typical of an ancient temple. A flat roof was held aloft by 152 stone pillars. The author and his colleagues during their visit in 2001 were told on authority that the pillars were constructed according to the Himar Panti style of architecture, one of whose special characteristics was the interlocking of stones without the use of any cementing material.

The flat roof had been modified to the extent that a small dome had been raised above where the mimbar was, prior to the shuddhi in 1948. On several of the beams were engraved the Chalukia emblem called Kiritmukh Patti which only confirmed
be temple was built during Chalukia rule. An unusual sight was the terracota colour withe which the 152 pillars were coloured  upto a height of about 12  feet. Above that, was white colouring. We were told that this was done during the Nizam’s period. One can only presume that the intention might have been to distract attention from the Jain character of the edifice.

Also, between the outermost wall and the third fort wall, there is a structure which is much smaller than the Bharat Mata temple but of a similar design. There is however no courtyard. Uncannily, an image of Mahavir Swami can still be seen on more than one of the pillars. Until 1948, there must have been a mehraab covering the sanctum sanctorum, because around the area there are several Arabic inscriptions recalling the name of Almighty Allah.
AIR in all, the Daulatabad fort is an enormous structure covering many hectares of a hill face. It was considered impregnable because it was taken only by intrigue and not by force. The highest point was reported to be 80 meters. It was the administrative centre of the area until Aurangzeb established himself at the nearby city of Khirki renamed Aurangabad by him. Defences were reinforced with the help of a series of four walls. There is a moat between the innermost and the second wall. Incidentally, not far from the entrance to the outermost wall, there is a soaring Chand Minar whose idea was evidently inspired by the Qutb Minar in Delhi. It is 63 meters high and is still in an immaculate condition. It was built by King Ahmed Shah Bahamani to celebrate his rule. Right at the top of the hill fort, is the baradari hall, built as a conference hall when the Mughal emperor happened to visit Daulatabad.

Next Page »