Each time an article on the author’s visit to a temple converted into a mosque appeared in print, some friend or the other phoned to say: “why are you digging up the past? Do you want the Hindus to take revenge? Do you wish to humiliate fellow Indian who happen to be Muslim? Will not your article arouse anger which may lead to bloodshed?” Seeing a bunch of several such articles, an intellectual at Kochi, declared that they can, if read widely, provoke rivers of blood a la Enoch Powell!

The author’s intentions are farthest from raising such emotions. In fact, they are the opposite of such mischief since he cherishes the sole objective of uniting Indians. The greatest obstacle is the chasm between Hindus and Muslims. It led in1947 to the partition of the country. Even the creation of Pakistan has not helped in bridging the gap. I believe that many Hindu leaders have been at once afraid, hypocritical and opportunistic. Fear of the Muslim has been deep and wide. Since it is embarrassing to admit as much, leaders have taken cover behind secularism and broadmindedness. Is this not hypocrisy? Appeasement in order to secure the Muslim vote has been the opportunism of leaders.

On his part, the average Muslim is blissfully unaware to what extent rulers among his forefathers have hit the Hindu psyche and thereby hurt it. How is he to know? The Hindu has done little to tell him. 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 gap, to be frank and to enable a heart to heart dialogue. That is the only way to bury hatred built over centuries and build friendship amongst the two communities. As in marriage, so in friendship, confess, confide and concede, if justified.

Another reason for this book is to try and inform Hindus in the hope that right steps would be taken and confidence regained. It was not for nothing that

Mahatma Gandhi was exasperated enough to write that every Hindu is a coward while every Muslim is a bully. Whatever be the truth, it is a tact that the eve Hindu is diffident compared to many other peoples, which in turn makes Hindu a diffident country. Contrast ourselves with the way the Chinese, especially as a nation, conduct themselves. They consider theirs as the world’s central country. Incidentally, chung means central or middle and wah is country And China in chinese is called Chungwah. True, China had a central monarchy and a bureaucratic state since 259BC and even today the Chinese recall their history not by the century but by dynasty.

The first was the Qin dynasty followed by the Han, the Ming and, lastly, the Manchu or Qing dynasties. Nevertheless, the country suffered a setback for a century or more when the central authority lost its grip and each regional warlord wad his own master. During the19th century, Britain, France, the US and Germany all forcibly extracted trading privileges including the right to import and sell opium. Japan invaded and conquered parts of China in 1937. The country regained its political self respect only in 1949 and started on the path of economic prosperity after 1978. Yet the people did not lose their pride and confidence. A great deal of our territory is under Chinese occupation. Sooner or later, we have to resolve this issue and that can be done only if India evolves a strategy suited to its own genius. In illustrating what is strategy the Sino-lndian dispute has been used. So have our north-eastern seven sister states also been used? although neither directly relates to the Hindu Muslisrn syndrome.

Unfortunately, we have had to suffer a continuous history of conquests and foreign rule for over seven centuries. It will take time for the Hindu mindset to be raised from servitude to mastery. Hindus can move faster if they have an understanding of their history. It would then be feasible to diagnose the slavery complex that haunts the upper fringes of Hindu society. Amongst the 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 selfconfidence?

Regrettably, a great deal of India’s history is a product of prejudices. Iconoclasm was a major misfortune of Hindustan. Temples, by the hundred, if not by the thousand, were desecrated and then converted into mosques and dargahs. Or, they were destroyed and their rubble was used to build mosques. In all cases, the deities were buried under mosque entrances so that they could be easily trampled upon by those who came to offer prayers. How the iconoclasts wounded Hindu sentiments and how much they traumatised the indigenous civilization can only be a matter of conjecture. But surely the destruction of Hindu temples is a fact. Why then does it not find mention in any of the textbooks on Indian history?

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who founded Aligarh Muslim University, is surely a reliable authority. Read what he has written in Asar-us-Sanadid etc.:

Quwwat al-Islam Masjid: “When Qutbu’d-Din, the commander-in-chief of Muizzu’d-Din sam alias Shihabu’d-Din Ghuri conquered delhi in Ah 587 correspomding to ad 1191 corresponding to 1248 Bikarmi, this idol-house )of rai pithora) was converted into a mosque. The idol was taken out of the temple. Some of the images sculptured on walls or doors or pillars were effaced completely, some were defaced. But the structure of the idol-house kept standing as before. Materials from twenty-seven temples, which were worth five crores and forty lakhs of Dilwals, were used in the mosque, and an inscription giving the date of conquest and his own name was installed on the eastern gate…

When Mahvah and Ujjain were conquered by Sultan Shamsu’d-Din in AH 631 corresponding to AD 1233, then the idol-house of Mahakal was demolished and its idols as well as the statue of Raja Bikramajit were brought to Delhi, they were strewn in front of the door of the mosque…

In books of history, this mosque has been described as Masjid-1-Adinah and Jama Masjid Delhi, but Masjid Quwwat al-Islam is mentioned nowhere. It is not known as to when this name was adopted. Obviously, it seems that when this idol-house was captured, and the mosque constructed, it was named Ouawwat al-Islam….

Let us now see what a Christian evangelist, Reverend Mathew Atmore Sherring wrote about Benaras (The Sacred City od the Hindus, 1868);

When we endeavour to ascertain what the Mohammedans have left to the Hindus of their ancient buildings in Benares, we are startled at the result of our investigations. Although the city is bestrewn with temples in every direction, in some places very thickly, yet it would be difficult, I believe, to find twenty temples, in all Benares, of the age of Aurungzab, or from 1658 to 1707. The same unequal proportion of old temples, as compared with new, is visible throughout the whole of Northern India. Moreover, the diminutive size of nearly all the temples that exist is another powrerful testimony to the stringency of the Mohammedan rule. It seems clear, that, for the most part, the emperors forbade the Hindus to build spacious temples, and suffered them to erect only small structures, of the size of cages, for their idols, and these of no pretensions to beauty.

Sherring went on to say:

If there is one circumstance respecting the Mohammedan period which Hindus remember better than another, it is the insulting pride of the Musulmans, the outrages which they perpetrated upon their religious convictions, and the extensive spoliation of their temples and shrines. It is right that Europeans should clearly understand, that this spirit of Mohammedanism is unchangeable, and that, if, by any mischance, India should again come into the possession of men and this creed, all the churches and colleges, and all the Mission institutions, would not be worth a week’s purchase.

A British civil servant had a great deal to say about Mathura in the 1870s. F.S. Growse belonged to the Bengal Civil Service and was the Collector of Mathura district. I quote from his ‘Mathura: A District Memoir,’ Bulandshahr 1882:

The neighbourhood is crowded with sacred sites, which for many generations have been reverenced as the traditionary scenes of Krishna’s adventures; but thanks toMuhammedan intolerance, there is not a single building of any antiquity I either in the city itself or its environs. Its most famous temple – that dedicated to Kesava Deva – was destroyed, as already mentioned, in 1669, the eleventh year of the reign of the iconoclastic Aurangzeb. The mosque erected on its ruins is a building of little architectural value, but the natural advantages oof its lofty and isolated position render it a striking feature in the landscape.

This truth is abhorrent but must be faced squarely if only to bring about Hindu/Muslim amity and to secure the unity of India. We all know that for five centuries some Muslim rulers oppressed their Hindu subjects. They carried away young women and killed the men unless they converted to Islam. They extracted Jizya or protection tax and desecrated temples by the hundred. But then, all conquerors commit atrocities. Such cruelties also took place in central as well as west Asia, as well as in Europe through Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia right unto Spain. Catholics burnt protestants at the stake just as Protestants butchered Catholics.

Yet nowhere else is the hatred as chronic and deep rooted as in India. Why? Because here, like did not oppress like. The Hindu psyche is entirely different from the Muslini assumption. In Hindustan there was a clash between coexistence and domination. two radically different mentalities. Not merely the Muslim but Judaic peoples generally are born and bred on the assumption that it is legitimate to dominate other. Whereas the Hindu thrives on accommodation and coexistence.

The Jews and the Muslims clash and kill each other in West Asia. They get hurt but nettler is traumatised. The Christians and Muslims fought the crusades no less ruthlessly. They maimed or bled one another and destroyed churches and mosques, but it was like battling like. Hence there was injury but no real trauma, no ultimate surprise. Everyone spoke, as it were, the same language of combat and understood the legitimacy of one trying to dominate the other, depending on who was stronger. Not so the votary of coexistence, the Hindu.

Jehovah to the Jew, Jesus to the Christian and Allah to the Muslim are well known. Each is omnipotent, omnipresent and only one supreme divine or the ultimate in domination; the Almighty to his followers. The Judaic faith begins here. It is legitimate for the followers of Jehovah to displace those of Jesus or of Allah in the race for winning more followers. A devout Christian would be happiest if all the world’s people prayed to Christ. As a pious Muslim would have done his ultimate duty to Allah if he could get every human being to tasleem or accept His will. In the process, he might have to desecrate, fight or even kill.

Not so the Hindu. His ethos accepted newcomers but never persuaded them to convert. There was no method for conversion. Swami Dayanand Saraswati however introduced shuddhi or purification whereby a former Hindu could return to his faith. The question of fighting for new followers never arose. At the level of explanation or philosophy, there is no concept of God or any individual supreme authority. The Hindu’s faith is in the paramatma or the total soul comprising of the mini-souls of all living beings. This totality is the divine. Ram, Krishna, Gautam Buddha or Mahavir Swami were merely liberated souls who returned to earth to redeem a degenerate world. In short, by Hindu explanation, the divine and the humans are partners, although differing in importance. But there is no question of absolute dominance.

The belief that all living beings are parts of his universe, makes the Hindu reluctant to hurt others. Hindus do kill but many of them feel guilty about such acts. Such feelings are at the root of non-violence as a philosophical preference. The belief in the transmigration of souls makes the Hindu lean towards vegetarianism. How can a Hindu quite enjoy the meat of some animal in whom may reside the soul of his departed parent or relative? All in all, when a Hindu clashes with a Muslim, it is essentially a battle between a horse and a leopard, between a herbivore and carnivore. An unequal combat leaves the herbivore helpless and traumatised. For one, he is not at home with the cut and thrust of violence. For another, and more importantly, the herbivore has few ways of retaliating even if he survives to fight another day. He was therefore stunned; first by Mahmud Ghazni and finally by Aurangzeb.

Quiet hatred is the escape for the traumatised Hindu. Few Muslims realise how deeply they have wounded the Hindu psyche. The reason is that, unlike Christians in the crusades, Hindus have not paid back in the same coin. How then is the Muslim to know? Think of how much sound and fury did the Babri episode arouse. No Hindu however has said that 62 temples were desecrated in Bangladesh during 1990 alone; a good two years before Babri. Many more after 6th December, 1992. So has written Taslima Nasrin. In Pakistan, 178 temples met the same fate.Within India, in Kashmir to be precise, some 27 mandirs were destroyed. Instead of protesting many a Hindu exclaims: “how can one right medieval wrongs with modern retaliation’?” Surely there was neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh inmedieval times. More recently, the Buddha was felled at Bamiyan.

To break idols and bring down temples, is a way of ensuring that Allah remains the only one. So that no worshipper is distracted from his devotion to Him. But at what cost to the Hindu psyche has this been done dear friends? Just go and see the

Hindu masjids that have been described. Visit them and you will realise.